We’re thrilled to announce today that developers can earn money for the most engaging Alexa skills across more skill categories. Each month, developers of eligible skills with the highest customer engagement in the US, UK, and Germany are paid by Amazon.
In May, we began rewarding developers of top skills in the Games, Trivia & Accessories category. Now, we’re adding six more categories: Education & Reference, Food & Drink, Health & Fitness, Lifestyle, Music & Audio, and Productivity.
Developers can increase engagement and potentially earn more by improving their skills, making more skills, and making their skills available in more countries. Learn more.
What Makes a Skill Engaging?
We’ve identified several characteristics of great skills that encourage customer engagement.
- Designed voice-first. The most successful skills are often born voice-first. From the easy-to-say invocation to the user interface design and architecture—if you start voice first, you’re more likely to create a great experience. Our voice design guide is a valuable resource to learn more about planning your script, keeping it brief and conversational, ensuring it catches the various ways that people may say things, simplifying the user flow, providing ways to get help, and more. The most engaging skills are easy to use.
- Unique. Perhaps people will get something from your skill that they can’t get any other way. For example, Dog Feeder helps customers find out if the dog has been fed recently, which can be helpful in a household with multiple people who have different schedules. Don’t ask the dog—he’ll always tell you he’s hungry.
- Makes life easier. Perhaps people can get something done more easily and effectively by using your skill. For example, saying “Alexa, ask Translated how to say ‘I’m fine, thank you’ in Swiss German.” is much simpler than typing the question into a search engine and figuring out the appropriate pronunciation. With the 7‑Minute Workout, Alexa guides users through a brief set of exercises that can be performed daily. No need to exercise alone, or set a timer for each of the exercises. It also keeps track of the user’s workouts, so they can be motivated by their own progress. Skills that make customers’ lives easier, either by helping them keep track of things or do something easily, can become a daily habit that customers want to use regularly.
- Game play. Games are some of the most engaging skills. From simple guessing games like Higher or Lower, to interactive Q&A like Lie Swatter, to interactive adventures like The Magic Door, to family games like Would You Rather for Family—games can be designed to entertain one player, multiple players, or both. They can provide a quick-win while making your morning coffee, or create an immersive experience that takes time to solve.
- Fresh. Dynamic content that changes regularly can bring people back to your skill, and can add an element of surprise and delight. Daily Affirmation provides a daily, uplifting, positive thought; and new affirmations are added frequently.
Prep Your Skill for Popularity
If your skill becomes really engaging and popular, it could exceed the AWS free usage tier’s limits, resulting in AWS usage charges. Not to worry, we’ve got you covered. Not only can Alexa skills developers make money, they can save money too. Apply for AWS promotional credits and you can build and host most skills for free. The application process only takes a minute if you have your Amazon developer Vendor ID and AWS account ID handy.
As the number of Alexa device owners continues to increase around the world, surges in traffic during peak times can impact the performance of more popular skills. To ensure a positive customer experience, you may want to monitor your skill and prepare it to scale.
- View metrics for each of your skills in the Alexa Skills Kit section of the Amazon Developer Console. Select Metrics to view data about customers, sessions (a.k.a. dialogs), utterances, and intents.
- View metrics for your Lamdba function in the AWS Lambda section of the AWS Management Console. On the Functions page, choose the function name, and then choose the Monitoring tab to view invocation data including errors and throttles.
- Monitor your AWS resources using Amazon CloudWatch, and create alarms to notify you when your skill throttles and has exceeded a threshold.
Depending on your need and expected traffic, you can:
- Increase the concurrent executions limit – Lambda has a default safety throttle of 1000 concurrent executions per account per region. If you have multiple Lambda functions for multiple skills under the same account, all skills together cannot exceed 1000 concurrent executions. You may request a limit increase.
- Increase the memory allocation – The default memory allocation for each Lambda function is 128 MB. Allocating more memory will provide more CPU power to your function and will execute it faster. When functions run faster, this can reduce concurrent executions for the same amount of invocations.
- Increase the timeout period – The default timeout period for each Lambda function is 3 seconds to ensure that it doesn’t run indefinitely. You may change this to 7 seconds to ensure you get a response back from Lambda. Change your Lambda function’s timeout under Advanced Settings in the Configuration tab.
We can’t wait to see what you build next!