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Conducting Market Research for Digital Products: A Step-By-Step Guide

Thorough market research is crucial to ensure a viable profitable audience exists for your digital product idea before investing significant time and money launching. By formally evaluating your niche size, competition, target demographics, motivations, and pricing expectations, you gain confidence needed to optimize product-market fit.

Follow this guide outlining market validation steps to minimize risk building products people want to buy:

Outlining Your Digital Product Idea

Start by detailing your digital product concept:

Describe the Product Format

Will it be online courses, ebooks, templates, software, apps, membership sites, or other digital asset formats?

Define the Topic and Purpose

What specific skills, solutions, or transformations will your product focus on providing? How will it enrich lives?

Identify Ideal Buyer Demographics

Which target customer ages, genders, income levels, geographies, psychographics, and professions would use your product?

Outline Unique Positioning

How will your product stand apart from competitors? Summarize your main differentiators, specializations, and unfair advantages.

Estimate Potential Pricing

Research early what potential pricing models make sense for similar digital products to gauge viability. Consider production costs.

Clarify details upfront to evaluate if sufficient market demand exists and whom specifically your product would serve.

Sizing the Total Addressable Market

Gauge your idea’s maximum audience scale:

Research Industry Size

For products tied to industries, research the total number of businesses, employees, or market value to estimate the industry’s customer potential.

Analyze Search Volume

Use Google Keyword Planner and trends tools to analyze average monthly search volume for product-related terms indicating interest.

Review Related Product Sales

Study estimated sales and customer volumes for competing or complementary products through app store listings and marketplace rankings indicating viability.

Estimate Target Percentages

Determine what percentage of industry professionals or searchers would realistically become buyers based on your niche and price point. Avoid inflated projections.

Evaluating Top Competitors

Analyze strengths and weaknesses of current solutions:

Search Online Directories

Use aggregators like Crunchbase and AngelList to find established companies and startups already operating in the product space.

Study Their Product Offerings

Purchase and use competitor products extensively. Compare features, formats, depth and production quality side-by-side. Identify deficiencies.

Browse Customer Reviews

Read through critical 1-3 star reviews revealing customer frustrations and problems you can potentially solve.

Benchmark Pricing

Factor competitor pricing models into your potential product pricing strategy. Consider production differences.

Assess Market Share

Estimate competitors’ relative market share percentages based on publicly available signals like search volume, Instagram followers and product reviews.

Consider Barriers To Entry

Determine if competitors benefit from unfair advantages like patents, proprietary data, brand authority or technical complexity blocking entry.

Learn precisely why current options fail to delight customers so you can disrupt with a superior solution.

Surveying Your Target Customers

Gain direct insights from potential buyers through:

Intercept Surveys

Politely engage real people matching your customer demographic while they use competing products. Ask for brutally honest feedback.

Focus Groups

Assemble 5-8 prospects to discuss pains using existing options and gauge interest levels on potential alternative features.

Buyer Interviews

Identify individuals who recently purchased competitor offerings. Ask about their whole journey from research to post-purchase. Listen closely.

Social Listening

Search social media discussions around related product hashtags for frustrations, desired features, and sentiments.

Presell Landing Pages

Drive traffic to landing pages detailing your idea. Capture emails of interested prospects for future research.

The more customers you engage, the clearer their deepest unmet needs become. Human insights beat assumptions.

Validating Mass Appeal

Test assumptions around audience demand:

Share Landing Pages

Drive paid traffic to basic product landing pages measuring conversion rates on call-to-actions like email opt-ins.

Run Surveys

Advertise short qualifying surveys to identify the percentage interested in product details and willing to pay various price points.

Interview Industry Experts

Schedule calls with experienced niche bloggers, influencers, founders, authors. Gauge their opinion on market needs and holes.

Research Related Forums

Join relevant online groups and subreddits. Monitor discussions for commonly requested solutions and features.

Browse Job Listings

Search niche job boards filtering by your target titles. Assess desired skills mentioned you can offer.

Pitch Media Outlets

Gauge potential press appeal by pitching your idea to niche publications and podcasts. Secure early coverage.

Estimating Projected Unit Economics

Model potential sales and costs:

Calculate Potential Revenue

Project sales volume based on target audience size and conversion rates at planned price points. Factor distribution channels and partnerships.

Estimate Production Costs

Tally projected development, content, hosting, software, marketing, customer support, and other ongoing operational costs.

Forecast Profit Margins

Subtract expenses from potential revenue to determine approximate profit margin per sale. Healthy enough to be sustainable?

Estimate Time Investment Needed

Realistically gauge effort required to create content, build technology, fulfill operations. Translate time to monetary costs.

Calculate Breakeven Timeframe

Given margins, estimate the volume and timeframes required to recoup startup and ongoing production costs through sales. Sustainable?

Honest financial projections inform go or no-go decisions giving clarity if profits justify immense time investments required before overcommitting.

Checking for Uniqueness

Verify your idea hasn’t already gone mainstream:

Search Patent Databases

Review patent application requests on government patent office databases related to your idea ensuring key methods aren’t protected.

Perform Online Searches

Search mentions across the web for any hint of big players preparing to enter the space with similar offerings that would outmatch you.

Check Trademark Availability

Search the USPTO database that no other relevant brands have trademarks blocking naming and branding plans.

Search Popular Product Release Sites

Stay up to date on upcoming launches from major platforms like ProductHunt that could impact launching a minimum viable product in the space.

Set News Alerts

Enable Google Alerts for your product’s key niche keywords to receive notifications if competitors launch.

Validating Ongoing Need Over Time

Keep gauging market reception through:

Repeat Surveys Periodically

Check back in with target users routinely via follow-up surveys to identify any evolving needs as technology and competitive landscapes change.

Subscribe to Industry Publications

Stay on top of industry trends, challenges, and innovations by subscribing to leading niche publications, newsletters, and blogs. Notice new opportunities.

Attend Conferences and Events

Network with other professionals at annual industry conferences and seminars to feel the pulse on trends and talk through your idea.

Continue Running Small Tests

Frequently run promotional campaigns and sales experiments including pre-sales around new features or audiences while reevaluating performance.

Form a Customer Advisory Board

Formally meet with real users in recurring advisory boards or focus groups to guide product roadmaps and features.

Markets evolve. Consistently revalidate demand and uniqueness to ensure product-market fit during development. Ongoing customer insights minimize wasted effort.

Conclusion

Following a rigorous market validation process prevents building digital products that fail to resonate with buyers once launched. Outline your proposed solution, deeply analyze competitors, survey real potential users, validate assumptions, estimate realistic economics, and continually re-evaluate need as you build.

No amount of perfect execution can save a digital product that misses the market. But aligning development closely to proven market demand through continual research maximizes your probability of crafting beloved solutions.

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By Dani Davis

Dani Davis is the pen name of the writer of this blog with more 15 years of constant experience in Content marketing and informatics product, e-commerce niche.

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