Here’s your guide to creating your first voice experience with Shoutworks.
This guide will help you start using Shoutworks to inform, engage, sell to, and support your people, whoever they are, through the power of the Amazon Alexa voice platform. Alexas are in tens of millions of homes across the US, and now you can make them yours. Let’s get started.
But first, some preliminaries:
Don’t have your Shoutworks Plugin uploaded and activated yet? Follow the steps on your Downloads page to get up and running fast.
Don’t have a Shoutworks account? It take a few seconds to sign up. Get started here and start leveraging the power of voice!
Not sure why you should care about voice? We may have some answers to your questions on our Why Shoutworks? page.
Once you’ve got the Shoutworks Plugin uploaded and activated on your WordPress site, now you’re ready to start creating your first Alexa Skill. Spoiler: You’ll have people engaging with you through your new Skill in no time.
Getting started with Shoutworks
Start on your WordPress admin panel, and find and click on the “Shoutworks” label on the left-hand menu.
Once you do, you’ll see the first tab in the Plugin, the VoiceReady Score / URL:
In this view, your website URL will be pre-filled in the box. Just click the button to see your VoiceReady Score.
What’s the VoiceReady Score?
Our VoiceReady bot analyzes your site to see how compatible it is to be turned into an Alexa Skill. It looks mainly at the text on your site, and helps you establish whether you’ll have enough content to generate your new Alexa Skill directly from the content you already have, or whether you’ll need to create more content especially for your Skill. A score of over 50% is good, and means you’re ready to turn your web content into a Skill!
First Up: Enter Your License Key
First, you have to tell the Plugin it’s really you. Click on the last tab at the very end, the License tab, to input your unique License Key.
Not sure where your License Key is? When you signed up for Shoutworks, you received an email with that License Key inside. Can’t find the email? Go over to your Downloads page in your Shoutworks account, scroll down to number 3, and click the button to re-send that License Key email. When you get the email, just copy/paste your key into the box in the Plugin, click the button, and voila! Your Shoutworks Plugin is ready to go.
Don’t yet have a Shoutworks account? It takes just a few seconds to create one, get started here.
Customize your Alexa Skill
Inform: Tell Alexa how to introduce you
Now you’re ready to start creating your new Alexa Skill. The first step is to click on the Inform tab—to tell Alexa how to introduce your new Skill.
Click Update and your changes will be saved. Don’t worry, your Skill isn’t published yet—you can still come back and edit this!
Engage: Build the core of your Skill
Click on the Engage tab to start editing the Engage portion of your Skill.
Within this tab, you’ll see three different sections: Quote Of The Day, Flash Briefing, and Blog Content. Each section works pretty much the same way, so let’s start by creating a Quote Of The Day Skill to get a feel for how it works.
Example: Creating a Quote of the Day Skill
Let’s zoom in on the Quote of the Day section. This section allows you to give Alexa a Quote of the Day to read to users. You get to decide which quotes she’ll read.
First of all, you’ll want to make sure that checkbox is checked. This will make sure this section is included in your Alexa Skill once it’s published. If one of the checkboxes is not checked, that section won’t be included in the Alexa Skill. It’s important to remember, too, that once your Alexa Skill is published, you cannot come back to change this selection.
Now it’s time to add your Quotes! Click the View List button to see the list of Quotes that Alexa will draw from. That will bring you over to the “Quotes of the day” page.
As you can see, one Quote is already there. This is the Shoutworks template quote that comes pre-loaded with the Plugin. To edit it, just click on the Title.
Now, we’re going to add a new Quote. You can do that by clicking Add Quote of the Day up at the top.
Fill in the Title, and put your quote in the description. Don’t forget to cite the source! Once you’re happy with your quote, just click Publish.
You’ve created a new quote! To return to the full list of Quotes of the Day, click All Quotes 0f the Day on the left-hand side.
Now, repeat the steps above until you’ve added however many quotes you’d like. When all your quotes are published and you’re ready to put them into your Alexa Skill, click on Shoutworks on the left-hand menu.
And again click on the Engage tab, and now you’re ready to finalize your new Quote of the Day Skill.
