Being a Digital Product Manager: What You Should Know

Digital Product Manager

The role of a product manager is becoming increasingly important day by day.

It is gaining momentum in big and small companies. 

Product management is also evolving with the evolution of technology.

A digital product manager is one of the newly emerging titles in this digital day and age. 

Think about it; almost everything we do or use has a digital version of it now. 

This makes the product excellence of digital products a significant priority.

That’s where a digital product manager comes in.

So, in this post, let’s break down the digital product manager role. We will aim to understand the following aspects:

Let’s get right into it!

What is a Digital Product Manager?

A digital product manager is in charge of digital product development and business results.

These include software, digital tools, apps, games, internet services, and any electronic product developed and consumed.

Thus, a digital product manager is responsible for the strategy, design, development, and launch of digital products. They work with teams of engineers, designers, and marketers to create innovative products that solve user problems.

The role of the digital product manager is becoming increasingly important as more and more companies move towards a digital-first strategy.

DPMs are responsible for ideation and design, user research, and testing. They need to be able to think strategically about how to solve user problems and figure out what users want and need.

Digital product managers may work on five main verticals

  1. Digital features of a physical product.
  2. Digital versions of formerly analog products.
  3. Improving existing digital products.
  4. New digital products.
  5. Digitalization of the product management process.

The first four are related to products, while the last one has to do with the job functions of a digital product manager.

They may aim to make product management more agile by introducing various product management software or tools such as a kanban board.

Now, these are broad verticals. Within each of these, the digital product manager performs all the functions and responsibilities of a product manager.

To be sure of our understanding, let’s sum this up.

A digital product manager is essentially a product manager responsible for digital products.

They handle the various digital aspects of existing as well as upcoming products.

The digital product manager title is evolving and becoming essential to organizations as we transform into a digital world.

The success of digital products puts companies at the forefront. It gives a level of power and influence to change how the world works.

Thus, the role of a digital product manager is in high demand.

Well, having understood the gist of the job title is not enough. If you’ve reached this far, you’re possibly confused about how a digital product manager differs from a product manager, right?

That’s a fair question. The two are essentially the same job, aren’t they? Let’s understand!

What is the Difference Between a Digital Product Manager and a Product Manager?

Now, digital product managers are STILL product managers. The former title does include the latter, doesn’t it?

With that said, although the core responsibilities may be the same, the two roles differ. The two terms are often confused, but they have different responsibilities and duties.

A digital product manager is in charge of products delivered through digital channels, such as websites, apps, and social media.

They work with teams to create prototypes and designs, manage the development process, and oversee the launch and post-launch phases.

A product manager is responsible for products sold in stores or through other physical channels.

They work with teams to create product designs, oversee the production process, and manage the post-launch phase.

We see here that the areas of function and core responsibilities overlap, and it’s because they remain consistent for both roles.

The only difference is this. 

A product manager handles the product development, strategy, and delivery of products and features. But a digital product manager handles the same for digital products and features.

Sometimes, if a company is pretty new or small, it may not have a digital product manager. A single product manager handles all aspects.

Similarly, suppose a company’s product or service is fully digital. In that case, it may only have a digital product manager and not a general product manager.

See, that was easy to understand, right?

The digital product manager role certainly has caught our attention here at Chisel. So, let’s further delve into the roles and responsibilities.

What are the Digital Product Manager Roles and Responsibilities?

The digital product manager is a critical role in any company with a digital product. They are responsible for the overall success of a product, from conception to launch and post-launch.

These managers work with teams of designers, engineers, marketers, and analysts to make sure the product meets the company’s needs and its customers.

Some of the specific roles and responsibilities of a digital product manager include:

Defining the Product Vision and Strategy

This digital product manager role involves creating a long-term product vision that aligns with the business vision. They must then use this vision to build their long-term product strategy.

This role also includes the short-term product vision and strategy to create product excellence throughout each quarter.

Quarterly planning comes in handy when digital product managers create a short-term product vision and strategy.

Managing the Product Roadmap

Here, the role of a digital product manager is to partner with business owners and agile product teams to build product roadmaps to incorporate into the broader product portfolio plan.

They must convert their product strategy into SMART goals through a roadmap. This also involves managing cross-functional teams and prioritizing tasks and features.

Working With Stakeholders To Determine Requirements

Ensuring that the stakeholders are on-board, aware, and benefitted is vital. A digital product manager has to ensure that their product ideas meet those of the stakeholders.

