Best Practices for Building an Effective Monetized Skill That Is Eligible for Amazon Promotion

Paul Cutsinger Dec 21, 2018
Tips & Tools Make Money

When you build delightful skills with compelling content, customers win. With in-skill purchasing (ISP), you can sell premium content in the US to enrich your Alexa skill experience and further delight your customers. While ISP is still relatively new, developers are already using it to deepen engagement with customers and grow their voice businesses.

We have several initiatives geared toward supporting high-quality skills, including promoting such skills in Amazon marketing channels. This exposure helps customers discover and engage with your skill, and for monetized skills, can help accelerate your revenue earned.

Below we outline a checklist of seven requirements which, if met, will make your monetized skill eligible for promotion. We also include recommendations for each requirement; you can chose to implement these at your discretion.

Note that some of the checklist items reiterate or build off of existing certification requirements. Though your skill has already passed certification, we encourage you to review your skill to ensure it meets these criteria.

1. Your Skill Supports a “What Can I Buy?” Utterance

Currently, in order for your premium skill to be certified, we require that you provide support for purchase requests. This includes supporting utterances such as “tell me what I can buy” and “what can I shop for.”

Requirement: Your skill must support the specific “what can I buy” utterance. This allows customers to learn about your premium content on-demand. This must be available both before the skill is launched (“Alexa, ask [skill invocation name] what can I buy?”) and after (“what can I buy?”). By supporting the “what can I buy” utterance, you allow customers to discover and engage with your premium content, helping to accelerate familiarity with and adoption of your in-skill products. Go here for sample JSON to build an intent that supports this utterance, or here for a code deep dive on creating a new intent to support this utterance.

Recommendation: Your skill’s response to this utterance can be as simple as a description and benefits of the premium content, or you can take it one step further and include several in-skill products to grab the customer’s attention. It is up to you whether you choose to segue this response to an upsell or to return the customer to the skill. Also, in addition to “what can I buy,” we encourage you to also support commonly used phrases like “shop,” “subscribe,” “premium,” and other variants of purchase-related syntax.

2. Your Skill Supports a “What Did I Buy?” Utterance

Requirement: Your skill must provide customers with an easy way to know what they have already purchased by supporting the “what did I buy” utterance. For one-time purchases and subscriptions, reply with everything the customer has purchased, as these features do not expire. For consumables, reply with what the customer has left (you do not have to list a consumable that the customer has purchased and depleted).

Recommendation: We suggest you send a card to the customer’s Alexa app whenever they make a purchase, reiterating they can access their full purchase history of available products by saying, “Alexa, what did I buy?” Go here for how to include a card in your skill’s response, and here for card design best practices.

3. Your Upsell Encourages Customer to Learn More about Your In-Skill Product

Requirement: An upsell is when you suggest an in-skill product to the customer. You design the upsell message, which ends with some variation of “…would you like to learn more?” If the customer says yes, then they are led to the purchase prompt, or the offer, which is handled by Amazon. The offer is where important transactional details such as price is relayed to the customer.

In your upsell, do not make customers feel like they must agree to buy your product to learn more about it. Instead, aim to captivate the customer so that they accept your upsell and proceed to the offer.

Recommendation: You can use your upsell to specify more details about your premium content, including the product’s scope, available quantity, and/or limits.

4. You Clearly Distinguish Premium Content from Free Content

Requirement: When a customer asks your skill for something, be clear in your response what is free versus premium content. When offering a list of content, be explicit. For example:

Customer: “Alexa, ask PodcastMaster for a podcast about space.”

Your skill: “I’ve got several space podcasts like “Around the World” or “Space Crazy,” which are free, or you can access these 2 podcasts which contain premium content: “Neil’s Frontiers” and “Space Odyssey.” Which would you like?

Your skill: “I have several podcasts like that. You can listen to “Around the World. “Space Crazy” “Neil’s Frontiers” or ask about more podcasts. Which do you want?”

Customer: “Neil’s Frontiers.”

Your skill: “Sorry, you’ll need a subscription to access Neil’s Frontiers.”

Recommendation: For product packs, you can include the number of items or amount of content included in the premium experience. Using the above example, you could add: “I’ve got several space podcasts like…or you can access these 2 podcasts which contain premium content: “Neil’s Frontiers,” where you can purchase a 1-month subscription, and “Space Odyssey”, where you can purchase a 3-pack of episodes. Which would you like?”

5. Your Skill Does Not Include Pricing Details

Currently, the certification guidelines state that you must not include pricing details in the upsell message. The offer, which contains the price and transaction flow, is handled by Amazon

Requirement: Your upsell must not include price. Instead, include details such as why your product is relevant at this moment and its benefits to the customer (refer to #3 above for more guidance on what to include in your upsell messaging).

Your skill: “New subscribers can try it free for 30 days. Want to learn more?”

Your skill: “New subscribers can try it free for 30 days, and will then be charged $2.99 a month. Prime subscribers get it for $1.99 a month. Want to sign up?”

Recommendation: You can use this opportunity to excite customers about your premium content. Using the above example, you could add: “A subscription unlocks exciting new space facts about other galaxies including names and descriptions of hundreds of stars and planets. New subscribers can try it free for 30 days. Want to learn more?”

6. Your Skill’s Detail Page Includes Information about Your In-Skill Products

Currently, for your premium skill to be certified, we require you to state that your skill offers in-skill products (but does not include pricing details), identify the different types of products that you offer (one-time purchases, consumables, and/or subscriptions), and specify how they are used.

Requirement: Your Alexa Skills Store detail page must explicitly state the what and the why about your in-skill product offering. For example:

  • The what: This skill offers premium content, in the form of [subscriptions] and [onetime purchases].
  • The why: You can purchase various inskill products to enhance and extend gameplay.

You can edit your Alexa Skills Store detail page by going to Distribution page in the developer console and editing the “Detailed Description” metadata field.

7. Your Skill Must Handle All Possible Outcomes of the Purchase User Flow

Currently, for your monetized skill to be certified, we require that you build a smooth flow from free skill content to upsell or offer and back to skill content (free or premium).

Requirement: Here are some messages you must include in your skill to ensure a seamless upsell and offer flow:

  • Upsell declined result: The customer hears the purchase suggestion (the upsell) but declines. The skill resumes and continues to provide the free content.
  • Upsell accepted, offer declined result: The customer accepts the purchase suggestion (the upsell), but declines the purchase prompt (the offer). The skill resumes and continues to provide the free content.
  • Upsell accepted, offer accepted result: The customer accepts the purchase prompt (the offer). The skill resumes with the premium content available.

Skills that meet all seven of these requirements will be considered for Amazon promotional opportunities. While we can’t guarantee that your skill will be selected for promotion, following these requirements will help you deliver a great experience for customers, which will in turn help drive revenue.

More Resources and Related Content

Check out the following resources for more ISP tips and stories from developers making money with Alexa: