“Alexa, enter me in the daily giveaway”

Cool, right?

Smart speakers and voice activation are hot right now. You can’t talk about the future of marketing without someone mentioning alexa or google home. However, voice activation in promotional marketing tends to get overlooked. Voice activation can be another way to complete a frictionless experience for your consumers. Brands can incorporate voice-activation into their promotional marketing strategy to give their consumers an experience they are not likely to forget.


The Rise of Voice-Activated Speakers

Once you own a smart speaker, it can be easy to forget this technology is fairly new. The first voice-activated device (as we know them today) was Apple’s voice assistant, Siri. Siri debuted in 2011 as a new feature for Apple's iPhone 4S, and has been a staple in every subsequent iphone. After Siri’s introduction, brands like Amazon and Google created stand alone voice assistants dubbed “smart speakers”. These smart speakers have been increasingly prominent in marketing, especially in the last few years.

The majority of smart speaker usage is for things like checking the weather, playing music, or asking a question. However, the amount of purchases made through voice speakers is on the rise. The 2019 U.S. Smart Speaker Consumer Adoption Report reported that “15% of U.S. smart speaker owners say they were making purchases by voice on a monthly basis at the end of 2018. That is up from 13.6% that were using voice for retail purchases at the beginning of the year” (https://voicebot.ai/). In addition to incentivizing purchases, brands and marketers can use voice activation to increase consumer engagement with their brand.


Sweepstakes, Contests, & Games

Sweepstakes, contests, and games are the three pillars of gamified marketing. But how do they fit in the space of voice activation?


When it comes to gamification, sweepstakes are king. Consumers run into this type of promotion everywhere, from large brands to small businesses. Despite that, sweepstakes have yet to break into voice activation. A voice activated sweepstakes could take on many forms:

1. Consumers could use voice activation to learn about a sweepstakes (rules, prizes, etc.)

2. Interested fans can enter via voice activation (“Hey Google, enter me in the ‘Spring Cleaning Sweepstakes’”)

3. Sweepstakes entries could be rewarded after purchases are made with smart speakers

4. To increase voice awareness and participation, brands can use voice activation for additional entries (for example- enter on the microsite + enter from your smart speaker for extra chances to win each day)

5. Instead of visiting a microsite and entering an email (and sometimes more), fans can link their amazon or google accounts to the promotion so they will automatically have an account.

A voice activated sweepstakes can generate excitement for your brand and also create a seamless interaction for your consumers.


Instant win. Collect and win. Match and win. Peel and win. There are many types of promotional games, and this list is just a portion of them. As you can see, there is a big emphasis on winning. Typically consumers have a chance to win with every purchase, so it creates an incentive for customers to buy because more purchases means more chances at winning. With voice activation, you can add on to that feeling by giving consumers extra chances to win when they use a smart speaker for purchases.

A lot of brands have seen success when they add additional ways for customers to participate in a game. Take for example, Raising Cane’s annual ‘Peel the Love’ instant win + collect and win game. Fans can find game pieces on cups with either: letters for the grand prize (collect and win), instant food prizes, codes for online instant win prizes, or codes for bonus plays on their augmented reality game. By playing the bonus augmented reality game, fans can have extra chances to win instant prizes with every bonus code. Voice activation can serve the same purpose for consumers while also creating excitement for your promotion.


You might be wondering, “how could you possibly run a contest via voice activation?” The answer: you can’t. Or rather, you shouldn’t. Would it be cool? Heck yeah. Would anyone use it? Most likely no.

Like most promotional services, voice activation is not one-size-fits all. It’s an amazing tool, but for the right type of promotion. Since contests include a component of skill (typically seen as a photo, video, or essay contest), there isn't much reason to use voice activation with this type of promotion. Like with a sweepstakes, you could include contest rules and prize information via voice activation. Outside of that, there isn’t much room for the application of smart speakers in a contest promotion. And at that point, why include voice activation in your contest at all?

Perhaps it’s best to keep contests and smart speakers separated… for now. However, with potential advancements in smart-speakers and increased voice activation usage in the near future, running a contest with voice activation could be possible. Until then, there are still many ways you can combine voice activation and gamification in your promotional marketing strategy.


Loyalty Program

And that leads us to loyalty. Everywhere you look brands are coming out with a loyalty program of some kind. A lot of brands are looking for ways to create excitement about their program by introducing technologies, like augmented reality. This is where voice activation fits in. Not only will it create buzz for your loyalty program, but it can also get consumers excited about your brand. Consumers could interact with your loyalty program by:

1. Using voice activation to find out how many points they have (or how many points away they are from their next reward).

2. Receiving exclusive rewards for using voice activation. For example, “enable our rewards program skill on your Alexa for a 10% discount on your next purchase”

3. Making purchases with voice activation to receive exclusive rewards

...And that’s just to list a few.

Voice activation makes purchasing as seamless as possible. Give your consumers the incentive to purchase with their smart speakers by adding voice activation to your loyalty program.



The application of smart speakers in promotional marketing is an untapped market. The key to successfully implementing voice activation into your promotion is to provide value to your consumers. Give your consumers the incentive to make purchases with voice-activation by rewarding them with a sweepstakes entry, game piece, or coupon.