Businesses have to adapt to innovations to maximize their reach. Most recently, leveraging voice opens doors, allowing businesses to provide a more effective marketing experience and limitless potential to reach their intended audiences.
The landscape for marketing your business's products and services has changed dramatically. First, it was all about SEO. Without a site that was properly optimized for search, you risked being left in the dust. Next, it was mobile and ensuring mobile-first web design, communications, and visuals. Around the same time, marketing strategies focused on ways to leverage social media for brand awareness, inbound marketing and customer service.
The next great frontier for marketing? Voice.
Smart speakers such as Google Home and Amazon Echo have seen astonishing growth in the past few years, a trend that is projected to continue with sales of these products growing at a compound annual rate of 47.9 percent. The skyrocketing popularity of smart speakers and other devices equipped to handle voice commands presents marketers with a massive amount of potential to reach their audiences in a new way.
One such way that businesses can reach an audience using smart speakers is through Amazon Alexa Skills. Amazon is neck and neck with Google for the largest market share of smart speakers. Alexa Skills, however, put Amazon far ahead of its competitors when it comes to marketing potential.
What are Amazon Alexa Skills?
Alexa is to an Amazon smart speaker as Siri is to an iPhone. In keeping with that comparison, Alexa Skills are essentially apps for a smart speaker. Users can download a skill for Amazon Alexa that can be used with any of Amazon's voice products like Echo, Dot or Firestick.
Alexa Skills can take many forms, including:
- Flash Briefings: Present short and concise updates on a specific topic, such as the weather, news, or sports, or to share the latest news from a certain company or website.
- List Skills: These skills allow a customer to keep track of tasks, groceries and other lists.
- Smart Home Skills: A business can create a skill that syncs with its product in a customer's home, enabling the customer to, for example, ask Alexa to turn off the lights, change the TV channel or turn down the thermostat.
- Custom Skills: Custom skills present the most opportunity to marketers as they enable a business or person to design a skill around a specific customer intent.
Here are five reasons why marketers should leverage Alexa Skills for their business.
1. Underutilized market
Amazon Alexa Skills are still new tools, which means that any marketer who gets in early will reap the rewards. The potential here is not unlike it was for those who invested time and energy to figure out Facebook ads early. Those marketers won big because they were competing with very few other brands. Today, the Alexa Skill arena is similar to early Facebook. Alexa isn't bombarded with branded content and ads, which enables a brand to make a strong impression.
2. Personalized experiences
Customers are increasingly demanding personalized experiences and relevant content in the marketing they receive. Amazon Alexa skills provide marketers with the chance to deliver customized content based on a user's interests and priorities. For example, a university could create a skill that allows students to find out what assignments are due the upcoming week or email their professor with a question.
3. Branded and unbranded skills
Marketers can create both branded and unbranded skills to target different market segments with different content. For example, a liquor brand could develop a branded skill that provides users with different product information. That same brand could also develop a more generic skill that helps users mix cocktails – not necessarily with that brand's liquors. This generic or unbranded skill allows marketers to potentially reach a broader audience that may be higher up in the sales funnel, while the branded skill targets a more established customer base.
4. Content marketing
Content marketers can leverage both flash briefings and custom skills to reach their audience. A restaurant could build a flash briefing that rattles off the day’s specials, and even include exclusive discounts or incentives for those who listen to the briefing.
It's unclear how and when Amazon will integrate ads into flash briefings in the future, but marketers should keep an eye on this possibility.
Custom skills can also help marketers improve the customer experience by being able to answer commonly-asked questions. A great example of effective custom skills for content marketing includes Tide's Stain Remover skill, which can provide step-by-step instructions on how to get rid of hundreds of different stains. While it's not overt marketing, the skill provides value to the customer and establishes a great organic touchpoint for the brand.
5. Management and analytics
Marketers can leverage skills built by other businesses to streamline their own processes, schedules and communication. Skills for platforms like Google Analytics, Shopify and Slack can help marketers to stay on top of their day-to-day tasks and reporting.