Interactive Content Marketing: How Alexa Skills Are Leading The Line


As more brands seek to leverage the power of interactive content marketing, dotCMS’s Director of Marketing,  Alexandra Barcelona takes a look at how Alexa Skills, and audio marketing in general, is changing the game.

Back in 2014, Amazon unveiled a device that would revolutionize the way consumers interact with the internet for the sake of information, entertainment, and commerce. That device was the Echo, Amazon’s very own smart speaker that featured Alexa, a built-in audio personal assistant that can perform a variety of actions from reading out the latest news to playing games with the whole family.

Since then, Alexa Skills — the apps of the Alexa world — have emerged as the latest frontier for marketers seeking to leverage the power of interactive content marketingOpens a new window .

The Rapid Rise of Smart Speakers

Launched in 2014, Amazon’s Echo was the first smart speaker to market, claiming a massive head-start over rivals Google and Apple, both of which launched their smart speakers in 2016 and 2018 respectively.

Research by VoicebotOpens a new window estimates that one in five adults in the United States — which equates to  47.3 million people — own a smart speaker. But perhaps more interestingly, the same research claims that US sales only account for 45.6 percent of global smart speaker sales, with China, South Korea, and the rest of the world accounting for 54.4 percent.

This sharp rise in popularity, as well as the optimism surrounding the growth of the smart speaker market, is down to the fact that audio experiences bring genuine value to the consumer by enabling them to carry out tasks and consume information faster, and (more importantly) while physically engaging in other tasks. In other words, on top of being pretty darn cool, smart speakers are practical time-savers.

What sets Amazon’s Alexa apart Siri and Google Assistant — for now at least — are Alexa Skills. As previously mentioned, a Skill is the audio equivalent of a native mobile app, bringing similar features and functionalities such as audiobooks on tap, food delivery, and total control over your smart home devices.

As of March 2018, there were over 30,000 Alexa Skills, with major brands dabbling in Alexa Skill creation in order to engage with the millions of Amazon Echo users around the globe. 

5 Brands Using Alexa to Launch Interactive Content Marketing Campaigns

Numerous large brands and organizations from various industries are now leveraging Alexa Skills to build interactive content marketing campaigns. I’ve compiled five examples below, with each one showcasing a unique approach to what we like to call the audio customer experience.

1. BBC

In December 2017, public service broadcaster BBC launched its first Alexa Skill, bringing the BBC’s full range of live radio stations and podcasts to Amazon’s smart speaker ecosystem.

Users can tune into live shows or listen in to pre-recorded podcast episodes. For podcasts, users can use voice commands to scroll through previous episodes, with Alexa reading out titles and asking the user if they’d like to listen. Plus, users can say “Play”, Pause” and “Resume” to control playback.


Danish toy giant LEGO launched an interactive storytelling Alexa Skill in May 2018 for children aged between 2 and 5.

The Skill offers up ten stories that children can listen to and interact with while playing with LEGO bricks. The vehicle or animal-themed stories are designed to help children learn through play.

3. Amazon

As you might imagine, Amazon has leveraged their own platform to further their brand and scale their online sales. Most notably, Amazon gave Alexa users the ability to quickly and easily place Amazon orders through voice commands.

Voicebot’s research, which we mentioned previously, claimed that Amazon conducted $2 billion worth of voice commerce sales in the US and UK in 2017, and forecasts that figure to grow exponentially by 2022, reaching $45 billion.

4. Uber

Popular ride-hailing app Uber created an Alexa Skill in February 2016. Uber users can interact with the Skill to carry out a range of tasks, from ordering an Uber to changing their default pickup location. 

Uber’s Skill is, of course, seamlessly integrated with the user’s mobile app.

5. Gettysburg College

Pennsylvania-based Gettysburg College, developed their own set of Alexa SkillsOpens a new window to help simplify student life around the campus. Students use the Skills to hear a read-out of the daily lunch menu, to find staff details and contact information, and to get the latest news from within the university.

Rod Todsten, VP of Information Technology at Gettysburg College, commented on how Alexa represents “a shift in the way that we have to think about content.” Todsten noted that with the rise of voice-assistant devices, brands must move away from delivering content as one-way communication that you would typically find on a web browser, and instead focus on providing content-as-a-service to establish a two-way conversation with the consumer.

In simpler terms, Todsten anticipates that interactive content marketing is the perfect response to the new, IoT-inspired trends in content consumption.

Alexa’s Voice is Loudest… For Now

Alexa is affording brands the opportunity to interact with consumers in a way that was never before possible. That’s why we — like Uber, Amazon, and LEGO — believe that Amazon’s Alexa is the perfect channel to launch your first interactive content marketing campaign.

However, while it’s true that Amazon’s smart speaker holds the largest market share, it’s vital to note that the audio marketing scene is in infancy, and therefore ripe for fluctuation. In fact, with the Google Home outselling the Amazon Echo in Q1 2018, the potential for change is more lucid than ever.

With that in mind, we advise brands to not only prepare for an Alexa-based interactive content marketing strategy, but to adopt an content strategy — along with the necessary technology stack — that can stand the test of time and deliver content in any form, to any device, no matter what surprises the market has in store for us.