Alexa enabled marketing

Damian Dutton
June 29, 2017


My new girlfriend is so understanding, she's a great listener, always ready to help where she can. In the morning I roll over in bed having been gently awoken by her dulcet tones. Without needing to lift a finger she then updates me on the news, let's me know what's in my calendar today and then turns on the radio. I've been saying her name so much lately, I wonder how I ever lived without her. Her name is Alexa.

Yes, ok, so my new girlfriend is a tube shaped lump of plastic I bought off Amazon - minds out of the gutter please! I am now one of the over 11 million people that have purchased an Amazon Echo device and I'm loving it.

I've seen the future and it doesn't involve typing..

Launched in 2014 Alexa, similar to Google Assistant, Siri and Cortana, is a virtual assistant designed to fulfill your wants, presumably leaving your hands free to get on with other things. What is so surprising about Alexa, is how good she is at understanding natural language. You really don't need to think what the right command is, you just talk to her to do things as if you were talking to a real person.

Alexa creates a frictionless customer experience, without typing, clicking and being tied to a screen. It will be fascinating to see not just how it changes the way we use the internet, but how our lives change around this new “space” we now have since we are less physically connected to our devices.

Oh Alexa, you really know how to push my buttons..

I guarantee that in a few years time, a remote to control the functions on your TV or buttons on your car stereo will seem so old fashioned. Why would you fiddle around working out which button to press when you can just say what you want? "Alexa, turn up that volume loud" will be all you need say. There won't be any buttons to press - anywhere. 

I recently watched a friend program their new fancy oven. You practically needed a PHD in button pushing to figure out the correct button sequence needed to roast a 500g chicken. With Alexa and a 'smart oven', I can just say the cooking instructions out loud and even get recipe advice to help make it tasty. 

Why's this relevant to marketeers?

Quite simply, its a revolution about to happen and if you haven't woken up to a future where voice is how your customers access your services, then you're competitors will have the edge. 

Amazon is creating a new shopping experience, something that is both intimate and personal to the individual. When you ask Alexa to buy toothpaste, Amazon knows which toothpaste you mean as you have already bought it from them before. This experience intentionally relies on you having a history with Amazon, and the more you are linked as a customer, the more Amazon can give you what you want.

Like any good assistant, Alexa is continually learning and evolving, finding new ways to ways to serve Amazon's customers. Not just giving them what they want, but also giving them things they didn’t even realize they wanted. This fits in perfectly with Amazon's mission statement as Alexa can suggest services beyond the narrow customer journey of a single individual, but instead use a rich back history of customer data, of which it is collecting more and more every day.

What's marketing speak for...?

I must confess that my interest in Alexa only came about after a conversation with a client looking for innovative ways to promote their product. You may or may not be aware, that developers can add to Alexa skills. For example Uber created a skill that allows you to order your ride from a simple voice command.  Jamie Oliver has a skill that gives you step by step recipes. I was keen to see what gamified experience we as developers could create using Alexa Skills. In my research I came across some really fun skills that to me show how innovation and creativity can create truly memorable brand experiences. 

To gain an insight into what brands can create through interactive voice campaigns, ask Alexa to enable these skills:

  • The Magic door - The Magic Door is an Alexa-powered interactive adventure game with original stories. You can tell Alexa what choices to make as you navigate a forest, a garden, or an ancient temple. You can find hidden items, solve riddles, and help magical creatures. You can also find magical items to get a prize!
  • Bosch - Think you have what it takes to step into the shoes of an LAPD detective? Join Harry Bosch and members of the cast of Bosch, Season 3 in an interactive mystery.
  • Earplay - With Earplay, you can enjoy audio stories you play with your voice, featuring voice acting and sound effects like in a radio drama. Experience this exciting new storytelling medium where you become part of the story, interacting with characters to affect how the events unfold.


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