Understanding the Digital Products Business Model
In creating a digital products business like any other business, there is the need to develop a carefully thought-out product plan. This is because that could make a huge difference in the level of success you can ultimately achieve. With a solid plan, you’ll be able to move forward quickly and confidently, knowing that you’ve thought things through to avoid major mistakes and setbacks.
ClickBank, one of the internet’s largest digital products business marketplace recommends the following this simple business model or blueprint. This model has helped thousands of infopreneurs monetize their knowledge over the years.
When thinking of a lead, think of someone who is interested in your product but not quite ready to buy (they are also called prospects). They could be interested in solving a problem or in whatever you’re trying to teach them. However, they are not convinced they want to spend the money yet. The last thing you want to do is let these people leave and just hope that they’ll come back and buy later.
What you really want is for the prospect to provide their name and email address so you can cultivate their interest and likelihood of buying by sending them information over time. This cultivation process builds trust with the prospect so that they will hopefully be comfortable enough to buy from you in the future.
A typical lead capture offer will give the prospect some piece of relevant and valuable information in exchange for their name and email address. There are many types of lead capture offers. It could be a free report, newsletter, or video.
All in all, your lead capture is a FREE OFFER that provides you with the customer’s email address. You’re then able to send follow-up messages to the prospect so they can get a better feel for your expertise and credibility. By offering this first, you will ultimately generate many more sales.
The second element in the proven blueprint is the front-end offer. This is typically the most visible product for sale, and the one prospect will likely buy first. It’s at the “front end” of the buying relationship. It’s often the product you’ll see most prominently displayed when you study any infopreneur’s business.
Your front-end offering could be an e-book, manual, or how-to video. Front-end products are usually in the low to medium price range. It’s important to make sure your front-end offerings provide a really good value for the price. Customers should feel like their money was well spent after purchasing a front-end product. Satisfied customers are far more likely to buy your back-end products.
Back-end products are most often promoted to buyers of the front-end product. They allow customers to pay more to get more—more information, deeper information, more access to you, and so on. Back-end offerings are usually more expensive than front-end offerings, and they can include things like monthly members-only programs, access to training video libraries, or subscriptions.
Of course, only a small percentage of customers will want to pay more to get more. However, it doesn’t take very many buyers to generate a lot of money with back-end products. In fact, most successful infopreneurs make most of their money on the back-end.
Digital products business owners should strive to have a continuity program as their back-end offering. This is usually a monthly subscription or other programs where customers agree to a series of recurring purchases. If it’s appropriate for your niche, you should try to have a continuity program because it provides a steady and predictable stream of income. As you add subscribers, you’re not only adding to your income for this month, but for every month in the future.
At CLICKBANK, digital products business owners who offer continuity programs make three-times more money than those just offering front-end products.
The Digital Products Business Model is Predictable
Lead capture is all about wooing prospects:
- For prospects who are not ready to buy
- Offers a free piece of related information
- Asks for a name and email address
- Acts as a “sample” of you and your info
- Generally results in 15-25% more sales
Front-end offerings start people buying:
- Generally, the first product purchased
- Converts prospects/leads into customers
- Often priced in the low to medium range
- The lynchpin of an information business
- Provides lots of value. But not everything
Back-end offerings let people buy more:
- Often available to existing customers only
- Allows customers to pay more to get more
- Usually more expensive than front-ends
- Purchased by a small portion of customers
- Generally accounts for 40-60% of profits
How to Select a Topic or Niche
When customers buy information, particularly “how to” information, they want to buy from an authority or expert. The customer wants to be confident that you know what you’re talking about and that they’re going to receive a useful product for the price.
Creating products is easier when you can rely on what you already know, without having to do extra research. This is why you want to tailor your products to a specific group. This also makes marketing your business much easier and effective because you know the exact group you’re targeting and what their needs, problems, and desires are.
For most successful Digital Products Business, the ideal niche is a combination of three things.
Can you ACCESS your potential buyers?
Access is about reaching your potential buyers. You might have the best products in the world, but you won’t sell any if you can’t get them in front of the people who would buy them. When considering a potential topic or niche, ask yourself some questions:
- How well do you know the ideal prospect in this niche and do they actually exist?
- If they exist, are they already looking for products tied to your niche?
- Can you think of any places where ideal prospects might gather like clubs, blogs, or forums?
