You’ve created your product. Now, you’re ready to sell it! Here are essential strategies and techniques on how to sell your digital products. Plus, learn about a couple of things that rookie bloggers are rarely taught.
With so many ecommerce platforms, you can start selling in minutes. Literally. IF you know what you’re doing.
But if it’s your first time, you might want to hold off and learn a little more before jumping in.
Because we’re talking about digital products, I’ll classify ecommerce sites for the sake of this discussion as online marketplaces and digital sales services.
Online marketplaces are ecommerce websites where products and services are provided by multiple third parties, with the transactions being handled by the marketplace operator. The big ones are Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and Envato Market.
Digital sales services, on the other hand, are applications that allow you to maintain your own ecommerce store. Some of them integrate with current websites, while others are ready-made online store systems that you can use for a monthly fee or a percentage of your sales.
However you want to sell your digital product, there will be advantages and disadvantages. Below are the pros and cons of each type of ecommerce site.
The big marketplaces have thousands of customers who have already bought from them and are likely to keep buying.
With thousands of customers, chances are you’ll reach a lot of them.
They’ll push the products that they sell because that’s where they profit.
All a customer wants for a great user experience are built into their site: product comparisons, reviews, checkout, and payment.
They don’t collect fees, but they get a commission from all sales. Depending on the company and the product, they may take as high as 25%. Amazon can even take as high as 65% for Kindle ebooks.
Having thousands of customers means having thousands of other sellers. Your brand may become just another face in the crowd.
Their platform, their rules. Depending on the company, there is a roster of rules regarding what products to sell.
Because the primary focus is on the products, selling through marketplaces won’t do much to help you grow your brand.
Not that you need access to their credit card information, but having access to their emails, at least, would allow you to have a customer relationship with them. If you sell through eBay, they’re eBay’s customers, not yours.
You’re free to use your brand everywhere, and there are no restrictions to the type of product you can sell.
Your store, your rules. You get to decide how the product gallery looks, how the checkout process goes, what payment methods you take, everything.
Having your customers’ names and email addresses means you can cultivate a relationship with them. You can introduce them to your blogs, to your other offerings in the future, and they can email you back if they have questions about the product.
Want to celebrate a blog milestone with a sale? Want to reward customers with coupons? Go ahead!
Complete control over your own marketing and advertising can be costly: time, resources, skills. Not to mention it’s easy to screw up this aspect.
It’s a good thing to own every interaction with your customer, but again, it can be very costly in terms of time and resources.
Without the framework of the large marketplace sites, the cost of operating and maintaining a site falls squarely on your shoulders. Tech issues and refunds are solely yours to handle.
So, which one is right for you?
Short answer: Selling in both places could work for you.
A good short-term strategy would be to put out a product in a big marketplace to take advantage of the visibility. Meanwhile, focus on getting traffic to your blog and your own store, where you have the majority of your products.
In the long term, shift the focus from your marketplace products toward your own store. Control over your own digital assets and your own customer base is critical to the continued success of your blogging journey.
That said, how do you know which digital sales service to go with?
With so many options out there, I’m sure there’s one with everything you’re looking for. But for starters, here are the things to consider:
How many files can you store and how secure are your files in terms of access and piracy?
Is it simple and straightforward? How many steps are there from clicking “Buy” to downloading your file?
How many modes of payment are accepted? At the very least, do they cover the usual ones (PayPal and major credit cards)?
How do they handle fraudulent transactions? How long does it usually take for a dispute to be resolved?
How easy is it to access your customers’ information? Will you have records of all purchases per customer (valuable information when it comes to refund requests and retargeting)?
It’s particularly important that they are integrated with the email marketing tool you’re using (e.g., Aweber, ConvertKit, etc.)
Can you make your own discount coupons, and can you track who’s using which coupons? How easy is it to apply special promotions or have a sale?
Taxes vary per area. Can your system calculate it accurately?
