The English Language defines the term ‘product’ as “an article or substance that is manufactured or refined for sale.” It originates from the Latin term “produtum” which means to bring forth something.
The manufacturing revolution kickstarted the production of tangible goods that can readily be consumed and can be bought for a known price.
However, the internet revolution brought up a different product — Digital Products.
Digital products have different identities, purposes, and the motives for which they are created are also entirely different. If you are someone who wants to create a digital product and earn revenue out of it, consider this a 101 Guide to the same.
Let’s begin with understanding what a digital product is.
What is a digital product?
A digital product is an electronic good that exists in an intangible form. Digital products usually take the form of a virtual asset that is offered as a retail unit on sale or as a service that can be availed for a stipulated period of time.
Some examples of digital products include:
There is no definite list of digital products. With every passing day, the world is witnessing new types of digital products being introduced.
The most recent fad being the Non-fungible token (NFT), which is basically “a unit of data stored on a digital ledger, called a blockchain, that certifies a digital asset to be unique and therefore not interchangeable.” An NFT can represent any form of the digital asset including photos, videos, audio, and other types of digital files.
Key characteristics of a digital product
Unlike physical products which have physical attributes like length, breadth, height, volume, etc.; digital products have a starkly different set of traits.
There is no scientific description of the traits of a digital product not yet. However, it is possible for us to relate to digital products with 4 specific traits.
These are the 4 specific traits you would be able to see for certain in a digital product.
The digital product is contextual to the specific need of the end-user. It is the context that makes the digital product attractive and necessary to buy and consume for the user.
- An eBook is used by a user who wants to read textual information in a way it would be presented in a paperback or a hardcover. Here's how to create ebooks.
- An image would be contextual for an end-user who wants visual information about a topic or theme.
A digital product would be available in a consistent format(s) to the end-user. The consistent format makes it easy to disseminate information and the utility that the product is offering.
- A video is usually offered for download or for on-demand streaming across the internet.
- A computer program is offered for download or for access through a web platform.
- An eBook would be a story, a textbook on a subject, a report about a study, etc.
- A digital photograph would be about a specific place, thing, person, and so on.
Although they do not have physical attributes like physical products, digital products have specific attributes that are calculable; measurable, and can be ascertained in definite metrics.
- A video or audio file could be of a specific length in terms of seconds, minutes, or hours
- An image file would be of specific dimensions or file size
It is these traits that make the digital products easily recognizable amidst countless offerings in the virtual world.
Getting started selling a digital product
Selling a digital product is far easier than selling physical products. You do not have to worry about manufacturing, transportation, supply chain management, warehousing, or even retail marketing. The internet is an open wide marketplace where anyone and everyone can easily sell digital products.
There are also countless digital marketplaces each dedicated to specific types of digital products that we discussed earlier.
If you are unsure where to get started selling your digital product, these steps could help:
- Identify an underserved market
- Envision a problem-solving product
- Price it strategically
- Production: Start small, scale big
- Sales & Marketing
Identify an underserved market
Do you know how fragmented and disorderly the music industry was until iTunes arrived at the scene? iTunes just turned the Billion dollar industry on its feet and created a new market for digital music. In the process, it also eliminated several of the vices that were plaguing the music industry, piracy being one among them.
Here is why iTunes became successful — Apple under Steve Jobs’s command served an underserved market that had huge potential. Until iTunes happened, customers had to buy music CDs from retail stores. There was always the risk of stock out or damaged CDs getting into the supply chain. Add to that the risk of piracy which leaked millions in revenue for artists.
By creating a digital platform where music can be easily managed, iTunes was able to crack into the Billion-dollar industry. In the process, it also opened up a huge market for Apple devices — especially the iPod music player series.
The classic games space is another great example. For years, people played games with traditional playing cards, but the advent of browsers and mobile phones means these games could be played digitally. Darshan Somahekar, who founded Spider-Soltiaire-Challenge, explains “We developed a digital version of spider solitaire because we saw a lot of demand for the game from people who didn’t want to play with physical playing cards, and an opportunity to creates features unique to an online version.”
