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Account Linking

Published: April 14, 2023

Key takeaways

To unlock new, more personalized experiences, you can enable account linking between your service and your customer's Alexa App. Learn how account linking enables customers to do more with your skill, including making purchases.


Need quick advice?

View the Checklist for designing skills for account linking.


In this article:


What is account linking?

If you already have an app or web service, you might want to bring parts of your customers’ experience to Alexa. Alexa might be able to make certain tasks your customers already perform easier, faster, or more fun with their voice. Bringing your service to Alexa can add value for your customers, and could help you reach new ones.

Learn more about what makes a great conversation with Design Principles: Should You Use Alexa?

Once you design and configure your skill to use Account Linking, your skill can connect your customer’s Amazon identity with their identity in your system. The customer can link their account in the Alexa app, or, with some additional configuration, log in with your existing app or with their voice.

When a customer links an account, you can unlock a new world of possible experiences for them, including deeper personalization, shortcuts, and more utility. You can even use the information on their account to help them make purchases or payments.

For more information on how to implement account linking in your Alexa skill, see Add Account Linking to Your Alexa Skill.

Personalization & utility

When you use Account Linking, you can design a skill that connects the skill user's Amazon identity with their identity in a different system to immediately personalize their experience. Some examples include:

  • A skill that helps customers meditate uses account linking to recognize their existing subscribers, with access to their favorites list for quick play.
  • A skill that helps customers book salon appointments might use the appointment history in the customer’s account to tell them about upcoming openings with their favorite stylist in a time slot they’ve booked in the past. “Cindy has a few open appointments on Friday again. How about the one at 4 pm?"
  • A skill could use a customer’s order history from their account to infer they want a large black iced coffee when the customer asks to “Order my usual.”:“You got it. Your usual large iced coffee. Black. Added. Would you like anything else?”
  • A skill could use various statuses related to a customer’s account to proactively give them timely information (and possibly saving them the bother of asking). “Welcome back, Dave. Your order from February 14 is in transit. It should arrive tomorrow. Your January balance is due in 4 days. Want to pay it?”

A skill that uses account linking to give its customers a highly personal and contextual experience might sound something like the following conversation. Imagine a customer has created an account with a service to help them care for their plants. They’ve just linked their account to their Alexa app in their previous session.

Customer: Alexa, open Plant Pal

Brian: Welcome back to Plant Pal. Thanks for linking an account. It’s time to check on your Monstera. Are you ready to get started?

Customer: Yes

Brian: Fantastic. Last week you watered your large Monstera, but spring is peak growing season. Feel the top two inches of soil.

Brian: Is the soil moist, or dry?

Customer: It’s dry.

Brian: Dry. Got it. Go ahead and water your Monstera.

*<chime/music>* <audio src="soundbank://soundlibrary/ui/gameshow/amzn_ui_sfx_gameshow_waiting_loop_30s_01"/>

Brian: Are you ready to move on?

Customer: No thanks.

Brian: Alright. Thanks for gardening with me today. That’s 8 days in a row. You’re on your way to becoming a real green thumb. Good bye.

Alexa shouldn’t thank this customer for linking an account again. That was a contextual and personal experience that the skill won’t surface again (unless the customer links a different account). To learn more about creating contextually relevant conversations, read Design Principles: Be Contextual.

To learn more about personalizing skills read Personalization With or Without Account Linking


Checklist for designing a skill with account linking:

▢  Check if account linking is required for your skill type

▢  Offer value and usefulness to customers without an account, where possible

▢  Clearly communicate to the customer what they can do with the skill without linking their account

▢  Avoid surfacing excessive account linking-related errors, or end the skill session with an error, where possible

▢  Clearly state the value of linking an account in your prompts

▢  If account linking isn’t required to use the skill, remind customers periodically about the benefit of account linking

▢  Avoid surfacing excessive messages to account link; consider a cooling-off period

▢  Use account linking to enhance and personalize each experience

▢  Keep your messages about account linking short while communicating who, what, when, where, why, and how of account linking with your skill


Are there alternatives to account linking?

Because account linking introduces interrupts the customer’s progress within the skill session, determine whether your skill needs to use account linking at all. If you have an existing service but have no need to personalize or otherwise tailor the customer’s skill session to their account, account linking is not required.

  • For persistent storage between skill sessions, such as recording user preferences or tracking a player's progress through a game, device state information must be saved with the user's ID in an external database.
  • If you need information such as the user's address or location, use the permission feature instead of account linking. For more information, see Configure Permissions for Customer Information in Your Skill.


