When I started writing this guide, I wanted to show four ways you could deliver a free digital download using your own hosting and third party platforms.
The more I wrote about delivering a digital download, I kept asking myself all the other steps in the process and what questions you might be asking after you’ve finished.
How do customers download the file?
How do I link the files to my download buttons?
How do I link my opt-in form to my confirmation page?
What emails should I send out?
With those questions in my head, I couldn’t leave you hanging…
So, in this guide you’ll find over 2,000 words and seven how-to videos, and by the end, you’ll know how to create, store and deliver a digital download using OptimizePress.
One Of Our Top Features
Delivering digital downloads is a top feature for OptimizePress customers and it can have an enormous effect on how successful you are at growing your email list.
Your digital download could be:
- video files
- keynote presentations
- kindle files
- and many other different types.
The majority of downloads fall under the ebook/PDF category. Any type of report, blueprint, white paper, checklist or guide that has been converted to PDF format.
There are two types of digital downloads:
Free – Free digital downloads are mostly used for list building or company resources that can easily be accessed and delivered quickly to the customer. These file types would mostly be PDF or video.
Paid – Paid digital downloads are files people have purchased. They could be PDF files, video files, Word files, Excel files, Apple Books files, Kindle files and in most cases, these files are usually protected via third party services or by using plugins like OptimizeMember.
Whether you’re technical or not, we’re about to show you four ways you can store and deliver a free digital download using your own hosting or third party application.
In this guide you will learn:
- The quickest way to create a basic PDF
- What Landing page and Thank You page we use
- 4 Ways to store your digital file online for download
- How to link your digital file to your Download page
- The opt-in and download process
Time to roll up your sleeves, shut down social media and get cracking.
The Quickest Way To Create A Basic PDF
Here’s one of the easiest ways you can create a basic PDF file using free software. If you’re stuck at this point in your marketing journey, stop everything, follow the next few steps and watch the video below:
1. Create a Google Account if you don’t already have one: (https://accounts.google.com)
2. Login to Google Drive: (https://drive.google.com)
3. Create new Google Docs document:
4. Write out your ebook, report, checklist, blueprint, white paper or whatever your lead magnet is.
5. Once complete select File > Download As > choose PDF Document (.pdf)
You now have a PDF. Easy…right?
Here’s a little video showing the steps above in more detail.
[Video] How To Create A PDF
Now to go one step further than everyone else, jump over to Fiverr and have someone turn your text document into a better looking and more professional report.
A bit of colour, some icons, page numbers, header and footer can add some value to your report. It will stand out among the other plain boring text reports and your users won’t feel embarrassed to share it with their friends.
Here’s my 5 minute attempt at making a cover. The internal pages would use a similar coloured border and nice fonts:
Icon credit to Freepik.
Build Your Landing Page & Thank You Page
The WordPress landing page is very basic for this tutorial, nothing fancy. We used the following Sales Page template for both the landing page and thank you page. You could use any template from our MarketPlace or vendor spotlight like this one, this one or this one. Plenty to choose from.
The template is included with OptimizePress and can be found under the Sale Page section in Create New Page.
The video below walks you through connecting the landing page to ActiveCampaign, choosing the email list in the opt-in form and showing you the thank you page with social sharing icons.
Be sure to watch how we use the social sharing icons to drive traffic back to our landing page.
[Video] Landing Page & Thank You Page
Make Your Thank You Page Engaging
Many people make the mistake of NOT using their Thank You page to engage with a new potential customer. People need instructions and also like confirmation. We want to know our email has been accepted, what happens next, and how long do we wait?
Use the Thank You page as the starter point in your customers journey. Give confirmation to the subscriber and some instructions to encourage users to share their free gift on social media.
Remember how we use social sharing to drive more traffic back to your landing page? If you missed that then go back and watch the video above.
Try to include these elements on your Thank You page:
- Confirmation the user has successfully opted in (Thank You! / Congratulations)
- Steps on what will happen next (Check your inbox)
- Download your gift here (Download link / button)
- Optional – Tell the user what to do (Share with friends)
- Social sharing icons (Linking to landing page!)
Now we move on to storing the PDF file online.
4 Ways To Store Your Digital File Online For Download
You have created your PDF and now you’re ready to start growing your email list. It’s time to get the PDF uploaded and stored online so your customers can easily download it without any technical issues.
We’re going to use any of the options below to store the file online. I use the term ‘storing’ as the place where the file sits on the web.
We can use any one of these services because they all provide a direct link to the file, meaning when the customer clicks your download link/button and they’re taken directly to the file or to a page that clearly shows the download option.
There are lots of different names used for the location of where a file is stored. It could be; file path, file URL, download link, download URL or even “the place where you uploaded the file to”.
For the sake of this guide, I’ll refer to it as the download link.
When I use that term, I mean the file path in the browser address as show here:
Choose one method below for storing your file and save the download link for later.
1 – WordPress Media Library
This is probably the easiest and quickest way to take your PDF and make it available for download. It requires no technical skill. If you built your own landing page, you’ll find this step very easy.
All you have to do is go to your Media Library click Add New and drag the file over, or click the Select File button to upload your new file.
Watch this video to learn exactly how to upload the file and where to get the download link you need for later.
[Video] Using WordPress Media Library
2 – Google Drive
Another way to store your file online is using Google Drive, one of the tools we use everyday. If you created the PDF using the steps above you’ll already have a Google Account. Next jump back into Google Drive and follow the video to see how we upload the file and get the download link from Google Drive.
