The market for selling digital products is huge and it is still growing at an exponential rate. Experts estimate that the market for digital products will grow up to $594.11 billion by 2025. And two of the main reasons for this growth are how easy it is to get started, and – once the product is created – the ability to sell it to different customers without having to restock your inventory.
However, if you don’t have a solid process for selling your products, from brainstorming product ideas to product promotion, there is a significant chance the business will fail. You don’t want to spend weeks creating a digital product and getting no sales after launching it.
So to get started, we will look at useful tips for selling digital products and the main threats online sellers face in 2022.
What Is a Digital Product?
A digital product is any intangible product that you can sell online. These products do not have any physical form so you cannot feel or taste them. Some of the examples are software, e-books, templates, PDFs, MP3s, plug-ins, etc.
Digital products are cheaper to sell than their physical product counterparts because there are no storage or shipping costs. Another advantage they have over physical products is that customers can receive the product immediately after making a purchase.
9 Tips for Selling Digital Products Online
Creating digital products is the first step. Being able to market these products to your target market is the next step. So here are nine tips for selling digital products online.
1. Think about different digital products
The process of building and selling a digital product starts with ideation. And it is best practice to brainstorm product ideas based on your skills/knowledge and the market you want to serve.
The advantage of focusing on what you know is that you will create products faster and with less cost. And the easiest way to brainstorm is to write down the skills you have which can easily be turned into a digital product. For instance, if you can speak French, you could create an online course to teach people the language.
On the other hand, some people choose to sell digital products based on the most popular digital downloads currently. While this strategy means that you will have a larger audience to sell to, you will have to deal with more competition. Getting started will also be more expensive since you probably don’t have the necessary skills/knowledge. You might have to pay someone else to create the product for you or spend time learning the required skills.
2. Feel the market pulse and trends
Once you have narrowed down your list of ideas to one or two potential products, the next step is to feel the market pulse and trends. Doing this will help you determine if there is a market for the products.
Market size will vary depending on the product you want to sell. For example, a product that caters to men between the ages of 20 and 45 years will have a large market. But a product that caters to bald men between the ages of 20 and 45 years will have a considerably smaller market.
Determining the exact market size can be difficult to do for most businesses. But with a tool like Google Trends, you can estimate market demand.
With Google Trends, you will be able to see how many people are searching for the product’s keywords. This will give you a good sense of the product’s potential market. You can also use Google Trends alternatives like SimilarWeb, Ahrefs, and SemRush.
You should also research your potential competitors to see what they are doing and how they attract buyers. Understanding your competitors will help you determine how to differentiate your product from theirs, and develop a unique selling proposition to attract your target audience.
3. Identify the right audience
Customer research is a key part of the creation process. It will be difficult to sell your product if you don’t understand who your target audience is. From the beginning, selecting the right audience for your digital product will make it easy to bring in more leads sooner.
Start by determining the buyer persona for your target audience. A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your target audience or ideal customer.
Here are some factors to consider when creating your buyer persona:
- Typical factors like gender, age, title, and income level
- The pain point in the buyer’s life that your product solves
- Products they have tried in the past
- Factors that will influence their buying decision. For instance, your target audience might prefer a service with 24/7 customer support
- What buyers search for online before they find your product.
It is also important to find out where your potential customers would most likely buy your product. This will allow you to focus your promotional efforts on the right channels. Also, check out what prices your competitors offer so you can have one in mind. Note that pricing will depend on the quality of the product and additional perks like a community, personalized customer service, Q&As, etc.
4. Start developing a digital product
After deciding on what product to sell and identifying who your target audience is, you can start developing the digital product. For example, if you are creating an online course, you can start to record videos.
The development process is fairly straightforward if you choose a product that you have good knowledge of. You can hire people for the technical aspects you can’t handle, like editing the course videos or designing the ebook.
At this stage, it's a good idea to first develop a Minimum Viable Product. An MVP is a product with basic features, which can be used to attract early-adopter customers. This approach can be used to validate your product idea.
For instance, if you are developing a digital course, you can create the first two chapters and distribute them to some of your audience. Then get their feedback on what they think about the course – what’s working and what they would like to be added.
With the feedback, you can efficiently optimize your product to suit the needs of your market.
5. Launch a lead-generation campaign
After creating a viable digital product, the next step is to start promoting it. You will have to launch a marketing campaign so you can expose your product to potential buyers.
There are multiple ways to promote your products, such as:
- Long-term marketing plans: You can use strategies like content marketing, email marketing, and SEO for promotion. These strategies take time and effort to implement, but when done right, they will help you attract buyers for a long time.
