How to Maximise the Profitability and Lifecycle of Your Digital Product

By Hans Lambert Pederson

Discover how to deliver digital products that stand the test of time and continue to generate revenue for years to come.

First impressions are essential in the digital world. But they’re not the be-all and end-all. The reality is that technology and market needs are always evolving.

For emerging digital companies, it can cause real headaches. Suddenly, your shiny new app can go from flavour of the month to yesterday’s news.

The key to transforming an app, SaaS platform, or any other digital product into a sustainable solution isn’t witchcraft or black magic. (Although, it may help.) It’s to understand the product lifecycle and adjust your approach to ensure you avoid following the traditional concept.

What is the product lifecycle? 

The product lifecycle is a marketing concept used to plan the journey of a product from its market entry to exit. It derives from the traditional market of physical goods.

Every product will go through five core life stages:

·         Introduction – From the moment your digital product enters the market and breaks even.

·         Growth – Up until the growth rate starts to tail off.

·         Maturity – Maximum sales or usage volume reaches market saturation.

·         Saturation – Sales, usage and product demand starts to drop.

·         Decline – A further drop in turnover and demand until you take your digital product off the market.

It’s important to note that the traditional product lifecycle is a worst-case scenario for digital products. When we collaborate with our clients, we work in a process of continuous improvement. This approach ensures you avoid the dip in users and value. 

If you follow this cycle, your digital product will either be withdrawn from the market or require expensive modification, upgrades or repositioning.

To ensure your digital product exceeds the make-or-break two-year mark and continues to prove valuable, you need to proactively adapt to the times and overcome the traditional product lifecycle.

In layman’s terms, you need to become the Madonna of digital products. Always staying relevant and hitting the right notes based on consumer demands.

Tips for extending the digital product lifespan

It’s important to remember that a digital product requires ongoing attention to make sure it doesn’t follow the traditional product lifecycle management process.

It should be treated as a fluid concept. Every step should be monitored, adjusted and developed. The best way to do this is by considering the following factors before and after the product launch.

Before creating a digital product:

Design first

According to Market Watch, 86% of users delete or uninstall an app or digital platform due to functionality and design problems.

Nowadays, anyone can build a digital product. But not everyone designs outstanding products. Businesses often make two critical mistakes:

·         Treating design as an afterthought in the product development process.

·         Poor implementation (more on this later).

Without considering the UX and UI design from the beginning of the planning process, your product lifecycle will be cut short.

Research conducted by Warwick Business School on behalf of the Design Council, states that design can add value to any business by:

·         Driving innovation and opening up new market opportunities.

·         Creating digital products and services that differentiate your business and attract new customers.

·         Improving brand recognition and embodying your company’s values.

Treating the design process as a function to fulfil predefined tasks and bring a digital product to life is one thing. But adopting this approach won’t help you achieve long-term goals.

It’s most effective when you use it strategically and integrate it into the product development stage from start to finish. 

This approach is particularly important when it comes to saving money too. A report from The Systems Sciences Institute at IBM revealed that to fix an error found after product release was four to five times as much as one uncovered during design and up to 100 times more when identified in the maintenance phase.

By collectively addressing any potential blockers in the design process from an early stage in the product lifecycle, you can stop any costly corrections further down the line.

Focus on the implementation

Product design is nothing without a strong implementation.

It’s all well and good integrating design at the start of the product development stage. But if you stumble on the execution of the design process, you’re going to struggle to turn your bright idea into a successful solution.

Focusing on implementation is the essential element of extending the product lifecycle.

A major part of this is putting the right product architecture in place. It defines the underlying structures of the digital product, mapping out the function to form. 

The product architecture phase plays a significant role in how to design, build and use a new digital product offering. 

Addressing this structural element from the beginning will minimise big errors that cost a lot to rectify in the future. 

After creating a digital product:

Reinvent the wheel (visually)

If your existing solution is approaching the growth and maturity phases of the digital product lifecycle, it might be time to consider a digital facelift.

According to Intercom, only 40% of SaaS platform users come back a second time. Sadly, the user interface (UI) design is a common reason.

If users don’t like the look of the product or find it hard to use, they will stop using it.

To prolong the product lifecycle, you must refresh the functionality and visual experience. The best way to understand what needs to change is to collate feedback by using methods like product benchmarking and guerrilla testing.

At Stoked, we had the pleasure of supporting Plandisc during this critical stage of their product lifecycle. The result?

We successfully reimagined the user interface of their online planning tool and help them make an impact in the global market. Since working with us, Plandisc has been acquired by one of Europe’s leading business software solution providers, Visma.

Add new features and services

The saturation stage of the digital product lifecycle happens when demand drops and too many businesses offer the same solutions.

Users will only stick around if you have a solution that continues to positively impact their daily lives. In many cases, a bright idea might still be highly valuable. But it needs a new addition.

Take Instagram for example. As engagement and the average daily user count started to dwindle, they introduced Instagram Stories and Reels. Both features have added a new dimension to the social media platform.

Our collaborative work with Impero is another casing example. One of the many ways we helped strengthen its finance and tax compliance management platform was to create a reporting module from scratch.

It was designed to seamlessly integrate with existing modules and allow customers to create tailor-made reports containing historical data to stay compliant. 

It’s these small adjustments that can make a big difference in the grand scheme of things.

Get digital product lifecycle support

Need a hand extending the lifecycle of your digital product? Then get in touch with Stoked. We have a proven track record in helping start-ups and mature tech companies deliver apps, portals and interfaces that continue to make an impact every day.