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A Real Life Case Study in Selling with Digital Downloads

February 20, 2013
Easy Digital Downloads Case Study

Back in October 2012 I reviewed the WordPress plugin Easy Digital Downloads here on WPExplorer. At the time I had a good tinker with the plugin and concluded that it was the best solution for selling digital downloads directly from your blog that I was aware of.

Fast forward four months and I am ready to put my money where my mouth is. I released an information product in late October and up until a few days ago had been selling it using E-Junkie. However, that all recently changed when I switched to using Easy Digital Downloads to handle the selling of my online freelance writing guide.

In this post I am going to provide you with a real-life case study of my implementation of Easy Digital Downloads so you can see exactly what is involved in the process of selling digital products via your WordPress blog.

Why Did I Switch To Easy Digital Downloads?

I should start by saying that I wasn’t particularly displeased with E-Junkie. Quite frankly, for $5 a month you can’t really complain. It’s a decent option.

However, I felt that I wanted better than decent. The interface isn’t particularly user-friendly and the reporting system is a little basic. Easy Digital Downloads had been in the back of my mind ever since I had reviewed it but I was a bit too busy to handle what I figured would be a slightly fiddly transfer process. I was sold on the plugin — I just needed to find the time.

Fortunately I did, which brings me to this case study!

Setting Up The Easy Digital Downloads Plugin

I was concerned that getting Easy Digital Downloads up and running was going to be a hassle, but nothing could be further from the truth. In reality the plugin is practically good to go as soon as you install it — you would certainly be well-served by doing some fine-tuning, but nothing major at all.

Once installed,ย Easy Digital Downloads appears appropriately named within your sidebar:

Easy Digital Downloads menu options

The number of options available may initially seem overwhelming but the interface is actually very user-friendly. Before I started adding products and initiated the switch, I checked over the Settings which is split into six tabs:

Easy Digital Download Settings tabs screenshot

The only thing I did at this stage was enable test mode, select my payment gateways and enter my PayPal email address. By default Easy Digital Download comes with PayPal and a “Test Payment” option (the use of which is obvious). This is all I need at the moment as everything went through PayPal over at E-Junkie, but there is the option to add additional payment gateways with extensions.

I then added my product of which there are actually three versions (and price points). This was a piece of cake — I just entered a name then uploaded the file and set a price and download limit:

Easy Digital Downloads New Download screen

That’s it! Once I saved my download I was pretty much good to go — all that was left for me to do was add a shortcode for the Purchase button in my sales page.

Easy Digital Downloads makes this easy by adding a button above the rich text editor in your New Post/Page screens:

The Insert Download button

When you click the button there are just a few simple pieces of information to complete:

The Insert Download screen

That’s it! Once you’re finished the button will appear on your sales page in whatever form you determined:

A screenshot of the Buy Now button in action

It is fair to say that the whole process was a lot easier than I thought I would be.

The Purchaser’s Journey Through My Site

To be quite honest, I thought it was all a littleย too easy. I was keen to explore the journey that any customer would take through my site when purchasing my information product. Fortunately doing so is really simple with the Test Payment option enabled — you can test the process as many times as you would like.

I soon discovered that Easy Digital Downloads creates a number of default pages when it is installed so that the checkout/payment process is ready to go straight away. Technically you do not need to touch a thing in order for the checkout process to work once you have added downloads and payment buttons, but it may well be wise to tailor those pages in order to make things a little more personal to your site.

Doing so is a piece of cake — those additional pages can be found alongside all other pages on your site and can be edited in the same manner as any other:

Easy Digital Downloads pages

Each page contains a short code that provides the link between the page and the dynamically created content. All I did was add a little bit of text before this short code to get the desired result, so this…

A screenshot of the Checkout page

…became this:

A screenshot of the Checkout page

Once I was happy with the process by which a customer would purchase an item on my site I turned to the purchase confirmation email that they would receive. This is another area in which Easy Digital Downloads excels as it allows you to customize this email to your heart’s content with a number of dynamic fields. Here’s what I ended up with:

A screenshot of the purchase confirmation email

Which produces an email like this in reality:

A screenshot of the purchase confirmation email

Simple yet effective.

Reports & Statistics

I don’t have anything in the way of reports to show you (since I only have screenshots of one day’s worth of sales) but reporting is one of the main reasons I decided to make the switch from E-Junkie to Easy Digital Downloads. Having all of your reports within the WordPress dashboard is extremely convenient and the reports themselves are really nicely presented.

You can check out data in list format (and click on each product for further information):

A screenshot of purchases

Or observe trends over time with reports:

A screenshot of an Easy Digital Download report

It’s all pretty slick and a vast improvement on my E-Junkie experience. I can’t wait to dig deeper into these reports when I have some more data to play with.

There’s Much More Behind the Scenes

That pretty much wraps up the simple steps I took to get Easy Digital Downloads up and running — the whole process didn’t take me any longer than 30 minutes (of which a lot was curious tinkering). But although Easy Digital Downloads is easy enough to set up, there is a lot of depth in the options available to you so that you can tweak things to your liking. I’m not sure there are many (if any) ways in which you would like to offer digital downloads via your WordPress blog that Easy Digital Downloads can’t handle — Pippin really seems to have thought of everything.

There’s a bunch of stuff I haven’t even mentioned such as discount codes, categories and tags and more settings, but it’s all there for you to discover for yourself when you download Easy Digital Downloads at no cost (yep — it’s free!).

