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7 common digital product store obstacles and how to overcome them

Creating a successful digital product store is no small feat! We’ve written about common mistakes to avoid when launching your store, but what about the issues you may encounter while running it?

As a digital product store owner, you want to be as forward-thinking as possible, anticipating problems before they arise, and being proactive to mitigate risk and complications. But sometimes, things just happen, life gets in the way, or competitors come out of the woodwork. While you can’t predict the future, you can make yourself aware of what to look out for to be as prepared as possible!

In this week’s edition of The EDDit, we go over some common obstacles and how to overcome them, so that you’re ready for anything.

 1. Sales aren’t going well

It can be disheartening, but variations in sales performance is not unusual when it comes to running a digital store. If you are experiencing a lull in digital product sales, there are some different factors to think about.

Social proof and customer confidence

How are your products received? Are there bad reviews floating around in cyberspace? Customer confidence is extremely important when it comes to selling digital products, and you want to be aware of any negative feedback coming your way.

If you’ve got some unhappy customers, the best approach is to try and understand why they aren’t happy, and find out what you can do about it. Although some people may be difficult to please, you’d be surprised how far providing good support can go!

Many companies create a sense of transparency and direct availability by responding to reviews on Google and Facebook (for example) or interacting with customers directly on Twitter. Showing that you’re available and listening is huge.

But customer confidence doesn’t just stop there; social proof is also needed for people to feel comfortable trusting you with their hard-earned money. Customers want to see that you’re legitimate, and that your products are used and endorsed by others before they buy. Testimonials, ratings, reviews, and real-world examples of your products in use can all be helpful when it comes to inspiring people to buy them.

Lack of research

If a product isn’t selling, it could be due to lack of research on your part. Is the market saturated? Was it a bad time of year for your product release? Did you make something that people don’t actually want or need? Are your products relevant and up-to-date?

All of this information can help you identify improvements that need to be made in order to boost your sales.

Pricing can be a factor, too. Are your products too expensive for your target audience? Are they too cheap? Sometimes, lower prices can be associated with lower quality – or they might not bring in enough money to cover the costs of running a digital store.

You can overcome some of these issues by making sure that you have a minimum viable product (MVP) in the first place. You might even decide to put your MVP on a marketplace for the traffic and visibility; this can help you verify that your product is going to perform well and help you avoid a total flop.

If you want more advice about launching digital products, check out our post about it here.

Not enough new products

Some stores may start out strong, only to lose steam later on as their product releases wane. Are you releasing enough new products to stay in the game? People might lose interest if they see that nothing new is coming out.

Consider taking some time to create new products, or hiring someone else to create them. If you don’t have the time or resources to create products from scratch, there are plenty of ways to repurpose your existing products, or create digital product bundles. This can refresh your storefront and pique the interest of your customers.

Poor marketing

There’s no two ways about it: good marketing is crucial for the success of your digital product store. In fact, marketing can make or break a sale.

If your sales are underwhelming, it can be good to take a look at how you’re marketing your products; if nothing else, you can at least rule it out as a contributing factor.

Your marketing could be lacking if:

Your product artwork is outdated, inconsistent, messy, or low-quality.

If you’re unable to make better artwork yourself, you can find affordable designers on sites like Fiverr. If you do have some knowledge of Photoshop (or similar), you could create an artwork template that you can reuse for each new product release.

Your product descriptions are incomplete, excessively long, difficult to read, or have grammatical errors.

Concise and accurate product descriptions are key when it comes to converting sales, as they help customers immediately understand what’s included, how they can use the product, and any prerequisites (such as specific software) that may be required to use it.

If writing copy isn’t your strong suit, consider hiring a professional copywriter (or even a friend who’s just really good at writing) to fix up your product descriptions.

You don’t have adequate digital product demos for your products.

Customer confidence is critical when it comes to selling digital products – so, if you don’t have demos that adequately showcase your products, it’s possible that your sales could be affected.

Your social media profiles are bare, inconsistent – or nonexistent.

Social media is not only where people go to find out if your company is legitimate; it’s also the primary arena for engagement with your customers. If you need some guidance on how to up your social media game, check out our post about it over here.

Your branding is outdated, inconsistent, or incomplete.

Let’s face it: Customers want the latest and greatest – it’s psychological. Simply put, quality branding can make a huge difference when it comes to driving demand and desire for your products.

How is your brand perceived? Is your logo up to date? Are your color choices, fonts, imagery, and language attractive and inviting? Can you do more to increase the visibility of your brand?