- Are there any major competitors in the niche?
Don’t be afraid of a little competition. If there are others selling information products in this niche, that probably means that someone else has already figured out that prospects are indeed accessible, or actively looking.
Is there POTENTIAL for back-end sales?
Think about wants versus need. People always buy what they want, but will only sometimes buy what they need. It’s important to not overestimate potential by thinking, “everybody in this niche needs to know this”.
It’s important to think about how many prospects in the niche fit this want criterion. Are there prospects that are willing to spend money for the information they want? Do they actually have money to spend? If your prospects are not willing or able to spend money, you’re going to have a tough time making sales.
It’s also very important to think about the back-end since this is where the real money is made. Will your prospects be willing to pay more to get more? Will you be able to create ongoing information about your topic? Remember, you’re looking to build a customer base you can sell to again and again, over a long period of time. So thinking ahead about the niche’s POTENTIAL is key.
Do you have PASSION for the Digital Products Business?
Too many budding digital products business owners make the mistake of selecting their niche or topic based solely on access and potential. They don’t think about what it’s going to take for them to create the products. So it’s important to ask yourself:
- Is this something you’re interested in any way?
- Even if you weren’t doing this business, would you be involved in this niche or interested in the topic?
- Does creating information products for this niche seem like it would be fun?
- Would you have to force yourself to create the products?
- Do you empathize with your prospects?
- Can you see yourself in this niche five years from now?
It’s important to remember that you’re building a business for the long-term. So asking yourself whether you can maintain the enthusiasm in the future is a must.
Take an Inventory of What You Know
Get out a sheet of paper and take an inventory of everything you know. Think about your profession or work experience. Do you know something, or have you learned something, that others might want to know? Think about your hobbies and pastimes. Have you figured something out that other hobbyists would love to learn? Think about your life experiences. Is there something you’ve learned or overcome through the years that would be of interest to potential customers?
You probably know more than you think so it’s very important to take an inventory and explore all niche possibilities.
Having passion or interest in the topic you select is going to make everything in your business easier. Keep in mind, the business of being an infopreneur is something you can replicate; so don’t think you’re limiting yourself by choosing one niche to pursue first. The possibilities are endless, but you have to start somewhere.
Developing Your Product Offerings
The best way to plan your product offerings is to use the proven blueprint because it is simple and you will be rigged for success from the beginning. The blueprint consists of Lead Capture, Front-End Offering, and Back-End Offering. These offerings can take several different forms:
Think about Formats of the Digital Product to Create and Perception
Since there are many different product formats it’s important that the type of product you’re offering matches the needs and preferences of your potential customers. Some possible questions to think about:
- Does your audience prefer to read?
- Do they like audio and video content?
- What is the best format for delivering the info?
- What formats can you produce?
When brainstorming your product offerings it’s also important to be as specific as possible regarding the nature of the content, especially the title of the offering. The title and description of the offer are what your customers will be paying attention to because it will help them decide whether the product is something they really want or not. So make sure you create a title that will capture their attention and help them avoid mistakes.
Once you’ve thought through your blueprint and have come up with some possibilities, you will want to evaluate your ideas thoughtfully and objectively. You want to make sure that your lead capture offer will appeal to the greatest number of potential customers. Your front-end product should address the entire problem or topic in a straightforward way. For your back-end offer, you want to have a viable and compelling continuity program if at all possible, or a deeper product that solves a big, meaty problem in more detail.
If you’ve selected a niche you’re passionate about, then you’re probably a prospect yourself. So it’s important to evaluate your offerings based on what you yourself would buy!
Sequence Your Offerings
Following the blueprint from left to right, you want to sequence the development of your offerings starting with your lead-capture and front-end offerings. Getting those up and running will 1) give potential customers the ability to become familiar with you, and 2) give you the time needed to develop your back-end offerings.
Product Offering Example
To kick-off your product flow you might offer a 5-7 page report as your lead capture. This might be a Word document or PDF that you let prospects download in-exchange for their contact information. Or you might decide to let prospects subscribe to a free email newsletter you send out weekly. Or provide them access to an introductory video.
For a front-end offer, you might sell an hour-long how-to video or maybe a 100-page training manual or e-book.
On the back-end, you could offer customers a members-only continuity program. Or access to a complete series of videos, or even a combo package that contains videos, audios, and written reports.
