Info Product Valuation
Info product websites and businesses are ultimately also E-Commerce businesses, but rather than selling a product, they tend to sell digital information. The most popular forms of info products are online courses and ebooks.
These business models can range from selling $10 courses on how to use excel to $10,000 courses with mentoring, mastermind groups, and all the jazz for how to build an online business. While the information being sold can range the gamut they are all authoritative subject matter experts selling information.
Info product businesses tend to sell in the range of 1.5x to 2.75x.
Valuations can vary widely for info product websites because there are a handful of important factors that can significantly alter value. Here are the top 5 things to take into consideration when trying to value your info product business.
5 Biggest Valuation Factors
- Who is the face of the business?
- Content creation
- Refund rates & reviews
- Owner involvement
- Growth opportunities
1. Is the owner the brand of the business?
To sell high dollar courses and information, you usually have to establish yourself as an authoritative person, or “guru”, in the niche. While this can be great for your personal brand, it presents a huge problem for selling your business.
If you are the brand, people are likely buying your info product because they trust you, your authority, and value your prestige. If your face is the one in course videos, all over the website, etc. it becomes near impossible for a new owner to successfully step into your spot.
If you sell an evergreen product that never needs to be updated, this might be okay – but it will still limit future growth opportunities. If your product needs to continually be improved with new content added frequently, this becomes a problem. It also creates issues with customer service. A lot of high-end courses have Facebook groups where the customers can get real access to the “guru” to ask questions and things like that. Changing the face of the business is unrealistic when this is the case.
The best info product business do not have a person as the brand/guru.
2. Content creation
While some info products can be evergreen, most need to be updated and improved over time. Additionally, growth opportunities likely include the need for more content to be produced.
As most buyers want passive businesses, having outsourced content creation is very important for valuation. Buyers want the opportunity to focus on marketing and growing the business, not spending time updating old content or writing, recording, editing new content.
In addition to content creation, customer service is an important piece as well. Info products usually require more customer service as consumers have questions about things they read, want to better understand x or y, etc. so they frequently reach out with questions or for help.
Businesses can do their best to reduce the amount of customer questions by including awesome FAQ’s and information articles along with their info products, but having an outsourced person to help with customer service is always a plus.
3. Refund rates and reviews
If you have an expensive info product, you probably have a high number of requested refunds. Refunds and online reviews are the best indicator of how valuable the info product is to the consumer. Again, this is certainly more important for expensive products, as someone likely won’t do heavy research on the course before spending $10 on it, but they certainly will if it’s $1,000.
High refund rates and bad reviews suggest that the information quality isn’t great or your product doesn’t provide the end consumer with what they were looking for. Overall, these can result in negative valuation impacts if you have high returns and/or poor online reviews.
4. Owner involvement
I touched on this with content creation, but the amount of hours per week the business owner spends on the business is a big valuation factor.
Outside of the simple return on investment, investors in the online business space also look at their return on time investd. Most web-based business buyers also look own and operate other businesses and websites, so they don’t have 40 hours per week to spend on one business.
10 hours per week or less is the ideal amount of time required from the owner.
5. Growth opportunities
Online businesses and websites have great returns, even when the businesses don’t grow. At a 2x purchase multiple, that’s a 50% ROI even if the business just stays flat. That’s a great return, but the best returns obviously come from growing the business and its cash flows.
What growth opportunities does your info product business have? AND how much time will it take to execute on these opportunities? Growth opportunities can be as simple as running paid advertisements, if the business doesn’t utilize paid traffic marketing methods, or as complex as building a course or product that is complimentary to the existing product being sold. Obviously, one is a lot less time consuming and easier than the other.
While maximizing your marketing and taking advantage of all growth opportunities before you sell is a good strategy for increasing your profits, leaving some growth opportunities untouched can be helpful for increasing your valuation multiple.