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Building a digital product business for the long term

Building a digital product business for the long term

Starting your own digital product store is exciting! With all of the benefits to selling digital products, it’s an attractive option for people who want to work for themselves and make money being creative.

But, as easy as it might seem to get up and running in the short term, how do you build something that really lasts?

What makes your customers stick around? What keeps your brand alive? What’s going to keep you in the game over time?

In this week’s edition of The EDDit, we talk about some of the different ways you can set your digital product business up for long-term success!

Keep things fresh

When it comes to longevity, part of the equation is simply staying relevant – and this applies to just about any kind of business.

Keeping things fresh is key.

But, what does that mean? There are so many elements to think about.

There may be differing opinions on how often you should update your brand, but as new tools and industry standards come onto the scene, it’s important to stay up-to-date.

So, at what point should you consider a brand refresh?

Here are a few indicators:

  • There have been big company changes, like completely new types of products, changes to your company mission, mergers, etc.
  • Your store has seen significant growth and no longer resembles its previous form
  • Your logo is stylistically outdated (especially compared to your competitors)
  • Your website has looked the same for a seriously long time

You may or may not need a total brand overhaul, but generally speaking, making an effort to keep things new and interesting will help you stay relevant to existing and potential customers – and promote brand visibility within your niche.

This can include something as simple as incorporating new design elements (fresh graphics, forms, fonts, and layouts) into your website, using updated tools for things like support and content delivery, using a more minimal and contemporary newsletter design, changing up your social media graphics, or utilizing the latest content methods, such as video and live-streaming, for example.

Or, maybe there are new trends you can jump on when it comes to creating products. While it’s always great to have evergreen content, there’s a place for seasonal or otherwise timely content as well!

Here’s a list of updates you might consider making:

  • New product artwork
  • Updated product demos
  • Refreshed product descriptions
  • New product photos
  • A more modern website layout
  • New graphic elements
  • A modernized company logo
  • More fun, stylish, or minimal web copy
  • New team photos
  • A faster-loading, higher-performing, and more secure website (see our posts about site performance and site security)
  • New social media content using livestreams, IGTV, and stories

Listen to your customers

Part of running a digital product store that lasts is actually listening to your customers, because they can give you a lot of useful insights and information.

You’ve probably experienced some difficult support requests and received negative product feedback at one point or another. As disheartening as it can be to hear them, these things can actually give you inspiration for new products, and show you the ways people might be struggling with things like using your website, downloading products, or understanding how to actually use your products, for example.

While you shouldn’t have to make big changes every time a single customer complains, this feedback can highlight things you may otherwise have overlooked – which is pretty useful, when you think about it.

Taking customer feedback on board not only helps you mitigate future negative feedback; it also safeguards your brand against falling into outdated irrelevance, and boring your customers with a stagnant brand.

If you want to collect more data, consider implementing customer surveys with a write-in option, allowing customers more freedom in their responses. You might be surprised what you hear!

Watch your market

It’s always important to keep an eye on your market and what your competitors are doing. There may be new developments in the way that the types of products you make are being sold, and you want to stay aware so that you can stay competitive!

It’s not just product sales methods, though; observing your competitors can also give you insights into what’s working on social media, and what kinds of content people are responding to, for example.

Part of the long-term approach is remaining competitive within your market niche, and the first step is awareness. Always be observing. 🧐

Produce regular, quality content

Building a foundation of high-quality content that is useful to your target audience is one of the best ways to keep traffic flowing to your site year after year. Content pillars like how-to guides, eBooks, and reports, as well as cornerstone content (or particularly compelling and highly-useful content) are especially effective in that they provide so much value to site visitors, that they keep your site firmly on the map.

Diversify your traffic

Don’t forget that you want to be bringing in people from different places, too, so that if one traffic source slows down or stalls, it doesn’t affect your entire site. With this in mind, consider creating content for different subcategories of your niche.

Create evergreen products

We’ve talked about how seasonal or otherwise timely content can be effective for staying relevant, but it’s also worth thinking about the concept of evergreen content and how it can be applied to your products.

Trendy products may get serious traction in the short term, but evergreen products can give you sustainability over long periods of time. Some digital product creators still see returns on products they’ve created after many years!

This is hugely rewarding as a digital product creator, amplifying the already beneficial effects of creating products that can be endlessly duplicated and require little overhead.

Expand your skill set

Another thing you can do to secure your digital product store’s territory is to expand your skill set. This can be anything from coding and web design, to marketing and product creation.

Adding new skills to your arsenal gives you a leg up on the competition, and allows you to expand your business to new types of products – and thus, new segments of your industry niche. All of this can mean more diversity for your storefront, more ways to combine and sell your products, a better stronghold within your industry, and ultimately more revenue.

Even if your skills have nothing to do with product creation, they can help you be more productive, require less from contractors and freelancers, and streamline your efforts.

Invest in customer support

Customer support is one of the most important aspects of running a digital product store – and it pays to invest in providing the best customer support you possibly can. Why is this? Well, support is simply one of those things that can make or break the customer experience.

When was the last time you had stellar customer support? How did it make you feel about the company? Good support is absolutely crucial if you want to set yourself up for long-term digital product store success.

Here are a few tips:

  • Choose your battles wisely. Not every conflict is worth fighting, and a disgruntled customer can do far more damage via word-of-mouth and bad online reviews in comparison to the cost of giving them a refund or a free product.
  • Consider hiring a support team if you can’t dedicate your time fully.
  • Think about implementing an FAQ section and / or a support database to ease your support burden and make things easier and more efficient for your customers.
  • Show customers you care. Support is more than being reactive to problems when they occur; it’s also about being proactive in order to keep your customers engaged, happy, and feeling valued.

Now, it’s your turn

What have you found to be the most effective for boosting the longevity of your own digital product business? Join the conversation in the comments below!

Illustration by Jessica Johnston.

Mandy Jones

About Mandy Jones

Mandy Jones is a content writer at Sandhills Development and founder of Looplicious. Hailing from Minneapolis, Minnesota, she's a world traveler and animal lover with a passion for creativity and maker culture. When she’s not writing blog posts for Easy Digital Downloads, Restrict Content Pro, and AffiliateWP, she can be found hanging out with other people’s dogs, or writing, recording, and performing music.

@mandyjones

3 comments

  1. Mandy Jones

    All your products are expensive and I can’t buy them. I prefer to use woocommerce because there are a lot of free plugs

    1. Mandy Jones
  2. Mandy Jones

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