[Video] Using Google Drive
3 – Dropbox
As we used Google Drive, I had to include Dropbox in the list and I know many people will use their service. It’s very much the same process as Google Drive so watch the video below if you’re a Dropbox user.
Again, it shows how to upload the file and get the download link that we use later.
[Video] Using Dropbox
4 – Amazon S3
Now, slightly more technical than the other services, but we couldn’t make this tutorial too easy!
Amazon S3 does cost a very small amount to deliver your files (about 30c for every GB transmitted upto a 1 TB) but it’s a great solution and many services integrate with Amazon.
If later you want to protect downloadable files, it also works with OptimizeMember allowing you to control who can download what files.
[Video] Using Amazon S3
So, after using all the services I ended up with 4 different file links to choose from.
The Download Links
You only need to have 1! Save the link somewhere and have it ready to use next.
Let’s move on!
How To Link Your Digital File To Your Download Page
The actual step of linking your file to your page can be very confusing.
This question comes up quite often and may seem very obvious to some experienced marketers, but confusing when someone says
“just link to your download file” or “get the link where the file is stored” or “It’s the URL where the file is online”
I know, because I’ve been there and I’m guilty of telling people the same. If you’re reading this post and I ever used those phrases above, then I’m sorry. This article is for you… kind of!
The first thing we need is the download link to the file that you saved from the steps above. So get your notepad, Evernote, notes app open, wherever you stored that link and have it ready to use in a moment.
What we’re about to do is link our Landing Page opt-in form to the Thank You page and then link the Download button on our Thank You page to the download file using the download link.
Hope that makes sense!
Watch this video and how to link everything up:
[Video] Linking Pages To Download Files
The Opt-in and Download Process
If you got this far you have created your PDF, Landing and Thank You page, stored your download file online, save the download link, linked your Landing Page opt-in form to the download page and linked the download button on your (Thank You page) to the download file!!!
Phew! Give yourself a cheer!
Now you have your files stored online and linked up you may be wondering how does my customer access the file. This is where you have some choices to make.
You can either do one of the following. Neither is the correct way, some people will tell you different or a “better way”, so just pick one!
Don’t spend too much time thinking about this part. Just get it done so you can focus on growing your email list.
Method 1 – Send the customer directly to the download file after opt-in and send a follow-up email.
For this step, you would copy your download link and paste that into the Thank You Page URL inside your OptimizePress opt-in form.
After opt-in, the customer is taken directly to the PDF. They will not see another page before.
Here’s where you paste the download link inside the opt-in form:
Method 2 – Send the customer to a Thank You Page and follow up with an email that includes a link directly to the download file.
This method is perfect if you are forcing double opt-in. You could have two Thank You style pages with the first telling the customer to confirm their email.
You may be wondering why you don’t have a button on this page. The reason being this, if the page gets shared there’s no way people can download the file and you don’t miss any opt-ins. Not a biggie, I know, because the file is free anyway but some people like this way.
Method 3 – Send the customer to a Thank You page with a link/button to download the PDF and follow up email.
Follow Up With An Email
Whichever method you choose above, you will still want to follow up immediately with an email containing a link to the download file or a link back to your Thank You page.
It’s good practice to follow-up immediately…it’s polite. The customer may never make it to your download pages, don’t just assume everything worked -see below. It’s a good way to track if they’ve opened the email, track if they’ve clicked the link and it would be stupid not to follow up.
You want to get to know your new subscribe don’t you?? …So follow up!
Did They Get Your Download?
Remember, you have no idea what the user is doing at the time they opt-in.
This may not have crossed your mind, but here’s some examples of what could happen at the point someone decides to opt-in to your free offer:
- They could be on a train or bus about to get off and put their phone to sleep so they don’t miss the stop
- Their 4G connection might drop when the page is loading
- Your web hosting is slow and the page hangs – Solution speeds up your site
- The internet at home might go offline causing the page to show a 404
- A family member/colleague might come into the room and distract them
- They might spill tea over their Mac (like our CEO did) at the point of opt-in
- and heaven forbid… they may have an Instagram or Snapchat update that can’t wait 40 seconds!!
You get the idea right?
Point is, always follow up with an email, never assume everything worked and the user has downloaded the file.
Planning the process before you link everything up will help you understand what’s happening technically.
Deliver Digital Downloads Process Map
We would go with Method 3 above for delivery of our file – take the user to a Thank You page with clear confirmation and follow up by email linking back to the Thank You page and encourage then to share on social media.
You could also link directly to the download file in the email if you wanted.
Here’s a look at our process:
After reading this post, you should be ready to start collecting emails and delivering your new free lead magnet.
Here are some points to note:
File size – Keep your files small. If you’re offering downloads of video files, it may be better to put those inside a members area
Internet speeds – While your own internet might be quick, you don’t know what speed the user is connected on, so take that into consideration when creating your files. Larger files will take longer to download. You want to deliver free files in a flash to keep your subscribers happy!
Social sharing – Provide share links on the download page that link back to the landing page.
Hot link your PDF – When writing your PDF always include links to your landing pages in the bio and throughout the PDF. If people do share your PDF with their friends, chances are, they’ll click those links to check you out.
Never assume – You never know what the user is doing at the time they opt-in. Always follow up with an email.
Right that’s it! What have I missed….?