You’ve learned about your customer and their needs. You have created a plan of action, including key KPIs, an understanding of the competitive landscape, and completed educated brainstorming. Now it’s time to move into digital product development.
This next phase is where the transformation really takes off. This is where you’ll differentiate your business in terms of the user experience and product, driving value for the company and the customer.
Read on for tactical tips as you start taking strategic steps in digital product innovation.
Why is digital product innovation important right now?
Digital product innovation is the realization of digital transformation. It’s about taking action and delivering value.
We talked about the value of digital product innovation in our previous post. The main value lies in providing a better customer experience, which helps build customer loyalty and repeat purchases, in turn generating more revenue.
But why is it so important right now? In the current market landscape, digital products can be a competitive advantage. They show that you’re a leader in your industry and you’re putting your customers first.
According to our 2022 B2B Buyer Report, B2B buyers value — and seek out — innovation. 94% of B2B buyers agree their company prefers to work with suppliers that continuously evolve their digital capabilities and experiment with offerings.
To retain customer loyalty in the coming year, a vendor or supplier must effectively use technology to improve the customer experience across every step of a buyer’s journey. However, for every step listed in our report, more than half of respondents shared that their current vendors and suppliers failed to meet this standard.
This finding proves that there is room for opportunity — the opportunity to stand out among your competitors by providing an innovative, optimized buyer experience. You can make it easier to make repeat purchases, move through checkout and invoicing, discover new products, understand product information and pricing, and carry out product configuration and quoting.
In today’s world, digital product marketing can also help future-proof your business in the face of changing market factors. When factors like a recession or high employee turnover impact your business, your digital products serve as reliable, dependable tools that provide ongoing service to your customers.
Why are some digital products better than others?
If your digital products are going to help you stand out among competitors, they have to provide value beyond what other vendors are offering. But what makes some products better than others?
The most successful digital products truly consider the customer. When you put in the work to look at the data, understand what it means, listen to your customer, and be willing to make changes, it will show up in your final digital product. Your customer will recognize the value and keep coming back for more.
Your digital product innovation also needs to align with your digital strategy. While the steps of developing a digital product can be tactical, each part needs to remain rooted in your strategy. Strategic, data-driven decisions should drive the process — from identifying which types of products you develop to determining how you bring them to life.
When you’re creating digital products, be sure to use the right software and the right implementation partners. Those selections will make a significant difference in your ultimate user experience.
It’s also important to optimize your digital products on an ongoing basis. Evaluate how they are working (or not working), continually look at the data and keep in touch with your customer, and then implement improvements. Continuous evolution is the name of the game.
Steps to Developing a Digital Product
Digital product development happens at the intersection of your data and insights, your customer voice, and your business services and products. Your digital product development has to answer your customers’ needs and wants. It requires customer-centric innovation and ongoing optimization.
Brainstorming visionary ideas for your customer is innovation. But how do you take the idea from sticky-note status to reality? Here’s an overview of the stages of digital product development:
1. Set your goal.
Why is innovation important? What do you hope to accomplish and how will you measure it? Set those key performance indicators (KPIs) upfront.
2. Do your research.
This step includes understanding your customer, your competitors, and your industry. It’s tempting to take data at face value, but connecting directly with your customers — through surveys or one-on-one conversations — can give you valuable insight into their pain points, unique needs, and expectations.
3. Build your strategy.
There are a number of factors to consider to determine whether your idea is feasible and operational:
- Do you have the budget? How much can you invest?
- Do you have the resources and skill sets to carry this out?
- Do you have the technology to make this happen?
- Do you have to prove a return on investment (ROI)?
4. Create a proof-of-concept or minimum viable product (MVP).
It’s tempting to immediately move into full execution mode. But once you have determined your idea is a go, start with a process of discovery – an MVP, Minimum Viable Product that still contains differentiating factors.
Write the requirements, create the designs and prototype, and employ an agile process here to be able to see the reality iteratively.
5. Launch your digital product.
As you test your MVP, think about what comes next. If your plan will not work, what steps can you take to achieve smaller wins? If your plan will work, how does it fit into the organization’s long-term goals?
6. Analyze and optimize.
Set dates or milestones as key check-in points. Evaluate what worked, what didn’t, and what you can learn and use to improve in the future.
Ask critical questions to understand not only the metrics but also the underlying context of the numbers and what they imply. What is the data telling you? Once you understand the data, determine what you can learn to improve the future of your customers’ digital experience. Where can you optimize?
Digital product design is a process — and a cycle. This is where the importance of “failing forward” comes into play. The product development process allows you to take learnings and keep putting them into the product to make it better. It also cultivates a culture of change within your organization.
In today’s digital world, buyers are looking to work with innovative suppliers who can offer a great user experience and deliver value. Take this opportunity to stand out among competitors and drive your business forward in the new year.
Ready to dive into digital product innovation? Contact a digital transformation team member, or download our “How To Prioritize Customer-Centric Digital Transformation” white paper.