Best Practices to Make Your Alexa Skills Eligible for Amazon Promotion

Paul Cutsinger Jul 30, 2018
Tips & Tools Tutorial

Browse through the Alexa Skills Store, and you’ll see the innovations of our developer community on display. Together we can make sure customers know about the incredible voice experiences you’ve built to meet their needs, which is why we feature the most engaging skills to customers through various marketing channels like email, social, the Alexa App, and the Alexa Skills Store. We feature skills across all categories, as well as skills created by all types of developers, from big brands to hobbyists.

One of the most common questions we receive from developers is “How can I get my skill featured by Amazon?” We review and consider all skills. The ones that we choose have a few things in common:

  • High customer engagement. They are customer-focused and keep users coming back for more.
  • Great customer experience. They are fully functional and user tested to eliminate friction in the customer experience.
  • Fresh content. They offer new, exciting, or up-to-date content to keep customers coming back.
  • High reliability. They are load tested and able to handle high customer traffic.

We look at a variety of factors including Alexa Skills Store ratings, engagement, and repeat usage as positive signals that skills meet the above criteria. Here are a few best practices to help your skill shine and increase the chances of it being featured by Amazon.

1. Design Your Skill With Your Customer in Mind

We want to ensure we’re featuring the highest-quality and most engaging skills. We’ve found that the most engaging skills are ones in which the developer has focused on meeting a specific customer need. As a result, customers continue to use the skill again and again.

When designing a new skill, make sure it has a clear customer benefit. Your skill should make a task faster and easier with voice. The skill should offer a more convenient user experience than existing methods, be it a light switch or a smartphone app.

When choosing how to develop your voice experience, start with the purpose or what customers want to accomplish. Then determine the capabilities of your skill and the benefits of using the skill over other options. Skills that seamlessly integrate into a customer’s routine and provide value are especially popular.

After you’ve brought your skill idea to life, make sure they’re able to find it in the Alexa Skills Store. Optimize your skill description with keywords that match the terms customers are likely to search for when looking for your skill. We recommend doing thorough keyword research to understand which search terms your audience uses.

Skill Example: We all know how hard it can be to get kids to brush their teeth. The skill Chompers by Gimlet Media helps kids brush their teeth by making it a fun interactive experience with jokes, riddles, songs, and more to keep them brushing for the full two minutes that dentists recommend. It also rewards them by counting the times they brush and celebrates streaks, encouraging healthy habits. Gimlet specifically designed their skill for kids aged 3-7 years old, and worked backwards to build a meaningful voice experience that delights thousands of kids and parents.

2. Keep Customers Coming Back With Fresh Content

When we see that a skill is being used repeatedly, we know customers find the skill engaging and are more likely to consider it for promotion. That’s why developers of the most successful skills are constantly adding new content to keep customers engaged.

When building your skill, establish a content workflow that enables you to quickly and easily add new content to your skill. One way to do this is to house your content in a database instead of hardcoding it into your skill to enable fast updates. Once you’ve set up a workflow, adhere to a schedule to make continued updates to your skill. Find ways to add fresh content and continue delighting your customers over time. Here are some additional tips you can follow to keep customers engaged with dynamic content.

Skill Example: The skill Guided Meditation: Meditation of the Day for Calm offers a new meditation each day that keeps customers coming back. But they also go a step further offering over 60 different meditations to help customers with focusing, sleeping, anxiety, and more. Building a habitual experience that creates new routines or enhances existing ones will help customers find value in your skill.

3. Deliver a Seamless Customer Experience

It’s important to create a frictionless voice experience to ensure customer satisfaction. Start by choosing a unique skill name. Make sure there are no existing skills with the same name or invocation to avoid confusion and to guide customers to your skill when they ask for it. Choose a memorable invocation name and utterance, and one that matches your skill name.

Optimize the customer experience by clearly setting expectations for what your skill can do in the skill description. By properly setting your customers’ expectations before they try to enable the skill, you will help them focus on the quality of your skill and avoid potential frustrations.

It’s also important to test your skill regularly. In order to maintain the functional aspects of your skill, test it frequently, especially after you update it, to ensure it is working as customers would expect.

Also, ensure your skill responds quickly to customer requests, ideally within 2 seconds. As you test your skill in the Alexa Developer Console, keep an eye on the skillExecutionTimeInMilliseconds in the logs and ensure this remains low. Consider where your skill is hosted and how that may impact response time. For example, if your skill is intended for North America customers, it is better to have your AWS Lambda function in US region. If your skill is also serving customers in Europe, you can shorten response time by having an endpoint in the region.

Skill Example: The skill The Magic Door delivers a seamless and interactive voice experience and has grown to become one of the most popular games skills on Alexa. The skill name is unique and the invocation utterance is both memorable and clever (“Alexa, open The Magic Door”). The skill detail page provides a clear description of the game with clear guide for users to fully explore the in-skill experience.

4. Make Sure Your Skill Is Consistently Reliable

Even the most compelling and delightful voice experience won’t gain traction if it isn’t available whenever customers ask. To be eligible for Amazon promotion, your skill must be load tested and capable of handling an influx of customers without breaking.

To have a consistently reliable skill, configure a professional-grade backend for your skill. Your backend should be able to scale properly to deliver high availability during high-traffic scenarios. If you’re using Amazon DynamoDB, set your tables’ capacity for reads and writes per second to be much higher than your expected peak throughput. You can also use Amazon Cloudfront to cache dynamic content and files that require heavy lifting. This will improve your response time and provide better deliverability. Here are some additional best practices to help you scale your AWS Lambda function and other AWS services to handle spikes in skill usage.

5. Promote Your Skill to Drive Engagement

One of the criteria for selection is high customer engagement. When you have more customers using your skill, we see that as a signal that your skill provides an engaging voice experience. Promote your skill to eager Alexa users and generate a baseline of customers to enhance your promotion eligibility.

The easiest way to attract new users is to let the people you know that you have a new Alexa skill. Friends, family, colleagues and other people in your network will likely want to check out your latest innovation if you let them know. Send your network an email with a link to the skill on the Alexa Skills Store along with the instructions on how to enable and invoke it on Alexa. If you already have customers who are using one of your products, you can also easily let them know about your new Alexa skill. Send them an email or include details about the skill in your newsletter. Include a few sample utterances to pique their interest and help them get started.

You can also promote your skill on social media. Amplify the news about your skill and expand its reach to thousands (or millions) of potential users on social networks. Post a link to your skill in the Alexa Skills Store or share a link to the blog post you write announcing the skill. You can also share your skills directly from the Alexa App.

But don’t stop after sharing your skill once–keep the momentum going. Potential customers may not see your first message on social media, so post multiple times with new and interesting information about your skill. Here are some more tips on promoting your skill to attract new customers.

While we wish we could feature all skills that follow these best practices, it depends on a variety of factors. Follow these best practices to deliver a great customer experience, making your skill eligible for Amazon promotion. Be sure to check back often on the Alexa Skills Store to see if we’ve featured your skill!

Build Skills, Earn Developer Perks

Bring your big idea to life with Alexa and earn perks through our milestone-based developer promotion. US developers, publish your first Alexa skill and earn a custom Alexa developer t-shirt. Publish a skill for Alexa-enabled devices with screens and earn an Echo Spot. Publish a skill using the Gadgets Skill API and earn a 2-pack of Echo Buttons. If you're not in the US, check out our promotions in Canada, the UK, Germany, Japan, France, Australia, and India. Learn more about our promotion and start building today.