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The Ultimate Step-By-Step Guide to Selling Digital Products on Your Blog (Step Five)

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Step Five Serving Cusomters

Your product is out there! You’re starting to make some money! Now you can sit back and just watch the passive income roll in, right?

Wrong.

One of the biggest mistakes most people make when selling digital products is thinking that the work ends after launch day. Very few people can “set it and forget it” when it comes to digital products. You need to provide great customer service to turn your fans into customers and to turn your customers into advocates.

Step Five: Continuously Serving Your Customers

Today, before ending this series of posts on selling digital products, I want to delve a little deeper into the life of a digital product after launch day. Let’s talk about…

  • Whether or not digital products are actually a source of passive income
  • Finding new customers beyond the initial burst of sales
  • Short-term customer care
  • Long-term customer care

When Passive isn’t Really Passive

Everyone always talks about how great passive income is, but the fact of the matter is this: passive income isn’t typically truly passive. Whenever you have money changing hands, customer support is needed. There will always be someone who has trouble downloading your product or logging into your website. There will always be someone who wants a refund. There will always be someone who has problems with payment processing.

This can be passive in the sense that you don’t have to be personally providing the customer support. You can instead hire a team of VAs to help you with this task. Then, all you’ll need to do is some initial training.

Just be aware that if you choose not to provide customer support, the result will not be good for your bottom line. People who have bad experiences tend to be extremely vocal on social networks. When someone googles your name/product, do you want a bunch of bad reviews to be the first thing that pops up?

Finding Customers

Launching a digital products is exciting because you typically see a rush of sales on launch day, slowly dropping off over the course of a week or two. But what then? If all you do is link to your product on your sidebar, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Every person who visits your blog is a potential sale. How much money are you missing out on, simply because you leave it up to people to figure out you have a product for sale?

So what can you do to find new customers continuously? Here are a few ideas?

  • Set up an email campaign some that when someone signs up for your mailing list, they get a message about your product.
  • Write blog posts about similar topics and link to your product at the end.
  • Write guest posts for other bloggers and mention your product in your bio or even within the post if relevant.
  • Run promotions throughout the year, offering discounts or free trials.
  • Work with your affiliates for special promotions.
  • Host a Google+ Hangout and talk about your product.
  • Come up with a plan to mention your product on social networks on a regular basis.
  • Create free products related to your paid product to give away, then upsell to the full product.
  • Do a free webinar about a related topic and talk about your product at the end.

Short-Term Customer Care

Short-term customer service is all about taking care of problems, right? Well, kind of. Problems should be your main focus, since these are opportunities to turn a bad situation into a good situation. However, don’t ignore your customers who are singing your praises or you biggest group of customers–the ones who say nothing at all.

Create an automated email sequence so that about a week after your product is purchased, the customer receives an email follow up. Ask for feedback, offer a surprise bonus, or simply thank them a second time. You want that “second touch” with each customer to show that you really do care.

Make sure you reply to anyone who emails you, even if they are not inquiring (or yelling!) about a problem. The people who love your product or just have a question are the people who will sing your praises if you give them a little attention. We all like to feel like we’re important. When you personally reply to someone, even to just say thank you, you’re making your customers feel noticed.

While I do advocate you doing this yourself, you can have a VA help you manage this part as well by categorizing your emails so you can reply more quickly.

Long-Term Customer Care

Think about how you’re going to connect with your customers long-term as well. Why should you care? Because they’ll give you even more money! When you have another product for sale, someone who has felt they received a lot of value from you in the past is going to pull out their credit card a second time.

It’s about more than a great product. You do want to be sure that what you’re selling is awesome. But more importantly, if you go that extra mile, you’ll have people begging you for another product or even giving you more money in the form of a donation. Pat Flynn once told a story about people purchasing a product from him that they didn’t even need just to say “thank you” for his free help in the past!

