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Monetising a Digital Product

Folens Publishers, Ireland’s largest educational publishing company, are familiar with digital territory. Having successfully released multiple digital products to market over the previous 10 years, the publisher was aware of changes in the classroom and the potential of digital in schools.

The trouble was, digital was increasingly a free supplement to print sales. The market now assumed that all digital was a low-value bundled product. This did not provide a basis for investment in innovative learning solutions. How could Folens successfully monetise a digital product and prove a sustainable business model?

Prior to approaching Adaptemy, Folens had built several digital products such as ebooks, resource banks and interactive whiteboard portals. Interactive whiteboard products are aimed at teachers, and provided free if the textbook is adopted. Similarly, resource banks are designed as free supplements to complement the textbook. Efforts to make ebooks commercially viable were impossible after competitors in the market set the expectation that they, too, should be given free on the adoption of print textbooks.

How could Folens craft a digital product that could be monetised, that would be sustainable and viable, and so drive innovation and future investment in digital solutions?

Effective learning solutions

To be sustainable, a digital product needed to clearly justify itself in the market. It needed to be effective, with demonstrable improvements in learning outcomes. And it needed to be easy to adopt, so that all teacher (not just early-adopters) could use it in their classrooms.

Harnessing the experience and expertise of Adaptemy, Folens was able to confidently move towards a solution that would give them a monetised, digital competitive edge.

Scoping the solution

Adaptemy’s adaptive learning solutions were already tested and in the marketplace. Extensive market research had shown that a digital workbook was the most likely entry point for a digital product in Ireland. Easy to use alongside existing solutions, adaptive workbooks have the combined benefit of highest immediate impact on student learning, with a relatively low content investment required from the publisher.

Bought-in to the concept, the next critical decision for Folens was which subject and age-range would provide the best focus for the first product, while also complementing the existing product portfolio.

Adaptemy’s consultative workflow provided Folens with the support to fully investigate these options. After thoroughly researching the marketplace and understanding Folens’ wider business strategy, Folens concluded the product would be an assessment-for-learning maths product, focused on 12-15 year olds, leading up to their Junior Certificate exam.

Pulling on the heritage of the Folens brand, the product would be off to a healthy start and remain relevant as the company pushed ahead with its growth strategy.

Readying the team to sell and support

With traditional textbooks, a salesperson would visit a school, introduce a book and leave a copy with the teachers for consideration over a number of weeks.

A digital workbook would need an entirely different approach. If Folens was to invest in such a tool, how would its existing sales team secure interest and sales for this new solution?

Specialised digital salespeople would need to be trained or introduced to the business. And this new product would also need customer service support and licence management to retain newly secured and happy customers.

Working together with Adaptemy, the support and training were realised. With a part-time project manager in place at Folens, sales and customer service training occurred alongside authoring training which readied commissioning editors for content creation.

Within just three months the product was ready to be sold. And sell it did. Folens hit its year one targets and trebled them in year two. Build Up was subsequently enhanced to include content for Transition Year students (15-16 year olds).

Performance today

Today, creating content for Folens’ digital workbook solution fits into the workflow of a normal commissioning editor. Supporting the product is business as usual and Folens can add further subjects and age-ranges as popularity among teachers continues to rise.

Folens can see how its content is performing. Analytics reveal how it can be improved and enhanced, and the publisher has closer relationships with its customers too.

This has lead to more effective content and more cost-effective commissioning of content.

Folens is ahead of the competition in terms of market knowledge and a digital offering. With insight from the solution, the team can control digital costs and predict sales and next-level offerings.

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