“Hey, Alexa. What did KNOCK learn from its hackathon?"

3 teams. 1 smart speaker. A crash course in innovation.

January 19, 2018. Minneapolis, MN

As we look toward digital trends in 2018, one that we’re keeping a close eye on is the rise of voice assistance technology. According to research from eMarketer, nearly one third of US internet users will use voice assistants by 2019, with the heaviest use being through smart speakers, like Google Home or Amazon Echo.

Hackathon 2018 - Alexa Skill set, Team one

While mass adoption of voice assistance technology is a couple years away, these devices are starting to create a new touchpoint for brands to connect with consumers – in fact, nearly half of those who own a smart speaker say they want to receive information from brands through their device.


With these trends in mind, we wanted to understand how to best market a brand in the labelless world of voice, and spent a Friday diving deep into Alexa Skills through a hackathon.

Hackathon 2018 - Alexa Skill set, Team two
Hackathon 2018 - Alexa Skill set, Team three

Three teams, each comprised of a developer, copywriter, designer, project manager and strategist were given a brief to create an Alexa skill, strategy and marketing plan that would address a client challenge. Each team had six hours to complete the task, and we ended the hackathon with demonstrations and presentations that included learnings from the experience. Here are our top five takeaways from the day:


Create value. Always start with the end user in mind. To get started, determine how voice will make a task faster or surprise and delight your audience.


Deliver fresh content. Most skills for smart speakers downloaded by consumers are not used again after two weeks, so it’s important to create a framework that will keep consumers coming back for more.


Keep it conversational. Research shows that nearly 70 percent of voice requests are expressed in natural language versus keywords that people type into search. Remember that people who own a smart speaker say it feels like talking to a friend or another person, so your skill should function in a conversational capacity.


Connect with your consumer. When marketing your skill, set clear expectations about the benefit that it provides while giving it an intuitive and memorable name.


Get the word out. Promote your skill to engaged consumers by leveraging your ecosystem of marketing channels.