Use voice ID to personalize skills without account linking

Even without further account linking, voice ID identifies who is speaking when possible. Knowing who is speaking means a skill could …

  • Greet a customer by name.
  • Host a multi-player trivia game: Alexa knows who answered first and correctly.
  • Support multiple lists of favorites for multiple people: Alexa knows whose “favorites” to play because she knows who requested it.
  • Track progress against simple tasks or goals for multiple people.

If you will use account linking in a music skill or custom skill, multiple customers may also try to link their accounts. When a customer turns on the Personalize Skills option in their Alexa settings, Alexa can recognize the speaker by their voice and use the correct personal account without asking “Alexa, switch accounts.”

To learn more about using a customer’s voice ID when they turn on Personalize Skills in their Alexa app, read Use Personalization With or Without Account Linking.


Design for those without an account

When a customer uses your skill for the first time, most won’t be aware how it can use their account information to help them, so probably haven’t enabled their account already. In this state, you’ll want to design the skill to still provide value, but also inform customers about the value unlocked by linking their account.

What should your skill do without account linking? Consider that if the core functions of your skill (such as placing an order, making a reservation, querying account details, etc.) will not work without a customer linking an account, there may be some complementary functions it can perform that provide utility. Some hypothetical examples include …up

  • A customer can ask a nutrition information skill about the foods in their lunch, but without linking their account, they can’t ask Alexa to log it to their food journal and hear where it puts them toward their goals for the day.
  • A customer can browse a lunch menu and add items to their order with a skill before they need to link an account to pay for it and place the order.
  • A customer can learn about a schedule with a skill before they need to link their account to book fitness classes.


When should you tell the customer about account linking?

Your custom skill will need to tell your customers how and why they should link an account (or create one). Avoid including too many messages about it, or write messages that seem to your customer like unsolicited messaging. When is a good time to tell customers about account linking?

There are a few points at which customers may link their accounts:

  1. Enabling the skill: If they enable a skill through the app, it will prompt them to link an account when they choose “Enable to use.”
  2. Skill settings: The customer can select “Link Account” from the skill detail page in the Alexa app any time after they enable the skill.
  3. Skill cards: The skill can send an account linking card to the Alexa app at the customer’s request, or when they try to use a feature of the skill that requires account linking.

When you design your skill for both customers who have and haven’t linked an account, consider how the skill’s responses should vary depending on their account linking status. For example, how might your skill respond to a first-time user with a linked account, compared with a first-time user whose account is not linked?

When you greet the customer the first time they use your skill: If your skill’s main use case cannot be performed without account linking, you might want to let customers know about account linking as soon as possible. For example:

Customer: Alexa, ask Lunch Buddy to order a sandwich.

Alexa: Welcome to Lunch buddy. You’ll need to link or create a lunch buddy account to place an order. I sent some information to your Alexa app to help you.

Conversely, first impressions are critical, and it might not be necessary to add noise (or annoyance) to your “welcome message” by telling the customer all about account linking if doing so would not provide an immediate benefit or unlock a core part of the skill. For example, avoid and experience like the following:

Customer: Alexa, open My Flight Finder.

Alexa: Welcome to My Flight Finder. Did you know that when you link a My Flight Finder account, I can help you find discounts on airline tickets? I sent some information to your Alexa app to help you link or create an account. What city are you departing from?

If the customer requests an action that requires it: Customers might ask to perform a task in your skill directly that it cannot complete without the customer linking an account first. You’ll need to tell them what to do next in this case. For example:

Customer: Alexa, open Sports Wire

Matthew: Welcome back to Sports Wire. I can help you listen to live radio of games from your favorite teams. What would you like to listen to?

Customer: Play the Seahawks game from last night.

Matthew: To save and play favorite teams and shows, you’ll want to link an account. I sent some information to your Alexa app to help you. For now, I can play live radio. How about KLMN 99.9, Seattle sports talk?

Customer: No thanks.

Matthew: No worries. Check your Alexa app to create or link a Sports Wire account. Thanks for visiting.

If the customer returns to the skill often without account linking: It may be appropriate to occasionally remind these customers of the benefits of linking an account. Consider doing this sometime while they are using a skill, such as browsing content. For example, the fifth time the customer returns to use the following skill, it might say something like the following:

Customer: Alexa, open Sports Wire

Matthew: Welcome back to Sports Wire. You were listening to KLMN 99.9, Seattle sports talk. Want to keep listening?

Customer: No

Matthew: Ok. I can tune into hundreds of other radio stations and sports talk radio shows. And when you link an account, you can save games from your favorite teams to listen later. I sent some information to your Alexa app to help you. What else would you like to hear?


Best practices: Write messages about account linking

When you do prompt your customers to link an account, you’ll want to Be Brief while telling them about why they should (or need to) link an account, and what they need to do next.