There are dozens of ways your product offerings can take shape, so it’s very important to brainstorm possibilities for each offer; decide on your initial blueprint offerings; sequence your efforts; and most importantly, don’t get stuck on perfection. Getting your product offerings out there sooner rather than later is key. Remember, customers, are not paying for perfect grammar or beautiful graphics. They’re paying for the expert information you’re providing.
Growing Your List of Leads and Prospects
Your promotional goal for the lead capture offer should simply be to grow your lists of leads and prospects. This list will give you a pool of people who are interested in your topic to engage with you and hopefully buy your products.
Your lead capture offer allows you to create and cultivate your list while working on your front-end product. So, you want to start promoting your lead capture product as soon as it’s created—even before you have any other products to sell. The sooner you start, the bigger your captive audience will be when you actually have something ready to sell.
Once your lead capture article is in place you want will want to highlight it wherever you can. For example, mention it in your email signature or in a blog post. One idea a budding infopreneur used was printing an ad for their lead capture offer on the back on their business cards. Just remember, it’s important to systematically highlight your lead-capture offer wherever you can.
If you selected a niche that you have connections with, you should reach out to those people to let them know about the free information you have available. However, when reaching out to your personal network, make sure you’re speaking to those that have an interest in your topic. Other peoples’ opinions may be interesting, but you really care what actual prospects think.
If you’ve selected your niche wisely, there are also places where members of your niche congregate. These places could be blogs, chat rooms, forums, clubs or associations, or even social media groups. Since you have a valuable lead capture offer available for free, going to these congregation points are a great place to let potential customers know about you and your information.
Cultivate your List
Once you start capturing some leads and adding people to your prospect list you want to cultivate them. By doing this you keep them engaged and enhance your credibility at the same time.
To do this, you’re going to cultivate your prospects with more content and information because this is what brought them to you in the first place. So, on a regular basis (weekly or monthly) you’ll want to send your prospects an email and let them know about the new information you have available. This could be a new article or blog post that you’ve written. You could even do some research and ask your potential customers for feedback on what types of information they’re looking for. This will make the potential customer really feel engaged because you genuinely want to know what their issues are.
Promoting Your Front End Offer
Your goal in promoting your front-end offer will be to convert interested prospects into paying customers. This is the start of a buying relationship that could last for years. So this step is very important.
Sales Pitch and Testimonials
Just because your front-end product is technically finished it doesn’t mean that you’re ready to sell it just yet. You will need to develop a good sales pitch that will describe your product in compelling terms. You will want to provide lots of specifics about your product including what the customer will receive, how it will help them, and so on.
Another thing you need is to recruit some people from your personal network or prospect list to review your product before you make it available to everyone. Ask them to provide you with feedback and a short testimonial to put on your site. This is important because reviews and testimonials are often the most powerful piece you can include on your sales page because they carry a lot of credibility. It’s not just YOU saying your product is great. It’s now somebody just like the prospect who is saying your product is great.
There are rules surrounding the use of testimonials so make sure you check out the Promotional Guidelines page to make sure you’re in compliance.
Launch your new offering to prospects
Once you’re front-end product and your sales page are ready, you could simply put your new product up for sale on your site and announce its availability to your prospect list. However, if your prospect list is a decent size, a more effective approach might be to “launch” your new offering. With a launch, you’re turning the mere availability of your product into more of an event, and something your prospects could look forward to, which in turn could drive more initial sales.
In addition to your prospect cultivation messages, you could provide them with a sneak peek into what you’re working on and give them with a date for launch. This essentially is just creating a little more drama and anticipation around the release of your product, so people are more inclined to purchase it right away.
Offer it in your lead capture and cultivation flows
Once you’ve launched your front-end product and it’s available for sale you want to integrate it into your lead capture and prospect cultivation flows. You could put a little ad for your front-end product at the end of your lead capture offering, mention the product at the end of your free report, or point to your product at the end of the lead capture video.
Leverage Performance-Based Marketing
Performance-based marketing is one of the most powerful promotional developments of the recent time. Also known as affiliate marketing, performance-based marketing is when someone promotes a product online and gets paid a commission on the resulting sale.
For example, let’s say a blogger runs an ad on their site promoting an infopreneur’s front-end product. The customers who click on the ad are then taken to the infopreneur’s sales page, and if the customer actually purchases the product, the affiliate will get paid a commission for each sale they refer.
