Selling Digital: The Perfect Last-Minute Christmas Gift

Finished your Christmas shopping yet? Of course not, right? It’s

Finished your Christmas shopping yet?

Of course not, right? It’s not Christmas Eve; there’s still plenty of time for that.

But time will soon run out for making sales on gifts that require shipping before the big day. Solution: switch modes and push gifts that don’t require time to ship: digital goods.

Digital goods include online games, apps, ebooks, music downloads, gift cards or tickets to events. If you sell any of these, now is the time to highlight them in your marketing emails.

To help you figure out exactly how to position them, we have findings from Elastic Path’s 2011 study of 1,012 US gift-shoppers.

Put Your Marketing Where the Money Is

“Digital goods consumers have larger budgets than consumers of traditional goods. Their average gift budget is $440, significantly larger than that of more “traditional” gift buyers.”

If those are the customers planning to spend more, then those are the products to push right now. You’ll want to maximize their visibility in your emails. You can try:

  1. Positioning digital products “above the scroll” – the point where readers need to scroll to see more.
  2. Giving those products a second showing to subscribers who don’t have time to check out your first email, or who aren’t captivated by your first subject line. This isn’t a technique you should use often, but occasionally, it may be appropriate if you have a very strong offer.Just run a search on your subscribers to see who hasn’t opened your first offer. Save those subscribers as a segment. Then put together another email for the same product, with a different subject line (and snippet, if you’re using one).

Now, we’ve established that your products-of-the-moment are digital. To figure out how to best present them, let’s take a look at your target customer.

Who Are These Digital Gift Seekers?

“The digital gift buyer tends to be young (ages 18-34), university-educated and more likely to be male than female.”

This doesn’t mean you have to focus on gifts that 20 year-old college guys want to receive. It does mean you’ll want to present your product as something a 20-year old guy would want to give. Tweak your wording, and maybe even your design, to get that message across.

In fact, if you have information on the age range and gender of your subscribers, you can actually create a segment of young men and send them a message heavily adjusted to appeal to them, while sending a more generic offer to the rest of your list.

Don’t Just Sell, Upsell

“Thirty percent of digital goods consumers plan to spend more than last year on gifts of all types.”

Consumers are already in the mindset to buy more. So when you make sales, offer an upsell.

To upsell with email, make sure you have sales tracking set up on your site. This keeps a record of who’s purchased from you in your AWeber account. When you want to upsell, find past purchasers by searching your subscribers by the sales tracking amount you’ve set.

Save those purchasers as a segment, then send that segment an offer for a related product or accessory.

Digital Goods Sell Better When There’s Something to Unwrap

While consumers do consider the last-minute availability of digigoods to be a major benefit, according to Elastic Path’s study, “Content providers and resellers must get creative with personalized and entertaining e-gifting options to compensate for the lack of packaging, empty stockings, and missing presents under the tree.”

Printable vouchers are a good idea, but modern technology lets you take this a step further. Provide a customized QR code to print out after purchase. When the recipient unwraps they code, they can scan it with a smartphone to see what they’ve received.

And There’s More

For more information, including which kinds of digital goods, specifically, consumers are planning to give as gifts this season, as well as what factors will influence their selection, download the full report, Virtual Goods Mean Real Money This Holiday, from Elastic Path here.


  1. TC

    12/5/2011 6:37 pm

    electronic delivery gift cards are a great last minute gift for all procrastinators 🙂

  2. Aaron Schulman

    12/6/2011 10:55 am

    Thanks Amanda,

    Demographics like this are great for people with a targeted (and large enough) audience.

    Thought I don’t offer digital goods, one of my affiliate sites does give credit for those who click through to a merchant and download digital products.

    Do you have any ideas for digital goods to promote for these 2 kinds of informational sites?

    1) Guitar reviews
    2) Traffic Generation and Conversion strategies site

    Here’s the thing I’ve found with affiliate sites and having some decent traffic-
    – It takes quite a bit of work to get SEO done for a particular set of targeted phrases –

    and to turn that traffic into digital product clicks that will ultimately pay 6 to 8 percent on $10 or $15 digital items needs quite a volume to be worth the investment in SEO etc.

    3) Are there some digital goods out there (in any industry) that have a higher ticket price?

    What are your thoughts on my 3 questions?

    Thanks- great post – I always like stats and numbers because it gives you some factual foundation for starting a campaign or new idea.


  3. Jon

    12/6/2011 11:49 am

    Excellent advice. Have tweeted. Ironically I read an email from another marketer the other day who was promoting the idea of being an affiliate for physical products on the premise that sales of digital products tended to drop around this time of the year. Always interesting to see the variety of opinions expressed online. At least you, unlike he, have backed up your argument with survey data.

  4. Kari

    12/6/2011 11:36 pm

    This post has given me some great ideas for the holiday season. I, like Jon, had heard that physical products were the way to go for the holiday season – but am much more ready to believe a post with facts behind it! Thanks for the post and the link to the report.