Comparison of ClickBank Vendor eBook Sales Plugins for WordPress

If you want to make your fortune selling ebooks to the masses, ClickBank is the platform for doing it. Most successful ebook and other digital download sales sites use it for their payment processing and affiliate support. ClickBank handles credit card payments for you and the affiliate system makes it dead easy for other people, including competitors in your own niche, to promote your product for you in return for a proportion of your profits.

To sell an ebook on ClickBank you need:

  • A ClickBank Vendor account
  • Your ebook product listed in the ClickBank marketplace
  • A Pitch page on your blog describing your product with your Buy Now button linked to ClickBank
  • A Thank You page where the customer lands after they pay to download your product

Thank You page handling is the trickiest part of this process, because you want to secure your site so that people can't steal your downloads. Several WordPress plugins exist to assist with various parts of this process.

Requirements

Here are my requirements for choosing a ClickBank Vendor plugin, ordered roughly from most to least important:

  1. Proof of Purchase protection using the ClickBank Link Security Script
  2. Stamp the PDF file with the customer's name and email address to discourage file sharing
  3. Secure download links that expire after a few days
  4. Secure bonus product downloads as well as the main product
  5. Handle large files (up to 100 Mb) securely
  6. Add the customer to my Customers mailing list in MailPress automatically
  7. Easy to add Buy Now buttons to my Pitch page
  8. Reasonable cost
  9. Multi-site license
  10. No license manager
  11. Source code accessible/unshrowded/unencrypted so I can track down & fix bugs myself

There are several WordPress plugins which only offer ClickBank Affiliate support, helping you sell other people's products on your blog. But they don't do any of these things, so I don't mention them here.

Summary

Digital Product DemonMarketing Launch PadWP PDF StamperWordPress ClickBank Integration
Version00.11.3100.11.184.0.61.0
AuthorRalph PruittRalph PruittTipsAndTricksNoor Alam
Protect ProductYesYesYesNo
Stamp PDFNoNoYesNo
Secure LinksYesYesNoNo
Secure BonusesNoYesNoNo
Secure LargeNoMaybeNoNo
MailPressHackNoNoNo
Easy ButtonsYesYesNoYes
CostFreeUS$17US$39.95Free
Site LicenseMultiSingleSingleMulti
License ManagerNoYesYesNo
Source CodePartlyNoNoYes

Legend:

  • Yes: Feature is supported
  • No: Feature is not supported
  • Maybe: Depends on your hosting service
  • Hack: Can be modified to support it reasonably easily
  • Multi: Use on as many sites as you like
  • Single: Can only be used on one site per license

Digital Product Demon

My first attempt was Digital Product Demon from Eubie Art Media, which turns out to be a cut down version of Marketing LaunchPad. I struggled with it for some time before finding a version that worked at all. The author sold resale and giveaway rights to several internet marketers who now sell or give it away in order to build a list of other internet marketers. Unfortunately the version they're giving away is often old and doesn't work, and you get no support. The email address of the author isn't even in the documentation so there's no way to report or fix problems. The guy I got it from had never used it himself, and didn't even know the version he was distributing didn't work. He's still out there spruiking it though.

The way the secure link generator is integrated in Digital Product Demon makes it impossible to secure download links for bonus products, which is why I eventually switched to Marketing LaunchPad instead.

Most of the source code is shrouded, but fortunately the basic part responsible for Thank You page processing isn't so I was able to add code to automatically add my customers to a MailPress mailing list without any support from the author. This is the only ClickBank plugin I was able to integrate with MailPress, which makes it a shame that I later abandoned it.

I recommend you avoid this plugin since Marketing LaunchPad has all the same features and more, and is only slightly more expensive. But if you really like torturing yourself, make sure you have at least version 00.11.31 or you'll waste a lot of time trying to get it to work.

Marketing LaunchPad

I had more success with Marketing LaunchPad, which is included in the Marketing Power Pack. It basically works, and since you buy it from the original author he offers reasonable support. The license manager caused me some grief when the sales process to stopped working unexpectedly on my site, and the author logged in there to diagnose and fix it. Switching hosting services required a new license; as if switching hosts wasn't complicated enough already. I'd prefer not to have a license manager in the first place so I could avoid such problems altogether.

Pretty much the entire code is shrouded, including the bit that was conveniently left unshrouded in Digital Product Demon where I would have liked to add the MailPress mailing list subscription. The author said he'd add a hook to allow this functionality, but I never heard back from him about it. Mind you, I didn't push it. The plugin would also need a hook added to stamp the customer's name and email address into the PDF files, which currently isn't supported either.

The Secure URL Generator reads the entire file into the PHP interpreter's memory, which fails on large files if it exceeds your PHP max_memory_limit. You can increase this limit to work around the problem on some hosts like IX Web Hosting, but you can't on my current host HostGator. That means I can't use it to secure my large audio downloads.