Like I said, there are so many services out there, but the more popular ones for digital assets are:
If you chose WordPress for your blog like I told you to, you’re in luck, because there are plugins you can install right on your blog so you can sell digital products. The same criteria I listed above apply when choosing the right plugin for you. In addition, look for a plugin that has an extension library so you can add features to your online store as you expand.
The more popular WordPress plugins for ecommerce are:
Now that you have your store set up, it’s time to prepare for your product launch. Here’s a rundown of what to do to get ready.
You have a beautiful, polished, finished product. Let it go. No more tweaking, no more final touches, no more “I just want to change this little bit.” You’re done with your product. Sell what you have.
In the next sections, I’ll talk about the steps toward a successful launch. When you’re familiar with them, go back and decide which step you’re going to do, how long it’s going to take, and plan them ahead.
Just like when you created your product, there has to be specific dates for everything, especially Launch Day. That date better be encircled in your calendar. This gives you a clear view of the finish line so you’re motivated every step of the way.
Launch Day is typically 4 to 6 weeks after you’ve created your digital product. If you want a bigger, wider launch, you might have to extend to 8 weeks. Any longer than that and anticipation starts to wane. Remember, people have limited attention spans. Make them wait longer than they’ll have to and they’ll lose interest.
You’ll also have to allot 2 to 3 weeks after launch for postlaunch activities and communications. After that, the intense work should be done.
If you followed my advice, you should have created your sales page while you were creating your product. Now you’ll need to overhaul it because it should now be selling the actual product, not the minimum viable product you had. Plus, on Launch Day, it should lead to the payment step, not a form to sign up to the waiting list.
Here are the essential elements of an awesome sales page:
The best sales pages start off strong: with a riveting statement that speaks directly to your target audience. Get straight to what your target audience wants and promise them an irresistible result if they stick around and read on.
Your headline may well be the most important part of your sales page. If you don’t get it right, no one will read the rest of what you have to say.
Say for example you’re selling an ebook that teaches how to write effectively aimed at readers wanting to become freelance writers. A compelling headline could be:
That short headline zeroes in to the target audience (“Write!” speaks to aspiring writers) and makes a promise (“financial independence”) that demands attention.
The copy is where you make good on that promise. Learning how to compose effective sales copy can’t be learned in a paragraph. It’s something that takes practice. A LOT of practice. But here are some basics to help you get started:
It’s tempting to just list down the features here. Well, yes, you’ll need to list these down, but they’ll need to be featured further down the page. What you want to highlight at this point are the benefits; that is, what your target audience will get out of it.
If you’ve familiarized yourself thoroughly with your audience’s pain points, such as when you were creating your value proposition, you’ll know exactly what your product needs to solve. That’s the benefit to them. You’re positioning your product to be THE solution to that thing they’re worried about.
Following our e-book example, one of the chapters may be about common grammar mistakes that you see everywhere.
Feature: “Contains a whole chapter with 50 common grammar mistakes”
Benefit: “Learn these mistakes so you never have to make them”
See the difference? The feature answers “what?” while the benefit answers “why?”
Include at least 5 benefits of your product, after which paint them the outcome that they’ll be able to achieve with your product.
In our example, the outcome could be:
“Imagine having the skills to be able to work anytime, anywhere, without having to report to anyone or commute to a windowless office.”
For your target audience of aspiring freelance writers who are currently holding down 9-to-5 jobs and want to change their lives, this picture you’re painting would definitely resonate.
It’s easy to overlook, but after highlighting the benefits, introduce your product by name. Introduce it as THE solution they’ve been looking for.
Besides, people won’t buy it if they don’t know what it’s called.
Here, you can now list the features of your product, i.e., what your customer will get when they buy it. If you’re selling an ecourse, you can list down the modules. If you’re selling an ebook, you can list down the chapters.