Consistency is very important, but it’s also essential to audit your brand with modern trends in mind – which means it’s extra important to pay attention to what’s going on in your niche. All it takes is some research!

Check to see what your competitors are doing, and don’t be afraid to adopt what seems to work for them. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel; you can take ideas from your competitors and tweak them to suit your own brand.

2. You’re getting squashed by the competition

It’s what you’ve been dreading: A new or larger competitor or platform has just appeared on the scene, or an existing competitor has made a change that renders your offering suddenly irrelevant. Now what?

You could compete on price, or innovate the product itself. You could also expand your offering to include additional content, extras, or just more value. Think about what can you offer that your competitor doesn’t.

You might even be able to innovate the business model. For example, one potential way to create a competitive advantage would be to incorporate memberships into your digital product store. Some customers may really like the option of paying a lower monthly fee to have certain levels of access to your products, and it can make you stand out against your competitors if they are running standard digital stores.

3. You’re overwhelmed with managing everything

Sometimes, taking on too much can really slow you down to the point where you’re actually neglecting important aspects of your business.

Perhaps you’re focused so intensely on the technical side of things that you neglect your marketing or fail to create new products. Or, maybe you are so busy with product creation and other creative tasks, that you forget to tend to things like website maintenance.

In any case, there are some ways you can systematize and organize the way you manage your digital product store, so that you can get back on track:

  • Create a business plan for your digital product store if you haven’t already, or go back and re-familiarizing yourself with your existing business plan for guidance.
  • Adopt some productivity hacks to help you become more efficient, and free up your time and energy.
  • Tackle your support queue, or hire someone to help you with support.
  • Check to see what website maintenance, updates, and fixes need to be done, and set aside a block of time to do all of them.
  • Consider hiring an accountant if you haven’t already. Accountants are specialists, and who wants to deal with all of that stuff anyway? 🙂

4. You have website issues

Are you experiencing site performance issues? Or worse, is your digital product site down altogether? We put together this post to help you out if the worst does happen.

We’ve also talked about site security and optimizing your digital product store for mobile use, both of which are concerns when it comes to maintaining your digital product website properly.

Pssst! Hey, you…just a friendly reminder:

Don’t forget to keep a backup of your site at all times!

5. There are new laws to worry about

At some point you might find yourself dealing with new tax laws, online privacy laws, laws regarding selling subscriptions, or laws about email marketing, etc. How do you know if you’re fully compliant?

It can be a headache to stay on top of all of the tax and legal developments related to digital products. This is where having an accountant and/or a legal consultant available to you is hugely beneficial.

In addition, you can refer to our tax tips post, as well as these guides by TaxJar and Quaderno. The Federal Trade Commission also released a compliance guide with respect to email marketing, and we have a post about GDPR compliance for EDD users that you can check out here.

6. Your products have errors or need updates

Have you released a product only to get feedback about some errors that need correcting? Or, do you need to provide updates to your products?

Maybe your eBook has mistakes, or you released a video that’s out of date. Perhaps you sold some graphic files with formats that are no longer supported, or your software has bugs.

How can you get people the new versions of what they bought previously?

Once you have the fixed or updated product ready to go, you could simply send a download link to anyone who bought the product. If that isn’t possible for some reason, consider making an announcement on social media to let customers know that the updated version is available.

7. You can’t seem to explain to your friends and family what you actually do for a living

Running a digital product store often comes with a non-traditional lifestyle; from the benefits and challenges of remote working, to selling intangible products and doing everything online, some people just might not grasp what it is you actually do.

Think about refining your “elevator pitch”, creating a version for colleagues and professionals, and a version for the average person who might not understand technical jargon and industry terminology. Metaphors can be helpful here!

Sometimes, family and friends do want to understand, but just don’t have the words to describe it all. Don’t be afraid to show them how your products work, and share with them why you love what you do, and how your products meet the needs of other people in some way.

What obstacles have you encountered along your journey as a digital product store owner? Is there something we should add to this post? Comment below and let us know!

Illustration by Jessica Johnston.

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  1. Mandy Jones

    Hello Mandy,
    Thank you for your post. I learned a few points that I should keep checking from time to time. I started selling my project management templates a while ago and made quite some good money. Since I am not living from it, it is a nice money making hobby. I actually realized that sales vary from week to week without explainable reasons. However, one thing I learned indeed is that one has to constantly evaluate, update, review, communicate, respond etc.

    1. Mandy Jones

      This is very true, Marc! The market, culture, and trends are always changing. I’m glad to hear of your success and wish you all the best in the future!

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