It’s a simple concept, but is very powerful and unlike traditional advertising. You don’t have to pay for promotion up front because it’s performance-based. You would only give a cut of the sale to the affiliate if the affiliate actually helped you generate a sale. The mechanics behind this can get complicated however, ClickBank’s platform takes care of everything.
To learn how to implement a performance-based promotion campaign, please see our article on How to Attract Affiliates.
Partner with other ClickBank Vendors
The affiliate marketing functionality of ClickBank’s platform makes it very easy for infopreneurs to partner with each other. ClickBank Joint Venture allows ClickBank vendors and affiliates to partner with other people in a wide variety of ways. This allows for many types of relationships to be supported via the ClickBank platform. For example, with a Traditional JV Contract, a ClickBank vendor can automatically share a portion of their earnings from each sale. Either with a copywriter, customer service manager, content creator, or whomever they wish. Since ClickBank automatically handles the administrative headaches, it’s now easier than ever to work with partners on your ClickBank products.
To learn how to enter a Joint Venture, please see our Joint Venture article.
Recruit Affiliates Specific to your Niche
Another great way to leverage ClickBank’s affiliate marketing function is to reach outside of ClickBank’s affiliates and recruit your own. You are welcome to partner with another infopreneur or affiliate that is not on ClickBank’s platform. A good place to find these partners would be at the gathering places for your niche. This could be blogs, forums, or associations.
Cultivate your Customers
Once you’re selling your front-end product, converting prospects, and building your customer list, you’ll want to continue to cultivate your customers over time. With customer cultivation you keep your customers engaged, you reinforce your credibility and authority by providing deeper and more specific information.
Just like your prospect cultivation acts as a feedback generator for your front-end offerings, your customer cultivation should act as a feedback generator for your back-end offerings.
Promoting Your Back End Offer
Your goal in promoting your back-end offer will be to convert front-end customers into lifelong customers. This continues the buying relationship and is really where infopreneurs make the most money.
Costly Mistake- Do not lead with your back-end offer.
Promote through your front-end offer
Once you’ve launched your back-end product and it’s available for sale, you want to integrate it into your front-end offering and customer cultivation. As you cultivate your front-end customers, you’re letting them know about the back-end offering you’re working on and when you expect it to be available. Through this cultivation process, you’re building anticipation for another product that is going to provide deeper and more specific information or information on a recurring basis.
Since it’s mostly customers who will be receiving your back-end promotion, you can make the promotions more prominent because you know that they really have an interest in your product. At a minimum, you want to make sure that every front-end customer is aware of your back-end product.
At this point in time you can consider paid advertising if you’ve considered the following questions:
- Are you leveraging performance marketing to the max?
- Have you optimized the flow or throughput at each stage?
- Do you know enough about paid advertising platforms to be certain you will get a return?
If you answered yes to these questions and are set on spending money on paid advertising, there are some important things you should know.
- Promote your lead capture offering, not your front-end product.
- Focus on the end result, not intermediate steps.
- Calculate the response you need to break even.
- Track each ad so you know the actual value of the resulting prospect.
- Run smaller paid advertising campaigns first.
- Always start with digital paid advertising.
- Optimize and negotiate your advertising rates.
Skippers and Collectors
Skippers are prospects who are ready to “pay to get more right now” and don’t want to go through the entire product sampling process. Collectors are prospects that are interested in the topic, however; they want to get every piece of information they can get their hands on.
Since we don’t know if each prospect is a skipper or collector, we advise that you make your back-end products available on your website, but you still want the primary focus to be on your lead capture and front-end offerings.
Optimize Your Flow
As effective as the blueprint is, you still want to take steps to improve the flow. It is normal to have some people fallout between stages. Only some of the people who sign-up for your lead capture offer are going to buy your front-end products, and only some of those who buy your front-end product will buy your back-end offer. This is why you want to try and minimize the fallout as much as possible.
You will never get everyone to convert from one stage to the next, but if you can increase the throughput at the various stages by 10%, it will have a big impact on your ability to promote your business moving forward.
Hook your Subscribers
One of the easiest ways, and most overlooked way, to increase the average value of your customer is to get the subscribers of your continuity program to stick around for a long period of time. If you can make improvements that get an average subscriber to double the length of time they stick around, that is worth more to you than a brand new customer.