From Click to Hello: An examination of the voice application on-boarding experience for users on Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant

Experience has shown that, when it comes to digital products and services, first impressions really do mean everything. When it comes to on-boarding new users into your voice experiences on Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, first impressions are going to dictate the success of everything that comes after. 

While the journey for users in a purely web-based, on-boarding funnel is pretty predictable today, going from web to voice can be a bit more unpredictable. An unpredictable experience leads to bad first impressions which makes an effective awareness and growth campaign strategy for your voice application challenging.

If you don’t pay enough attention to the on-boarding experience of your Voice Strategy, you’ll suffer through lousy engagement numbers and end up overspent on your awareness marketing without much to show for it.

Voice experiences delivered as voice applications are similar to the mobile applications on your phone. While the primary interface - voice versus touch - and device is different, how a voice application makes its way into your users lives follows very similar steps. 

Alyssa-User-experiencing-voice-applications-powered-by-True-Reply-as-Alexa-Skill-and-Google-Action For example, in order for Alyssa to experience your new voice application, she must

  1. Become aware of the new voice app
  2. Install the voice app on her device
  3. Launch/Start the voice app to engage with it

This is the same process we’d strategize and optimize for when it comes to launching a new mobile application. We want every step in this process to be as frictionless as possible to create delight in our users from that first impression onward. With this in mind, let’s dive into what options are available to users who want to get started using your voice application.

On-boarding Users to your voice application 

When on-boarding new users into your voice application, your Alexa Skill on Amazon Alexa or your Google Action on Google Assistant, there are three basic flows available to you:

  1. Promote awareness around a call to action that prompts uses to search for your voice app via the voice assistant.
  2. Promote awareness around a call to action to enable, or install, your voice app via the app directory, Amazon.com for Alexa Skills and assistant.google.com/explore for Google Actions, insuring clarity on how to start the voice app once its enabled.
  3. Promote awareness around a call to action to simultaneously enable and try your voice app.

Let’s have a look at each and see what we can expect and learn from the experience. 

User on-boarding via voice search or the Voice Search Funnel

Inviting Alyssa to access your voice application by simply asking for it seems like a natural thing, right? It gives you an opportunity to highlight the convenience of voice and start seeding the expectations of accessibility and convenience that you can then amplify via your own voice application. We know this because our earliest client voice apps were promoted in exactly this way and exactly for these reasons. What we learned quickly, however, was that we opened ourselves up to two issues which only served to frustrate users and our clients marketing teams. 

Voice Search Funnel fails for your Voice Applications on Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant

First, there is the very real possibility that the device just won't understand Alyssas request. Either because of the obscurity of your voice app name or because it sounds too much like something else. What Alyssa might experience, instead of your perfectly crafted sonic branding, is the dreaded “I’m sorry, I can’t help you with that” response. Regardless of how well the technology behind voice assistants improves, there are so many variables that can lead users into a dead end. 

Think about how many times you misunderstood, or just couldn’t understand at all, someone talking to you. Whether it’s because of background noise, accent, or just how fast they were speaking - you end up with a “What did you say?” Voice assistants are vulnerable to the same type of limitations inherent in speech and hearing. Voice assistants, however, are very good at trying to figure out what you said which leads us to our second issue. 

Instead of a “I’m sorry. I can’t help you with that” kind of response, the voice assistant may instead try to infer based on what it think it heard and make some suggestions. Best case scenario, Alyssa hears a slew of unrelated suggestions; very frustrating and throws her into a loop of repeating what she said - sometimes to very little success. As bad as that is, it could get worse - especially for you and your voice strategy.

You see, worst case scenario is that the suggestions made are direct competitor experiences to your voice application. Instead of your awareness campaign driving engagement to YOUR voice app, it ends up funneling new, excited, and maybe impatient users, into your competitors experiences. Alyssa is no longer engaging with you, she's engaging with your competitor. Blah 🤮!

While mitigating these occurrences is possible through thorough market research around the space and naming your voice application as uniquely and appropriately as possible, its still only a matter of time before you are back at square one. There is a better way.

For marketers, a great improvement over relying on voice search for your voice application awareness and usage is the web-first on-boarding strategy or Web Install Funnel. 

User on-boarding via web install or the Web Install Funnel

While new users coming into your voice application for the first time via voice search has all the pitfalls highlighted above, once the voice assistant learns what you want, follow-on requests to your voice application is much more accurate and frictionless. This is where the option to drive your users through a web-based on-boarding, or Web Install Funnel, comes in. 

Web Funnel for on-boarding users into your Alexa Skill on Amazon Alexa or your Google Assistant as a Google Action

With the Web Install Funnel, you link Alyssa first to your voice applications install page where she can learn about your voice application and choose to enable it on her devices. Once she enables your voice application, Alyssa can simply request the voice application from any of her devices. Because she has already enabled the voice application, her device has “learned” this is a preferred voice app of hers, making the voice request much less likely to be misinterpreted. 

The marketers in the room are already starting to appreciate how much better this is for Alyssa and all new users. You provide a fluid route from your ads to your voice application that is much less frustrating for users while at the same time creating key opportunities to measure success so you can now analyze and realize the effectiveness of your awareness campaigns. 

Now, the more experienced and sophisticated marketers are also asking, while it’s better than the voice search funnel, is there anyway to make it better? Looking at the voice application directory page, there are a ton of distractions. There are plenty of ways that will directly impact our conversion numbers from promotion to install and engagement.  And you, you clever marketer, are correct. While, internally, we saw a significant improvement in the end user on-boarding experience, we also quickly realized the conversion percentages had room for improvement. 

We dreamed of a way of closing the gap from our awareness efforts to just getting users to install and try our voice application. Our dreams were answered in the form of Quick Links and the Try It Funnel.

User on-boarding via Quick Links or the Try It Funnel

The experience of taking Alyssa from promotion - whether that is via your ads, your blog posts, or your social posts - directly into your voice application in the most fluid way possible, today, doesn’t get much better than with Quick Links and the Try It Funnel.

The Try It Funnel for on-boarding users into your voice application using Quick Links for your Alexa Skill on Amazon Alexa or your Google Assistant as a Google Action powered by True Reply

Quick Links for Alexa Skills uses a launcher page that shifts the emphasis away from discovery & awareness to taking action in a “Try it now” narrative. Alyssa is presented with a brief summary of your voice application, including its rating, and she is immediately given the option to select one of her devices to try it on. Selecting any device immediately starts your voice application on Alyssas device. No additional steps required. Alyssa goes from awareness to engagement in two steps with zero distractions.

As a fallback, if Alyssa is not ready to “try it now,” there is even an option for her to “Try It Later” which forwards a notification to her devices. Alyssa will get a reminder to try the voice application in the form of a question “Earlier you said you wanted to try Where is my period? Ready to try it now?,” for example. It’s seamless, fluid, and designed to close the loop on engagement. 

The Try It Funnel is the only funnel we power at True Reply because we found it best aligns with present marketer strategies across channels and drives the highest level of engagement.

We do this by automatically wrapping your voice application in quick links for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. We leverage fully branded domain links, or Voice Links, that reflect the voice application brand and the ecosystem it runs on. For example, https://alxa.app/hire-assemble or https://okggl.app/sickday. These True Reply Voice Links, combined with our QR code encoding of True Reply Voice Links, gives marketers a visual component to drive awareness and engagement and a seamless way to optimize their awareness campaigns.