Amazon recently announced 31 new features for Amazon Alexa. Here are the top seven for marketers.
Whether you’re actively using Alexa for your business or you’re considering it, Amazon has just release a host of features that will help you across the whole marketing lifecycle. From raising awareness, to skill discoverability, to in-skill functionality to engagement and conversions.
Here are the top 7 new Alexa features that marketers should pay attention to.
1. Name-Free Invocation (NFI) toolkit
Name free invocations allow users to invoke a skill without explicitly asking for it by name.
For example, if you want to order a taxi, usually, you would have to ask Alexa to ask Uber to book you a taxi.
Name free invocations allow a user to just say “Alexa, book me a taxi”, and if Uber implement name free invocations, the skill can put its hand up and say ‘Alexa, whenever someone asks you to book them a taxi, I can do that for you.’Name free invocations allow users to invoke a skill without explicitly asking for it by name. Click To Tweet
The name free invocation toolkit is an easier and a more simplified way of creating and managing your name free invocations.
That’s going to help you get people into your skill and discover the features that your skill can do.
2. Quick links
Quick links allow you to create URLs that link directly to your skill on a user’s echo device.
Usually, if you want to promote your skill online, the only link that you get is to the skill’s web page.
If you’re on desktop, you’ll get a link to the Amazon site, which will have your skill there. If you’re on mobile, you’ll get a link to the Alexa app and you can click ‘enable’ to enable the skill.Quick links allow you to create URLs that link directly to your skill on a user’s echo device. Click To Tweet
But you can’t launch the skill. Users still have to jump through a few hoops to initiate the interaction with your skill.
If you set up quick links, it’ll enable your users to click on a link on a social post, a website, an email, any digital location, and they’ll get the option to launch the skill there and then on an Echo device nearest to them.
Their Echo will send them a notification which will hop them straight into your skill.
That means that you can take people from any online destination into a voice experience with 1-click (providing they’re already signed in).
And, you can also link directly to functionality.
For example, a restaurant could run a social campaign that has a ‘click here to reserve a table on Alexa’ CTA.
Now, the restaurant’s skill might have all kinds of functionality in it, like menus, allergies, directions and the like, but by clicking that link, the user would go straight to the ‘reservation’ intent within the skill for them to book a table immediately.
This reduces friction in getting people into your skill and allows you to market individual skill features separately.
3. Custom tasks
Custom tasks enable your skill to put its hand up to other skills and say ‘we can perform a certain function if you need it.’
For example, a user could book a table using a restaurant skill, and afterwards, the skill could suggest that they also book a taxi. If the user says ‘yes’, the restaurant skill can send the user into the taxi skill at the appropriate place for them to continue their interaction and make a booking. The user can then be sent back to the restaurant skill afterwards.Custom tasks enable your skill to put its hand up to other skills and say ‘we can perform a certain function if you need it.’ Click To Tweet
Certain tasks, like booking a taxi, have been available for a while, but now you can create custom tasks based on whatever it is that your skill does.
That means that anything your skill can do, any function that it provides, you can enable other skills to link to it.
Think of it a little bit like link building for Alexa skills. Or, like iframing.
It’s a good way of getting cross skill traffic. Even though the concept is in its infancy, it’s now in beta for everyone worldwide.
4. App to app account linking
App to app account linking is the ability to allow users of your skill to link their account (so that they can access secured or personalised content or services) within the Alexa app when they enable the skill.
For example, if you’re a bank, you would have people link their account so that they can check their balance.
Typically, a user would have to go into the skill and get to a point where you need to sign in. Then, they’d have to leave the skill and go and fiddle around to try and link their account.
App to app account linking means that, when a user enables a skill in the Alexa app, they can link their account immediately.
It’s not a huge benefit because we don’t know how many people enable skills from within the app, but it still streamlines the customer experience.
5. And 6. Personal profile API and skill limit access
Next is the personal profile API and skill limit access (preview). Those two work hand in hand.
The personal profile API is the ability to use Alexa voice profiles to tailor content to users based on who’s talking.
That means that, if your Pandora, then when I ask for music, you can play my favorite songs. When my wife asks for music, you can play her favorite songs.
It’s based on the sound of her voice and her voice profile.
Skill limit access allows you to limit access to parts of the skill to specific voice profiles.
For example, Tesco might allow me to link my account and allow anybody to add things to my shopping list. Then they could use skill limit access, to restrict access to the checkout functionality to me, based on my voice.
This will enable you to conduct even more secure transactions and will open the door to more services and products being able to be accessed and sold on the platform.Personal Profile API and Skill Limit Access enable marketers to build even more secure transactions on #Alexa Click To Tweet
7. Alexa for apps
Alexa for apps is the ability to deep link to information or features within your app from the Alexa app on your phone.
Google has had app actions for a while in beta, which is the ability to have an interaction with Google Assistant on the mobile and then trigger app functionality from within apps either in Google Assistant or to link people out of Google Assistant into the app to the appropriate place.
For example, a bank action would enable a user to ask Google Assistant for an account balance. Then, when the user says “transfer some money”, it would hop the user out of Google Assistant into the ‘transfer money’ section of the app.
Alexa for apps is the exact same concept.Alexa for apps is the ability to deep link to information or features within your app from the Alexa app on your phone. Click To Tweet
It means that, if you’re interacting with an Alexa skill on your mobile, when you get to a point that can’t be fulfilled within the skill, you can deep link people to either information or transactions within the app that they have installed on their phone.
This lets you build on the functionality and the features that you already have in your app and provide value for Alexa users on mobile.
How many people use Alexa on mobile? We don’t really know right now, but there’s a whole lot of features in the 31 that were announced that are related to Alexa for mobile. One can only assume that Amazon are going to start really pushing the Alexa app and Alexa access on a mobile over the coming months.
So that’s the top 7 features from the new Alexa announcements that are most important for marketers.
There’s a load more, such as in skill purchases on amazon.com, in skill purchasing on screens, customer behavior analytics, and others, but the most important ones are those seven right there.
What’s clear is that Amazon is making the right kind of moves to enable marketers and business to leverage the Alexa platform across channels. Helping you bring users into the experience, helping you provide a solid experience and helping you convert, too.
The tools are there. They’re just waiting for you to use them.