A step by step comparison with paid search ads.
In this guide we look at how laundry businesses can use voice as a channel to drive more customers at lower costs. Focussing on voice commerce, we’ll explain exactly what it is, why it is so valuable to your business and how you can get started, as well as some recommendations to help you make the most of your investment.
What is voice commerce/alexa skill/google action?
In this article we will use the phrase ‘alexa skill’ to describe voice as a channel for growing your business. This is all about Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa, that has been enabling consumers to easily interact with devices using voice commands and thereby access a wide range of services for work, leisure and everything in-between even more easily than typing or using an app. At Emitrr we wrote a detailed explanation of what is an Alexa skill. Read about it here
Why should you use voice for your laundry/dry cleaning business?
Voice is a new and upcoming channel for customer service, engagement and acquisition. Today over 100M people use Amazon’s Alexa for various purposes and while you are reading this more and more businesses are actively building a voice first presence. The reasons are very simple:
- It is not as populated and competitive as other channels like google search ads, content marketing or traditional marketing practices. Today everyone has a blog, resources, ads, email but not everyone is on voice. Hence voice is the next big channel and we all know about early mover advantage.
- With Amazon and google making a big push to ensure ease of use, more and more users have started to use smart speakers for transactions and not just mere entertainment.
- Compared to the cost of google search ads and the conversion rates, voice is definitely way more economical.
Let’s take an example of current channels for growing the dry cleaning businesses: Paid search ads and compare it to voice as a channel.
In the above example, the first 4 results from a search for “alpine dry cleaners” are all paid search ads. The ‘organic’ search results i.e. Google’s regular, free search result listings are ‘below the fold’ of this page, which means that they cannot be seen by the user before they scroll down the page. Over the years paid search ads have become bigger in size and a greater number of ads have crept onto the page. This means that if businesses want to be found in Google’s search results, it’s often a necessity to use paid search (which is an expensive bet!) Even if your business’ website ranks well in organic search (perhaps via SEO tactics you have carried out) there is no guarantee that your results will be seen, and more importantly, clicked on, owing to the prevalence of paid search ads on the page. This is especially true in the age of mobile phones, where mobile search results’ organic listings may be even less visible owing to the size of the page.
Now let’s compare this to how Alexa skills work. Alexa skills are nothing but voice apps on Amazon alexa, similar to apps on your mobile. But the big difference is, people can launch a specific skill by invoking the skill. What does this mean?
1. If someone wants to order for a pickup from “Alpine Laundry”, they can ask Alexa to order for a pickup from Alpine and there is no competition like in the case of search ads that shows up multiple other options and reduces the chances of winning a customer. Ofcourse it is inevitable that Amazon and Google will launch voice ads soon and hence it is always preferable to get there now, while it is free and make the most of it.
2. Amazon plans to launch Canfulfil Intent, which is nothing but voice SEO. In simple terms, if a user does not invoke a specific skill and instead asks for a laundry near me, Amazon has the right to decide which skill/laundry to offer to the user and we all know how SEO works. Its years of commitment and always preferable to get there before it gets populated.
To sustain and grow your business you need customers, and lots of them. You need to acquire new customers, hope that they turn into repeat customers and ideally loyal customers. Customers may be acquired by word of mouth or passers by but most businesses will use a new channel to raise awareness of their business and acquire new customers.
Voice is not a silver bullet and it’s easy to waste money and have no idea whether you have gained anything from it. But if the voice interface is designed carefully keeping the customer interactions in mind, it can definitely be a big boost. What is voice user interface? Think of it like an interface for your website but with the difference in method of interaction. Below is an example of how Emitrr created a design board for of its Laundry customers [Laundrylicious, Spin Cycle Laundromats and more] along with all the interactions.
The core strengths of voice, and those that differentiate it from other advertising options are:
- User intent: When someone uses Alexa, they are essentially looking for an answer to a question or a solution for a problem. They are telling Alexa what their intent is.
- No pay per click: With search ads or any form of ads, you are most likely going to pay per lead or per click where as in case of voice its a one time investment with continuous investment in optimization and not paying per lead. Thats a big plus compared to advertising.
- Conversion tracking: There is a famous quote often referred to in the advertising industry from US merchant John Wanamaker: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” With voice this is no longer the case! With Alexa skills interactions you can understand what actions are being taken with your skill. This means you are able to understand exactly which parts of your skill work, right down to each cent.
- Scalable and flexible: Lastly, voice/alexa skills are the ideal marketing channel because of the level of control that businesses have to choose your own interaction models, decide the use cases you want to have on voice, push offers …the list goes on! For new businesses, this level of control is really important as it allows them to start with a small investment which can be scaled as it demonstrates return on investment.
How to get started
Once you have identified voice commerce is right for your dry cleaning business, it’s time to get started with your skill. Here we outline the key steps in the process:
Creating your Amazon Developer account
- To start with you will need an Amazon Developer account. Visit developer.amazon.com to create one.
- If your skill requires transactions, then you should create an Amazon pay account. It takes less than 5 minutes to do so. You can do that by going to pay.amazon.com/us.
Once your developer account and Amazon pay account is created it is very easy to create your skill for Alexa:
At Emitrr we have created a template for laundromats and dry cleaners to publish their Alexa skill in minutes. We’ve taken care of all the certification corner cases and hence it cuts down weeks of effort into just minutes. All you need to do is enter your Amazon pay details and details like store timings and we’ll help you publish your skill in minutes.
By now you should understand what voice is and why it is useful for your business. You should know how to create an account and understand the steps you need to go through to build your first skill. You should also be thinking about some of the advanced tactics you can use to ensure your skills work as hard as possible for your dry cleaning business, bringing return on your investment.
Emitrr is a Saas platform that helps Laundromats publish their Alexa skills and Google actions. This enables their customers to place laundry or dry cleaning pickup orders via Alexa and Google home in under 1 minute. Contact us on emitrr.com to learn more about Emitrr’s capabilities and customer stories. Emitrr was built specifically to cater to Laundromats/Dry Cleaners and is the first of its kind platform.