3 Things All Radio Stations Need To Make The Most Of Smart Speakers Like Alexa Devices

With more and more people using smart speakers, radio stations need to make sure they’re keeping with the technology. Here’s how.

A version of this article written by Todd Thomas, Futuri Media’s senior vice president of operations, first appeared on RadioWorld.com.

Smart speakers and voice control technology offer radio stations unprecedented ways to engage with their audiences, and the space is growing with remarkable speed.

But making the most of the technology isn’t as simple as saying, “Alexa, lay out my radio station’s smart speaker strategy for me.”

While that kind of A.I. help might not be too far off, for now, it’s up to each radio station to decide exactly how they’ll maximize the most exciting opportunity to come along for AM/FM radio audience growth since streaming.

A prediction by research agency Gartner says that by 2018, 30 percent of people’s interactions with technology will be through voice control; RBC Capital Markets predicts that by 2020, Amazon Alexa devices alone will sell 60 million units a year.

Futuri Media Launches Alexa Skills for Radio Stations on Vimeo.

There are three key things that radio stations need to know about smart speakers and how to get the most from them. (NOTE: These examples are specific to Alexa Skills but can be applied universally.)

1. Radio stations should claim their smart speaker brand name … quickly.

Skills are like website domain names: the most popular, user-friendly ones go quickly. Wouldn’t you rather be “Mix 100.3” than “Mix 100.3 Kokomo,” or some other mouthful of a name?

2. Decide how your radio station will use its skills. 

Once you grab your brand, you’ll need to decide exactly what you’ll want your skill to do for your radio station.

Will it just be an “on and off” switch for your stream? Or will you have on-demand benchmarks such as popular morning show bits, or the ability for listeners to request a song or send a message to the DJ, all from their smart speakers.

If you’re committing time and effort to creating smart speaker skills, the most important thing to remember is you must integrate your brand into your voice control technology. And that’s more than just playing your stream.

3. Promote your skills to your audience

If you’re not promoting your Alexa Skill and other smart speaker offerings in the right ways and training your audience how to interact with it, you’re wasting time, money and opportunity.

Of course, on-air mentions are key. Creativity and relatability must shine, with listener benefit top of mind. Just like saying “download our app” won’t help you get much audience engagement for a mobile app, simply telling people that your skill is available won’t cut it.

Think of where and when they’re using their smart speakers — the bathroom while getting ready for work, the kitchen while making dinner and the bedroom just before bed — and promote accordingly through clever imaging and content integration.

Social media and email marketing are other key ways to educate your audience about your Alexa Skill. Target those who you know are smart speaker users, and develop promotions that talk about your skill in a way that incentivizes your listeners.

Futuri Amazon Alexa smart speakers
Amazon’s Alexa smart-speaker devices.

 

How radio stations can make the most of Alexa Skills and smart-speaker technologies

Futuri Media takes a holistic look at everything we do for partners, and Alexa Skills are no different.

We could create a product for a partner, hand it over, and say, “Good luck!” but I have yet to meet a partner who didn’t need or want ongoing strategic consulting to ensure they’re making the most of their investment. We’re obsessed with ROI, so that’s what we do.

Technology moves fast — especially this technology. There are literally daily changes to rules in this market.

Any radio station wanting to take advantage of smart-speaker technologies should have a partner that can guide them through the experience.

Don’t fall for the one-size-fits-all approach that some companies offer.

Vendors pop out skills in an assembly line, whereas partners like Futuri are committed to helping radio stations understand how to achieve specific goals.

As a certified Amazon development partner, Futuri is well-versed in the challenges and processes of working with Alexa Skills.

Developing and executing a great skill is an incredible new chance to build time spent listening in the home. Remember the days when radio’s TSL was more impressive? This is the chance to get some of it back.

A smart-speaker skill for your station isn’t a magic bullet, but it’s a crucial opportunity radio stations need to exploit in the right ways to see success.

The question shouldn’t be, “Do I want to be a part of the voice control movement?” Trust me: you do.

If you have any hesitation whatsoever, I strongly suggest purchasing an Alexa device for your home to see how you, and your listeners, interact with them.

Then your question will be, “How can I take advantage of this for my brand and listeners today?” And hey — we’re happy to help.

Todd Thomas is SVP operations for Futuri Media, an SaaS company offering audience engagement technology and tools. Reach him at todd@futurimedia.com.