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The Challenges & Opportunities of the Voice Apps Ecosystem

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After reading Alon Bonder’s post and talking with many about the voice-tech ecosystem, I figured out a few points that may help you focus and build the right product to make you rich.

While working on our voice product here at Knowmail, I understood that voice-tech is like the mobile apps ecosystem 10 years ago.


when your iOS app had memory problems? And the UI back then was way too simple? And the development platforms were shitty? And I don’t want to talk about marketing, acquisition, featured apps and thousands of farting, semi-funny, and non-valuable apps that we had to compete with back in-the-day.

But as always, the ecosystem evolved, matured and hundreds of startups were founded and made this ecosystem amazing.

Back to the future

developers these days are struggling with not-complete platforms (Alexa/Cortana/Siri… you name it :)) and even if they build an amazing voice app, they understand that the ecosystem isn’t ready for what I call
“The Full Funnel”, meaning:
Develop -> Acquire -> On-board -> Retain -> Make money.

The voice ecosystem is missing some very essential tools that all developers are familiar with from the mobile apps ecosystem such as analytics,
marketing attribution, ab test platforms, deep-links for better acquisition or re-engagement campaigns and so on…

We’re seeing a lot of solutions for developers that allow them to create a basic voice product by using APIs, framework, AI tools, etc. but those solutions are basic and in most cases, will only allow you to build your POC or MVP without getting users to use your product.

What are the problems and the opportunities I see out there?

1. Discovery

Building a voice app is the first step. Allowing people to use the app, is the first difficult step. How developers should distribute their apps. Why? Try to tell Alexa to order you a cab. Or, ask Cortana to transfer $100 to a friend. You know what, ask them to find you a good payment skill/app.
The opportunities here? Ad network, voice affiliations — Any personal assistant or voice interface would be able to chat and disrupt what we know about word of mouth.

2. Acquisition

So, discovery isn’t that good. The solution (maybe) — 
let’s advertise our skill! On Facebook! And Google Ads!
Oh… Do you need a URL of the skill? Can you enable a skill right from your ad? Can you track the user behavior after clicking an ad? Mmm… not yet.
Appsflyer, for example, are doing it for the mobile apps ecosystem and we will need a proper solution to support the voice apps so developer will be able to push more traffic to use and monetize them.

3. Onboarding

So, someone has connected to your voice app. He enabled it while driving his BMW. And now he doesn’t know how to use it. The solution? We must develop a proper, flexible, AI/ML based tool that will allow the user to use your voice app the proper way.
What’s proper? The way to achieve his goals.
How? It’s a new product, so we need tools to create “talk-through” (It’s like Walkme walk-through, but with voice 😉 )
We also need the attribution tool (Appsflyer style, remember? or
in order to create a personalized experience based on the user’s ad details.
What else? You’d probably gonna need a proper voice analytics tool, like Google’s or Mixpanel (Voicelabs and Adobe are already here) and a real-time content platform so you can analyze, improve and test your on-boarding funnel.

4. Optimization

We saw it on the on-boarding step, but a real optimization tool will allow us to develop a voice app and then analyze our users’ behavior, Decide what should we change/improve/remove (real time is better), ab test it, understand the ab test results and then publish.
Yes, it’s like Apptimize for voice app.
What else? Think about the conversion optimization ecosystem (Qualaroo , Unbounce) and the amazing possibilities we have with voice apps.

5. Retention

I found an article which states that voice apps retention is around 3% after 7 days. 97 out of 100 users will not use the voice app after 7 days. Seven days!
So, we will have to build the right tools to help developers retain their users.
I believe that trust is one of the top reasons to churn; actually, the lack of trust.
So how can we build trust? We will need very good AI that will understand users and how they perceive your app’s voice, tone, and tempo.
Voice analytics that will truly understand both the bot and the user so the experience will be personalized as possible.
Push notifications are another solution that will have to be adopted by the voice ecosystem. Companies like Appboy or Urban Airship are a must.
How? I believe that Alexa ‘s approach is the first step but next steps should consider the real-life communication between people.
If your friend wants to call you and update about the game tonight, he just calls you. He won’t send you a colored led.

6. Viral

Let’s talk about viral coefficient. How one user brings new users to use your voice app.

That’s easy… they just need to click this Faceb… Oh, no clicks. So, just say to alexa “Alexa, please share Uber with Dan.” Social sharing is difficult when using only voice, so we must understand how to create the “voice apps sharing experience”. Think about a tool that will allow you to invite a friend just to listen to your latest experience with Cortana’s email skill.

And now, social proof. You know, “Rate our app!!!” and “Please please please add your 5-star review so new users will think our voice app is amazing”.

Alexa is there, Cortana and others — not yet.
And the ecosystem? Build an API that will allow users to easily share amazing skills and developers to easily track them in order to understand how viral their voice app is. Build the right tools that will help developers to ask their users for a feedback, by voice. That’s hard, you don’t want a robot to cut in while helping you navigate.

To sum all up — Get 3 friends (Tech guy, biz guy, and a product talent), bring some beer and snacks, close the door behind you and read this post again. Then write top 3 products from the mobile apps ecosystem, think about how they can evolve and help the voice ecosystem and start to F^&king build one of them!

This post originally published on Venturebeat

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The Challenges & Opportunities of the Voice Apps Ecosystem was originally published in Chatbots Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Source: Chatbots Magazine

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