Selling Digital Products Online
October 9, 2018 by Rob Andrews
Webinars – eBooks – apps – software tools – it seems like the online world is going crazy promoting digital products. With the availability of platforms for the sale and distribution of these products, this has opened up new opportunities for many – perhaps you are also one of those people who want to be successful in selling digital products online.
To state it clearly and briefly, up front: what you are ultimately after is to develop some sort of digitally-based offering that will sell well, at the right price – something that will, at the end of the day, be profitable for you and helpful to those who purchase it.
Selling Digital Products Online: What You DON’T Want to Do
If the above – to be successful at this – is your goal, there is one approach you don’t want to take. The worst approach of all is to just “experiment” – and by that we mean to try selling all sorts of things, hopping from one idea/product to the next, repeatedly, until you find something that “works.”
Doing it this way, of course, wastes a lot of your time, effort and money (paying for development, advertising, etc.).
You Need to Start With The Critical Question
Where do you begin? By asking a question. The fundamental, critical question: What types of digital products would meet a real need, that is not currently available, or where the existing choices do not meet the need very well?
You will find that it will be much easier to gain traction in the marketplace, to get customers/sales, if you are not competing against those offering something very similar. These products/services, which do not differ significantly from product-to-product, are sometimes referred to as “parity products,” and these products are notoriously difficult to market because (like toothpaste) they are so much like what the competition is offering.
One “killer” idea, which is truly innovative, is worth dozens of ho-hum offerings that are just like what is already out there.
So the critical question is: What is your “killer” idea? Don’t make a move further until you have that great, original, killer idea. It might take days, weeks, months, even years – but the wait is worth it.
Once Your Killer Idea is in Place What Do You Do Next?
Once you have come up with the killer app or another digital product idea, then you can begin to brainstorm this further:
Form-Fitting Your Idea: What form (format) will your digital product need to be in? A downloadable app? Software as a service (SaaS)? Perhaps a modular course? Or maybe an audio or visual series?
Show Me The Money: How much will this digital product cost – in both time and money – to develop and bring to market? Will you need funding help to develop it? If so, where will you get such funding?
Special Skills: You should give considerable thought to the scope/features/capabilities of the product. If special development, coding, programming or formatting will be needed, do you have those skills or will you need to hire someone to do this work for you?
Before You Take Your Digital Product Public
Before you “rock and roll” and take your shiny new toy public, you should do some extensive testing of it with others. You can make pre-release copies for distribution to your friends and family, and distribute to them for free in exchange for feedback. You need to know if this digital product works as they expected that it would, and do they feel that it offers real, significant value?
If the feedback you receive during your pre-release indicates that there are issues, you should use that information to improve the product even further. If you receive unusually positive feedback, try to secure permission from that source to save the testimonial and use it later in your promotions.
During your pre-release/pre-launch, you can also get feedback to help you to firm up the asking price (selling price) for your digital product. Having used it, what would they be willing to pay to purchase it?
To Market, to Market – Some Marketing-Related Questions
Who is your target audience: Who are you going to promote this digital product to? Do you have a mailing list? How are you going to “get the word out?” Could you perhaps use a digital platform like Amazon, an online forum or industry portal to promote it?
Think about your offer: You will need to think about your “offer” – how will this digital product be positioned and presented to the public.
Landing Pages: You should also give some thought to developing some landing pages for your digital product – several, in fact, for different target audiences, or to split test different presentation options to find out which will give the best result. These landers should have well-thought-out content and layout (placement of page elements). If this is a skill set you do not have, you should employ a professional writer/web designer to craft one for you.
Use Protection: If your digital product offering is truly innovative you should take steps to secure it by getting necessary copyrights, trademarks, and patents, as needed. Also, you need to consider thinking like a competitor: If your digital product launch is a big success, and your competitor was looking to develop a knock-off, how would they do that? What would your competitor focus on? Take steps to ensure that your future competitors would find it very difficult to develop something similar.
You and Your Future Digital Product: Some Real-World Tips
First of all, realize that it might be easier to make money by approaching an existing business entity to have them buy your idea or at least to have them pay you a fee to get a license to distribute it to the public.
Secondly, there is no single digital product that will earn you enough money to “retire on the earnings.” So you need to think ahead – what other ideas could also be transformed into digital products? In fact, perhaps you should shift your thinking in the direction of developing and deploying a series of digital products, one after the other, spanning a number of years, rather than deploying a single, stand-alone product or service.
If you already have a business, will your digital product offerings work well being sold within that business? Or would you be better served by launching a separate business just for this digital product or product line?
Finally, after you have launched your digital product, monitor your online reputation. Don’t let negative reviews pile up and sink your business reputation.