Alternatives to using Coupons

  • Jason@DPD
  • August 13, 2013
  • No Comments

We came across an interesting article today titled The Coupon Code is a Slap In the Face that was decidedly anti-coupon code.

From the article:

You want to pay for this product or service. You were prepared to pay the advertised price; now you know there is (or has been) a magical passcode that could get you a lower price. You fire up Google, and search: “product name, coupon code.” You get pages of results: mostly garbage, some scams, and a few legitimate coupon sites. Unfortunately, the codes listed on those sites are a year old: you missed your chance.

Why do web apps and retailers do this to their paying customers? At the moment you’re actually ready to buy something you get a slap in the face: ”You’re paying full price, but if you had our magic code you wouldn’t have to.”

We’re Not Anti-Coupon if Thats What You’re In To

Hey, we don’t judge! Coupon codes are valuable promotional tools for some vendors. DPD supports coupon codes with some powerful targeting controls like dates they’re active, specific products required for them to be used, item and cart total requirements, and more.

However, we understand and appreciate the school of thought that coupon codes are in fact bad customer service, so we wanted to share with you some alternatives to using coupon codes for promotions.

The Coupon Field Can be Disabled

First off, if you don’t use coupons and don’t want users stopping checkout to go Google around and try to find a coupon code because they see a coupon field in your cart you can turn it off.

1. Log in to DPD
2. For the store you want to disable coupons for, go to Theme in the left menu
3. Edit your current theme and select the “Cart” page options
4. Uncheck the box to display the coupon field and save.

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That’s it! Remember though, if you decide to offer a coupon in the future you’ll need to go back to your theme and re-enable the field.

Alternate Price Points

As suggested in the article:

[Or] instead of coupon codes, they should have separate referrer URLs for people with the code so you don’t feel like the loser who didn’t get invited to the party.

DPD is set up to support alternate price points, and any product in DPD can have an unlimited number of alternate price points without using additional product slots.

Price Points are just what they sound like: different prices you charge for the same product. For example, you might sell your eBook for a regular price of $20.00. Instead of giving a 25% off coupon out, you could create an alternate price point of $15.00 and put it on your special offer landing page. People who buy from the $20 and the $15 price point are buying the same thing, they’re just paying different prices just like with a coupon. They’ll both go through the same checkout and get the same product with the same flow, no coupon required.

You can create a special landing page on your website for a promotion. Then, generate your DPD buy button using a special price point and place it on your landing page. Everyone who buys through that button will get the special price point it was created for.

You can use price points in other ways too. One of the most popular uses for alternate price points is for special offers to your email subscribers. You don’t even need to create a special landing page. Send a newsletter with a HTML or text link to the special price point and your subscribers can start checkout at the special price directly from the email.

Another popular marketing strategy is to make “Special Offers” to marketing related forums. You can easily generate a bbcode button and insert an alternate price point button in to a special offer post on a forum (we even provide pre-formatted BBCode!), paste the link in to a tweet or Facebook post.. just about anywhere you can paste a link you can post a special offer price point.

To create an Alternate Price Point:

1. Log in to DPD
2. Go to Products in the left menu
3. Find the product you want to create the price point for in the list and click it’s Details link
4. On the product detail page, find the price points section and click the “Create new Price Point” link

Add Price Points

5. Set your special price and name for this price point. The alternate price point name will be shown instead of the product name in the cart. This is great for if you want to title it “My Product – List Special Offer!” or similar to customize it further.

Two Price Points Listed

That’s it. You can now generate an “Add to Cart” or “Buy Now” button using the special price point:

Generate buttons using alternate price points

Here is an example of that special price point created above:

Add to Cart

Alternate price points are especially suited to limited time promotions because of their behavior when a price point is deleted. When a customer tries to buy using a special price that no longer exists, DPD will automatically revert them to the default product price. This means that when you’re done offering the special price you can safely just delete it–Even if the special price point link exists out there on the internet, people who try to buy from it after the promotion has ended will be offered the product at the regular default price.

Money Saving Bundles / Combos

New Bundle Menu OptionIn DPD bundle products are made up of other products. The great thing about bundles for promotion is that they can have their own price that is completely unrelated to the price of the products in the bundle.

For example, lets say you sell a program for $49.99 and two add-on themes for $19.99 each. The price of these together is $89.97. You could create a coupon that looks for that specific price and the base program before applying a discount, or you could just create a money saving bundle at a special price.

An example promotion might be “Buy the program and two themes for $67.50 and save 25%!” where you would create a bundle that contains all three products and set the price at $67.50.

