Amazon recently announced that tens of millions of customers shopped the company’s Prime Early Access holiday kickoff event. Sid Dube, principal product manager for the Alexa monetization team says that the holiday season is a particularly opportune moment in time for skill builders to generate revenue, and grow their businesses by building with Alexa.
Dube calls out In-Skill Purchases (ISP) as a monetization option that every skill builder should consider. ISP enables Alexa skill developers to grow revenue by selling premium content such as virtual game products, subscriptions, and unlocked features from directly within their skills. Developers from around the world have used ISP to drive high offer-purchase rates in meaningful ways.
Dube also points to Alexa Skill Deals launched in the US at the recently held Alexa Live 2022 conference. Alexa Skill Deals are a self-service way to offer temporary discounts for ISPs. After the deal period ends, Amazon changes the price back to the original list price. Skill builders can offer deals on subscriptions, one-time purchases and consumables.
“We have been working closely with developers on building monetization-related features that actually deliver meaningful results,” says Dube. “On a personal level, I want to see more developers building the next generation of customer experiences with Alexa, and while doing so, grow their businesses.”
Dube understands where skill builders are coming from when it comes to developing with Alexa – his first experience with voice-based technology was in 2016 as a hobbyist developer, when he purchased one of the first generations of Echo Dot devices.
“Using the Echo Dot and being able to interact with technology in such a natural and intuitive way was akin to magic,” Dube says. “And being one of the first adopters of the Skill Building Kit felt like being part of something greater.”
At the time, Dube worked as a consultant for vendors in retail and manufacturing. He joined Amazon in 2019, where he provided support to independent vendors and suppliers in a similar capacity. A few years later, Dube received the opportunity that he had been hoping for, and he joined the Alexa Monetization team.
Since then, Dube has focused on creating resources, tools, and features that help developers monetize their Alexa skills, such as ISPs, Alexa Skill Deals, international expansions and support for multiple locales. Dube relies on feedback and his first-hand experiences to identify and build programs that help developers monetize with Alexa.
“We have an exceptionally strong principle of listening to our customers,” says Dube. “For us, our customer is the developer. If our developers don’t grow, neither does Alexa. So, we pay close attention to what they have to say. Developer feedback has been critical to the development of these features, and we are constantly learning what skill builders can do to increase revenue by building with Alexa.”
3 ways to succeed with ISPs and Alexa Skills Deals
Dube says that a good starting point for developers looking to monetize with Alexa would be to monitor your customer usage patterns. Once you start seeing steady retention and repeat engagement, adopting a successful monetization route becomes much easier. After setting up a couple of monetized products, Alexa Skill Deals can be then used to help refine the price and understand price sensitivity.
Dube recommends that skill builders focus on three criteria before deploying a campaign that leverages Alexa Skills Deals:
1) Price: Dube says that price is the most important consideration when it comes to ISPs. However, he recommends taking a more holistic view when setting the price of premium content you want to offer as part of your skill.
“I recommend that skill builders look beyond Alexa skills to determine the price of their ISP,” says Dube. “For example, if you are an entertainment skill, check out what other entertainment skills are doing in the way of pricing. But also look at how other apps are pricing their offerings.”
2) Timing: According to Dube, developers should be creative when it comes to timing their Alexa Skills Deals offerings.
“You can have special deals around the holidays or moments in time like Mother’s Day. But also consider offerings deals to coincide with other moments in time that are unique to your brand. This could be something like your skill’s anniversary. It could also be a special day – for example, if you have a logic-focused game skill, you might want to offer a deal leading up to National Reason Day.”
3) Test: Dube says that skill builders should test their way to the ideal price for a deal to maximize engagement.
“You might offer a deal for three days – but you might need more time to reach a meaningful number of customers, and truly understand how consumers are responding to your offers.”
Sending feedback to the Alexa Team
Dube says that he is looking forward to working with developers as Amazon continues to roll out features aimed at helping skill builders drive business growth with Alexa.
“We understand that new ideas and features are an iterative process,” says Dube. “We can quickly make adjustments on the fly because we want to make sure that we’re giving developers exactly what they need.”
He outlines a number of ways that developers can engage with the Alexa monetization team and provide feedback.
Developers can share their ideas by joining the Alexa developer channels on Slack. Dube has also participated in the weekly Alexa Developer Office Hours with Jeff Blankenburg, the chief technical evangelist at Alexa. During these live-streamed office hours, Blankenburg and other Alexa team members answer developers’ questions about building skills and monetization opportunities. Finally, Dube is also an active participant of the Alexa Developer slack channel, where he connects with developers to understand their pain points, and develop new features and products that address their concerns.
Dube is convinced that programs like ISP and Alexa Skill Deals will help drive monetization, because they have been designed by working closely with developers.
“Even if you don’t have a technical background or experience building applications, Alexa is one hundred percent committed to helping skill builders take their businesses to the next stage,” says Dube. “Alexa is a place where any developer can grow a sustainable, monetized business.”
Get started with ISP and Alexa Skill Deals by reviewing these technical documents.