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How to Create an Alexa Flash Briefing and Expand a Brand’s Reach to New Audiences

An Alexa Flash Briefing is an Alexa skill which brands can leverage as a content distribution channel. Amazon defines Flash Briefings as “a quick overview of news and other content such as comedy, interviews, and lists”. In essence they are mini podcasts, typically a few minutes long, that a user subscribes to and makes part of their daily routine.

Currently, there are two main ways to create a Flash Briefing:

  1. Alexa Blueprints
  2. Alexa Developer Console

What are Alexa Blueprints?

alexa flash briefing

Alexa Blueprints launched in 2019 and are similar in function to the now deprecated Google Actions. They are essentially templates which allow a user to build their own Alexa skill – such as a Flash Briefing – without any coding knowledge. All you need to get started with building your own briefing is an Amazon account.

Skills can be kept personal, shared with friends and family, or – in the case of businesses – added to the Amazon store for customers to access. According to Voicebot, 25% of all new skills in 2019 in the U.S. store were created using Blueprints.

How to create an Alexa Flash Briefing using Alexa Blueprints

Creating an Alexa Flash Briefing in this way is simple.

alexa flash briefing

1. To begin, navigate to the Alexa Blueprints homepage, click on Flash Briefing, and then “Make your own”.

alexa flash briefing

Alexa Blueprint Flash Briefing template

2. You will then need to choose from the following options:

  • Record your message directly on the Blueprint skill using your computer
  • Upload a recording from a phone or other recording device
  • Type out your content into the box provided and allow TTS (Text to speech) to read it in place of a recording. However, it should be noted that for this option you can only write a maximum of 400 characters.

3. Finally, you’ll need to choose how often you want your content to be updated. For most brands, it’s recommended to choose either daily or weekly.

How to create an Alexa Flash Briefing using Alexa Developer Console

Alexa Developer Console is slightly more involved to set up, but ultimately offers more freedom.

To create a Flash Briefing using Developer Console, you will need to set up an Amazon Developer Account, log in to Developer Console, and press Create Skill.

alexa flash briefing

Provide a name for your skill – in this example we’ve chosen to call our skill ‘Merkle’s SEO News’ – and then press Flash Briefing.

You’ll then be asked to create a custom error message. Alexa will use this message if your feed content is not available.

alexa flash briefing

Alexa Developer Console – Flash Briefing

You will be prompted to provide a feed for the Flash Briefing to run on. To meet Amazon’s requirements this must be a publicly accessible RSS or JSON feed, secured with a HTTPS URL – there are plenty of providers online to choose from. In our example we chose Anchor.fm, which is both free and easy to use.

alexa flash briefing

There is a simple form to fill in where you will need to include a short introduction that Alexa will read to the customer before the feed contents. You will also need to select a genre for your briefing and the frequency with which you will update it, following which you will need to paste in the URL for your feed. Amazon also gives detailed instructions to guide you through this step, which we’d recommend you review before getting started.

Once you’ve completed the required steps and uploaded your logo, you are then ready to submit your skill to Amazon for certification. Once submitted, your briefing will go through a review process, before being published on the Amazon store. The review process usually takes around 3 working days, and you will be notified by email of the outcome.

alexa flash briefing

Alexa Flash Briefing in Review

Alexa Flash Briefings on the Amazon store

alexa amazon

Example of Alexa Flash Briefings on the Amazon UK store. To see Merkle’s SEO News briefing simply visit the UK Amazon store and search ‘SEO news’ within the Alexa Skills category.

Once your briefing has passed the review stage, it will be published on the Amazon store. In 2019, Amazon announced that it had sold over 100 million products with built-in Alexa. Not only will your briefing be available to these millions of customers, but also to those who have downloaded the Alexa app onto their mobile device – a potentially vast audience for a brand’s messaging.

How long should a Flash Briefing last?

The maximum amount of time a Flash Briefing can last for is 10 minutes, but iexperts recommend to keep them shorter than this. As the name suggests, these are designed to be short and punchy – briefings should ideally be around 2-3 minutes long. Any longer than that, and listeners may grow bored and ask Alexa to skip the briefing altogether.

SEO best practices for Alexa Flash Briefings

Once your Amazon Flash Briefing is listed on the Amazon store, you will need to optimise the listing to help potential users find it. Carry out research to identify the relevant keywords for your briefing using a suitable keyword research tool, and add these into the title and description fields provided on the Amazon skill page.

Keyword Research

You can select up to thirty single words to include in the keyword field of your Flash Briefing. A keyword research tool such as Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer can be used to identify which phrases are most relevant to your briefing. However, if you don’t have access to a dedicated keyword research tool, Amazon’s auto suggest function is a simple way to see what people are searching for.

alexa flash briefing

Amazon Autosuggest – one way to find out what users are searching for

Optimising the title of your Flash Briefing

The title is the name of the skill that will be displayed to customers in the Alexa app, and must be between 2-50 characters in length. Include at least one main keyword, identified during your initial keyword research phase.

Optimising the short description

The short description is a sentence that describes the skill, and what users can do with it. This will display in the Alexa app, and may also be spoken aloud by Alexa. Include important keywords where possible, and keep the description to a maximum of 160 characters in length.

Optimising the long description

The long description is a comprehensive description of the skill and can be up to 4000 characters in length. This presents another opportunity to include the keywords and terms related to your content. It should also list the feeds offered within the Flash Briefing.

Top tips on how to grow your Alexa Flash Briefing organically

  • Carry out keyword research and optimise the briefing’s name, description, and keywords on the Amazon listings page.
  • Promote the briefing on social media channels. As Flash Briefings are still an emerging format, include instructions on how your audience can enable and listen to the briefing.
  • To create visual appeal on your social media postings, create an audiogram. These are videos set to an audio clip, and can be more engaging than static text-based posts.

Audiogram Twitter

An example of an audiogram posted on Twitter

Analysing performance with Alexa Analytics

Once you’ve published a Flash Briefing on the Amazon store, you’ll need to report on performance. Alexa provides Analytics for skills within the Amazon Developer Console, allowing you to discover how many users have installed your Flash Briefing, and how many times the content of each briefing has been played.

alexa flash briefing

Amazon Developer Console Analytics

An explanation of the metrics

Unique customers refers to how many different people listened to your briefing.

User enablement refers to how many people enabled your briefing in the selected time period.

Plays refers to how many times your Flash Briefing was played.

Alongside these metrics, you will also need to monitor your Flash Briefing’s ratings – how many reviews it receives, the sentiment of these reviews, and the average star rating.

Final thoughts: Why Alexa Flash Briefings could become a valuable component of a brand’s marketing strategy

Smart speakers are the fastest growing consumer technology of all time, reaching 50% of the U.S. population in under five years.

Alexa Flash Briefings are already an ideal way to reach new audiences – and as voice technology continues to grow in popularity, so will the potential audience size and value of the channel.

By becoming an early adopter of this new technology, brands will be able to tap into this massive potential and reap the awards that Alexa Flash Briefings will bring.

 

Get in touch today if you want to find out more on how Merkle can help to expand your brand’s reach to new audiences through Alexa Flash Briefings and other channels.

 

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