Just like any other product in DPD, you can always create additional price points as outlined above for bundled products.

To create a bundle is easy: Just go to “New Bundle” in the left menu.

Or Just Lower Your Product’s Price for a While

If all this is a bit complicated you can just lower the price of your product in DPD. Edit your product, set the price lower, and save. When you’re ready to charge more, raise the price again.

Unlike PayPal buttons and other systems, With DPD you don’t have to regenerate the button code when you change the price–the buttons link to the product in DPD so whatever the current price is when the customer clicks it is what we’ll charge.

Want to sell for $10 for a few weeks instead of $20? Go ahead. You don’t need to update your website code. Ready to switch back? No problem; just log in to DPD and raise the price of the product. Everything will update automatically.

The Bottom Line

DPD supports coupons. We understand lots of people love to offer coupons, and we recognize their value to merchants who use our system.

We also understand that some people just hate them, so we’ve done our best to give you the most flexible promotion platform we can we alternate price points, bundles, and seamless price updates.

3 Things Independent Writers Need to Successfully Launch an E-Book

  • Jason@DPD
  • October 25, 2012
  • No Comments

It's not over when the writing is done.
Every author, writer or content creator has the opportunity to directly interact with the target audience today. In the past, it’s been necessary to write something and submit it to publishing companies and hopefully catch a break at some point on the way to becoming a famous or at least a somewhat successful writer.

Doing the actual writing is a process in itself, but the end of the writing and editing process is only the middle of the journey. Today, the writer has a few more duties to take on in order to become successful.

Here are three things writers need to successfully launch an e-book.

1. An Interested Audience

You might think this is a bit backward in concept. After all, aren’t you supposed to do the writing and then the audience will form around the book?

That’s true, but only to a point.

In the past, the publisher did quite a bit of work to build audiences for writers. In fact, there were audiences that followed particular publishers because they trusted the publisher to bring in writers that would be appealing to audience members.

As an independent, though, you are responsible for building an interested audience.

The time to start building your audience is now. Even if you don’t have a product to release at this point it’s time to start building your audience.

Look to connect with people in social media. This can involve social networks like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, but even more important is an email list. Put up a free blog or a basic website and find ways to get people sign up for an email program.

Perhaps you can provide serials or short stories each week as your write your main novels. Or if you’re writing a how-to e-book you could create blog posts each week. This content can be used to build an audience before you release your full-length material.

A popular DPD feature is to create a free product, like a sample chapter or serial story, and collect customer info through the DPD free purchase process. Buyers give you their name and email and we send them a download link to your free content. You can then either email these prospective future customers through the DPD newsletter feature or export them to 3rd party mailing list managers like MailChimp, Aweber, and more.

2. Invested Partners

There are established audiences out there and by tapping into these audiences you can grow your audience faster.

Other writers have audiences. Publishers have audiences including online publishers such as blogs, review websites and more. Your goal is to find the people out there that have similar audiences to your target audience.

Most people think this is limited to starting an affiliate program and paying a commission. While money is a very good motivator for some people, that’s not the option to generate invested partners.

Another way to use partnerships to your benefit is to get others invested in the success of your e-book.

This could include quoting people in your book. Maybe you review something someone else created in your e-book. There are many ways to get people involved in the work. Building partners is a great way to build your audience faster and when more people are invested in your work the more people you’ll have (besides just yourself) to promote the e-book.

3. Automated Processes for Fulfillment

Any time you have the opportunity to automate a process you should take it. You’ll save time, which will be precious because you’ll want to continue writing and creating while building your audience, which takes lots of work especially early on.

The fulfillment process is important. You want to make sure that when someone is ready to make a purchase of your e-book that it’s a smooth process. You’ve already put the work in to get them to the point of purchase that any issue at this point will be extremely frustrating to you. At best it will be a mild inconvenience for your customer and at worst you’ll lose the sale.

An automated checkout and digital delivery process like DPD will handle everything from collecting customer information, calculating the taxes, and processing the payment to sending the customer a unique, secure download link for your e-book.

If you’re ready to sell your eBook then go get your DPD 30-Day free trial and see how easy it is to get started.

Delivering Media to Mobile Devices

  • Jason@DPD
  • July 8, 2012
  • 1 Comment

Here at DPD we often get asked what is the best format to deliver a file to Mobile Devices. These include Android, Blackberry, and iOS devices like the iPad, iPhone, and iPod.

