May 11, 2017

Meet Alexa: Your Next Great Marketing Tool


At Delucchi, we are passionate about uncovering the most effective ways for brands to connect with their audience. As a full service agency we are marketing matchmakers, customer catalyzers, buyer burrowers, dare I say…patron prospectors! Ok, alliteration aside, we are proud of what we do and spend a lot of time researching the best ways to do it. When a new technology or trend comes along, it is our job to understand it, master it and serve it up as a tool for our clients, partners and avid Plus Point readers.

One of the hottest technologies on the market these days is the virtual assistant. The home helpers go by a few different names: Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Home and Microsoft’s Cortana. They are spreading like wildfire. Let’s take a little deep dive into the Amazon Echo.

Launched in June of 2015, Amazon has sold somewhere around 8 million Echo’s according to estimates from the Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP). What started as a relatively novel product capable of playing music and sharing the weather report is beginning to transform our homes by controlling our appliances, handling our shopping and even reading bedtime stories to our children. Growing up I marveled at movies like Smart House (not just as a party cleanup tool). Alexa and her counterparts may be the key to the utopian smart home.

As the barriers to create an Alexa Skill (a skill is like an app in the App Store) gradually diminish, users will benefit from a flood of new skills on the market. This wave is comparable to the opening of the App Store in 2008. The app store launched with 500 apps and one year later 2.2 million apps were available for download. With that said the app market is extremely saturated as data and storage limits constrict users usage.

At Delucchi, we urge companies to consider Alexa skills for an additional weapon in your marketing artillery. And here are a few reasons why:

  1. The big boys are already doing it.

A lot of top consumer brands are taking advantage of Alexa. Of course, Amazon itself is a huge benefactor of living on your counter. Other than the Bezos River, you can order a pizza straight from Dominos or a ride out on the town through Uber or Lyft. Hate waiting for your car to warm up on a cold day? Hyundai allows you to start your car and crank the heat remotely. Even NASA is getting in on the fun by providing updates on the Mars Curiosity Rover. Want to get away? Ask Kayak where you can go with your current rainy day fund. I think you all get the picture.

  1. Amazon wants you to make one.

Amazon has recently eliminated the cost to host a skill. The goal is to encourage developers to expand the Alexa software and boost the popularity of its Echo devices. According to DigitalCommerce360, developers have the opportunity to build Alexa skills for free, but they have to pay to host the skill, either on their services or using Amazon Web Services. Amazon says developers with a published Alexa skill can apply for a $100 AWS promotional credit and receive $100 per month in additional credits.

  1. It can be cost-effective, depending on your request.

The cost to host a skill varies on how popular or complicated your skill is. For example, a skill that requires you to ask for bank account information is more costly to host than a simple task as telling a joke. Moreover, the more requests (e.g., “Alexa, order flowers for Tracy + A dozen roses”) the higher the cost.

  1. You might already have the content.

In a world where content is king and listicles dominate social feeds, it is very important to create content to label yourself as a subject matter expert. Let’s use our partner Streetsense as an example. With their work throughout the restaurant space, we could set up something like “Alexa, where should I grab a drink in D.C.?” At that point Alexa could come back with anything from Columbia Room, The Gibson or (my personal favorite) Boundary Stone. Just because you might not be a media outlet or CPG brand, doesn’t mean you don’t have relevant content to share!

  1. You’ll add another touch point for your customers.

Adding an Alexa skill creates an exciting new platform for connecting with your customers. As consumers become more intelligent, and weariness to advertised content increases, different marketing angles are necessary to stand out from the crowd. Furthermore, brands strive to humanize their image and create a voice. An Alexa skill adds a nice splash of technology that your marketing mix may be missing. At the very least, it will surely generate some fresh PR; especially if you can incorporate Oprah.