In the box labeled “How many Quote of the Day feeds you want to display”, type in the number of quotes you want Alexa to have access to from the quotes you just added. This should generally be equal to the total number of quotes you’ve added, so your Alexa Skill users don’t miss a quote you meant to add.
Now, it’s time to finalize your Skill. If you only want to include the Quote of the Day functionality in your Skill, and you don’t want Flash Briefing or Blog Reader functionality, be sure to uncheck the boxes next to those sections. Click Update to save your changes.
Now click on the Sell tab in your Shoutworks plugin interface. Want to include a Deal of the Day in your Skill? Leave the checkbox checked, and edit the Deals included the same way you edited the Quotes included in your Quotes of the Day. If you don’t want to include a Deal of the Day, just uncheck the box and press Update.
Next, click on the Support tab.
This feature lets your users dictate a message that is AI-transcribed and sent to your support email address. Feel free to edit the email address found here. If you don’t want this feature to be included in your Skill, just delete the email address found there and leave the field blank.
Please note that once you press Update, you’ll receive an email in your inbox to validate this email address—if you don’t validate it, your user messages won’t come through!
Testing your Skill
Once you’ve made all the changes you want to the Inform, Engage, Sell and Support tabs, you can try out your new Skill before publishing. To start testing, click on the Create Alexa Skill tab.
Here’s where you enter your Skill Name (how your Skill will be listed in the Amazon Skill Store) and your Skill Invocation Name (what users will say to call up your Skill on their Alexa device). For the Invocation Name, try to keep it to three words or less, with no special characters. It can be the same as the Skill Name, but it can be different, too.
Next, input the email address you want to use to test your Skill. This should be the email associated with your Alexa account. If you don’t have an Alexa account, no worries—you will be prompted to create a new Alexa account for that email address. Click Preview Alexa Skill, then check your email and follow the instructions to test your Skill!
For more on how to test your Skill even if you don’t have an Alexa device, check out Amazon’s compendium of guides to using Alexa on just about any device.
And remember: You can make any changes you want after you test your Skill, before publishing!
Publishing your Skill
Finally, when you’re ready to publish your Skill, just hit the Publish button and Shoutworks will magically publish your Skill for you. It can take up to 2 minutes to submit your Skill to Amazon, so be patient and don’t refresh the page.
Your Skill is almost live!
Once you’ve pressed Publish, Amazon needs to review your Skill. This can take anywhere from a few hours on weekdays to 3-4 days if you submit on a Friday night. In addition to the automated testing they do, an actual person will review your Skill before it goes live. Once it’s approved and published, you’ll receive an email telling you the good news!
What if my Skill is rejected by Amazon?
This happens from time to time, and it’s completely normal. The Shoutworks team will work with you to figure out what the reason for rejection is, fix it, and resubmit as quickly as possible.
Skill published! Now tell the world
Now you know how to customize, test, and publish an Alexa Skill with Shoutworks. What are you waiting for? Get out there and start informing, engaging, selling, and supporting your people today—all with the power of voice!
Tell the world about your new Alexa Skill by putting the official Shoutworks Alexa Skill button on your homepage. There’s no better way to tell people that your website is now also accessible via voice!
To download the “Live on the Alexa” button in several different formats, go to your Shoutworks Downloads page and scroll down to number 5. Click on the button to download the “Live on the Alexa” image set. These are buttons you can put on your website to let visitors know you have an Alexa Skill! Be sure to put it somewhere everyone can see. Here’s how it looks:
Making changes after your Skill is published
That’s right: You can change the content of your Skill any time after publishing, and it will update within seconds! So you can change things as you go, no worries about getting everything just right the first time.
Just bear in mind that in the current version of Shoutworks, you can’t add or subtract entire features. For example, if you published your Skill without a Deal of the Day, you won’t be able to add one later. We’re working on it for future versions!
However, if you published your Skill with Flash Briefings, you can change and edit any of the individual Flash Briefings to your heart’s content, and hear Alexa deliver your updated content seconds after you’ve made your changes.
This way, you can tweak the content you deliver based on feedback you get from real users, and use Shoutworks to make your Skill better and better over time.
Now get out there and inform, engage, sell, and support like never before—with the power of voice!