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Echoing Greater Engagement

Calling All Developers: It's a Whole New Era

Amazon is the largest internet-based retailer and cloud infrastructure provider in the United States. Since 2007, the company has also produced several consumer electronics devices. Amazon upset the status quo in 2015 when it released the Echo—a new type of information device. With only a microphone and speaker, Echo could hear a spoken request, execute it, and voice a response. Amazon also invited third parties to create new consumer services, by using its voice services (called “Alexa”). 

The Alexa team wanted to encourage companies in any industry to explore Alexa integration. But how could they win over app developers and their management, to push their agenda forward?

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The Solution: Stories Inspiring Developers to Find Their Voices

Amazon’s primary vehicle for promoting developing Alexa-based apps (called skills) is its developer portal. But a technical blog doesn’t always spur new developers (or their employers) to explore Alexa’s potential. So Amazon engaged us to change that.

We suggested injecting developer success stories into the forum’s blog. These case studies would balance the programming and business rationale for adopting voice technology.

Our content team worked with Amazon's marketing on a list of skills to highlight in a weekly case study. These skills ranged from pure information and games to home automation and third-party devices. Each case study tells a unique story while showcasing developers, their company, and Alexa. By presenting both challenges and rewards, it encourages companies to explore Alexa for themselves.

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The Results: A Story is Worth 15,000... Skills

On technology websites, the right balance of technical and non-technical content is critical. It can mean the difference between growing your followers and scaring them off. Infusing the developer forum with success stories of actual developers drew in the technophiles. But it also appealed to the decision-makers that approve funding an Alexa skill for their company.

The strategy is paying off. We can’t know exactly how many new skills our stories have inspired. But we do know that by July 2017, over 15,000 Alexa skills had been published—from less than 1,000 when we started a year earlier. That means the Echo and other Alexa-enabled devices have more to say than ever. Not bad, considering it's been scarcely a year since the Alexa Skills Kit launched.

“Despite our tight timeline, they had the capacity to go as fast as we wanted without sacrificing quality. You’ve done an incredible job of telling our story and laying our products and solutions out in a unified, coherent way. It’s been phenomenal.”

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