- Running paid promotions on social media and search engines is a quick way to promote your products.
- Partner with influencers to promote your products on their social media channels. This strategy will help you quickly generate initial traction.
You should also leverage authority marketing from day one (i.e. to try becoming a niche authority from the very beginning). Increasing your brand authority will help increase your conversion rate, as customers are more likely to purchase your digital products when they see you as reliable and trustworthy.
6. Set the prices and tiers
The best way to start pricing your products is to look at what your competitors are doing. This will give you an idea of the price ranges, so you can determine where you fit in. You don’t necessarily have to offer the same pricing as your competitors. If your product is of higher quality and offers additional benefits to the customer, you can choose to select more premium pricing. But you have to show the customer why they should go for your product instead of the cheaper alternatives. Most people will be happy to pay for extra benefits and perks.
Consider offering several tiers or packages for your products. Offering tiered pricing gives customers the option to choose the packages that best accommodate their needs. You will also sell more over time as customers are incentivized to move up tiers as their needs change.
After setting up your price, determine how you will charge customers. Based on your buyer’s geographical location, choose what payment methods you’ll accept.
7. Launch an e-store (or choose another option)
Merchants and online creators have multiple options for selling their digital products. Where you sell will be determined by the product, as well as your budget.
Two of the best options you have are selling on existing eCommerce platforms (such as Amazon or eBay) or using an ecommerce builder (such as Shopify), to build your own website.
Each of these options has its benefits. For example, when you build your own website, you have complete say over the appearance of your store. Your customers won't be distracted by sponsored products or the “similar product” section.
On the other hand, eCommerce platforms like Amazon make it easy for you to start selling with minimal effort and cost. And the platform will get your product in front of more potential customers far quicker than any other options. So do your research to determine which option is the best for you.
8. Encourage sales
To ensure that all the efforts you put into producing the digital product don’t go to waste, you need to take proactive steps to drive sales. But first, understand that it takes time for new products to develop a connection with the audience. You need to promote your product patiently – but actively – to your target audience.
You can start by offering incentives to encourage people to start buying your digital products. Some useful incentives include discounts, lower subscription fees for first-time subscribers, special offers, etc.
Another way to drive more sales is to offer the product through different channels. The more channels available to customers to make purchases, the more likely you are to make a sale. You can sell your product via eCommerce platforms, social media, streaming services, mobile apps, etc.
9. Ask for feedback and testimonials
Feedback and testimonials serve as social proof. According to reports from the Baymard Institute, studies show that 95% of customers look at reviews before making purchase decisions. So invite your buyers to leave their comments, reviews, and testimonials once they’ve purchased and used your digital products. Feedback from your customers will also give you suggestions on the areas you can improve your product.
Potential Threats When Selling Digital Products
Just like physical products, there are certain challenges that sellers are bound to encounter. Here are the common threats that the sellers of digital products face.
When selling online, one of the key threats involves data security. Issues like identity theft, data theft, and data interception are commonplace.
To avoid these issues, invest in proper data security and encryption (especially when accepting buyer’s payments because this is one of the key places fraudsters target). Encrypting your files ensures that criminals cannot access your or your customers' data.
You can also use AI for enhanced fintech security. For example, VISA uses AI tools to spot fraudulent transactions in real-time.
Another way to ensure that you are dealing with real customers is to send email authentication. Using it allows the customer’s email server to verify an email from your business and block emails from fraudulent acts. This will make it harder for scammers to send spam or phishing emails.
Lack of data encryption
Some websites selling digital products do not provide proper data encryption, thereby exposing your products to hacker attacks and unauthorized access. Regardless of whether you are building your own website or using an eCommerce platform, make sure that there are solid encryption measures in place.
Selling via middlemen, which is often the case with digital products, includes certain fees, reducing the manufacturer’s profit margins. You can mitigate this by negotiating better terms in advance or selling directly via your website.
Laws and regulations
Some countries have specific laws when it comes to selling digital products, to customers within the country or abroad. For instance, if you are planning to sell products to a young audience in the US, you’ll have to follow the COPPA regulations. Fail to comply and you risk getting fines of up to $43,280. So research the laws and regulations before you launch your digital product.
Selling digital products can be very profitable and easy. But to be successful, you will have to avoid common mistakes that cause setbacks – not researching your niche to better understand the latest trends, the products that sell, your competitors, pricing, and the marketing strategies that will work best for your audience.
And once you have a good idea of the product you want to sell, use the minimum viable product approach to receive some feedback before creating the full product, and going all out on promotional marketing. This will help you save time and money.
The rest of the tips and common threats detailed in this article will help you sell digital products more efficiently.