The key is VALUE. Here are a few ways you can offer long-term value:

  • Offer a free “second edition” version of your book to people who purchased in the past.
  • Ask your customers to become affiliates so they can earn a little income from recommending your product.
  • Engage with customers on social networks. Beyond just talking about your product, get to know them and share their links from time to time.
  • Create a community around your product, offering forums, Facebook groups, etc. for customers to talk to one another.
  • Do a call/webinar with your customers around the 3-month-since-launch mark to answer any lingering questions.
  • Touch base via occasional emails.

The point is this: keep people involved. Then, when you have another product for sale or want a boost in sales for your current product, ASK your community of customers to help you! They can…

  • Tweet, pin, and otherwise share via social networks
  • Send emails to their friends and followers
  • Write testimonials
  • Review your product on other sites

So, while you might be thinking of your digital product as a passive source of income, if you put some more time into building a community around the product, you’ll sell more products over the long term. Passive? Not really. Profitable? Absolutely!

I hope this series has helped you prepare for selling your next digital product. Remember to check out all of the other posts in the series if you haven’t already!

 

See Other Posts in This Series:

  1. Step One: Building Relationships
  2. Step Two: Choosing the Perfect Product
  3. Step Three: Creating Your Product
  4. Step Four: Planning Your Launch
  5. Step Five: Servicing Your Customers (this post)

Image credit (altered): Bigstock

How to Make More Money by Creating a Sense of Urgency with Email

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Imagine for a moment that you’re trying on jeans (everyone’s favorite task, right?) and you find a pair that fit you well, but don’t blow you away. You might think to yourself, “Well, maybe I’ll keep looking, and if I don’t find anything better, I’ll come back later this week and purchase them.”

But what if, as you’re exiting the fitting room, you see a large sign that reads, “TODAY ONLY: All Jeans 50% Off!” Even though you’re still on the fence about how good they make your bottom look, you’d rather purchase the jeans now than miss on such a good sale.

If buying jeans isn’t your thing, imagine this scenario: You’re at your favorite outdoor supply store and you see they have tents on display. You know your tent at home has a hole in it, so you decide to check them out. One tent in particular stands out to you, but it is a budget-buster, so you decide to put off the purchase. What’s the likelihood that you’ll ever return to that store to buy that tent?

However, imagine that as you’re getting ready to leave without the tent, your spouse calls and says that your neighbors invited you to go camping this weekend. Even though it means pulling out the credit card, you need a tent in just a few days, so you make the purchase.

One more scenario to image! Let’s say that you’re shopping for a new car. You test drive a certain make and model and enjoy the ride, but are hesitant to pull the trigger on making the purchase. Then the car salesman mentions to you that this is the last one they have in stock, and its unlikely that they’ll get any others in for several months, and as you’re discussing the potential deal, another family walks up to the car and begins looking at it.

Hey! That’s my car! BACK OFF!

What do all of these scenarios have in common? They create a sense of urgency for the customer. And lucky for you, email is a great way to relay this information to your potential target market. Let’s take a look at how to create a sense of urgency for your customers using your email list:

jeans Buying Blue Jeans: Expiring Price/Benefit

First, think of our jeans example. What created the sense of urgency in this scenario is the one-day sale. In other words, a lower price would be expiring quickly. This can take on many forms:

  • Limited time discount (like the 50% off sale)
  • Normal price changing soon (for example, the clothing company is manufacturing jeans differently, so starting with the next batch, the price will be higher)
  • Extra benefit expiring (for today only, the jeans come with a free pair of shoes)

Email is a great way to relay this kind of information to your potential customers because it is a quick way to reach people. Don’t just send one email though. People typically respond more readily when they see the information at least three times. So, send an initial email to announce that a price or benefit is expiring, a follow-up reminder, and a final reminder right before the expiration time/date.

You can boost the response in the follow-up reminder by including some social proof. For example, you could say, “500 people already took advantage of today’s limited time discount. Don’t get left behind!”

Remember to set up your email campaign so that people who purchase your product after the first email do not receive the second two emails further reminding them of the discount. People get crabby when they receive emails about products they’ve already purchased.

tent Buying Tents: Immediate Need

Next, think of our tent scenario. In this case, there was no pricing benefit, but rather, the person really needed the product immediately. Without a tent, you and your spouse would not be able to go camping with friends over the weekend.

