Editor's note: This series is based on our new Alexa Skills course, How to Design for In-Skill Purchasing. This free course outlines the best practices for designing a great monetized Alexa skill experience.
Welcome to Part 1 in our series on designing skills with in-skill purchasing (ISP)! When thinking about how to either build a skill from scratch around in-skill purchasing, or integrate ISP into a skill customers already love, it’s hard to know where to start and what to offer. Today we’ll explore the different types of in-skill purchases, how they might unlock new experiences for customers, and imagine how we might implement them in a hypothetical trivia skill that we’ll reference throughout the series, called Seattle Super Trivia.
But first, what are in-skill purchases? ISPs are a different experience than purchasing physical goods and services using Amazon Pay. (For more about Amazon Pay, visit Amazon Pay for Alexa Skills.)In-skill purchases allow a customer to unlock premium content available on Alexa. The types of in-skill purchases are:
Skills must offer some free content in order to pass certification. How else would a customer know your skill has awesome content they’ll want to experience more of? Free content helps build trust and intrigue with customers, which creates a more positive experience for them when they’re offered an in-skill purchase (called the “upsell,” which we’ll address in later posts). Some questions to help you decide what kind and how much free content to offer might include:
When the developers of Yes Sire—a game where the player makes choices to gain influence and wealth—implemented in-skill purchasing, they added two types of in-skill purchases. Both enhanced a skill experience that their customers already loved:
In the case of Seattle Super Trivia, we’ve made the following decisions:
An important factor in helping us decide what to offer for free is the lifetime of the free version of a skill. In our trivia skill, we’re not just offering the player five questions one time before we’ll ask them to purchase more; they’ll get five a day forever. The skill “lives” on for those who only want to play free experiences rather than becoming useless to those who decide they’ll never make a purchase. Finally, we’re going to let the player replay their questions that day, but it won’t affect their score. That way, multiple people in a household can enjoy the skill’s content (as Alexa tends to live in households with multiple people). Consider how your skill will continue to be useful and interesting to those customers who decline your upsells.
Next, we need to decide how much to charge for purchases. A developer can set the price of an in-skill purchase anywhere from a minimum of 99 cents USD to a maximum of 99.99 USD. When deciding how much to charge for your content, think in terms of what kind of experience the purchase buys, and how long that experience lasts. If you’re making a game, that might be measured in terms of hours of play, while subscribing to a radio service might include total potential hours of listening. Ask yourself these questions:
Finally, if you’re adding content to a skill that’s live in the Alexa Skills Store today, it’s important to know free content, once published, will have to remain free. So where do you put those upsells? Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series, where we’ll talk about where and how to surface ISP upsells!
As you learn designing skills for ISP, we encourage you to participate in the Alexa Skills Challenge: In-Skill Purchasing with Devpost, an opportunity to invent the future of premium voice content with over $120k in prizes. Plus, challenge finalists will be invited to Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle for an exclusive one-day summit on monetization opportunities. Start building skills with in-skill purchasing and enter the challenge by November 12th.