You don’t even need to get this specific here. Instead of the chapters, you can list down the important things that they can expect to learn from your ecourse or ebook, then give a more detailed explanation of what’s included in your product further down the page.
You may not want to give too much away in the hopes of making it more mysterious and attractive to your customers, but being transparent about what’s included will help your customer decide if your product is right for them. Also, being very clear about what they can expect will help them trust you more.
Remember your test group and the feedback you got from them? Time to get the more positive ones and include them in your sales page.
Keep in mind, though, that these testimonials are not to convince yourself that your product is awesome. It’s to convince your potential customers that your product indeed solves their problems.
An example of a great testimonial from your test group could go like this:
I’m a single parent of two, working 50-hour weeks and tired and unhappy. I’ve been looking for a way to earn from home so I can spend more time with my kids. Because I like writing but don’t have much talent, I started looking for resources online that can help me improve my writing.
I stumbled upon this blog one day and learned so many writing tips in the half-hour it took to get through his best posts. I’ve been a subscriber ever since.
When I heard this ebook was coming out, I grabbed the chance to get it early. And let me tell you, I don’t regret it one bit. I’ve gone through so many books and courses about writing, and this book is one of the most comprehensive, most helpful guides that I’ve ever had.
The tips it had on composing a compelling letter helped me create an awesome cover letter and landed me my first writing job! Now I work when I want to, where I want to, and this flexibility has allowed me to spend more quality time with my family.
This book changed my life, and I have no doubt that it will change yours.
The first paragraph establishes that this person is just like the person reading your sales page, probably with different specific problems, but looking for the same thing (i.e., looking for resources to improve their writing). The second paragraph establishes why you should be trusted.
The third paragraph assures your potential customer that your product is helpful and that it’s different from other products out there. The fourth paragraph tells how exactly helpful the book was. The fifth paragraph is an overall affirmation that your ebook is life-changing.
Rarely will your test group submit a testimonial this detailed and in this format without prompting. The questions in your survey form will definitely help, but you’ll probably have to compile and edit this yourself. I would recommend asking for permission from the people whose answers you’ll be using, as well as showing them the edited testimonial and asking if there’s anything you got incorrect, or if there’s anything they want to add.
It’s easier for you if you can ask your test group to give an outright testimonial. Of course, it’ll take some effort on their part, and it might take some convincing. But if you created an excellent product, I’m sure your test group will be willing to oblige.
There’s another way to get a testimonial, which I absolutely do not recommend: buying or creating fake testimonials. It’s just not worth it. For one thing, your audience isn’t above actually looking up these people. If you get exposed, there goes your hard-earned reputation. Plus, as I said, if you’ve created an excellent product, people will tell you so, and they’ll gladly tell other people.
But what if you can’t get a testimonial?
If your product is so terrible that you can’t get a positive word about it, pardon me, but why are you even trying to sell it? Go through the negative feedback and go back to the drawing board. It could be that the world isn’t ready for your product yet, or that a major overhaul is due.
I’m sure your target audience would like to know who’s offering this great product. Humanize the experience. Make it about an actual person wanting to help other people.
That said, your readers would probably want to know if you are, indeed, qualified and experienced enough to provide a solution like this. If you lack the qualifications, again, don’t make them up. People will easily find out and you’ll never be able to recover from that.
If you were able to produce this product through self-study and sheer determination, and not because you had a college degree in it, tell your target audience that. Tell your story. Being authentic trumps certifications that don’t mean anything.
If there is an opportunity to incorporate video in your sales page, take it. Video increases the amount of time a potential customer is on your page. You can use video to introduce yourself (to prove you’re a real person!), give a walkthrough of your product, or for your testimonials.
Just don’t forget to turn off the autoplay function, especially if your video is a long way from your headline. If your reader wants to watch the video, they’ll click it.
It’s great to have a section like this to answer any questions or concerns your customer may have regarding the product before they even ask. You can get inspiration from the questions that your test group asked. Also, you can get inspiration from all the questions you asked in your head when you were doing your product research and reading up on competing products.
