Did you know that online product management is different from traditional product management?
A lot of product managers are approaching the online world with the same angle and the same mentality that they do with the physical world. And, that’s just wrong.
The way you approach the online world, and your online products, will have lasting effects on your product management strategy and results. Luckily these effects can be positive. You can take advantage of online systems, products and services, versus the traditional ones.
I’d like to shed some light on the differences between the two, and how you can rethink your management approaches for online products. This isn’t to say your traditional skills are no longer relevant, but rethinking your approach can make online management more effective.
#1 Lifecycles Are Different
Your product lifecycle is going to behave differently with online products and services than it will with physical and/or retail products and services.
When it comes to physical products, you must have a steady, long lifecycle. It takes time to reinvent a product or apply changes recommended by R&D. whereas, with online products – that are purely digital – you have to pick up the pace. R&D is at the forefront and changes are applied rapidly.
With physical products, you may re-evaluate and re-design every six months to a year, but with online products, especially web services and SaaS, you can do this on a monthly basis. Perhaps even every week, depending on whether innovations and refinements are discovered. Given that online products have no manufacturing or distribution networks to ‘be remade’, you have the freedom to develop at will.
#2 User Feedback is Faster
User feedback is collected faster thanks to the nature of digital communication and software. In turn, changes or refinements to a product can be implemented much sooner.
This means that user feedback no longer needs to be gathered and evaluated on a per-cycle basis, but rather, it may be evaluated on a per-submission basis. If something severe is discovered, then the problem can be remedied immediately.
#3 Retain Constant Marketing
With physical products, you would launch the product. Then, marketing followed a set of steps that created a cycle. But, when it comes to the online world, product marketing never ends. You need to maintain a constant, active marketing campaign throughout a number of social media channels,
You have to be on top of digital and online services, SEO and advertising. Always maintain a presence. This is the biggest change; and it’s a change in the way you think. As a product manager, this may seem more of a marketing responsibility, but it’s the product’s image and it concerns you as well.
The biggest changes for online product management are pacing, lifecycle, user feedback and marketing. If you change your way of thinking, you can make an easy transition from physical product management to mastering online management.