4/11/17 AlexaDev Tuesday: Want To Know How To Reach Users? Try Being One.

This week I’m offering something a little different: an editorial. Since various means of monetizing Alexa skills are starting to come into focus, and it seems pretty likely that sooner or later we’ll be seeing those nice, yellow Buy buttons in the Alexa Skills Store on the Amazon site, maybe it’s a good time to start thinking about our target audience, and how to reach users.

Us tech-savvy types usually wear our ability to bypass the inconveniences of the web, mobile apps, social media and other digital content like a badge of honor.


Please To Whitelist?


No website slide-overs or pop-ups for us, thank you. We’ve installed an ad blocker. Auto-play videos can take a powder in our browsers, we’ve installed the necessary plugins or changed the necessary settings. Virtually no advertising in our Facebook feeds: we stopped “liking” and “reacting” to prevent Facebook from gathering our habits and preferences years ago, which prevents them from including us in targeted ad campaigns. Privacy concerns? Heavens, no. *cough* VPN *cough*

Articles and digital content hidden behind a paywall? Need more in-app currency to level up in our favorite mobile app or MMORPG? We have our tricks. Content tied to a specific hardware platform we don’t own, and don’t want to buy? We know a guy who knows a guy who wrote an emulator, or know how to write our own jailbreak script.

All of which seems super-smart of us until we have something digital to sell or monetize.


Out Of The Group = Out Of The Loop
Using our techie superpowers to elevate us from the user population also isolates us from that population. We no longer have any sense of what it’s like to be a mere user, or what the typical user experience is like.

How can you ensure your mobile app monetization strategy won’t alienate consumers when you don’t have a handle on all the various approaches currently in use, and haven’t experienced them for yourself? It’s impossible to craft an unobtrusive approach when you don’t know what an obtrusive approach looks like.

How can you know your Facebook ad will stand out and be appealing if you can count the number of targeted Facebook ads you’ve seen all month on one hand? It’s impossible to gauge what works — or doesn’t — when all you’re working with is the marketing equivalent of anecdotal evidence.

How can you price your digital content fairly and competitively when you don’t regularly pay for the same type of digital content yourself? When potential buyers complain the price is too steep, are you really in any position to argue?

Moreover, how can you figure out how to reach your intended user when you have no idea of what a typical day in his digital life looks like?


Helping Your Colleagues, Helping Yourself
There’s a valid argument to be made about the honorable merits of tech professionals walking the walk when it comes to paying for digital content, whether with our time, “impressions”, or actual money, and plenty enough digital ink has already been spilled on it.

But if the honor system argument doesn’t sway you, maybe the utilitarian one will.


In having to make digital content and media choices dictated by our time and money resources instead of our techie bag o’ tricks, we begin to understand how our target customer makes those choices. By extension, we learn how to better serve that customer.


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