Selling Digital Products in your Alexa Skill

Claudia Morandi Dec 30, 2020
Tips & Tools Build

Every day Alexa gets more helpful and more delightful. Millions of customers around the world own Alexa-enabled devices and enable new skills, while Amazon continues working on providing developers with new functionalities and tools so that they can create compelling experiences for their customers. With the potential of reaching millions of people, Alexa developers have an unmissable opportunity to build new, engaging and premium experiences. There are two ways to sell products to customers through skills: in-skill purchasing (ISP) and Amazon Pay for Alexa Skills. This blog will focus on selling digital products via ISP.

What is a Digital Product?

A digital product is any kind of content that can be used within the Skill experience. For example, digital products within a game skill could be extra lives, premium game levels, additional characters, or hints. ISP types are divided into three categories:

  • One-time purchases. A one-time purchase allows the user to access premium content that does not expire. This means that users will keep having access to such content forever.
    • Live example: Deal or No Deal is on Alexa! The game, which also offers a great visual experience on multi-modal devices, allows customers to play a few times each day for free. If customers want to have unlimited plays, 12 extra boxes to open, as well as leaderboards, customers can purchase the full game as a one-time purchase.
  • Subscriptions. A subscription allows the customer to access premium content over a specific period of time, and decide to renew the subscription or cancel it entirely. Our recommendation is to offer a free trial first that will help the customer see the benefit of purchasing a subscription.
    • Live example: The popular TV Game Show, Pointless, has been made into a skill on Alexa. The game offers one daily play for free, but customers can also subscribe via a monthly subscription — purchasable directly in the skill — for advanced features such as additional content, unlimited daily plays, head-to-head matchups and leaderboards.
  • Consumables. Consumables allow customers to access premium content which is depleted upon use and can be then purchased again if the user wishes to do so.
    • Live example: Simon’s Cat, a cartoon internet sensation, has come to Alexa in the form of adopt a pet. The skill allows customers to help the baby kitten grow into a fully adult cat, with some treats along the way. Customers can ‘level up’ their cat at any time by purchasing a consumable upgrade to give the cat better food or more toys.

Selling digital products means making your skill stand out by offering a much richer experience. By building an interactive and engaging skill, your customers will keep coming back and purchasing new digital items.

All skills must offer some sort of free experience, and there are currently thousands of skills available in our store. Let’s see now what steps to take before deciding to add premium content to your skill, and how to build both a compelling free and paid experience.

How to design an engaging free experience

In order to engage your customers and make them want to keep coming back to use your skill, you first need to make sure that your skill’s free content offers a fun and rich experience. This will encourage them to interact with the skill more, and potentially purchase premium content.

Deciding what type of free content you will offer is extremely important. You want your skill’s free content to be interesting enough to get the attention of your customers, and convince them that it is worth it to purchase premium content.

Once you decide what type of free content you want to offer, take some time to analyze your skill’s analytics and use it as an opportunity to really understand what would improve your customers’ experience and what they are looking for.

Some questions you should ask yourself to determine if your free content is solid enough are:

  • Does my skill offer customers cohort specific products?
  • Are the name and the invocation name of the skill memorable enough?
  • Are my skill’s intents diverse enough?
  • Does my skill offer a customer journey which is easy to navigate? Does it handle any unexpected interactions gracefully?
  • Does my skill offer a variety of responses or does it sound like the same interaction over and over again?

How to design a premium experience

After you made sure that your skill’s free content delights and engages your customers, it is time to add some premium content using ISP.

There are a few aspects that you should keep in mind while building a premium experience to ensure that the conversation flow is smooth and that your customers will be at ease while interacting with the skill. These factors make it more likely that customers will want to buy your products!

First of all, your skill should recommend products that are relevant to your customers, and appropriately inform them of what the product will provide. This will help them understand how the premium content will improve their experience.

The product should also be offered at the right time and in the right way: it should be presented as a solution to a problem that the customer is facing at that moment.

If the frequency is not appropriate, for example by recommending a purchase too often, the customer will most likely lose interest and decide not to invest money in the experience. If you provide a solution at the right time instead, by explaining once how the experience would be different, and by allowing the customer to resume the interaction gracefully (if they do not wish to move forward with the purchase), they will be more likely to accept the offer.

In addition, you should consider proposing different products for variety and encourage repeated use of the skill. For example, you may suggest the user come back daily or weekly to unlock rewards.

Making sure that the purchase experience is pleasant and that the content purchased adds real value to the experience will help you engage your customers and build a solid audience for your skill.


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