Does your domain name pass the voice test?

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Microphone and headphones - voice test

One of the measures often used for determining the suitability of a domain name (and corresponding brand), is what’s commonly called the ‘radio test’.

The ‘radio test’ simply means that if someone heard your domain name on the radio, would they easily and correctly recall the domain name?

For example, if a business used the domain name weight.com.au in a radio ad, it’s quite possible that some people would mistakenly navigate to wait.com.au after hearing the ad. Another example is three.com.au, which many listeners would hear as free.com.au.

Is your domain name difficult to say or spell? If it is, then many people could end up in the wrong place when trying to navigate to your website. Longer domain names are also more prone to typos (and harder for people to recall). Sometimes we refer to this as the ‘keyboard test’, but given the variety of input options now on offer (keyboards, touch screens, voice, etc), that term is rapidly becoming outdated.

Given the wide range of potential brand interactions (e.g. radio, podcasts, TV, face-to-face, etc), the test is clearly much broader than just radio; which is why we prefer to use the term ‘voice test’.

Word-of-mouth is still a huge source of referrals in many industries. If someone recommends your brand to a friend at a social gathering, but your prospective new customer then mistakenly goes to a similar sounding domain name – that’s a wasted opportunity (and a big fail on the voice test!).

There are also existing and emerging technologies that leverage voice for activities such as searching the web. Two prominent examples are Amazon Echo and Google Home.

We’re going to be hearing phrases like “Hey Alexa” and “OK Google” a lot more over the coming years, as people spend more time talking to their devices!

The following example illustrates the growing importance of voice for online queries. Two office workers were discussing a new business that uses a generic, industry-defining term for its domain name and brand (much like realestate.com.au, for example). The worker that learnt of this new business from her colleague, later used voice search on her device to find their website. She said the term “coworking” and her device immediately asked if she meant coworking.com.au. The response matched the domain name used by the brand, so that’s a big tick on the voice test for that business.

With the massive increase in consumer usage of search engines (e.g. Googling a brand rather than navigating directly to the website), some pundits have argued that the radio test (voice test) is becoming less important. However, the usage of voice applications is also growing rapidly, which is why we would argue that the voice test is actually becoming an increasingly important consideration for brand owners.

If your domain name fails the voice test, then you could be losing huge volumes of prospective or repeat custom that you’re not even aware of. And the problem will only get worse as voice plays a greater role in how we interact with applications and devices. If your domain name fails the voice test, it’s probably a good time to consider a new domain name; and possibly even a new brand more broadly.

If you’re starting a new brand or product offering, make sure that you consider voice when making your choice on a domain name.


Disclosure: we own the coworking.com.au brand. The example used in this article outlines the circumstances as later described to us by the third parties involved.

May 17, 2018 |

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