Meditation has become an increasingly popular way to calm the mind and recover from daily stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. For 1.4 million Spanish speakers and counting, Diana—an Alexa skill developed by Spanish publishing company Grupo Planeta—is the mindfulness tool of choice.
“We decided to launch Diana because wellness is a universal need,” says Jokin Urraza, innovation and digital transformation director of Groupo Planeta. “Now more than ever, we understand the value of daily mindfulness in helping people to manage stress and stay healthy.”
Founded in 1949, Grupo Planeta is a leading Spanish communications group that produces and distributes editorial, news, educational, and entertainment content for the Spanish- and French-speaking markets. To meet customer demand for media that uses new channels and technologies, Grupo Planeta knew that it was time to embrace voice technology. “Using Alexa, we can deliver personalized content that the customer can consume anytime, and anywhere,” says Urraza.
Grupo Planeta leveraged a variety of features in the Alexa Skills Kit to develop, distribute and promote their skill. The company stayed true to a guiding philosophy of working backwards from the customer when it came to developing and updating the skill. Features like Alexa’s A/B testing service helps Grupo Planeta make informed decisions about every facet of user design.
Three features were particularly helpful in helping the team drive development, personalization and revenue.
1. Alexa conversational AI for natural sounding experiences
53 percent of Diana’s customers reside in Spain. The skill has also seen rapid uptake in Mexico, Colombia, and among Spanish speakers in the United States. Grupo Planeta plans to launch the skill in Brazil in 2022.
Prior to developing Diana, Asenjo’s team performed extensive user testing to learn which phrases its customers preferred to use when interacting with the skill.
“By paying attention to the conversational context behind every new feature added to Diana, we have been able to create more natural voice experiences,” says Fernando Asenjo, digital product manager at Grupo Planeta.
Grupo Planeta used Alexa’s conversational AI technologies to quickly build natural sounding experiences in several markets. They were able to develop natural sounding experiences by simply providing a set of example dialogs, that were attuned to the peculiarities of different geographies.
“Alexa’s conversational AI platform allows us to develop experiences in different markets easily,” says Asenjo. “It’s incredibly easy to take Diana to new markets, and be responsive to nuances in language and geography.”
2. Alexa Quick Links for delivering personalized experiences
Grupo Planeta essentially wanted to replicate the experience of attending in-person meditation or yoga classes. Diana achieves this by asking new customers about their past experiences to create a custom learning path. The skill then delivers personalized recommendations, which vary based on customers’ usage patterns. For example, if usage data shows that a customer is meditating several times a week, Diana begins offering advanced audio experiences.
Grupo Planeta works with eight subject matter experts to produce courses that deliver proven wellness benefits. The team also saw an increased demand from users asking Diana to help them go to sleep every night. Grupo Planeta consequently added voice experiences to Diana that are designed to promote sleep using nature sounds, relaxing music, and guided meditations. Responses from customers have been overwhelmingly positive.
“It’s the perfect way for anyone with a fast-paced lifestyle to calm down and forget the day’s stress,” says Urraza. “I too use Diana to help me go to sleep every night, and most of the time, I drift off before Alexa plays all of my selected content.”
According to Asenjo, being able to deliver personalized experiences has been instrumental to the rapid uptake of the Diana skill.
“If you attend a studio, instructors track your progress by asking you things like, How is your breathing? How is your posture?” says Asenjo. “We bring that same level of care and personalization to our skill.”
Grupo Planeta uses Alexa Quick Links to drive engagement by enabling this degree of personalization. Quick Links for Alexa allow developers take your customers to your custom skill on their Alexa device. Users can visit the web application for Diana and select one of 185 meditations, such as stress mindfulness, along with the device that they want to use. A custom link to the course is then activated in the customer’s preferred device.
3. Alexa Shopping Kit for monetization
Recently, Grupo Planeta has started to experiment with monetizing Diana by offering sleep courses that customers can purchase for a one-time fee. In the future, a paid subscription option will also be available, and Grupo Planeta plans to begin offering interconnected wellness products and even physical experiences to its subscribers.
The group also uses the Alexa Shopping Kit for monetization. With the Alexa Shopping Kit, developers will now be able to provide product recommendations that customers can add to their shopping carts and lists. Customers can also purchase products directly from within the skill – and developers will be able to earn a commission on qualifying referrals through the Amazon Associates on Alexa program.
Grupo Planeta uses the Alexa Shopping Kit to deliver book recommendations tailored to customers’ mindfulness needs. For instance, customers that want to learn more about stress or mindfulness can use Diana to purchase titles related to their interests.
“We are working to build a well-being ecosystem across Diana,” says Urraza. “By offering both physical products along with digital experiences, our users are able to pick the format that suits them better. The Alexa Shopping Kit is a key tool that will help us to provide incredibly relevant and impactful experiences in the voice interface.”
Now that Grupo Planeta has completed its first Alexa skill, it will keep exploring new ways to deliver products and services that combine the publisher’s extensive suite of high-quality content with the power of voice technology using Alexa.
“Diana is just the beginning of what’s possible,” says Urraza. “There’s so much more that we can develop on Alexa.”