There are certain times of year when everyone on your email list could have an immediate need for your product. For example, if you’re selling tents, the week before a holiday weekend in the summer is a time when a lot of people go camping. Many people have an immediate need.

When this is the case, send at least one email that outlines the specific benefits of your product, which creates awareness, and at least one follow-up that plays on the sense of urgency. In our tent example, my first email might talk about when my tent is better than every other tent out there, while my second email would play to the fact that customers could use the tent right away.

Another option is to identify a specific group of people from among your email list who could use your product right now. For example, are you tracking everyone who purchases a tent? If so, those people probably also need other camping supplies?

Going camping this weekend with your new tent? Don’t let chilly nights ruin your experience: check out our heated sleeping bags!

Just because people got to the end of your sales funnel by purchasing a product doesn’t mean you can’t convert them into a repeat customer.

car Buying Cars: Limited Quantities

Lastly, use the threat of limited quantities to make people feel a sense of urgency. That’s exactly what the car salesman did in our example. We all have this knee-jerk reaction to claim something when it is the last one available. We don’t want to miss out!

Keep in mind that for digital products, the time is what you could make limited. It doesn’t make sense to say “We only have 100 copies of this ebook left” because when a product is digital, you don’t run out. But you could say, “In one week, we will no longer be offering this product for sale.” Disney is a great example of a company who does this. They put their films in a vault, so they are only available for sale for a limited amount of time. You can also say, “We’re only selling 100 more copies; then this product will no longer be available.” People often do this with webinars, consulting sessions, and so forth by saying that seats are limited.

As soon as quantities become limited, send out an email to relay this information. Even if you have thousands left, some people will buy simply because they know that the product won’t be available forever.

You can and should also send email updates as quantities start to sell. Typically, it makes sense to note when they’re half gone. So if your initial emails says that you’re only selling 100 more items, you should send an email update when there are only 50 left. Then, send further emails as the numbers continue to dwindle.

Again, make sure that people who already purchased the product don’t get the follow-up emails.

Why Email Works

You can also use other outlets to create a sense of urgency. I recommend that you tell people about price expiration, need, and limited quantities using social media, mailings, etc. as well. But email works because you’re making sure that people see every message. That repetition is how you can get people to pull out their credit cards. While someone might miss your tweet in an ever-moving stream or toss out your postcard with the junk mail without even glancing at it, with email, they will at least see the subject line.

So make that subject line count. Make people feel a sense of urgency. Pound it into their heads that they need to be NOW or they’ll miss out on your fantastic product.

The Ultimate Step-By-Step Guide to Selling Digital Products on Your Blog (Step One)

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Step One Build Relationships

The right digital product can continue to make you money forever. You want to know how to make money on your blog? Sell your own product and pocket all of the profits instead of just getting a percentage like with affiliate sales.

It’s an appealing prospect: create a product–something that doesn’t require inventory or physical shipping, put it for sale on your blog’s sidebar, and watch the cash roll in. That’s what all the guru-expert-ninja-bad-ass Internet marketers say you can do, right?

In practice, things don’t really happen that way, unless you have one of two things:

  1. A huge audience of millions of people who follow you online and buy anything you try to sell them
  2. A plan

Unless you’re Lady Gaga, let’s focus on having a plan instead! This is my step-by-step guide to selling digital products on your blog the RIGHT way. Yes, it is a lot of work. But trust me, you’re setting yourself up for success.

Step One: Selling Products Online Starts with Relationship Building

Before you sell any product, you need to build two types of relationships: peer relationships and customer relationships. Sometimes there’s a bit of overlap, depending on what you’re selling, but it really depends on your specific market.

Please note: I believe you can start making money from day one, but if you put a product for sale on your blog immediately, before you have much traffic or a strong community, you won’t see much in the way of sales. Instead, consider a free product to get people on your mailing list while you build trust.

Peer Relationships

It’s hard to successfully sell a digital product if you don’t have the backing of your niche community. In other words, when other food bloggers like you, you’re going to be more successful at selling your cookbook. Why?

