When Amazon introduced Alexa, solutions architect Joel Wilson saw more than just a new technology challenge; he saw an opportunity to encourage people to learn. Combining his love of technology and knowledge, he built the trivia skill Question of the Day. With hundreds of thousands of monthly users, 4,000 reviews, and a 4.9-star rating in the Alexa Skills Store, customers say it’s a skill that they “take the time to play every single day.”
“Voice is so intuitive, conversational, and interactive, it’s the perfect way to teach people interesting facts about the world,” says Wilson.
In addition to using technology to encourage learning, Wilson saw two exciting opportunities for developers. First, he recognized voice as the new frontier for gaming, so he added game-like features to attract more players to his skill and keep them engaged. Second, once he saw the popularity of his skill, he recognized it as an opportunity to monetize the experience. Wilson added in-skill purchasing (ISP) to his skill, which allowed him to offer premium content to customers and extend their gameplay while establishing a sustainable revenue stream for his new voice-first gaming company matchbox.io.
“There’s still a lot to be explored with voice gaming,” says Wilson. “The real opportunity to build our business lies in discovering what customers really want and love about our in-skill products.”
Question of the Day Turns Trivia into an Engaging Voice-First Game
Recalling his childhood hunger for knowledge, Wilson says voice is the ideal interface for learning, not to mention gaming.
“Home computers, the internet, and mobile devices have brought knowledge so much closer to people,” says Wilson. “But Alexa makes learning so natural. You can simply ask a question and get an immediate response, no typing or tapping required.”
When you invoke Question of the Day, Alexa asks you a question from a variety of categories, such as History, General Knowledge, Movies, and Geography. It then provides a list of four possible answers from which the player can choose. The round of play isn’t over with a “right” or “wrong” answer, however. In keeping with Wilson’s belief that we should all continue to learn, Alexa provides context and interesting facts, so the player understands why the question and answer are important.
“Voice is the perfect, most accessible interface for gaming,” says Wilson. “We can tailor the experience to customers’ wants and needs, so they can learn something quick, hear more in-depth info about a particular fact, or settle in for an extended game play.”
In-Skill Purchasing Makes Gaming Fun with More Topics, Challenges, and Competition
Wilson’s gamification strategies keep Question of the Day customers coming back day after day. But for most people, answering just a single question per day is hard—especially when extended answers are delivered in such an interesting way. When Amazon introduced monetization for Alexa skills, Wilson saw the opportunity to offer his customers premium experiences with in-skill purchasing.
Players can buy “game packs” that contain several questions on a single topic of the player’s choice. At $1.95 each, the game packs also enable multiplayer mode for one to four players—perfect for parties and family gatherings. For real trivia fans, Wilson offers a membership to the Question of the Day Trivia Club, which is a $2.95 monthly subscription that comes with a free seven-day trial. The subscription gives players three daily bonus questions, unlimited access to all current and future game packs, and the ability to compete on local, state, and national leaderboards.
“The ultimate goal of any business is to give customers more of what they want,” says Wilson. “By offering access to more topics, challenges, and competition, we’re building a profitable business and further delighting our customers.”
Wilson continues to enhance the skill experience by following Amazon’s best practices for monetized skills, which made Question of the Day eligible for promotion in Amazon marketing channels like the Alexa Skills Store and Alexa gaming emails to customers.
“We’re often featured on the first page in the Alexa Skills Store, and every time we’re mentioned in an Alexa customer email, we see a huge spike in our traffic,” says Wilson. “Combined with our own marketing efforts, Amazon promotion keeps our visibility high and more customers engaging with the skill.”
Strategies for Retention are Key to Predictable Revenue
Wilson says that while marketing is important for attracting new users, retaining those customers is the key to a successful voice business.
“The most important thing for us is retention and keeping players coming back the next day,” says Wilson. “If we don't have retention, we're not going to have conversion. And without conversion, there’s no revenue stream.”
Wilson uses several tactics to keep customers coming back for more:
- Adding gamification features – Wilson added numerous gamification features to turn a trivia skill into a true gaming experience. For example, players earn bonus questions for answering the first question correctly. They also collect points and badges for correct answers.
- Reminding customers to “come back daily” with a flash briefing skill – Wilson created Question of the Day Briefing and promotes it through emails, Facebook, and other channels. The briefing recaps the previous day’s question, answer, and number of overall and correct responses. It also reminds players to return to Question of the Day to play again.
- Building a loyal following (and spreading the word) with a dedicated Facebook page – With over 6,000 “likes” so far, the Question of the Day Facebook page is a great way to engage existing customers while raising “word of mouth” visibility among your customers’ social connections. As with the flash briefing, the Facebook page encourages return visits with daily posts featuring the previous day’s question and results.
- Encouraging customers to ask Alexa for a daily reminder to play – Wilson uses Facebook posts, emails, and FAQs to tell customers it’s easy to ask Alexa for a reminder to play Question of the Day every day. (You can also use the Alexa Skills Kit Reminders API to allow users to set a reminder right within your skill.)
Voice Is the Future of Gaming, and Could Be the Future of Your Business
Wilson believes that voice is the next evolution of games and now is the time for developers to build a sustainable business with Alexa. By combining a unique idea with quality content and a compelling monetized experience, developers can start building the future of voice-first games.
“We’re on a mission to enable frictionless learning, and we’ve just scratched the surface of how we can do that with voice-first games,” says Wilson. “In-skill purchasing lets us quickly give customers more of what they want by delivering premium content they’re willing to pay for, which in turn allows us to grow, scale, and invest more in our business.”
Make Money by Creating Engaging Voice Games Customers Love
With ISP, you can sell premium content to enrich your Alexa skill experience. ISP supports one-time purchases for entitlements that unlock access to features or content in your skill, subscriptions that offer access to premium features or content for a period of time, and consumables which can be purchased and depleted. You define your premium offering and price, and we handle the voice-first purchasing flow. Download our introductory guide to learn more.