Here, the DPM also aims to resolve any conflict of interest between various stakeholders.

Conducting Thorough User Research

Like traditional products, digital products, too, have a massive market of users. Each user has their needs and expectations from a product.

This digital product manager role is concerned with understanding the user needs through various methods. These methods may include user surveys, interviews, competitor research, product reviews, and focus groups.

It is essential for developing and improving the products under a DPM.

Ensuring Quality Control

Here, the digital product manager ensures the delivery of quality products. But it’s not that simple.

They must collaborate with the product analysis team and consider every aspect before and after its launch.

There has to be continuous evaluation of the products to ensure product iterations.

Making Data-driven Decisions

Digital product managers must analyze the data from various sources and make decisions about the product accordingly. This means they need to be more analytical than intuitional.

Collecting data and making decisions based on it is a continuous process.

The DPM needs to engage with data before product development and during and after the product launch.

An example of such data could be as follows-

Suppose you’re a digital product manager at a SaaS company that has adopted a freemium model. Much like Chisel (Try it for free!).

Thus, you might have to look at data metrics such as your product’s retention rate or attrition rate and then alter your customer acquisition cost.

You will now make decisions and changes based on what the numbers tell you.

In addition to the responsibilities mentioned above, the DPM also works on writing user stories, team alignment, and product differentiation.

Woah, that sounds like a lot, right? Yes, the digital product manager role is no joke, and it takes someone with the right skills to do the job well.

Let us now look at what these skills are.

What are the Required Digital Product Manager Skills?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the skills required for a successful digital product manager will vary depending on the organization.

However, companies commonly cite some critical skills as essential for this role.

Some of the essential digital product manager skills include:

Customer Focus

The digital product manager should empathize with the customer and offer them a solution through its products.

This can get a little shaky because the digital world comes with its own expectations.

Product delivery for digital products may be different from other products.

Market Knowledge

They must understand the market in-depth, including the past, current, and estimates of future market trends and competitor ecosystems.

Business Acumen

The digital product manager must be familiar with business and the ease of doing it. They must have an understanding and level of comfort with various business functions.

This includes tracking important KPIs, forming OKRs, portfolio prioritization, product pricing, and monetary metrics.

Technical Skills

This is obvious now, isn’t it? If you’re a digital product manager, you better be digitally savvy.

The digital product manager must have a solid technical background and a knowledge of different coding languages, software systems, IoT, and machine learning.

In addition, being aware of the technological trends and making the product development more agile through product management tools is preferred.

Soft Skills

Since a DPM works with large groups of people, it is no secret that good soft skills can go a long way.

They must hone communication skills and interpersonal skills. In addition, problem-solving skills and emotional quotient are fundamental.

And with that, we now know what it takes to be a digital product manager. How about we find out about the perks of being one?

Let’s look at some salary figures of digital product managers.

What Does the Digital Product Manager Salary Look Like?

According to Comparably, the digital product manager salary ranges from $110,000 to $186,700 in the U.S. 

The median salary comes around $186,700. The middle half of digital product managers make $110,000, with the top 75% earning about $224,040.

The average digital product manager salary in the U.S. is approximately $167,800. 

Digital product managers in San Francisco make the most at $186,700, earning 11% greater than the U.S. average. Hmm, Silicon Valley, is that you? 

All-in-all, those are some handsome numbers for the in-demand position!

If this position excites you, you want to keep scrolling to learn how to become a digital product manager!

How To Become a Digital Product Manager?

Well, this answer is straightforward.

Most schools don’t have a separate degree for product management, let alone digital product management.

Thus, for an entry-level digital product manager role, you must have a diploma or bachelor’s or master’s in business administration, management, or technology.

However, it also helps if you have some experience in the field through internships or specialization courses.

To go higher up the ladder, you must gain more and more experience as either a project manager or product manager.

Experience and competencies are far more critical than qualifications for a digital product manager role.

You can always ask your mentors at college for more information about the field. If not, read our blogs here.

Conclusion

A digital product manager is a professional who oversees the development and design of digital products.

They work with a team of engineers, designers, and marketers to create and launch websites, mobile apps, and other digital products.

The role of a digital product manager is constantly evolving as the internet and technology continue to grow.

To become a successful digital product manager, you need to be able to wear many hats and have a wide range of skills.

If you’re already a digital product, wouldn’t you want to consider the #1 agile product management software for free?

Check it out, and let us know what you think!

Crafting great product requires great tools. Try Chisel today, it's free forever.