How to Design for In-Skill Purchasing

Write Effective Upsells

In the previous section where to surface upsells we determined that it’s important to engage and excite your customers with your free content to build trust so you can ask for the sale at the right time. Now we need to think about how we are going to write an affective upsell message. Remember, Alexa skills are voice forward experiences. While there are multi-modal experiences that include a screen; there are no popup windows, buy buttons or any other way for our customer to passively view your items for purchase. Instead, your skill will have to verbally communicate with your customer about your product offerings. You’ll need make sure your upsell message clearly and concisely states your value proposition.

The value proposition should be relevant to the customer with specific and transparent language spoken in a friendly, conversational tone. Don’t go overboard with verbose language! You might be interrupting your customer’s experience briefly, but you shouldn’t be disruptive.

Build Trust

We’ve been focused a lot on trust throughout this course to make sure we give the best experience to our customers. We’ve learned how to determine when to surface our upsells and to not break trust. Now, we need to think about how to tell customers about the products we have for sale. A skilled salesperson has a way with words and is able to relate to their customers. This means that they communicate clearly and concisely while avoiding jargon.

We also want to make sure that we’re not too formal and non-conversational. To ensure that your upsell messages are trustworthy, relatable and clear, avoid using the following words:

  • Purchase
  • In-skill purchase
  • Monetization
  • Bundle, pack, expansion (without any accompanying descriptors)
  • Menu, options
  • Content, premium content
  • Access

Include a clear value proposition

Now that we know to avoid jargon, we need to think about communicating clearly and concisely the value proposition that our premium content will provide to our customer. Before writing your upsell message, you should consider these three questions:

  1. Why would they be interested?
  2. How much content is there?
  3. How will their experience improve?

Take a moment to watch Alison and Justin act out one of the upsell messages we wrote for Seattle Super Trivia. While watching try to answer some of the questions above.

Effective upsells: Provide a clear value proposition

Let’s take a moment to dissect this. Right from the start you can tell that Alison has just finished the Free Five (our daily free content) and scored quite well. This is a great place to offer a pack of new questions since she probably wants more. Justin chose to offer a pack that matches the theme of the day since Alison seems knowledgeable about it. We’ve also included the number of questions in the pack.

Check your work:

  1. Why would they be interested?
    The customer just finished the Free Five with 4 out of 5 points. The question pack is based on sports, the same as the present Free Five questions, which they just scored well on.
  2. How much content is there?
    50 questions in the trivia mega pack.
  3. How will their experience improve?
    They get access to 50 more questions about Seattle Sports, a topic they are familiar with and can get more out of than other themed offerings.

We were able to create a great upsell just by answering these three basic questions.

Writing upsells for free trials

When we designed Seattle Super Trivia, we decided to provide free content. Although we’ve outlined several reasons why for most cases it’s best to engage your customer with free content, there are cases where it does make sense to offer a free trial, for example providing all-access to a library of podcasts.

Let’s think for a moment how we would write an upsell if we required a subscription to play Seattle Super Trivia and offered a 1-month free trial. We’ll start with a bad example:

Customer: "Alexa, play Seattle Super Trivia"
Alexa: "Sorry, you need a subscription to Seattle Super Trivia to start playing. New members get it free for 30 days. Want to learn how to subscribe?"

— Seattle Super Trivia

This isn’t a great upsell. We didn’t really explain our value proposition.

Now let’s take a look at a better upsell for a free trial. While reading try to answer the three questions (interest, quantity, improvement) about the content we provide.

Customer: "Alexa, play Seattle Super Trivia"
Alexa: "You can start playing with a subscription to Seattle Super Trivia. Unlock ten daily challenge questions, half-price mega-trivia question packs, and extra free hints every month. New members get it free for 30 days. Want to learn how to subscribe?

— Seattle Super Trivia

Much better! Our customer is not only well informed of the value proposition, they know that they can try the content for free for a month.

  1. Why would they be interested?
    Customer is interacting with our skill for the first time! They just enabled it and started the game they want to play!
  2. How much content is there?
    10 daily questions, discounts, and extra free hints
  3. How will their experience change?
    They get access to 10 daily questions, discounts and free hints and have one month to try it for free.

Be transparent. No "landmines"

Since we are selling a product that our customers can’t see or touch, we are reliant upon their cognitive load, therefore, our descriptions must be succinct. We shouldn’t offer paid options in the same list as other free content. Repeat! We shouldn’t offer paid options in the same list as other free content. Don’t do this and hoping that your customer will select the premium option so you can deliver your upsell. This again is a bait and switch! You’ll lose their trust if they never know when they’ll get an upsell message instead of the content they thought they had selected.

How long would you continue to use Seattle Super Trivia if this happened?

Don’t bait and switch your customer

Alison was very disappointed when Justin asked her to buy the pack after he offered it to her as if she already owned it. This is an underhanded move to try to sell premium content. We need to be more proactive! Let’s not be afraid to ask for a sale when it makes sense. Let’s take a look at a better upsell:

Customer: "Alexa, Play Seattle Super Trivia"
Alexa: "Welcome back to Seattle Super Trivia. You already knocked it out of the park on today’s trivia challenge. I can’t wait to see how you do tomorrow. In the meantime, would you like to learn how to go into extra innings with the Seattle Sports Heroes pack?"

