How To Leverage The Benefits Of Alexa For Your Brand
Digital assistants are quickly becoming a part of our lives. Amazon Alexa, Apple’s HomePod, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana, Samsung’s Bixby, and China’s Chumenwenwen and Xiaoice are just a few to mention. Virtual assistants are fast becoming commonplace in the home through products like these, with more than 100 million Alexa-enabled devices having been sold till date.
But the home is only the beginning of Amazon’s vision for Alexa. Amazon has extended Alexa’s API so developers can build Alexa Skills, which are essentially third-party apps that take advantage of Alexa’s amazing capabilities. The Alexa Skills marketplace is rapidly growing, from 1,000 to 15,000 in just one year in the Alexa Skill Store, part of the reason that analysts estimate Alexa to become a $10 billion industry by 2020. For businesses, it’s time to get on board now to build with Alexa as it grows.
Over the next few years, companies need to understand this new technology and how it applies to their business. And there will be fight over talent skilled in Alexa Skills and other voice-assistant technologies. With the expected meteoric growth, voice could become the primary way people interact with the internet in as little as 10–15 years. The unprecedented opportunities are appealing not only to the owners of smart devices. Having taken residence in millions of homes, Amazon and Google are paving the way for other brands that offer entertainment, information, goods, and services. If you are curious about leveraging the power of Alexa for business growth, this post is for you.
What Alexa Skills Mean For Businesses
Regardless of industry or worker/customer demographics, organizations should be immediately incentivized to start experimenting with voice because people are going to expect it in the near future. As with every other major technology paradigm shift, those who wait and watch will be behind the times while those who jump in will become innovators, seize market share, and define what the future of voice looks like.
Because Alexa Skills are so new to the market, companies have a world of infinite possibilities in front of them. Not much has been done yet, so there’s a lot of room to become the first to provide a unique interaction for a specific type of business. Skills can be used as a way to obtain information about a company or product (e.g. “Alexa, what’s the Forbes quote of the day?”), augment existing mobile apps and web applications with voice-enabled digital services (e.g. “Alexa, what’s my account balance?”), or enhance customer experiences (“e.g. Alexa, order me a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks”).
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Do You Have To Build Your Alexa Skill Right Now?
As with mobile apps, you shouldn’t jump into the market with little thought to the digital experience you are providing your customers—you will want to take a strategic, meaningful approach that adds a lot of value to your customers if you can—but there’s really no reason not to get started with Alexa Skills as soon as possible. The business benefits for doing this early on are plentiful:
The first advantage is the vast market. Amazon Echo family commands almost 72% market share of current U.S. smart speakers. Loyal users will likely fill their houses with compatible devices. With a legion of connected fridges, door locks, thermostats, lamps, and other appliances that may use Alexa Voice Service API, the potential of Alexa brand market penetration is infinite.
Your investment in the technology is safe. With Alexa controlling such a huge percentage of the marketplace already, it’s likely to maintain that lead for some time. Choosing to develop an Alexa Skills (rather than for another voice platform) simplifies development from both the product strategy and technical development standpoints. Keeping things simple at first means you don’t need to develop for 3–4 platforms at one time. You can develop for Siri, Cortana and the Google Assistant later as necessitated by the market.
Promoting more efficient sorting and accurate matching in the marketplace, AI platforms will be simultaneously winning people’s trust and loyalty.
At the moment, Amazon has tremendous incentive to help companies succeed with Alexa Skills and offers strong customer support for Skills development. This level of support will be likely to dissipate as the market grows.
The Alexa Skills platform will grow more complex. As the technology matures, so will expectations for features and functionality. Getting in early and developing a basic Skill gives you the opportunity to learn without much consequence and iterate as you mature. Right now, you’re not expected to have a completely mature Skill. There’s time to evolve as Alexa’s technology evolves. This will change, just as it did for mobile apps.
With voice being relatively new, it’s an incredible opportunity to beat your competitors to market with a compelling consumer experience that can differentiate you in your industry. Getting ahead of the curve means you won’t be scrambling to figure things out after your competitors have already done so.
As an added bonus, the companies that are first to market will be acknowledged as innovators and may receive a substantial amount of positive media attention.
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In a voice-first world, Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, and other AI-enabled assistants will be a powerful marketing medium. It can combine sales and distribution channel, fulfillment, and service center. Following the gold rush of building brand mobile apps, the current trend is building branded skills for voice assistants.
The increasingly capable voice assistants will be reshaping the brands’ and retailers’ connections with customers. The consumers’ allegiance will be shifting from trusted brands to a trusted platform that helps them navigate the ocean of choices. Re-ordered essentials will be flowing to households like water or electricity. Growing creative audio content will advertise without annoying and alienating listeners. The AI will gather information about the consumers’ preferences to improve the shopping experience and offer the portal to a boundless marketplace of entertainment, news, goods, and services. Amazon Alexa is sure to be one of those platforms.
For publishers, music services, and smart-home tech companies, custom Alexa skills seem to be a must for increasing engagement with millions of users. Other company managers and marketers should consider creating a branded skill as well: it offers a natural way to introduce a brand to potential consumers and abundant opportunities for product improvement, marketing, and advertising, and helps cultivate customer loyalty.