  • They send traffic to your posts, which can be converted to sales.
  • They review your product.
  • They mention your product to their fans.
  • They become an affiliate for your product.
  • They purchase your product themselves (this is the customer overlap I mentioned).

In the beginning days of blogging, it was fairly easy to get to know other bloggers in your niche, simply because there were only a few dozen people. Today, every niche is crowded. There are thousands of bloggers in your niche, no matter what you write about. Why should they notice your blog? Why should they let you into their circle of trusted friends?

Here are some of the top ways I’ve found to connect with other bloggers, even if you are brand new and don’t personally know anyone else in the niche:

  • Guest Posts

Contrary to popular believe, I’ve grown to learn that guest posting is not just about reaching new readers. In fact, it might actually have very little to do with reaching new readers. Instead, it’s about providing content that the blog owner loves. We’re all really busy. If someone sends you amazing content so you have a break from publishing on your blog, that’s a really good thing! Even better if that post sends a ton of traffic your way.

So write guest posts for other bloggers in your niche. Make sure it is your absolute best work, and support your guest posts with social shares and mentions on your own blog.

  • Community-Building Link Roundups

In every niche, there are certain topics that lots of people blog about. For example, if you’re in the fashion niche, during September and October, many people will likely be posting about fall fashion.

Do some legwork. Reach out to other bloggers, one by one, and ask them to submit a link to their top post about fall fashion (or whatever the topic might be). Then compile those posts into one giant roundup on your blog that includes pictures, links, and encouragement for readers to visit the other bloggers and follow them on social networks.

You can also do something similar, but instead of asking for a link, ask for a tip about a certain topic. For example, if you’re a travel blogger, you might ask other travel bloggers to submit a few sentences about the best restaurant they’ve ever been to or their top tip for traveling with kids. Again, after receiving everyone’s tips, you would create a roundup post on your blog that links back to everyone’s blogs and social profiles.

Doing community-building roundups puts you on the map for other bloggers in your niche, especially if you put work into making them special. Create a button for every participate to display on their blog. Tweet about the post, taking the time to @-reply to each blogger thanking them to participating. Be extremely complimentary about their submissions. Email them the link when it is posted (with no pressure to promote).

  • Social and Blog Interactions

Bloggers make an effort to know the leaders in their own blog communities. If you’re someone who comments on all of their posts, shares all their links on social sites, and otherwise supports their content, they’re going to notice you. Easy as that.

You can also interact with other bloggers by linking to them in some of your posts. Huge link roundups are one thing, but why not also take the time to individually link to specific posts when relevant? For example, if you’re writing about the best ways to use Pinterest, you might link to another blogger’s post on a similar topic.

Don’t be afraid to tell people when you’ve linked to them, but never be pushy about them sharing your stuff. Link to people because you want to show your readers great content and you want to say “thank you” to the blogger for writing it, not because you want someone to share your stuff.

  • In-Person Meetings

When you meet someone in person, it’s easy to remember them. So, if you can meet your favorite bloggers face-to-face, do so! Have an intelligent question ready, and keep the conversation short. You want to be memorable, but not because you droned on and on!

Where can you meet other bloggers?

  1. Events (like NMX of course) where they are speaking
  2. Events they are attending
  3. Book signings
  4. Tweet ups and Meet ups

If you’re going to be in town where one of your favorite bloggers lives, or you know they’re going to be in your town, you can also offer to take them for coffee. Don’t be afraid to ask. Not everyone will take you up on the offer, but heck, I would never turn down free coffee with someone who enjoys my blog!

There are tons of other ways to continue building your relationships with peers in your niche as well, depending on your specific niche. Just keep in mind that you also want to be a giver, not a taker. In other words, when you’re trying to build a relationships with someone, be helpful, flexible, friendly, and kind.

Customer Relationships

At the same time you’re building peer relationships, you also want to be building customer relationships. This falls into two categories:

  1. Reaching new people
  2. Strengthening the relationships you have.

Let’s talk about reaching new people first.