The Secure URL Generator also triggers a Firefox bug that the Mozilla developers refuse to acknowledge, let alone fix, which causes the filename to be lost when the customer uses Save As to download the file. The fact that Microsoft Internet Explorer gets it right is a testament to the unusual bloodymindedness of the Mozilla developers on this issue. But that's not much help if your customers happen to use Firefox and send you refund requests because they have trouble downloading your products.

The regular price of Marketing Launch Pad is US$27. Use the discount code MLPWSO2STD to get it for US$17.

WP PDF Stamper

Stamp your customer's Name and Email address in your ebook to discourage file sharing

Stamp your customer's Name and Email address in your ebook to discourage file sharing

WP PDF Stamper from Tips And Tricks HQ stamps your customer's name and email address into the product before downloading it to them, to discourage them from uploading it to file sharing services. It also comes with a lightweight ClickBank integration which make it possible to build a Thank You page using a simple shortcode.

There's no download link security with this plugin, but you could argue that it's less important given that people are unlikely to share links to downloads with their personal details stamped in them. Ideally Marketing LaunchPad would integrate with WP PDF Stamper; but they're written by different people. Tips And Trick HQ's WordPress eStore Plugin which does integrate with WP PDF Stamper doesn't support ClickBank. Catch-22. It is possible to use the Secure URL Generator from Marketing Launch Pad with WP PDF Stamper to secure bonus products if you don't stamp them.

The code is encrypted with Ioncube, so I had to install the Ioncube loader on my XAMPP test site in order to test it. Encryption also makes it impossible to hack it to add code to subscribe customers to my MailPress mailing list. The license manager prevents you running it on more than one site at a time, so you can't leave it enabled on your local test site and on the main site at the same time.

The plugin adds a rather ugly unique identifier to stamped filenames to avoid them clashing. I have suggested they use a separate directory instead so the customer sees the original clean filename.

I recommend creating a new directory under wp-content and changing the default output directory to it; otherwise stamped files end up in the plugin directory, which isn't good. Make sure you create an empty index.html file in the output directory to stop customers browsing other stamped files.

I'd like to see this plugin enhanced to automatically delete stamped files after a period of time; at present you have to initiate this process manually via the plugin settings menu.

On HostGator you need to put in a support request to enable cURL.

This plugin conflicts with Simple Facebook Connect version 1.1. SFC's author says that plugins are breaking the rules when they act like WP PDF Stamper does. The only workaround is to disable SFC and find another way of updating your Facebook Fan Page automatically. Bit of a developer stand-off there.

WordPress ClickBank Integration

Although the name sounds promising, WordPress ClickBank Integration really doesn't do very much for you. It just allows you to add Buy Now buttons to your Pitch page using a shortcode. But that's the easy part; it's the Thank You page processing you need a plugin's help with. This plugin could be useful used with WP PDF Stamper though, which only does the Thank You page part.

General Notes

Remember to Hide Your Thank You Page

Whichever plugin you use, remember that it's important to hide your Thank You page and to mark it noindex. Some unfortunate ClickBank Vendors have ended up with their Thank You pages complete with purchase receipt information indexed on Google; and they're trivial to find once you know how.

MailPress Integration

I'd love to see developers of these plugins adding MailPress support, so that customers can automatically be added to a Customers mailing list. The developer of the E-Junkie plugin recently emailed me saying he was adding this, and it would be great to see ClickBank plugins supporting it too. External services like AWeber and MailChimp support it via various hacks, but it would be great to have it built in with WordPress's own mailing plugin.

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About Graham

I'm the creator of BuildYourBlog.net.
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4 Responses to Comparison of ClickBank Vendor eBook Sales Plugins for WordPress

  1. John Boyd says:

    Thanks for the great post. I just finished writing an ebook to put in the Clickbank Marketing and I haven't submitted it yet because of the concerns of protecting my content. After reading your article, it sounds like all of these are "brain damage" to accomplish something as simple as making sure somebody doesn't steal your product you are featuring on Clickbank. I'm quite surprised that Clickbank hasn't addressed this issue, since it affects their profits as well.

  2. Ravi Ahuja says:

    Great comparison, I have some plan to launch my own ebook but promotion is difficult task. No doubt Clickbank is best place to sell ebooks and your comparison can help a lot.

  3. This looks interesting, currently I have an ebook on the Apple iTunes Bookstore and on Amazon Kindle but the process for both is laborious to say the least so I'll look at Clickbank in future after reading this.

    • Graham says:

      Yes it's worth checking out ClickBank. You get to keep much more of your royalties than you can on Amazon Kindle, and because you control the sales process you can add bonus products and keep a list of your customers which turns into your most valuable business asset. Cheers, Graham

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