Delivering Files to Apple Devices

The bottom line: You can’t without special apps.

iOS devices, including the iPhone, iPad, and iPod do not have a user accessible file system. It’s not like a PC or Mac where you just download the file with the browser to your desktop. There is no way for a user of an Apple mobile device to “download” or “save” a file to their device from the internet without a specific app that is associated with that file type and includes the ability to save it.  

For example, if buyers have iBooks and you’re selling a compatible PDF, they’ll probably be able to save it (if they know how).   If you’re delivering a zip file that contains a PDF, chances are they won’t be able to open it unless they have an app that handles zip files and allows them to save and open them.

There are free apps available in the iTunes App Store like iDownloader Pro Free that will let you download just about anything, but there is no guarantee that buyers will have an app like that on their device or that once they download the file they’ll have an app that will play it!  As you can guess, delivery gets complicated when every single file type needs to have an associated app.

This is not a limitation of DPD. This is a limitation of Apple that affects every single web page, shopping cart provider, and content delivery service on the internet. With DPD the user will be able to stream compatible media types immediately to their iOS device, but they will never be able to save directly to the device without an associated app.

Because of the above reasons, iOS devices only have one option to get the media on to their device that works 100% of the time- to download it to their PC or Mac and use the iTunes proprietary system to move the media over to the device.

Delivering Files to Android and BlackBerry Devices

Android and BlackBerry devices can save files directly to the device. Your only considerations with these devices are to

1. Deliver a file that is compatible for playback

2. Be aware that the download speeds of mobile data connections to these devices (3G, 4G, whatever) will be slower in most cases than home or office broadband connections, and encode / pack your files with this in mind (aim for a smaller size).

So What’s the Best Format for Mobile Devices?

As a vendor, if you want to deliver files that work with the vast majority of mobile devices, including Android, BlackBerry, and iOS devices (once they are transferred through iTunes to the device from a computer) you should deliver the file in a format that can be played by the device. Below are the most cross-compatible formats for all mobile devices:

Documents:  PDF, epub, mobi (it really depends on the reading app they’re using)

Video: MP4 – H.264 Video / AAC Audio

Audio: MP3 – All bitrates are acceptable, including VBR

References:

Comparison of e-book Formats: Supporting Platforms
iOS Supported Media Types

Android Supported Media Types
BlackBerry Supported Media Types

DPD Loves Olark

  • Jason@DPD
  • December 8, 2010
  • No Comments

This week we added a new feature to our website- live chat through Olark. The verdict so far? We love it. We don’t often write about other services here, but we’re really pleased and think that live chat could be a powerful tool to help our vendors with their sales and conversions so we’re going to tell you our experience thus far-

Olark has a different approach to live chat than many other services- they use the common XMPP protocol for their chat servers instead of proprietary software. For those not up to date on chat protocols, the XMPP protocol is the same thing that Jabber, Google Talk, Facebook Chat, and a host of other chat services use. XMPP support is built in to every multi-protocol chat client and is a snap to set up.

Here at DPD that’s pretty important- I’m on Windows 7, Jacob is on a Mac, and Scott gets the geek badge for developing on Ubuntu. We needed something that would work on all platforms and even our Android phones- Olark fit the bill.

Installation

Olark provides you with a bit of javascript to place in the footer of your site. Thats it. It took 30 seconds to integrate Olark with DPD, and 25 of those were waiting for the editor to open.

Client Setup and Usage

Using Olark with Pidgin
Olark integrates with your chat client like any other service and gives you interesting user information
On my Windows desktop I use Pidgin to keep in contact with the other DPD guys as well as friends and family. Olark integrates with Pidgin using the XMPP protocol as you can see in the screenshot to the right. Visitors to your website are shown with some basic information- where they’re from, what page their looking at, what page referred them to the site, and how long they’ve been browsing around on DPD.

We did a little programmer magic using Olark’s API to automatically display usernames for logged in DPD users to help us be even more effective with support (the logged in visitor’s usernames are blurred in the screenshot to protect our users privacy).

When a user sends a live chat request, it broadcasts a message to all the operators who are online and not “away.” Any operator can reply and “claim” the chat, and if needed you can transfer them to someone else with a simple !transfer command in the chat window. You can also be proactive and pick someone from the list to initiate a chat from your end- you just open a chat window and start typing like you’re sending a message to your Aunt Ruth.

Customization

Olark Customization Options
Olark gives you several themes and lets you further customize them
Olark lets you customize the chat box to your hearts content. They have several pre-made themes, and you can further customize the available themes to your liking.