The FAQ section is also a great chance to overcome your customers’ objections. The specific questions will vary per product, of course, but it can all be boiled down to:
“Will this product work for me?”
When you are able to address your customers’ doubts, concerns, and objections, you’ll be able to bring in more sales.
Why go all the way down here before you can see the price? It’s because that’s a surefire way of turning away your customers, especially if you have a mid- to high-priced product. Potential customers see the price first and say “$97? That’s too much, I can’t afford it.” and promptly click away.
Give yourself a fighting chance. Remember when I told you about value-based pricing? Make sure to describe all the benefits and overcome possible objections before you give them the price. Doing so makes it clear to the customer what the value of your product is, and then offer a price that’s a bargain compared to all the value that your product will provide.
In short, make sure you show your prospects that your product is worth 10 times what you’re charging.
This way, it becomes an offer they can’t refuse.
People tend to place a higher value on an object that’s in scarce supply or about to run out. Obviously, you can’t pull off this strategy with a lot of digital products (I mean, seriously, how can you run out of ebooks?), but you can do a scarcity-based promotion, such that a promo price is only available for only the first X customers who buy the product.
You can also employ a time-based promotion instead. A limited-time only offer wherein the promo price is only available for a few days or hours could also work for your product.
An example of how you can apply a time-based promotion is when you have three different deadlines: the week before Launch Day, Launch Day proper, and 2 weeks after Launch Day. If customers sign up for your waiting list up to 7 days before Launch Day, they get 30% off plus an exclusive freebie. If they sign up 6 days before Launch Day, they get 20% off. Finally, if they purchase from Launch Day up to 14 days afterward, they get 10% off. You can adjust this depending on the price of your product.
With webinars, you don’t even have to make up the scarcity, because there should really only be a limited number of slots for a webinar. It’s usually limited by the webinar software you use, plus you can’t guarantee that you can provide an optimal experience if there’s just too many participants. Plus points for drama if you can show how many people have already confirmed their slot for the webinar.
Unless your sales page is being read by a subscriber, your potential customer doesn’t know you from Adam. People are tired of being lied to, scammed, and taken advantage of. Take that burden of risk from their shoulders and put it on yours.
Simple. Make a 100% satisfaction guarantee, or their money back. The usual deadline for them to claim their refund is 30 days, which is usually enough for a customer to know that your product isn’t a great fit. If it’s a more expensive product, or if it’s an ecourse that spans 8 weeks, it makes more sense to extend it to 60 days.
Since we’re dealing with digital products, refunds are relatively less of a burden to you than physical products (where you have to think logistics like shipping and handling of returned items). So if a customer asks for their money back, just refund it (as long as it’s within the refund policy).
Don’t give your customer the runaround. Their great customer experience from start to finish, even if they asked for a refund, will make it likely that your customer will refer you to their network who do need your product.
A positive reputation is worth more than any refund.
Readers who don’t click your CTA don’t buy.
The purpose of all the fussing over your sales copy is to convince whoever’s reading your sales page to click this button.
Recall that I gave some tips for a great CTA here. However, your CTA for your sales page is a lot more high-stakes than asking a reader to subscribe to your email list. Below are some additional tips for effective CTA copy on your sales page:
For our ebook example, instead of the straightforward but oft-used “Buy Now,” try using “Teach Me To Write Now” or “I Want My Ebook Today.” Notice that these are written in the first person, not in the second person as is usual. Again, it’s an attempt at standing out and being unique.
Long copy? Don’t be afraid to place multiple CTA buttons throughout the page. Strategic places to place CTA buttons would be after the benefits and after testimonials, in case your reader is already convinced before coming to the end of the sales copy.
These multiple CTAs should point to a single action, though. On a blog post, you can have multiple CTAs with different actions, but on a sales page, you’ll want your reader to buy. That’s it. So don’t place a CTA that leads somewhere else on there.
