In a traditional business world, it’s easy to define a product. It’s a unit that costs X amounts of dollars to produce, and if you invest Y amount of dollars in marketing, you should be able to make Z amount of dollars.
Digital products are different!
If you make a video game, the production cost is the same, regardless if you sell one or a million copies. The same goes for the majority of digital products. While this sounds ideal, it doesn’t mean your success is guaranteed.
Whether you can successfully create, launch and market new digital products or not heavily depends on your marketing. Here’s how you can make this work.
Key points to successful digital product marketing
To make the long story short, there are a couple of things you want to do when marketing your digital product:
- Make sure it’s ready for launch
- Build your initial audience
- Make a launch plan
- Gather feedback
- Test and improve
The list above is fail-proof, but it’s generalized and doesn’t include any industry-specific methods. So, we’ll try to add an example or two along the way so that you get a better idea of how to apply this to your particular situation.
The most important thing to remember is the diversity of digital products. A digital product is anything from an ebook and online course to a SaaS platform. This alone will make a difference when it comes to strategy.
What is the best way to successfully market digital products?
Here are the top five steps you need to follow to prepare for a successful launch of your digital product.
1. Make sure it’s ready for launch
The first thing you need to do is ensure that your product is launch-ready. Even if you’re running an alpha (open or closed), people have higher expectations than they care to admit. The majority of people are not going to be satisfied with a crude draft.
They need a fully-serviceable product, regardless of what they say. When making a demo, you must ensure it’s captivating and envelopes every positive aspect of your product.
Now, remember that while this is still a “learning” stage, there are many reasons why you must already make a great first impression. For instance:
- Alpha participants may become paying customers
- This is where you earn your first reviews
- Early beta testers usually become the strongest brand ambassadors
The list goes on and on.
What is ready, from online fitness coaching to selling digital photography?
Evaluating what “ready” means is the hardest part of the job. Why? Well, because it’s subjective. Generally speaking, the product needs to be in a form where the customers will deem it worth the money.
For instance, if you’re looking into how to become a fitness coach online, you need to offer more than what they can find online for free. With so many fitness YouTube channels, this won’t be an easy task. So, you need to have either a better approach or better advice.
If selling digital photography, you need to satisfy both the quality and the volume of the products. This is especially true when selling stock photos. Here, quantity is the most important for profitability. Remember, you’re in it to make money.
2. Build your initial audience
You need to find a way to build your first followers when you’re just starting out. These first followers are essential for many different reasons. For instance:
- 20% of regulars make 80% of your profit.
- It costs five times less to convince an old customer to return than to attract a new one.
- You can’t get reviews and testimonials without users.
The problem with building the initial audience is that many people don’t want to be first. They want someone else to pay for the product, try it out, and then give them a “guarantee” that it is good enough. There are a few ways around this.
First, you can start the early alpha/beta we discussed. Even better, you can offer a free version, a trial version, or a product demo. You see, people don’t have a problem with being first. They have a problem with being the first to pay. If it’s for free, being first actually has a nice ring to it.
Once you build this early audience sample, you can start a loyalty and referral program to encourage your users to bring in more people. It’s a great way to expand your customer base organically since WOM tends to be quite potent.
For a digital product, free trials are an excellent solution for digital products since you don’t have the distribution cost. All you have to do is give access.
3. Make a launch plan
To make a launch plan, you need to:
- Define the product.
- Define your target audience.
- Calculate the launch budget.
- Develop your marketing strategy.
- Assign tasks to your core team members.
You see, without knowing what your product is and who your target audience is comprised of, there’s no talk of a launch plan. There’s no business plan either. Your marketing strategy depends on your ability to make an appealing USP (unique selling proposition). You can’t make this powerful marketing message without understanding your audience and your product.
How you deliver the message is just as important as the message itself. Social media messaging, posts, and email marketing have incredible conversion rates.
Keep in mind that the launch involves more work and marketing than is standard. In other words, this is bound to cost more. Do your best to calculate all the expenses regarding the launch to ensure that you don’t fall short at any point.
Finally, you’re not alone in this. You need to get your team on board, meaning each of them needs to have a set of responsibilities. Task delegation is always important, but, in this stage, it’s crucial to success.
4. Gather feedback
The best thing about digital products is that their development is never finished. The direction in which you develop them depends on your feedback. There are many reasons why feedback matters. For instance:
- It helps you improve the performance of your product.
- Feedback boosts customer satisfaction.
- Feedback enhances customer loyalty by providing a better customer experience.
- It has a positive impact on your customer retention.
The biggest problem with gathering feedback is that it’s not guaranteed. Not everyone who is dissatisfied with your product is going to leave a comment. Not everyone satisfied is going to write a positive review. So, increase your effort in getting feedback and understand there’s nothing wrong with directly asking for a review.
Another thing that no one told you is that negative feedback matters more than positive one. Sure, tons of negative public feedback can ruin your product, but constructive criticism is how your product improves. People patting you on the back is a significant morale boost but other than that, there’s not much practical value.
Lastly, you can use customer feedback (reviews, testimonials) as social proof. From that standpoint, it has tremendous marketing value.
Handling all this customer feedback is a lot easier with the right tool on your side. Getting a great CRM can help you out in this regard.
5. Test and improve
Previously, we talked about the importance of gathering feedback. Well, what’s even more important is acting on this feedback. By constantly testing and improving, you will:
- Stay competitive in the long run.
- Reduce the maintenance needs of your product.
- Proactively resolve any problems regarding your product.
- Show your audience that their concerns get answered.
Sure, people dislike change, but if you get too complacent, people will start noticing the technical gap between your product and your competitors. You need to take this seriously because you cannot afford to get outcompeted.
Solving problems while your platform is still young is cheaper and easier than doing so when it scales up. Problems are also scalable; if you ignore them long enough, they might become too big to ignore.
Lastly, your customers want their concerns to be heard and addressed. Fixing a problem your customer has complained about is the most valuable piece of PR you could ever display.
Well-organized product launch sets you up for the future
Setting out on the right foot can make everything easier. Since both success and problems are scalable, it’s best if you can handle them right away. Sure, dealing with digital products is easier in some and more difficult in others. Nonetheless, the above-listed five tips are universally helpful.
Just apply some industry-specific principles, and avoid a one-size-fits-all approach to your product-launching campaign.
What are the best types of digital products?
The digital product is a diverse category. It includes ebooks, downloadable software, video content, music and audio, online courses, digital art, and professional services. In the modern day and age, any IP can be a digital product.
What should a digital product launch plan include?
While every digital product launch plan is different, at the very least, it should have a product definition, a summary of the company message, and a customer profile. From this point on, you can expand the plan however you see fit.
Where to sell digital products online?
It depends on the product. You can sell video games on Steam, photos on stock photo platforms, and music on Soundcloud, while you can sell ebooks on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. Moreover, nothing prevents you from selling your digital products directly via your site.
Ashley Davis (or ‘Ash’ for short) is the CEO & Founder of Skyline Social. For over 15 years, he has been helping business owners with lead generation. Ash specializes in helping businesses get high-quality leads, appointments and clients each month in an automated, scalable and profitable way. You can watch his free Masterclass training to learn more.