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September 13, 2018Jennifer King
With over 30 published skills and 200,000 active monthly users, there’s no doubt Gal Shenar has cracked the code for building highly engaging Alexa skills. When Amazon introduced in-skill purchasing, Shenar saw even greater opportunity to monetize his skills.
“I wanted to explore more business models and really see what's possible on Alexa,” says Shenar. “In-skill purchasing provides a seamless process that expands the possibilities of voice, what I can provide to my customers, and what I can earn.”
Shenar has added in-skill purchasing for premium content to two of his most popular game skills, Escape the Room and Escape the Airplane, to deliver more engaging experiences to customers. So far, those customers are more than happy to pay for his optional “hint” packs. For Escape the Airplane, Shenar is seeing conversion rates as high as 34%. And 8% of Escape the Room players who are offered the premium content have opted in to purchase the packs.
“Monetization drives growth in any industry,” says Shenar. “It’s great to have in-skill purchasing because I'm able to have complete control over my skills, my business, and how my investment brings in money.”
As a web developer by day, Shenar was initially intrigued by the possibilities with Alexa. His curiosity paid off quickly–he received $25,000 in Alexa Developer Rewards within six months of publishing his first skill. The rewards allowed him to invest more time building more complex skills and to hire others to create even higher quality content and audio.
Now Shenar has a thriving voice business called Stoked Skills and a growing catalog of skills that span the gamut of popular categories, from surf weather reporting to meditation and workout skills.
But Shenar knew the only way to build a sustainable voice business was to continually offer customers more in terms of content and engaging new features. With Escape the Room and Escape the Airplane, which are voice-first variations of popular “escape rooms” around the world, the skills detect if players get stuck on a puzzle and then offer “hint” packs for purchase.
“You can play the game for free, but if you get stuck, you can get the premium, tailored experience of receiving contextual hints during the game,” says Shenar. “You can ask for a hint to help you along without ruining the puzzles you're trying to solve.”
Both skills have a 4.6-star rating in the Alexa Skills Store. By offering premium content for highly engaging skills like these, Shenar gives customer more of what they love.
“I'm really excited to keep seeing all the positive feedback,” says Shenar. “The conversion rates that I'm seeing on my skills of people who purchase after hearing the upsell are much higher than what you’d expect on mobile.”
A well-known marketing mantra is “no one likes to be sold.” The same holds true when offering your in-skill products, according to Shenar. To be effective, the offer has to be a welcome one, and one that doesn’t mar the customer experience with a hard sales pitch. That’s important to Shenar, whose Escape the Room skill has over 1,000 reviews and a 4.6-star rating
“I've seen reviews of parents playing with their families and couples who have a date night and play the games together,” says Shenar. “Seeing reviews like this has kept me excited about offering more content and features.”
Rather than trying to push a sale on customers, Shenar instead approaches it as offering them a premium experience. While the hint packs enhance the skill, customers can continue to play and enjoy the games even if they don’t purchase them.
Shenar suggests a few tips for making your in-skill purchasing experience a delightful one. First, make sure your skill is one that customers love and want to spend time with. Understand your audience and how it reacts to your skill, then imagine what those customers want more of and would be willing to buy.
He also suggests offering a sample of the premium content—such as a complimentary “hint” for Escape the Room—before customers make the purchase. When customers see they can get more of what they already love, they’re more likely to be happy to pay for the premium content.
“People are more likely to spend money on your skill if they're coming back to it already, so start with a skill that people can incorporate into their daily lives,” says Shenar. “When you can make the experience better for a couple of dollars, people might be willing to spend money on that.”
According to Shenar, in-skill purchasing gives him the ability to deliver more engaging experiences to customers and provide an additional revenue stream for his voice business. But with that revenue comes an added benefit: control over how much and how fast your business can grow.
“Monetization gives me control over how much money I can bring in,” says Shenar. “I hope to use in-skill purchasing and other Alexa monetization capabilities to keep growing my business and reaching more customers.”