According to Google Data, one-fifth of all search queries in the United States in 2016 were made by voice control. Thanks to affordable cloud-based voice service devices like Amazon Alexa, this trend will only increase. Therefore, a future in which all you need to do in your smart home is speak out loud to obtain almost anything you want, is closer than you might think. Since this will have a huge impact on search and content marketing we want to explain how to use the Amazon Alexa to boost your marketing efforts. In this article we’ll show you how to set up Alexa Flash Briefings. Stay tuned for our next article in which we provide insight on what type of content to include in your Flash Briefing.
What is a Flash Briefing?
First of all, what exactly is a Flash Briefing? A Flash Briefing is a pre-recorded audio clip or text-to-speech content. The Amazon Echo or Echo Dot will play the clip or read the text when the customer asks “Alexa, give me my Flash Briefing” or “Alexa, tell me the news”. Flash Briefings are designed to give users the latest news, weather, and other content like interviews, lists etc. The length of these Flash Briefings is limited to 10 minutes. As a marketer you can use them to deliver product updates, expert tips, industry news and much more on a frequent basis. Most importantly, it is a summary of the full content on your website which provides the “searcher” with a quicker way to make a decision on whether to visit your full website. If you’re the only one with the Flash Briefing then you have an advantage on your competition.
How to Set Up a Flash Briefing Skill
From a marketer’s point of view, the Flash Briefing can add great value to your marketing efforts. But how do you get started? Below we’ll show you step by step how to set up your very own Flash Briefings.
1. Set up an RSS Feed
The first thing you have to do can be the most difficult one. To connect your content directly to a Flash Briefing you have to configure your compatible RSS feed and submit detailed information about your skill. You’ll need basic knowledge of JSON or RSS feed formats to do so. Luckily there are tools to help you in case you are not familiar with these. More “Plug and Play” tools like SoundUp and Effct allow you to simply upload a recording and they’ll push it out to Amazon.
2. Sign up as an Amazon Developer
You can only configure a new Flash Briefing Skill when you have an account on the Amazon Developer Console. In case you don’t have an account already you can click on this link and create an account for free.
3. Create an Amazon Flash Briefing Skill
Now that you are a registered Amazon Developer you can start creating your very first Amazon Flash Briefing Skill. Follow these steps after you have logged in to the developer console:
- Click the button that says ‘Create Skill’.
- Choose the language for your skill in the drop-down menu. Once you’ve selected a language you cannot change it again. Keep in mind that the error message, descriptions and content should all have the same language as the one selected for the skill.
- Next, fill in the name for your skill. Customers get to see this name in the Alexa App. Make sure it does not entail sponsorship by Amazon. The name should not infringe on the copyright, trademark or publicity rights of a third party.
- In order to build a skill you can design a custom model or start with a prebuilt model. Select the prebuilt Flash Briefing Skill. Because the Flash Briefing Skill is predefined, English-speaking customers can get their Flash Briefing by saying the following commands:
- “Alexa, what’s my Flash Briefing?”
- “Alexa, what’s in the news?”
4. Create a Custom Error Message
If, for some reason, your feed content is not available, Alexa will use a custom error message. This error message can be up to 100 characters long. You might say for example “[Skill name] is unavailable at the moment”. When setting up the error message, you can hear a preview by clicking the ‘Play’ button next to the message field.
5. Get Started on your Flash Briefing Feed
In this step you must fill out the information about your Flash Briefing Feed.
- Every Flash Briefing Feed has a preamble. This is a short introduction to your feed which is limited to 70 characters. The preamble has to start with “In” or “From”. Quick reminder: This should be in the same language you chose for your skill!
- Add a name that identifies your feed.
- Choose how frequently you want to update your content. You can choose between hourly, daily or weekly.
- In the Content type field you can choose between a text or audio feed.
- Content Genre lets you indicate the best description of your content using a drop-down menu.
- Add the URL for the RSS feed you set up in the Feed box.
- Select a 512 x 512 pixel JPG or PNG image to upload as your feed icon. This image represents your content feed in the Alexa App.
- Click “Add” and you’re done!
6. Test Your Flash Briefing Skill
Before submitting your Flash Briefing Skill you want to make sure it functions properly. Enable your skill for testing by setting the slider to ‘Yes’ on the ‘Test’ tab in the developer console. Use either the Alexa Simulator or an Alexa-enabled device to test your Flash Briefing Skill. Keep in mind that your device has to be registered to the same account as your developer account in order to display your skill. Type or say “Alexa, what’s my Flash Briefing?” in the simulator or find your skill in the Alexa app and ask it for your Flash Briefing. After testing your skill click ‘Next’.
7. Add Publishing information
Customers can select a skill in the Alexa App to see more detailed information. Add the following details to inform potential customers even more:
- A Public Name (appears in the Alexa app)
- A One Sentence Description
- A Detailed Description that lists all feeds that are offered with your skill
- A Small (108 x 108 pixels) and a Large Icon (512 x 512 pixels). The image gets rejected if the size doesn’t match
- A Category
- Some Keywords for your skill
8. Answer the Privacy and Compliance Questions
These questions are standard for every skill type. You have to answer some questions on whether the customer can make purchases or not by using the skill, whether users’ personal data gets collected, in which country the skill will be available, etc.
9. Get Certified by Amazon
Amazon provides a ‘Flash Briefing Skill Certification Checklist’ you can use to finally check your skill. On the submission page you can then select ‘Submit for Review’. Your submission gets sent to Amazon for approval. An important reminder: Every time you edit your skill you have to resubmit it for approval.
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