Before, it took a lot of time to sell and create a scalable product; now, thanks to the digital world, you can create products that millions of people will buy and use just because it's easier to access them.
Digital products are getting more and more attention as they could become scalable solutions for millions of customers. They come with a thorough product discovery process that considers the customer's experience, ease of use, and overall look.
Digital products are used in different types of businesses. For example, they can come as games, audiobooks, videos, etc., or in educational formats like courses, ebooks, apps, etc.
What is a digital product:
A digital product is any product that can be found, purchased, and bought online. Digital products are often scalable products that are done once and then replicated multiple times without doing many updates. In the case of platforms, millions might be using just one version of the product at once.
Everyone can build a digital product; that's not the hardest part. What's complicated is to make it scalable and findable for your audience, so it could allow you to generate passive income while solving your customer's problems.
You could build a digital product regardless of whether you want to build a startup, have a team, or do it yourself.
What are the benefits that digital products have?
Easy to test
If you build a digital product, chances are that you'll be able to test it easier and understand rapidly if customers will 'desire' or buy your product. For example, in our validation sprint, we run an experiment tailored to your product idea, where you can see if your idea it's good or needs some improvement.
There's not such a thing as an overnight success. Ideally, you'll start promoting your product before you've actually built it to get some data from the market. This is good because it'd give you feedback from your customer, and you'll be able to do any improvements needed beforehand.
Not that you can't do this with physical products, but it takes more time to build them and get them in the hands of customers to later have the right amount of inventory to start selling them.
One of the sweet spots for startup investors is this word.
They love scalable products that can grow exponentially. So if you're looking to get investors on your idea, go for a digital product that allows you to have exactly the scalability that they're looking for.
Why is it that digital products are more scalable?
You can reach a broader audience without worrying about inventory or working any harder to build your physical products.
This means that the costs per unit are less expensive as you create one product and replicate it.
If you're looking to generate some extra income, these types of products are perfect for you. They require less effort to launch and make money afterward, where most of the work is on generating the traffic and improving it over time, but that's another story.
Many services like consultancies or educational institutes are now switching to online products where they can reach a broader audience. In addition, Digital products can be purchased at any time or day without having to be restocked.
These are some good examples we found out there on crazy scalable digital products:
- Trello (Acquired by Atlassian for $425M)
- Slack (Valuated at $5.1B)
Some of these products start with a free proposition but later have a monetization strategy where the offer is higher quality or exclusive only for members.
We've been subscribed to trends.co because it is where we can find the latest trends in the industry. They started as an exclusive newsletter, and now they're worth millions. Exclusivity and high quality really pay off when offering digital products.
Digital products are becoming easier to create and sell
Nowadays, multiple tools allow you to create products online without knowing much about coding or technology. To start, it's only necessary to have a prototype where you can start collecting data and then gathering feedback from potential users on where to improve.
For example, we built our validation sprint on Miro once (which is an amazing collaboration tool btw), and now we just do small updates, but it's based on what we've learned from founders and entrepreneurs.
We started with a prototype and tested it with some potential users before selling it to improve it according to that data.
So how to create scalable digital products?
Let's start with the problem you'll like to solve. You could have the nicest product, but without truly understanding your audience, you'll not get the traction you want.
We often heard people who get desperate because they first build a digital product without proper validation or an audience.
While this is not all bad, knowing which problem to tackle will save you months of spending money and time without seeing any results. In our Validation Sprint, we help founders and entrepreneurs to really define their problems and build a prototype that they can test in just 2 weeks.
If you don't have a product yet, you'll have to start with a prototype of your initial idea. It doesn't matter if you're an expert on coding or building an app; you could do it with no-code tools, as we love to do here in Buildup Camp.
Some questions to consider:
- What type of product would you like to offer?
- Do you already have an audience and now want to monetize? Understanding this will help you define the type of product you'll have to build. Is it an app or a downloadable product?
- Where can I build this?
- Which no-code tools do I need?
Your prototype might change as you discover more insights, but don't worry about that from the beginning; just focus on learning.
These are some of the experiments you could run to see if people are willing to pay for your product.
Example of an experiment
Run a paid ad
A quick and dirty experiment that you could try for (almost) instant results is an ad. You could do it initially on social media or Google Adwords (find where your audience is first).
This way, you'll get thousands of people and (hopefully) convert some of them to go to your prototype.
Even if they don't buy from you, you could nurture your email list and subscribers so they can buy later when you're product is ready to launch.
Partner with influencers
These days is easier to partner with an influencer than before. You can partner with a micro-influencer (around 3k followers) to promote your product on their social media. This would help you with some initial traction.
Micro-influencers are great because they don't do many promotions, and they don't charge as the biggest influencers, so it's easier to approach them.
Build your digital product while you build an audience
This is a question I often get asked. What should I do first? Build my product or start with my marketing. The short answer is both.
The quicker you start building an audience, the easier it will be to sell it once you have it. If you wait too long to build it, you'll end up having a product that you don't have anyone to sell.
Successful digital products have done extensive validation before or in between launching their product.
In traction, the author explains that you should spend 20% of your time on building your digital product and 80% on building an audience.
As I always love to say, if you don't know your customer well enough, you won't be able to pursue them. So make sure you really understand the problem they're facing before doing anything.
Understanding the customers you're selling to makes it easier for you to know which channel to go to and promote your product.
Depending on the type of product you're building, the channel will change. For products focused on health and food, Instagram continues to be one of the best options along with Pinterest, but it takes A LOT of (creative) work to build it.
If you're into tech, startups, and digital products, Twitter is your way to go. Another one that is AMAZING for founders is indiechackers, which is a huge community where you (as a founder or potential one) could actually make a huge impact and check on other founders' progress.
VERY important stuff to know from your customers:
- What are your customers 'pain points' that your product helps solving?
- Why is this happening?
- How are they solving this problem right now?
If you need some tools to create your ideal customer, you could use our persona canvas from our startup toolkit that will help you define just that.
If you already have a product that hasn't had the traction you're looking for...
It'll be ideal to come back to your business model or initial value proposition at this stage.
You might be running into two problems at this stage:
- People don't understand what you do or sell,
- Or you can't get your product to be scalable.
Some questions you could ask yourself:
- Is this something people really want?
- Are you communicating this well enough? Or do you have to refine your message, so people understand what you're doing?
- How to make people aware of your digital product? Is there a way where you can promote it so more people buy it?
Understanding the current barriers for people to not buy your digital product will provide you with the right insights to move forward.
Before you promote it too heavily, make sure you have a clear message that anyone understands (even your grandma). Products without
a clear messaging will be harder to sell even if you're Elon (well, maybe
not in this case, but you get the point).
Building a scalable digital product isn't easy. You have to take into consideration many aspects, including some validation, before selling it.
If done right, you could be having the next (crazy) scalable product that millions of people could use. Before building your digital product, always keep in mind your audience, as it'll help you find the right places to promote it.
Don't forget to start promoting it before you build it; create an audience interested in your product as you learn from them.