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5 Best Ways to Sell Digital Products

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Key Takeaways

  • E-commerce platforms provide comprehensive solutions for managing digital product catalogs and transactions, offering convenience and security but often taking a percentage of each sale.
  • E-commerce marketplaces offer exposure to a broad audience, handle support and security, but competition is fierce, and differentiation can be challenging.
  • Selling digital products on your website grants control over branding and pricing but requires existing traffic sources and entails security risks.
  • Paid advertising on platforms like Google Ads and social media can provide immediate visibility and targeted traffic, though it may require a significant investment.
  • Social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram can be effective for selling digital products through authentic and relatable content, even without a large following, but may come with challenges like toxicity and content fatigue.
Your situation in online businessE-commerce PlatformE-commerce MarketplaceYour websitePaid advertisingSocial media platforms
You have an audience (social media, email list, SEO).xx
You don’t have an audience.xx
You are selling a low-cost product (niche-dependent).xxxx
You are selling a high-cost product (niche dependent).xxxx
You like to build a brand and have complete control.xxx
You just want to make money online and have a set-it-and-forget-it business model.x
You have a website but no audience.xx
Table showing the best way to sell digital products based on the situation you have with your online business.

E-commerce Platform

An e-commerce platform serves as the content management system (CMS) and commerce engine for websites, facilitating the management of product catalogs (in this case, digital products), transaction records, and user interactions with online retailers.

E-commerce platform caters to businesses of all sizes, whether large or small, engage in B2B or B2C transactions, and offer tangible goods, digital goods, or remote services.

Popular e-commerce platforms to sell digital products on:

Pros

  • The platform handles file management (upload, download, storing).
  • Customer data and security protocols are maintained by the platform.
  • The platform handles product delivery.
  • The platform performs product and material presentation.

Cons

  • The platform can take a considerable cut from each sale.
  • You need search traffic or paid traffic to make sales.
  • You might not be able to differentiate your brand from the platform’s brand.

E-commerce Marketplace

An e-commerce marketplace is a website or a platform where various brands and products from multiple vendors, shops, or individuals are featured and available for purchase in one centralized site.

The main difference between an e-commerce marketplace and an e-commerce platform is that e-commerce marketplaces have a function enabling customers to search for various digital products.

E-commerce marketplaces can have millions of visitors per month, which creates organic search traffic for the various brands selling their digital products on the marketplace.

Popular e-commerce marketplaces to sell digital products on:

Pros

  • E-commerce marketplaces can have millions of visitors per month, which generates organic traffic to your store and products.
  • E-commerce marketplaces usually handle customer support, security protocols, product delivery, and product hosting.
  • E-commerce marketplace is an excellent choice when you don’t have a following or an audience in social media, for example.
  • Ease of use and enables you to focus on product creation.

Cons

  • E-commerce marketplaces can take a significant cut from each sale.
  • Your brand is hard to differentiate from the e-commerce marketplace brand.
  • Your product and brand are competing against millions of others.
  • Your product’s price point can be limited to a certain price range.
  • Getting visibility to your digital product can be hard without paid advertising.

Website

Selling digital products on your website provides a direct and personalized platform for you to showcase and monetize your digital offerings. This approach completely empowers you to control branding, pricing, and customer interactions.

By leveraging your website, you can tailor the user experience, implement various marketing strategies, and build a loyal customer base. Additionally, selling on a personal website often offers flexibility in payment processing and distribution methods, allowing greater customization and potentially higher profit margins than third-party e-commerce marketplaces or platforms.

Best ways to sell digital products and digital downloads on your website:

  • Embed e-commerce marketplace products:
    • Integrate clickable buttons into your website.
    • Leverage marketplace audience and website branding.
    • Use the provided JavaScript or HTML code.
  • Embed e-commerce platform products:
    • Add products using e-commerce platform embedding.
    • Ensure steady targeted search traffic.
    • Use JavaScript or HTML code for integration.
  • Use website-building platforms:
    • Employ website builders with built-in e-commerce features.
    • Simplified setup with minimal technical coding.
    • Lacks customization and control.
  • Use WordPress plugins:
    • Enhance WordPress site functionalities with plugins.
    • No coding required.
    • Notable plugins: WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads, MemberPress, BigCommerce.
  • Build a custom e-commerce platform:
    • A lot of capital is needed.

