The Life Cycle of Online Products

Like many things, products go through a cycle during their effective lifespan. These cycles are regular and predictable. A formal life cycle can help build an understanding of the pattern of stages that a product goes through.

There are many different life cycles each based on the focus and pattern, which the author is observing. In this article, I’m going to share a very detailed nine-step life cycle of an online product.

1. Plan

A good online product begins with a plan. The plan details much of the background information required for the online product. However, only the requirements for the product are provided.

2. Design

In this stage, the requirements are given form. The online product that was described in the plan is defined in detail. A detailed outline of the product is produced.

3. Produce

This stage varies depending on the media of the online product. For example, an eBook is written at this stage. A teleseminar on the other hand may be written but it definitely is presented and recorded.

4. Package or Publish

The online product is still in a rough state at the start of this stage — although it is in fact complete. This stage polishes the product and adds elements that turn it into a professional, salable product. For example, a video will have opening and closing credits added and a cover designed.

5. Generating Traffic

At this stage, the product is available. However, sales are not actually occurring. Instead, traffic must be generated in order to ensure that sales are sufficient to justify the costs so far. This is often referred to as a pre-launch stage although it can occur after the launch.

6. Marketing and Selling

At this stage, the product is available and the traffic has reached a stable point. Sales are reasonably stable. In this stage, the marketing emphasis has switched to finding the right types of traffic, rather than the growth focus of the previous stage.

7. Declining Sales

After a period of time, almost all products begin to experience a decline in sales. This may be because of market saturation or real or perceived obsolescence.

8. Bonus

Finally, the sales have dropped to the point that marketing and sales efforts fail to produce sales. At this point, the product is retired from sales. However, it becomes available for use as a bonus to support the sales of other products.

9. Retirement

Eventually, a product will cease to be of value even as a bonus. At this point, the product will be removed from the products for sale list.