— Seattle Super Trivia

Much better! Here we are making our upsell after the customer has opened the skill again after finishing and scoring well on the baseball-themed Free Five. We’re also being strategic with our content offering, so we are upselling the Seattle Sports Heroes pack.

One sale at a time

Since we can’t rely upon a screen it’s imperative that your upsells are simple without too many options. You’re most likely going to make a sale when your upsell presents one option as a simple yes or no answer. We don’t have much time to explain one product, much less two, to our customer. Either-or prompts can be confusing and relies heavily on cognitive load. If the skill offers multiple ISP options, surface only the one most relevant to the customer.

Don’t be passive!

A great salesperson doesn’t beat around the bush; neither should you! Start from an active, not passive voice. Be upfront about what you’re selling and ask for the sale directly. When you passively mention a product, it’s forgettable. You’re relying on the customer’s cognitive load to remember that product in passing, and you’re asking them to remember an utterance for later without being prompted!

Here’s an example of how the passive approach is not great for making a sale.

"Before we start the daily challenge, did you know that you can buy extra Seattle Super Trivia hints to help you through those tough rounds? Just ask me to buy hints at any time during your game. Let’s get started …​"

— Seattle Super Trivia

In this case, our customer must remember that they need to ask to buy hints. We need to fix this up a little bit. Instead of offering hints before we start the game, we’ll do it after the game and asking if they want to buy hints.

"I’m sweating in my overpriced rain boots! Your record of [lifetime score] is really something to behold. Hints can help you keep your lead. You can ask me for one any time during the game to learn how to get a triple whammy of hints to put in your secret stash. Want to learn how to stock up on hints?"

— Seattle Super Trivia

Communication after the sale

You also need to put some thought into how your skill will interact with your customers after they’ve made a purchase! A skilled salesperson not only enjoys making a sale, but they genuinely appreciate their customer and their business. Show your appreciation! Celebrate the benefit after the purchase, offering an immediate opportunity to use it where possible.

The following example shows a missed opportunity to thank our customer and let them enjoy their newly purchased content.

Alexa: "Your purchase is complete. "

— Seattle Super Trivia

Well, that was awkward! Our customer is probably feeling a little cheated here. We took their money and walked away. What gives? Let’s take a look at a better message!

Alexa: "Thanks for buying the Seattle Sports Heroes trivia pack. Want to start playing it?"

— Seattle Super Trivia

You can see here we’ve shown appreciation for their purchase and immediately ask if they want to play. We could have also just started playing the game with the new trivia pack. The choice is up to the designer - you. General rule of thumb, you should make immediate use of something that they just refilled. For example, if our customer has no more hints and they said, "give me a hint" and then said "yes" to buy more hints, we shouldn’t ask them if they want to use a hint, since we already know that they want to.

We should still give our customer a chance to cancel using the hint, but in a subtle way. Let’s take a look at how we would do that:

Alexa: "Thanks for topping off your hints. You bought three and we’re going to use one for the current question. You’ll have 2 left. Are you ready for your hint?"
Customer: "Yes!"

— Seattle Super Trivia

Instead of asking explicitly, we asked if they’re ready to use their hint. If they were to say "no" we should repeat the quiz question, since some time has passed from when they first heard it, asked for a hint, heard the upsell and made the purchase.

A great salesperson doesn’t nag or threaten their customers implicitly or explicitly. The reasons for avoiding such a tone should be obvious. Everybody now! It violates trust! Friendly hints are a far more trustworthy means of communication.

Don’t threaten bad outcomes

Don’t threaten your customers with possible bad outcomes if they don’t make a purchase. Customers are less likely to make a purchase if they feel threatened.

Let’s take a look at how that would appear in our skill. Ask yourself, "Would I make a purchase after being threatened?"

Don’t try to scare your customer into a purchase; they won’t appreciate it

Pretty awful isn’t it. This sets a negative tone on the experience. This type of messaging violates our principle of harnessing the energy of the game to provide maximum efficiency with minimum effort. We’re most likely not going to inspire anyone to buy anything let alone want to continue playing our sad depressing game.

Strike the right tone

No matter your skill’s use case, voice, or personality, customers will lose trust in skills that badgerthreaten, or nag them about purchases. Don’t violate trust!

Let’s take a look at how we could re-write this to have a more happy tone. While reading ask yourself what makes this messaging better?

"Recovering from a small mistake during this round could help you reach the next level. You might consider an insurance policy. Want to stock up on hints?"

— Seattle Super Trivia

In this case, we’re letting them know that if they buy some hints they can still make a mistake and make it to the next round! This is a more positive spin about your chances of winning rather than focusing on the penalty of losing.

So far, we’ve learned how to:

  • Avoid Jargon
  • Communicate upsells clearly and concisely
  • Be assertive in the upsell
  • Avoid threatening the customer

The time has come for us to learn how the Amazon purchase flow works. We need to be able to handle the transition to and from your skill to the Amazon purchase flow.