Related article: How to create a website to sell digital products

Pros

  • You control branding, product delivery, product presentation, etc.
  • Flexibility to do many things best for your specific online business situation.
  • You have the best level of sales tracking, optimization, and analytics.
  • It enables you to sell digital products at various price points.

Cons

  • Prone to website hacks and DDoS attacks.
  • Product delivery can become expensive or difficult to manage.
  • You need to have a social media following, email list, organic search traffic, or other type of traffic to your website to make sales (if you don’t want to use paid advertising).

Paid Advertising

Paid advertising is a marketing strategy where businesses or individuals pay for their advertisements to be displayed to a specific audience. When it comes to selling digital products, paid advertising can be a highly effective method to drive targeted traffic and boost sales.

Platforms like Google Ads, Meta Ads, Pinterest Ads, TikTok Ads, and others allow advertisers to create and display ads to users who are more likely to be interested in their digital products based on demographics, interests, and online behavior.

This targeted approach minimizes wasteful spending and maximizes the chances of converting ad viewers into customers. Paid advertising can be particularly advantageous for promoting digital products as it provides immediate visibility and can be closely monitored and adjusted for optimal results, ensuring a cost-effective way to reach potential buyers.

Popular paid advertising platforms:

Pros

  • Immediate visibility for your products.
  • Enables you to scale your digital product business.
  • You can target specific customer segments, customer avatars, and market segments, and be specific to whom to advertise your product.

Cons

  • You might have to spend a significant amount of money to get conversion rates up.
  • Works best for higher ticket items or print-on-demand products.
  • Advertising platforms can suspend your ads account for various reasons.

Related articles:

Social Media Platforms

Social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram have revolutionized the way consumers make purchasing decisions. These platforms offer users unprecedented exposure to products and services as they consume a vast amount of content quickly.

What drives users to trust and act upon creators’ endorsements on these platforms is often attributed to “source credibility.” Users are more inclined to purchase if they perceive a creator as competent and credible, seeking an authentic fit between the influencer and the product or service.

For example, a relatable stay-at-home mom endorsing a cleaning product can create a strong sense of connection and trust among her followers (source). Authenticity is key, especially when it comes to organic endorsements, where creators genuinely share products or services that have enriched their lives.

This authenticity is particularly potent in niche markets, where micro-influencers, with their passion and specialized knowledge (sharing micro-learning content), can establish deeper emotional connections with their audience.

Video content, which allows viewers to see, hear, and connect with creators on a personal level, enhances credibility, as it creates an environment of personal disclosure and fosters a sense of trust akin to a close friend or family member.

Combining authenticity, relatability, and video-based content makes social media an influential and effective platform for selling digital products.

Popular social media platforms to sell digital products on:

Pros

  • You don’t need an audience or a following to start selling digital products. Each post can act as a lead magnet to your digital product.
  • You can start small and grow as you produce content for your selected platform.
  • Create meaningful relationships and community with your followers, which can increase product sales as a by-product.
  • Social media platforms tend to have high conversion rates when selling digital products (source).

Cons

  • Social media platforms can quickly show you the toxicity they have.
  • It can take a lot of time to build a following.
  • Posting content constantly can quickly lead to burnout and to a content treadmill.

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Okuha

Digital Artist

I’m a digital artist who is passionate about anime and manga art. My true artist journey pretty much started with CTRL+Z. When I experienced that and the limitless color choices and the number of tools I could use with art software, I was sold. Drawing digital anime art is the thing that makes me happy among eating cheeseburgers in between veggie meals.

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