Amazon Alexa Skills, Google Assistant Actions, Samsung Bixby Capsules, etc. costs vary from zero to over $25,000, depending upon the level of voice user experience (VUX) you want to offer your customers. This article helps brands integrate voice assistant apps into their marketing budgets and strategy in conjunction with their overall technology stack.
If it’s free, it’s for me.
Looking to learn and test ideas in voice-first user experiences? Try Amazon Alexa Blueprints. It requires no complex technical skills and provides a basic voice technology experience. If you have some technical skills, Google enables you to enhance your existing web content for basic Google Assistant Actions – but only for static content (currently).
While these free services make it look easy to create a voice app, designing an effective voice-first, multimodal user experience that provides enhanced customer engagement will require time, talent and money.
Early adopters learned fast.
Brands that jumped on the AI voice technology bandwagon learned several important lessons.
1. Conversational design is not as simple as talking. If you don’t “train” the natural language processing (NLP) software properly, the AI interaction with humans can be clumsy, annoying and worse, embarrassing.
2. Consumers who interacted with smart speakers early on, enjoyed experiences that were useful to them – playing music, turning on/off lights, getting weather reports, etc.
3. It takes a cross-functional team of experienced voice technology designers and developers to create a successful and engaging experience.
A more conversational AI voice-first experience cost approximately $7,500 - $10,000, depending upon how much initial consulting, brainstorming and conversation revisions are done prior to development and deployment. You need to be where your customers are. So that means at least two voice apps – for both Amazon and Google.
You get what you pay for.
Gone are the days of keeping marketing channels separate and creating technology silos that are difficult and expensive to maintain. Yet, some brands are embracing the shiny new object of voice technology without a cost-effective plan for both marketing and technology integration. This can negatively impact the user experience and potentially eliminate any measurable return on investment (ROI) or return on ad spend (ROAS).
A major brand recently launched a voice-only experience (no visuals, not even their logo or product image*) which required consumers to revisit the voice app a week later to learn if they won something. The conversation design lacked verification, allowing consumers to provide ridiculously fake information. Consumers who returned a week later, only to find out they did not win, were not offered any incentive until over a month later – when an email was sent to them with a discount offer on another product. This case study suggests many silos – people and technology - before and after the user experience.
*Although many people have smart speakers at home, the VUX designers ignored the devices their target market used most often – their mobile phones – which have voice assistants and screens for images and video.
If you want your brand’s voice-first, multimodal user experience to be integrated with your marketing plan, content management and e-commerce systems, plan to spend at least $25,000. Depending upon the level of integration with your systems, personalization and various marketing channels, you can increase not only your ROI / ROAS, but gain a high level of attribution, also.
The SoniBridge platform from Whetstone Technologies enables brands to monetize voice apps by enabling consumers to opt-in to receive incentive offers via text messaging immediately after interacting with voice apps. Most importantly, we integrate with your marketing plans and technology to provide a measurable ROI / ROAS. Budget accordingly.