5 tips to improve your Alexa In-skill Purchasing (ISP) upsell

Staff Writer Apr 26, 2023
Alexa Skills

In-skill purchasing lets you sell premium content, such as game features and interactive stories in custom skills. Buying these products in a skill is seamless to a user. They might ask to shop for products, buy products by name, or agree to purchase suggestions that you make during their skill session. Customers pay for products by using the payment options associated with their Amazon account.

You can offer three types of ISPs: subscriptions (premium content for a select period of time charged on a recurring basis), one-time purchases (one-time offers), and consumables (content that your customers can purchase, deplete, and purchase again).

The ISP workflow consists of two parts: 1) The purchase suggestion message also known as the upsell, and 2) the offer card, which contains details about the price, the availability of the free trial, and the terms and conditions of the offer. The upsell is your first opportunity to introduce the premium experience or content to a customer, and hence should make an impression.

“Upselling on Alexa is not very different from marketing a product in the real world,” says Sid Dube, Principal Product Manager at Alexa. “You have to identify your customer pool, ensure the marketing message addresses a need, present it at the right time, and ensure the customer can understand what they’re getting.”

Below, we share five tips for you to ensure your upsells help convert traffic into paying customers.

Tip #1: Ensure your upsell message is concise but complete

An upsell message guides your customers towards a purchasable experience within your skill. Upsell messages should be no longer than 30-45 seconds and should contain three aspects: A) a transition that acknowledges the customer’s current experience so that it feels less intrusive, B) a description that clearly highlights the difference between the free experience and the premium experience, and C) a call-to-action (CTA) usually in the form of a confirmation that takes the customer to the offer card to complete the purchase.

Here is a great example of an upsell from the Question of the Day skill that gets triggered after completing the daily challenge “To unlock your two remaining daily challenge questions, join our Trivia Club. Would you like to start your 7-day free trial?” As you can see, this upsell has a transition relevant to what the customer was engaging in, a description of the premium content and a clear call to action.

Tip #2: Avoid repetition in your upsell messaging

Don’t develop a single upsell that tries to address all your customer needs. In fact, developing multiple upsell messages to encompass a variety of customer contexts at different points in time can increase customer uptakes of upsells.

Here is a great example of an upsell from the Song Quiz skill that is triggered when a customer completes a round of 2010 hits - “Players who enjoy 2010s pop, love playing 2019 hits. Do you want to try 2019 hits with a seven-day free trial?”

However, when a customer returns to a skill after a long period of time, the upsell message is different: “Welcome back to Song Quiz. You can challenge yourself with a playlist from a new genre when you start your free trial. Would you like to try Song Quiz Gold for 7 days?”

Tip #3: Time your upsell

Customers don't like to be interrupted during a skill session and might view upsells as ads. Triggering an upsell on skill launch is annoying as the customer launched the skill for a particular purpose, which was interrupted almost immediately. You want to surface an upsell only after your customer has understood the purpose of your skill and has a reason to come back to it repeatedly.

Some developers, like TMSOFT, code a timer that tracks skill session minutes in the skill White Noise before triggering an upsell. Other developers set up an upsell on their first skill launch. While upsell timing varies by skill, we have observed that successful skills provide their first upsell after 2-3 skill sessions, and usually early on in the skill session. Try not to upsell a customer more than once a day regardless of the number of skill launches, and optimize the timing of your upsell messages based on "no" responses from customers.

Tip #4: Offer a reminder with no push to purchase

Not all skill utterances have to result in a purchase. That's where reminders come into play: they can keep customers engaged with your skill by letting them know what's available without putting any pressure on them. For example, if you say "no" to the Question of the Day Upsell, Alexa says "No worries! If you change your mind later, just say Alexa, subscribe."

"A reminder is something that doesn't even need a customer input, but lets the customer know the key phrases or selections they can make at any point in time to trigger the purchase experience," says Dube.

Tip #5: Support intents that span the purchase journey beyond the 'Buy' intent

The purchase experience is not just limited to the transaction between you and the customer. Most customers consider the experience before and after the purchase also part of the experience, and hence it becomes essential to support multiple intents outside of just "Buy".

Outside of the obvious "Buy" intent, consider building responses for customer queries like "What's available to purchase?", "Is there any more content?", "How much does the premium product cost?", and "What else is available to do?" for the pre-purchase phase of the customer journey.

For the post-purchase phase, consider supporting queries like "What have I purchased?", "What else can I purchase?", "How much am I paying per month?", "Show me my purchases", and even "Cancel my purchase". User research has demonstrated that customers want to feel that they have control over their purchases, and building these intents gives customers the confidence to carry out repeat purchases.

To give an example, LC Publishing does a great job of this in their skill The Dark Citadel where users at any point in time can say "What can I buy?" without having an upsell initiated by the skill, and Alexa responds with "What would you like to shop for?" followed by a list of choices available to purchase.

Optimize Alexa ISP upsells in your skill by visiting the Alexa Developer Console. For more details on ISP, please review the technical document.

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