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03 Mar 2017

“Alexa, what’s the opportunity for brands?”

Posted on March 3, 2017 by

I, like many others, have experienced the joys of the new Amazon Echo since it launched last year.

For those that haven’t, the Amazon Echo is a virtual voice-controlled assistant for the home.

The name of the assistant is Alexa and she can do everything from tell you the temperature outside, to play your favourite music and even order a takeaway (sadly something I haven’t tried yet) – all by simply asking her a question.

Amazon EchoShe works alongside a lot of Amazon’s own devices, such as the Fire TV, as well as products by third party brands, including Philips’ Hue Go lighting and Hive Active Heating.

It’s actually pretty simple for brands to get into this space. Amazon has launched the Alexa Hub, which helps businesses get started creating their own ‘Skill’, aka an app, for the Amazon Echo family.

The Alexa Hub lists 20 agencies which can help brands develop a Skill, but it also offers the opportunity for marketers to create their own.

The Amazon Echo has essentially created a whole new market place for brands to tap into, as it provides another route for consumers to access them.

However, it’s becoming increasingly clear that, unless brands have their own Skill, they could lose out significantly.

For example, retailers are up against stiff competition from Amazon itself. Any users that have Amazon Prime can benefit from the device being directly linked to their account. So, they can order everything from groceries, to electrical goods and cosmetics by just asking a question, such as “order shampoo”. The device then searches for relevant products in the Amazon system and applies any discounts. All it takes is a simple “yes” to make the purchase.

Therefore, retail brands that aren’t listed on Amazon will struggle. So, it’s important they have their own Skill to be able to compete.

If brands do have their own skill, they should look at running exclusive content through these channels. This will encourage users to download and use the app for special promotional codes, insight or product news.

BMW, for example, has developed a way for users to check their car’s battery charge and fuel level and lock the vehicle remotely via Alexa. People can also ask questions about their next scheduled trip, find out what time to leave and send the destination to their BMW. I have to say that is pretty cool and is probably enough reason for some convenience-seeking petrol heads choose that brand over others.

Fitbit has developed a partnership with the brand which gives users a hands-free option to access their data, by asking the device for their step count or how they slept the night before.

Another consideration for businesses should be search. Website and online content needs to be search-friendly now more than ever. Alexa answers questions with only one option, so brands need to rank highly enough to be the answer to the question.

The fact that people ask Alexa questions in full sentences, rather than a few words, means search habits are changing…again. So, companies should be continuing to tweak keywords and phrases on their sites to keep up with the Amazon Echo.

As it’s still early days, the opportunities for brands are still emerging. But it’s clear they will face tough competition in the world of virtual assistants, so they need to be search-ready and offering enough exciting reasons for users to download their Skill.

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