Don't be generic or vague about the details.

Customer: Alexa, ask Plant Pal for my to-do list.

Brian: Sorry, you need to link an account to do that. Check your Alexa app for details. Can I help with anything else?

Do be specific. Cover who, what, why, when, where, and how.

Customer: Alexa, ask Plant Pal for my to-do list.

Brian: To use Plant Pal to help you track your plant care, you’ll need to link an account. I sent some information to your Alexa App to help you. In the meantime, you can ask me about common houseplants. How can I help?

Don’t be verbose. There’s no need to include all the fine details about the benefit of account linking.

Customer: Alexa, open MyCapital

Alexa: MyCapital can help you check your balance, pay your bill, get breakdowns of your spending, track your credit score, and more when you link a MyCapital account. Don’t have an account? You can create one today. Check your Alexa app for the information I just sent to help you.

Do be brief. Summarize the most important benefits of account linking..

Customer: Alexa, open MyCapital

Alexa: When you link a MyCapital account, I can help you pay your bill, track your spending and credit score, and more. I sent some information to your Alexa app to help you.

Don’t bait and switch. Customers become annoyed when presented with options that will result in friction, such as an error or an upsell message, if they select it.

Customer: Alexa, start Seattle Super Trivia

Alexa: Welcome back to Seattle Super trivia. You can start the daily game, or hear the leaderboard. Which do you want?

Customer: The leaderboard.

Alexa: Sorry. You can only check the leaderboard when you link a Super Trivia account. Check your Alexa app for details. You can start the daily game, or hear the leaderboard. Which do you want?

Do clearly delineate who does and doesn’t need account linking.

Customer: Alexa, start Seattle Super Trivia

Alexa: Welcome back to Seattle Super trivia. You can start the daily game, or learn how you can check the leaderboard. Which would you like?

Customer: Tell me about the leaderboard

Alexa: When you link a free Super Trivia account, you can check the leaderboard and track more stats. Link or create an account today to get a free bonus round of trivia. I sent some information to your Alexa app to help you. Ready to start the daily game?

Avoid landing on a dead end, if possible.

Customer: Alexa, open Lunch Buddy.

Alexa: Lunch Buddy can help you order sandwiches, soups, and more. You’ll need to link an account first to place an order. I sent some information to your Alexa app to help you.

<skill session ends>

Do follow up to offer some other way to use the skill, if possible. In the following example, the skill will allow the customer to browse the menu, but explains they need an account to create an order check out.

Customer: Alexa, open Lunch Buddy.

Alexa: Lunch Buddy can help you order sandwiches, soups, and more. You’ll need to link or create an account to start an order. I sent some information to your Alexa app to help you. Want to browse the menu?


Types of account linking

Alexa App only account linking
The most common way customers will link their account is by using the Alexa app. Any skill with account linking will need to support this ability. To learn more about sending an account linking card, read “Start from an account link card.” All examples included in this article so far have assumed app-only account linking.

When a customer tries to log in to your skill using the Alexa app, they are immediately redirected to your authorization page that you will design. It should be clearly branded, provide clear instructions in the customer’s language, support password recovery, and more. For more best practices and requirements on how to design your login page, read Designing the Login Page.


App-to-App account linking
The customer can begin in your app. When they click or tap a button there, the customer is handed off to the Alexa app to and confirm the account link. They can also begin in the Alexa App. When they click “Log In” there, the customer is handed off to your app to confirm the link. Learn more about App-to-App Account Linking.


Voice forward account linking using Login With Amazon
Customers recognized by voice ID can confirm they want to link their Amazon account to their account with your service. This means customers won’t have to interrupt their skill session to use an app. Learn more about Voice-Forward Account Linking.

The following example of voice-forward account linking includes dialog that you will use in your skill session “(skill)”, and dialog Amazon will collect permissions needed to link the account “(Amazon)”.

Customer: Alexa, open MyCapital

Alexa (skill): When you link your account, MyCapital can help you pay your bill, track your spending and credit score, and more. Would you like to link your account now?

Customer: Yes.

Alexa (Amazon): To link your account, I'll need some information from your Alexa profile. Do you give MyCapital permission to access your name and email address? You can say, “I approve“ or ”No.“

Customer: I approve.

Alexa (Amazon): Caroline, to authenticate your request, say “My code is,” followed by the code we sent to your phone.

Customer: My code is 1-2-3-4-5-6.

Alexa (Amazon): Great, Caroline. I’ve signed you in with MyCapital using Login with Amazon. You can manage your linked account by going to the Skills section of your Alexa app.

Alexa (skill): Now you can check your balance, track your spending, or check your credit score. Which would you like to do?

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