Most bloggers understand that making money is truly a numbers game. The more readers you have, the more money you’ll make. Now, this doesn’t mean that someone with 1000 readers per day is going to make more than someone with 100 readers per day. You can’t compare yourself to other bloggers. But if YOU have 1000 readers per day, you’re probably going to make more money than a few months ago when YOU have 100 readers per day.

So, you want to reach new people, constantly.

Whenever possible, target, target, target. Paying for targeted traffic is an option that we recently covered here on the NMX blog, but even when you’re looking for free (organic) traffic, spend your time looking for readers who are going to be extremely interested in your blog and able to purchase your product. For example, if you’re a food blogger, it probably makes more sense to focus your time on Pinterest than it does to build a presence on LinkedIn.

What most people don’t realize, however, is that strengthening the relationships you have with current readers is just as important, if not more important, than finding new readers. And it’s actually not very hard. Here are some of the best ways to strengthen your relationships with current readers so that someday, when you’re selling digital products, they throw their money at you:

  • Reply to comments. Sometimes you can’t respond to each comment and sometimes you have nothing to say in reply to a comment. That’s fine. But I know bloggers who don’t respond to any comments.
  • Reply to emails. When someone actually takes the time to write out an email to you, that means a lot. The least you can do is respond, as I wrote about here. If you don’t have time to respond, it’s time to hire a VA.
  • Take time to visit your readers’ blogs. I know, I know. There are only so many hours in a day. However, visiting someone’s blog can really make them feel special. So, once or twice a week, sit down and see where your commenters are blogging. Visit and leave a comment. They’ll feel like a rock star.
  • Follow your community on social sites. I really don’t like when I see bloggers following just a few people. It tells me that you want to broadcast your stuff but you don’t give a crap about what your fans are saying. Use the private list function on Twitter, circles on Google+, etc. to filter out the people you know personally so those messages aren’t lost in your stream, but occasionally see what your community is saying.

Most importantly, write content so valuable that they have to keep coming back.

“Valuable” is a term that means different things to different bloggers. It might mean that you write posts that are so entertaining, your readers have to come back for more. It might mean that you write posts filled with information that helps someone reach their own goals, even when nothing else could. It might mean that your content is presented with a unique voice that really makes them think about life in a new way.

In other words, you have to consistently publish content that people can’t get anywhere else. That way, when you have something to sell, people know they have to buy from you, because they aren’t going to be able to get the content they’ve grown to love anywhere else.

To summarize, step one of selling digital products has…well…nothing to do with digital products. It’s all about building relationships with your peers and with your readers!

Stay tuned for our next installment, about figuring out what kind of digital product to create.

See Other Posts in This Series:

  1. Step One: Building Relationships (this post)
  2. Step Two: Choosing the Perfect Product
  3. Step Three: Creating Your Product
  4. Step Four: Planning Your Launch
  5. Step Five: Customers Service

Image credit (altered): Bigstock

A Disney Case Study: How to Dump Your Readers in a Blog “Gift Shop”

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When I first started writing for the NMX blog (BlogWorld at the time), it was just after I spent a week in Orlando, which included two days at Disney World. Needless to say, I had Disney on the brain, and lucky for you all I jotted down a few ideas for blog posts that had hit me while on vacation.

Yes, I know I have problems when I’m brainstorming blog post ideas and monetizing techniques while at the Magic Kingdom. Don’t judge me.

I’ve been to Disney World in the past, but something that is so striking to me every single time I go is just how good this company is at getting you to buy crap. Seriously. I came home with about $30 worth of junk that I not only don’t need, but I don’t even really want. And remember, it’s just me; I don’t have kids nagging me to buy even more useless tchotchkes. There are products for sale packed into every corner of that darn park, and instead of becoming blind to it, as is often the case with overexposure, people just buy more.

So why does Disney items sell so well? Why do people really care about the approximate 231,390,908 gift shops in the park? It’s not just about wanting a single souvenir to take home – why does nearly everyone leave with bags and bags of Disney crap?