Now if you are running thoughts about selling a digital product the place where you must begin is identifying an underserved market that your product can serve better.
Envision a problem-solving product
The purpose of any product is to solve a problem or to make a problem less painful to handle for the user. Imagine it as a tool that the user can use regularly without any hassles. For example, project management software will help a team stay on track of the deliverables even when the team members are from diverse backgrounds or when they are even located far from each other. A customer support solution will help teams streamline incoming queries and become more efficient at resolving them.
Why is it necessary that the product should solve problems? Because any customer would be willing to pay for something only if it renders them some value. A sale actually happens only if the product or service being offered provides value. Hence, the need to envision a product that will solve problems. This single trait will make the product easy to sell in any market.
Price it strategically
It goes without saying that pricing is one of the key strategies that make any product — be it a physical product or a digital product sell better. For a digital product, there are several types of pricing strategies that you can adopt.
Demand pricing, competitive pricing, cost-plus pricing, penetration pricing are but some of the several pricing strategies available at your disposal. As for revenue collection you never have to bother about handling hard cash. The payments can be routed through paywalls or payment gateways that can be integrated to channel revenue straight to your bank account.
Production: Start small, scale big
One of the critical inventory tracking challenges of producing and selling a physical product is that you can end up with too much inventory in hand that does not get sold off slowing down your inventory turnover ratio. This is a situation that can even bring about the ultimate downfall of the business.
Although such a risk does not exist in the case of a digital product, it still makes sense to start the production at a lower scale. Two reasons why starting small with production can help.
First, you get to learn from the first batch of users how the product can be improved for the good. Second, it can also bring to light processes or workflows that can be automated so that the scale of production can be quickly ramped up when demand spikes.
Sales & Marketing
A digital product will not get sold on its product. In the digital space, the web is the ultimate and the sole source through which sales can be achieved. This mandates the extensive use of content marketing strategy as well as other sources of traffic & revenue, including search engine optimization, social media, email marketing, running webinars and more. On top of that, you’ll have sales automation tools, and sales teams that rely on them skillfully. Knowing what to do is important, but knowing what not to do is vital. So, make sure you steer clear of certain digital marketing mistakes and avoid strategies that are most likely to backfire.
Unlike the traditional format where the product is taken to the customer, for a digital product it is necessary to bring the customers to the product and convert them into sales. There is a pressing need to make them aware of the product capabilities, it’s USPs, and the value it can deliver for the price that customers have to pay. This calls for putting in place a lean and efficient sales and marketing team that can help the digital product go from being a cost center to a revenue center.
Final lessons of reaping profits selling a digital product
In any business, profits are earned by keeping costs consistently lower than revenue. However, it is not possible to keep the costs always lower. Inflation, product improvements, and several other factors will drive up cost no matter how hard the business tries to curb it. Winning the cost game is a constant battle. But, it is always possible to earn more revenue by offering better products.
In today’s experience-driven world, customers are willing to pay for superior experiences. A well-thought digital product can provide a superior experience while solving a pressing problem they face regularly.
A digital product has an existence and identity that is starkly different from physical products. It has four major traits that make it stand out from a regular product.
These traits also influence how the product is taken to the market and how it is sold to the masses. There are countless ways you can sell a digital product and earn revenue out of it. Four such strategies formed the cusp of this piece. Try integrating a chatbot to your digital product to further optimize it for conversions and revenue.
If you are a digital product producer, these should help you get started on making a mark with your digital product.
About the Author
Mehdi Hussen is the digital marketing manager at SalesHandy, a cold email outreach tool. He is passionate about driving organic growth and customer acquisition for startups through data-driven content marketing. He spends his spare time musing about startup growth strategies, sales productivity, and remote work. Connect with him through Twitter or LinkedIn.