There are a lot of extra customization features too- You can customize your offline message (as we’ve done with a link to our knowledge base), specify what email to send offline messages to, window behavior and options, and more.

Reports, Transcripts, and More

In addition to integrating with Google Analytics, Olark has built in stats from Mixpanel that show how many visitors have been to your site while you were online, how many you missed when you were offline, and how many chats you had for a given time period. This is great for figuring out the best times to offer live support!

Olark Stats
Olark's built-in stats show engagement numbers

Olark can also optionally record transcripts and email them to a specified address, great for quality control, follow-up, and supervisory functions.

Olark’s Hatchery is their experimental playground with some neat stuff in the works- you can optionally enable an auto-translate plugin that uses Google Translate or check out some new experimental themes. It’s great to use a service that is under active development!

Support

We haven’t really had any problems with the service, but Olark has a well documented API that let Jacob add our user data to the chat widget in minutes. For the one question I had, I chatted up Olark on their site and spoke to Zach, one of the Olark founders who promptly answered my question. He seems like a pretty swell guy too 🙂

Olark does have premium email support for paid users and I expect that will be just as great as the rest of our Olark experience when we need it.

The Verdict? We love it.

There are a lot of things we like about Olark– it’s pretty awesome to see the visitors on your site, where they came from, and where they are in the world in real time. The live chat works well and the extreme ease of setting it up in our own chat clients, with no annoying software, gets bonus points in our book. We’ve generated new happy customers with the live chat feature, and thats really the bottom line.

Olark plans with unlimited conversations start at $15/mo and they even offer a free plan limited to 20 conversations a month so you can try it out and see if you like it. This is one service we wholeheartedly recommend to our vendors and we bet it will improve your conversions too.

DPD is not affiliated with Olark in any way, we’re just happy customers 🙂

Internet Marketing Techniques for Selling Music

  • Jason@DPD
  • October 29, 2010
  • No Comments

Seamus Anthony, a Melbourne, Australia-based musician and DPD user has written a great article on taking advantage of internet marketing techniques to promote music as an independent artist.

He talks about not only getting more exposure for your music, but also making sales:

[quote]Classic Internet marketing is not usually the kind of thing that musicians tend to consider appropriate for promoting their art. Yet to me, giving it a go makes perfect sense because getting more Facebook “likes” or YouTube views is one thing, and an important thing, but it’s not a sale.[/quote]

He also mentions DPD as a platform for not only selling your music, but also as a content delivery network for distributing your free track downloads.

Give it a look: Do Internet Marketing Techniques Work for Selling Music?

The Inside Scoop on Product Size, Price, and Sales

  • Jason@DPD
  • September 17, 2010
  • No Comments

Here at DPD we maintain a content delivery and ecommerce network that delivers thousands of products. This generates a mountain of data on product sizes, product prices, sales volume, most popular product types, etc.

We’re serious about our privacy policy though, and we never share or sell sales information about any vendor or their product performance to 3rd parties. We do however use anonymous sales and product data to plan our infrastructure and future features to to provide the best possible service to our vendors.

This data includes things like product size, product price, product type (video, pdf, etc.), and how many sales they’ve had. This helps us gauge our storage and bandwidth requirements and is a crucial tool for us to make sure we have enough capacity to meet demand.

In this post we’d like to share a few of those anonymous product statistics with you for fun and informational purposes. For the sake of simplicity we’ll look only at products that are being sold in US Dollars (which accounts for the vast majority of DPD products).

Largest Products

First up, we’ll look at the top 10 largest products being delivered with DPD along with their price and how many times they’ve been purchased. As stated above, to keep this anonymous we’ve stripped all product names and IDs and we’re just looking at the raw size and transaction data.

 Size (MB)   Product Price   Purchase Count 
3141 49.00 122
2882 48.50 572
2882 97.00 2038
2882 48.50 58
2116 19.95 87
2048 67.00 58
2048 49.00 97
2025 29.00 421
1722 15.95 3
1695 39.95 11

Almost without exception these large 1, 2, and 3GB+ files are all video products. These might be training videos or independent films for example.

Before we make any determinations or correlations, lets look at a little more data.

Most Expensive Products

Next we’ll look at the top 10 most expensive products in our system. This table includes data for single item products, not any combos that might be made up of other collections of products at a higher price.