Value and Excitement

The first thing that Disney does, better than any other park in the country in my opinion, is get you excited. You’ve paid a park admission fee, so it isn’t like you get to go on rides for free, but when you’re standing in line it seems like what you’re getting is free, since you aren’t handing someone money to board a roller coaster or boat or whatever.

What you get for “free” is pretty amazing. Even as an adult, you can imagine that the animatronics and special effects are real. Some of the attractions allow you a peak into movie sets. Some allow you to step into your favorite Disney movies. Some even have allow audience participation, which puts you in the middle of the show. All of this builds excitement. If you’ve never been to a Disney park, let me assure you – it is not just for kids and it’s not like typical run-of-the-mill amusement parks. You’ll get excited about their attractions no matter what your age. You leave nearly every attraction giggling and giddy, or at least, I did (and I’m pretty sure most of the adults around me did as well).

The Dump

This is the kicker – at the height of your giddiness, Disney does what I call “The Dump” and shoots your into one of their gift shops. They aren’t just nearby; in some cases, you exit the attraction through a gift shop. And not just any gift shop – a gift shop specifically themed to sell items relating to the content you just saw.

In a split second, visitors to the park become consumers. Those aren’t Mickey ears you’re wearing, it’s a sign that hey, I’ll buy anything if I’m tempted, like ridiculous mouse ears even though I’m a grown man. You had so much fun on the ride that you can’t possibly leave without an item to remind you of it. You’re so excited that you want to take home items for your family so they can share in the excitement. You don’t just want to buy. You need to buy.

Disney is sneaky, too. They have theme gift shops, but within each, they also have items that are kinda-but-not-really related. For example, in the Pirates of the Caribbean gift shop, they had a section of Nightmare Before Christmas items. Ok, he’s a skeleton, but that’s about the only link between the two themes. It doesn’t matter. For those guests who missed the excitement, who didn’t really have a high level of enjoyment for that particular ride, there are other popular niche areas of the store to explore while the rest of the family is buying pirate hats and eye patches.

Because you need an eye patch. You suddenly are overwhelmed at the thought of how you survived this long without one in the first place.

I digress. The point is that Disney hits you with a hard sell at the moment when you’re most emotional excited about the theme. They know that if you walk out and move on to the next attraction, it is unlikely that you’ll come back to buy something. At the very least, if you return, you’re probably only going to pick up something specific, like a single small item for a nephew that’s interested in pirates. You aren’t going to make emotional purchases.

The Blog Gift Shop Dump

You might be wondering why I’m going on and on about Disney gift shops, but those of you who have been reading my posts for a few months now know that I always have a point, even if I take a long, rambling road to get there. Today, the destination I hope you’ve realized by now is this: If you excite your readers with content first and then try to sell them a product then and there, they’ll be more likely to buy.

Essentially, you should be dumping your readers in a gift shop of sorts on your own blog.

People are already doing this, in some cases, without realizing it. Think about the last time you posted a review on your blog, especially for something you really liked. At the end, you likely gave the reader links to purchase the product or service, and hopefully you are an affiliate so that you make a cut on that money. You weren’t psychoanalyzing your readers to find out when they’d be most emotionally invested in the potential to buy – you just did what makes logical sense. You read how much I liked this product. Here’s a link to go buy it.

Let’s say you posted a review and then posted a separate link to buy a few days later. Even people who read your review initially won’t be as enticed to buy as they were immediately after reading the review. You could have converted sales, but by not dumping your readers into a gift shop when they were most excited, they got distracted and lost interest or spent their money elsewhere.

If you’ve ever attended a free webinar, you’ve probably noticed the same gift shop dump mentality. People with a product to sell will spend an hour or two getting you excited, and then they’ll whip out the “buy it right now” hard sale at the very end. And you know what? People buy. They need the product more then they’ll ever actually need it ever again, even when they have it. It’s the emotional response we have as human beings.

So, in closing,

  1. Post something free that has a high value.
  2. Get your readers excited about the content
  3. Sell something immediately following the free content.

That’s the gift shop dump mentality. Disney uses it. Almost every successful six-figure blogger I know uses it (even if some don’t realize it). You can use it too.

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