Furthermore, the plugin is regularly updated and as I mentioned above, there are a whole swathe of extensions that you can use to increase its functionality. I have already installed the Affiliates Pro extension and will be taking a closer look at other extensions to see if they can be of help to me too.

Having now installed and set up Easy Digital Downloads, I’m can’t think of any reason why I would go with an alternative option. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking to sell digital downloads via their blog.

Article by Tom Ewer guest author
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  1. AJ Clarke | WPExplorer

    I’ve had the pleasure of working with Easy Digital Downloads setting up a store. It’s a freaking amazing plugin. Everything is well thought out, there is extensions to suit all your needs and of course the developer Pippin is a super cool dude!

  2. Matt

    It truly is a great plugin, and such a breeze to heavily modify, I’m redesigning my website to make use of it.

  3. Pippin Williamson

    Thank you so much for the case study, Tom! That’s great to hear it’s worked out so well for you!

  4. Robert

    I have used e-junkie cart before, and as you said, Easy Digital Dowload is much better ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Mary Schaefer

    It was so fortunate that I found your post. I was completely psyched out by all the settings options. Your post stepped me through this and I had my product setup before I knew it! In fact, I was shocked it was already done with so few steps. Kudos to the plug-in folks (Pippin) and you for convincingly demonstrating its ease-of-use.

  6. Casey Choate

    Awesome post…I was looking into this recently. Can I use my own buttons, or do I have to use the ones that EDD provides? I like using my good old big yellow and red belcher buttons that are usually on long sales pages.

    • AJ Clarke | WPExplorer

      Hi Casey, to use your own buttons you would just have to tweak your site CSS to make the EDD buttons look like yours.

  7. Nemanja

    Great article and an awesome plugin – saved me a lot of time ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Tom Ewer

      Glad you like it Nemanja!

  8. Leslie

    Thank you so much for this post! I found it via google when researching a way to set up a client’s downloads for purchase. This plugin is quite amazing-I can’t believe it’s free. Your tutorial helped me with the learning curve. I love the test version where I was able to see exactly what the process looked like to a customer. That helped me see what needed to be tweaked to make it look exactly the way I wanted. Thanks, again!

    • Tom Ewer

      Thanks Leslie! Glad it helped ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Myleen

    Thanks Tom. Very good walk through article. So the Easy Digital Downloads is free but the add-ons is where the plugin owner makes their dollars?

    • AJ Clarke | WPExplorer

      That is correct ๐Ÿ˜‰ And Pippin does very well doing so!

  10. selectiveformToure

    Is it possible to only assign the plugin to specific post category or custom post type? I don’t wanna see the insert download tag on every single post or page out there.

    • AJ Clarke

      The plugin creates its own custom post type “Downloads” so you won’t see it everywhere.

  11. Ryan Nagy

    Thank you. I have been using E-Junkie for years and I have made a lot of money with it. But the checkout process is not responsive and I am losing sales from people on iphones, android and tablets etc. How does EasyDigital Download look on an iPhone? I tried to find something on your site to purchase but I could not find anything.

    cheers! Thanks a bunch.

    • AJ Clarke

      The way it looks on the mobile devices really depends on the theme you are using. Each Easy Digital Downloads theme looks differently – I would say it’s pretty decent. But of course, because you own the site you can always tweak it to look exactly how you want via CSS ๐Ÿ˜‰ Or pay someone to tweak it for you if you don’t know how.

  12. Ryan Nagy

    Well, I will have to amend my comment above. I did find some websites, including the developer’s site and buying from an iphone was quite easy. If one has a responsive wordpress theme the Easy Download plugin seems to work responsively as well. Though I am unclear if it is that way “out of the box.” I will contact them. Thanks again.


  13. DMartify

    Hello AJ Clarke,

    I gone through your article and read all the detailing and you provided it in right way. As we are the experienced platform using EDD for our market place.

    DMartify is the marketplace where anyone can sell, find, rate and buy quality digital items such as theme, template, graphics and scripts all in one trusted place.

    We are very happy and thanked to @Pippin Williamson and his team for this plugin, we can easily manage downloads, version, licences, Invoicing and payment.

    In just 1 month we are getting very good response from digital product buyers & sellers also.


  14. julia slike

    I was just googling how to do this and found your case study, thank you so much! I’m going to try this. I have some digital marketing pieces I want to offer!

  15. Tom

    Glad you liked it Julia! ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. L.c. Giroux

    Your “tutorial” was hugely helpful in getting buy links set up on my author site. I was feeling overwhelmed but this simplified everything and now I feel confident that my readers will have a good experience using it. Thanks!

    • Tom Ewer

      You’re welcome L.c!

  17. Wooexpert

    This is one of the best eCommerce solutions that I have tried. I was using woocommerce but have had many issues so decided to look into alternatives.

  18. Jigar Shah

    Really Wonderful Case Study and I would like to say one thing about Easy Digital Downloads is that it’s “awesome”. EDD is really the better option than WooCommerce. EDD has really changed the face of the E-Commerce market. Really fantastic blog to understand the incredibility of EDD. Well Written….

  19. Rohit Singh

    Thank you so much can we setup digital download via PayPal only?

    • Kyla

      I’m not aware of a way to do that. I suppose you could create a Paypal Buy Now Button but you’d still have to use some other system to send buyers their download after you’ve received a payment confirmation email from Paypal.

      In my opinion using a plugin like Easy Digital Downloads or WooCommerce is much simpler. Both plugins have options for digital items so all you’d need to do is edit the plugin settings to make PayPal the only accepted method of payment.

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