In January 2019, Amazon released figures that over 100 million Alexa devices have been sold. This is not unrelated to the fact that about 80,000 skills have been developed for Alexa. According to figures from 2018, there are now more than 28,000 Alexa-compatible smart home devices from 4,500 different brands. These figures are expected to be on a steady increase as more people now find life much more comfortable with smart devices.
However, Alexa isn’t the only AI-powered voice assistant in the market; there is the Google Assistant with “Actions” and Apple HomePod with its abilities. The advantage Alexa has is that there are far more skills than the actions with Google Assistant or Apple HomePod. Thus, when it comes to market share, Alexa still has a majority.
Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP), in January 2018, estimated that Amazon Echo/Alexa controlled 69% of the U.S. smart speaker market. Google Home owned the remainder, with a tiny percentage going to Apple’s HomePod. More than a year later, new CIRP data shows roughly the same breakdown, with Amazon maintaining a 70% market share. – Marketing Land
What is Alexa then?According to Wikipedia, Alexa is a virtual assistant developed by Amazon, first used in the Amazon Echo and the Amazon Echo Dot smart speakers developed by Amazon Lab126. If you own an Alexa device, you call the name and you get to hear a virtual female assistant’s voice which uses a conversational tone with you. Many of Amazon’s products include Alexa and some third party products also include it. Sonos One Speaker is one popular example.
What really happens with Alexa is that when you ask the device, Alexa, a question, you are basically communicating with a cloud-based service. The technology, Alexa Voice Service, has been designed to imitate real conversations. However, you are using intuitive voice commands to get this service to perform some specific tasks. When you call “Alexa”, you have woken the device and it starts to listen to you. You may have to mention its name to get a response. However, you can change the wake word to “Amazon” or “Echo” as there is a possibility that someone else in the environment bears the name.
Alexa Skills and Expanding Possibilities
It is as easy as saying “Alexa, what’s new with you?” to know that a new skill has been added to Alexa Skills. The list of skills keeps expanding and it includes about 80,000 skills. New skills are being added every day to the Amazon Skills Store.
Alexa's skills are the built-in capabilities of the device. According to the developer, Alexa's abilities include playing music from multiple providers, answering questions, providing weather forecasts, and querying Wikipedia. However, this is in addition to the several skills it has.
In the world of marketing, things are moving fast. New trends are pushing out old practices and more ways are being developed to make life much easier for the final consumer. Alexa is a device with so many potentials.
Notwithstanding the fact that Amazon has stated that there will be no voice ad with Alexa, there is an emerging culture, or better put, an established culture of marketing through Alexa skills.
Marketing Trends with Alexa
With Alexa taking more responsibilities by the day through the inclusion of skills, brands have been adding skills to the technology. These skills have been used by some brands to bring in more sales without overtly running commercials. By looking at their products and providing a service, they have been able to find a spot in the everyday lives of users.
Tide is a brand with a skill on Alexa that can help with the removal of up to 200 stains. This skill has wide usage. Because Tide is providing a useful professional service, its products can easily be suggested for stain removals.
Purina is another brand with “Ask Purina” on Alexa. This brand is known for pet food but has established itself as an authority on dogs in general. Alexa can easily be asked to “Ask Purina” about dogs that are best for kids or about a certain condition or ailment about dogs.
Zyrtec is an allergy medical brand that has created a skill to help those with allergies evaluate weather conditions, pollen count, and prominent allergens in their area before they step out. The skill goes further to provide a Personal Allergy Impact Score that informs users on how the day’s allergens might make them feel. This helps the brand make sales as it encourages users to pick a bottle of allergy medications on certain days.
It is very important to note that as more people are getting accustomed to the voice technology, patterns in the search for information and purchases are taking a chance. In research conducted by Think with Google in 2017, 72% of people who owned a voice-activated speakers said that the devices were used as part of their everyday routine.
It is noteworthy that 31% of smart speaker owners say they spend more money on Amazon and Google since they got the speakers.
Adopting Alexa for Your Business
According to voicebot.ai, “there are now 28,000 Alexa compatible devices from 4,500 brands, and 150 products with Alexa built-in.” These figures are not static are more are being produced and sold to different homes. If Amazon could announce that about 100 million units of Alexa have been sold, then, there is a large market to reach.
A lot of brands and businesses are getting onboard Alexa skills and as with every trend, the buzz is still quite strong. However, to determine if Alexa is the way to go for your business, you need to look at your market offerings and note the unique services you can give to users. You may have to determine if you are going to make profits in the short term or long term or your motive is brand awareness.
It is possible that your aim is to instill convenience. To make users resonate more with your brand, you can get onboard Alexa skills and make your products interactive with your customers.
Information is an essential part of smart speakers. Users want to know the insurance plan is best for a property or which internet plan is most suitable for them. Being able to provide useful information can draw users to your brand. For instance, if a vitamin and supplement brand constantly gives good health tips and recommendations to users on the maintenance of body weight; it would be easy for the brand to suggest products on its shelves.
It should be noted that not every business can effectively use Alexa skills. For instance, an auto repair chain limited by geographical location can only pitch to customers who stay near. A person in another state where the chain does not have a location cannot be converted into a customer.
More, it is important to learn from the mistakes of some brands using Alexa skills as bugs, and certain technical errors can cause a reduction in these ratings and usage.
You can use Alexa skill analytics to know if your skill usage is getting a progression or reduction. This tells you if the skill is of top quality. You can also use the metrics to track the conversation paths of your most-engaged users, and also note what causes users to drop off. This can help you make fast decisions on improvements and look for ways of increasing your retention rates.
When you take steps to ensure that your skill is the best it can be, you are on the path to the future of marketing.
Have a Strategy to Help Your Content Marketing
Content is what you provide on Alexa and it is the way you nurture relationships with users. With Alexa skills, you have an avenue with users.
Look at your content and see how it can be made to fit a voice-specific strategy. You can set specific utterances or questions so that your skill would come upon that signal via voice.
Purina is a leading brand on this. It easily comes up when questions are asked about dogs.
With your content marketing strategy, you can complement your existing market strategy by being closer to customers and answering questions they might have.
Amazon’s e-commerce sales for 2018 totaled about $258.2 billion. This is a 30% increase from the 2017 figures. Tide has been able to key into Alexa skills to get a share of this pie by having a content strategy in place and suggesting stain removal products to users.
There are many more potentials with Alexa as it is gaining ground internationally and Amazon is on the prowl for new skills for Alexa. You can tap into this resource to project your brand and make more conversions.