Branch out Your E-Commerce Business with Digital Products
Of all the innovations in the digital age, e-commerce has been one of the biggest game changers: It revolutionized not only how people buy, but what they can buy: Online, artists can sell their photography and graphics on stock image databases; musicians don't need a record deal to produce and sell their own singles; and authors' books are read on tablets.
Fitz Villafuerte is one such entrepreneur—among his many businesses, he has also explored selling digital products like e-books, stock photos, and digital learning modules comprised of video and text files. Anyone can explore this kind of business, but you can improve your chances of success by learning more about tech and the Internet. "Entrepreneurs with knowledge on internet or online marketing are the ones with the best potential to make money from [this]," he says. "After all, you are going to sell your products online."
One of the most appealing aspects of this kind of business is that there's no physical inventory to keep tabs on: Digital products don't have an expiration date; there’s no chance of them getting lost in the mail. And because they're sold online, they open you up to a global audience. “You are not physically limited to a store, and anyone with an internet connection can be your customer,” Villafuerte says.
But dealing with products that can only be sold online has its share of challenges. "The biggest challenge is creating copy that converts well," he says. Whereas physical products in brick-and-mortar stores have the advantage of a salesperson who can interact with customers and explain the benefits of your product. "With digital products, it's only your pre-written sales page that will do all the work, so you better make sure that you write very convincing copy that will make people buy."
However, developing these can be time-consuming. The time it takes to create a digital product varies depending on the format: Villafuerte can write his e-books in several weeks. On the other hand, it take a month to package all the necessary materials for his digital courses. Those who deal in making music or films may need a few months to release new content. "Most computers have default multimedia software that can be used to produce image, video, or audio digital products," he says, so entrepreneurs can use these built-in tools as a starting point.
Ultimately, what's important is providing content that holds value for your customers. “You need to offer something that can remain relevant, or in demand, for several years,” says Villafuerte. In his case, his digital courses deal in topics in his fields of expertise, like teaching people about entrepreneurship or how to invest in the stock market.
Naturally, the market for digital products are people who, in turn, are already comfortable and familiar with making online purchases. For Villafuerte, this includes young urban professionals, as these are "the ones who buy plane tickets online, shop in group buying sites, download paid apps." Because you’ll be dealing with tech-savvy customers, “it's important to know their online behavior, so you'll know how to best intercept their routine with your marketing campaign.” He recommends using social media and content marketing, apart from direct marketing strategies like Google AdWords, to generate leads.