radhesh gupta

@piprads

How was I funneled into Alexa Development?

I am a Computer Engineer by training and an Engineering Manager by profession. While my current area of focus is Backend Systems, Data Analytics, I have developed multiple Alexa Skills in last one year.

In retrospect, I wonder — how did I get hooked into it? It feels this process was so analogous to an e-commerce product funnel:

Awareness -> Interest -> Desire -> Action

I never realized that I was a part of this conversion optimization funnel put together by Amazon Alexa team and I ended up becoming a repeat customer. Here is my effort to draw that comparison in parallel:

Looking one level deeper, here are 8 specific steps which contribute to attract and convert right people into Alexa development and build its largest community.

1. Personalized marketing:

Publish Alexa Skill ad for US developers
Publish Alexa Skill ad for University Students

2. Freebies for everyone

Publish Alexa Skill and everyone get’s a T-Shit

3. New creative swags every month

Sock + Echo swag
Echo Spot and bottle swag

4. Spot on CTA’s (Develop an Alexa Skill in under 5 minutes)

CAT — Build a Skill in 5 mins

5. Kick ass documentation

When I first developed it, I referred to a step by step documentation to template skill. It had all a newbie could ask for:

  • Step by step guide
  • Screenshots
  • Documentation links
  • Github sources
  • Customize with minimal changes

Docs: link

Documentation screenshot

These documentations are even better currently.

6. All Infrastructure is Free

  • Free AWS account:
Alexa skills hosting free on AWS
  • Test Simulator Beta (No device needed)

Initially, I thought there would be a need of owning an Echo device to test and deploy the skill I build. Ecosystem provides a test simulator which replaces that need. Just input via voice or text, and you can validate Alexa’s understanding and see how the skill responds.

https://developer.amazon.com/docs/devconsole/test-your-skill.html

7. Great customer service with prompt feedback:

Customer feedback e-mail

And my first skill was Live:

DMV Trivia Skill

Followed by:

Swag, I received :)

Not bad, few hours of work — a new skill, swags and a new tool in the pocket.

8. New Skill Emails:

And there were weekly emails about new skills people are creating and also how top skills are getting incentivised. I used to mostly ignore them.

A few months later,

It was time for my company’s semi-annual hackathon. No wonder, a voice app idea came to my mind. It felt something doable in <24hrs, potentially cool to demo. And I ended up building another Alexa skill — EchoMonkey: Taking Surveys over Voice.

While I was nowhere close to thinking about Alexa development; I have developed multiple, hackathon winning Alexa skills.

I would give kudos to Alexa’s Marketing Team for doing an excellent job funneling engineers to develop skills and building a great community around it.

No wonder, the outcome is:

All in all, I can see a more enticing future ahead when I read things like:

Such efforts would keep the community captivated and more engaged.

Topics of interest

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