Another reason to deviate from the usual “Buy Now” is while it tells your customers exactly what to do, it focuses on the fact that they have to open their wallets and part with their money. Which is what you’re trying to get them to do, but that’s beside the point. The point is, if you focus more on that they get, they’ll be more inclined to open that wallet.
It sounds like some psychological voodoo, and it probably is, but it works. Instead of focusing on what they need to do, focus on what they get.
The page after your customers pay for the product and download normally just says something like “Thank you for your purchase” with nothing else to do but click Close.
It’s such a waste! When customers land here, it means they’ve already purchased from you. At this point, an additional request (especially if it’s free) seems less of an imposition, and they’re more likely to say “yes” to anything you ask them to do.
Start with a heartfelt message of gratitude for their purchase. And then you can add something as simple as a CTA button to go back to your blog (not the sales page; that’s just annoying).
You can also place links to your top 3 blog posts. Or you can invite them to subscribe to your blog, if they haven’t already. You can even use this page for promotion. Place some social buttons on there and invite them to tell their friends about your product.
I’ve talked about the importance of blog design here. Just because we’re creating a content-centric sales page doesn’t mean we can disregard design. In fact, it may be crucial to the success of your sales page.
Here are some points to remember:
As with your blog pages, make sure that your sales page looks good on all devices.
It’s even more important for your sales page to cater to your readers who tend to skim headlines instead of reading them more thoroughly. Listing benefits? Use bullets. Introducing a new section? Use subheadings.
Make it easy on your readers to scroll down, absorb the information, and ultimately purchase your product.
Visuals are powerful. You’d want to use pictures of your product when you introduce it. If you can, get your test group’s photos for their testimonials (don’t forget to ask their permission to display their pictures!). Most of all, you’ll want to use your photo when you introduce yourself. It’s all about making the experience as authentic as possible.
There should be nowhere else to click on the page except your CTA and the close button. Your readers are already distracted. Don’t give them any more distractions.
Use whitespace and other visual elements to draw your readers’ eyes to your CTAs.
Using a color that you already used will just confuse and distract your reader. You want to make sure that your readers know exactly where to click when they’re ready to buy.
Don’t go extreme and make your button take over the page, but make it sizable enough to be noticed against the background.
If it looks like just another text field, even if it’s a contrasting color, your reader will probably just skip over it. Rounded edges, gradient colors, and clever use of shadows can help achieve a clickable look for your CTA.
If you’re already using Google Analytics to track your blog pages, you can also set it up to track your sales pages. This is outside the scope of this article, but you can refer to this article from Google Analytics Help if you want to know more.
A/B testing sounds like something you do with your blood, but it simply means creating two different variations of your sales page and see which version performs better, i.e., has more clicks on your CTAs. This is why it’s important to track your sales page.
You can test every element of your sales page, but remember that at any given testing period, test only one specific element. For example, if you want to test your CTA’s color, change only that and nothing else. Your CTA should still have the same size, same copy, same position. The rest of your sales copy should stay the same. This way, any difference in the rate of clicks to your CTA can be attributed solely to the CTA color and not anything else.
A/B testing should ideally be done throughout the entire launch process because this helps you determine the optimal elements of your sales page and retain those.
There’s nothing more frustrating than setting all this up, only to fail at critical junctions like clicking on the link on your sales email and having an error window pop up, or worse, clicking on your CTA and having nothing happen.
Test the flow yourself. Make sure the link to your sales page is working and is therefore ready to send to your mailing list. Send it out to yourself and some other testers and make sure it’s working on most devices.
More importantly, make sure that your CTA (or CTAs if you have more than one) works as expected. Make a test purchase yourself, or have testers make test purchases and then refund them. If you’re comfortable with code, you can also use PayPal Sandbox to test your purchase process without touching any live PayPal accounts.
Once this is all set up, you can officially start selling!