 Size (MB)   Product Price   Purchase Count 
4 $4,795.00 1
$1,000.00 20
2 $999.00 1
1 $995.00 1
2 $699.00 97
3 $500.00 1
70 $499.99 1
1631 $498.00 3
2 $495.00 4
$397.00 3

You’ll notice in this table that there are a couple products without a size. These are keycode products where the vendor is selling a software key, more than likely to activate a shareware or trail version of software or to unlock access to a subscription area on a website.

With one exception these most expensive products are all very small, which typically means the product is a PDF ebook, spreadsheet, or other non-multimedia document. You’ll also notice that the purchase count averages very low for expensive products.

Best Selling products

Finally, we’ll look at the data for the most popular products in the DPD system. These products are ordered by the number of sales, not the net sales amount.

 Size (MB)   Product Price   Purchase Count 
1 $4.99 4394
$79.00 3454
5 $39.95 3360
$8.04 2982
3 $29.00 2922
3 $57.00 2619
1 $10.00 2418
9 $19.99 2199
2882 $97.00 2038
11 $25.00 1756

The thing we find most striking about this final table are the small product sizes. These files are almost all PDF products, scripts, small programs, website themes, or other non-multimedia products.

There is also a fairly wide range of product prices in this list- they range anywhere from $4.99 to $97.99. It’s interesting that the #2 product at $7.99 outsells the #4 product which is almost 1/10 the price. However, its important to take sales volume in to account when looking at pricing your own product.

For example:

4394 x $4.99 = $21,926.06

2982 x $8.04 = $23,975.28

1756 x $25.00 = $43,900.00

While cheaper products do tend to sell more copies, net income definitely favors the higher priced product.

Also, from looking at this information one might conclude that information products such as PDFs and other smaller products tend to sell more than large multimedia files like video. Of course, without knowing the specific products and their marketing efforts it would all just be conjecture.

You can see right off the bat why DPD can afford to give so much more product storage space compared to our competitors- while we do store many HUGE files, the most popular files in our system are relatively small, allowing us to average the total bandwidth and disk space costs and provide a better value to everyone. Number #9 on the list? We lose money on that guy every month. Thats ok though as long as everyone doesn’t have a wildly popular 2.8GB product 🙂

We’re developers here at DPD and we love analyzing raw technical and sales data. We’ve purposely left this post open to interpretation, and we’re interested in what you think.

Drop us a comment and tell us what conclusions you’ve come up with from looking at this data!

50% Off Hosting Sale at FatCow

  • Jason@DPD
  • May 6, 2010
  • No Comments

Just a quick note to let DPD users that FatCow Hosting is having a 50% off sale this month- only $3.67/mo for full featured website hosting.

We’ve only heard good things about FatCow, and their plans follow the same “no gotchas” flat rate pricing model that DPD does. If anyone is looking for a cheap and reliable host for their sales site or store this is a great deal!

FatCow Hosting 50% Off Sale

Smashing Magazine: 15 Common Mistakes in E-Commerce Design

  • Jason@DPD
  • October 8, 2009
  • No Comments

Smashing Magazine has a great post on common mistakes made in ecommerce design.

Some key mistakes that people who sell downloads in particular might suffer from:

  • Hiding contact information
  • Long and confusing checkout process
  • Requiring an account to order
  • A poor shopping cart design
  • Confusing navigation
  • Not including store and shipping policies

Luckily DPD addresses many of these points- checkout using the DPD storefront system is quick and easy with only 3 pages- cart, payment, and delivery. No account is required to order using the DPD system, and the DPD shopping cart follows Smashing’s recommendation to load an item in the cart right on the product page without taking the customer to another site or page.

In the course of supporting vendors we look at a lot of sales sites. The most common problems we see amongst DPD vendors are lack of contact information and store / shipping policies.

Lack of Contact Information

Just because you don’t need the address and contact information of your customers to “ship” their download doesn’t mean they don’t want to know who it is they’re giving their money to. Making your contact information visible will go a long way to increasing buyer trust. We understand that you might be working out of your home (probably 80% of DPD vendors are home based with no actual store or business address) but that doesn’t mean you have to share your home address and phone number. There are always web based PO Boxes and web based phone services that can be had for as little as $9.99 a month. At the very least you should give an email address or web based contact form.

Store and Shipping Policies

DPD provides for instant delivery to paying customers. This is one of the strongest selling points for download products and one not enough vendors exploit- they buy it now they get it now! This is something that can be made in to a key selling point and benefit of buying from you- not some boring policy left off your site.

Check out the full article at Smashing Magazine and see if any of these points apply to you: Smashing Magazine: 15 Common Mistakes in E-Commerce Design