Despite becoming a firm fixture in the homes of millions, Amazon’s Alexa has not yet managed to check off one capability: salesperson. While 50 million Alexa smart speakers have been sold since launch, only 2% of them were used to make a purchase from the e-tailer, according to a report from The Information.
What’s holding Alexa back from becoming a full-fledged salesperson?
This might be the wrong question to ask. Amazon has never positioned Alexa as a means of selling products. In fact, the voice assistant is increasingly developing into a media platform, not a commerce platform, according to Gartner L2’s report on the voice assistant. While Amazon has promoted Alexa’s skills, the top-rated skills aren’t owned by brands, but by publishers like BuzzFeed and CNN.
Because the value of brands having their own dedicated Alexa skills is still largely unproven, brands should first partner with publishers on already popular skills through native advertising or other forms of paid promotion as a way to experiment with voice marketing. Though Games and Music are the two largest skills categories on Alexa, News would be the best choice for brands looking to do this, since publishers already team up with brands and hearing a rundown of daily top news stories is a relatively popular use for Alexa devices. Additionally, publishers often engage better with consumers than brands. For example, Allrecipes.com has a much higher rated skill on the topic of cooking than Campbell’s.
The top five skills in the News category are currently run by Fox News, CNN, Major League Baseball, BBC, and the New York Times. To make the most of voice marketing, brands can leverage and expand existing relationships with publishers or seek out new ones in their specialty to test out ad campaigns.