3 Best Download Management Plugins for WordPress

3 Best Download Management Plugins for WordPress

While writing the 10-Step Guide to Using Free PDF Downloads To Grow Your Mailing List, I was thinking about all the different ways in which you can use downloads on your website.

There’s, of course, the free giveaway to generate more leads.

You can use downloads for the purposes of sharing content internally and privately with members or a team.

You can sell digital downloads just as you would physical products.

You can give away informational content to complement customers’ purchase of a service or product.

Whatever your reasoning is for including downloadable content on your WordPress site, you should have a download management plugin that will help you keep better tabs on it. Think about how you use Google Analytics to track what visitors do with your blogs or you use a contact form plugin and CRM to manage lead generation. You should have the same level of control and insight into what’s happening with your downloadable content as well.

In the following roundup, I’m going to discuss the best download management plugins and what the best use cases for each are.

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Best Download Management Plugins for WordPress

The process of adding a downloadable file is a simple enough one to accomplish. You create the content, upload the file to your media folder (or a third-party cloud storage location), and link it to a CTA button. But you don’t want this to be a free-for-all. If you want more control over what happens with your downloads as well as the data you collect from them, you need a download management plugin.

When deciding on which of these WordPress plugins is for you, think about which of the following features you absolutely need:

  • Password-protect content so that any ol’ Joe Schmoe can’t get access.
  • Track how many downloads take place as well as the users who snagged up the content.
  • Track the earnings from your downloads.
  • Better organize the variety of digital downloads you offer (especially important if this is your sole means of e-commerce).
  • Monitor files for revisions when you use downloads/uploads in WordPress to collaborate with others.

If this sounds like something that would benefit your WordPress workflow, let’s take a look at the best download management plugins that will get the job done.

Download Monitor

Download monitor header

Similar to what you’ll find with many download management plugins, Download Monitor creates a new content creation interface in WordPress. From your Downloads hub, you can create new downloadable content as easily as you can new pages or media on your website.

There are two really nice things to call out about this plugin:

For starters, you can name the versions of your downloads. This will make it easier to track how well new and improved versions of your downloadable content perform against the previous iterations.

Another cool thing about this plugin is that you don’t need to go to the Downloads tab to upload a new piece of content. Instead, you now have a “quick add” function added to your post or page editor, similar to the one we already have for Media. This will allow you to upload your Downloads directly to a page or post while you’re working within it.

Easy Digital Downloads

Easy Digital Downloads header.

If your goal is to sell digital downloadable content, then Easy Digital Downloads is a WordPress plugin you definitely need to look at. I previously named this as one of the best WooCommerce alternatives as it covers the full gamut of everything you would need to sell digital content on your website.

Now, in terms of using this plugin, it’s definitely much more robust than most of the other download management plugins on this list. That’s because it needs to account for the inventory and payment parts of your process. So, if you’re not intending to sell downloads, this plugin is not for you.

That said, for those of you that do need this functionality, this plugin is great. Here are some of the things it comes with:

  • Main downloads page that includes each piece of content and its cost, number of sales, and total earnings.
  • A more thorough downloads entry setup that allows you to go deeper with customization on the page.
  • A Payment History dashboard where you can track sales and customers all in one location.
  • You can create discount codes to advertise on the site that your customers can then find and use.
  • Reports are definitely more thorough than the other plugins as well and include charts that depict your history of downloads and earnings over time.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce header.

If you’re looking to monetize products on your WordPress site and you have a mix of both digital and physical products for sale, then you should use WooCommerce. With the latest updates in WooCommerce 3.3.1 (after they worked out the kinks, of course), there are now a whole bunch of really nice features you can use to streamline the management of your e-commerce website.

In particular, I think there are two features that are great for managing digital content in WordPress:

The first is the “Manage stock?” option under your digital product’s details. This is a great feature to have as you can use it to motivate visitors through a sense of urgency. If they see that only five more copies of your ebook are available for download, you may compel more people to make that purchase than would have otherwise done so.

The second feature that’s worth looking at is the new Customer Downloads report. Previously, you would just see all your orders in one place. Now, however, can filter your orders so that only digital downloads are shown.

All in all, I would say that WooCommerce is the ideal download management plugin if your store has a mix of physical and digital goods and you need greater versatility and control over your stock. It’s also a good choice too if you only sell digital content, but want to build out larger pages with more specifications, images, variations, and so on.

Wrapping Up

There are many reasons why you would offer up downloadable content on your WordPress site: to collect leads, generate revenue, provide supportive documentation, or even collaborate with others. As such, you should have a download management plugin that simplifies the process and enhances your ability to oversee what’s happening with all of it.

Over to you: Do you offer any digital downloads on your own WordPress site and, if so, which plugin do you use to manage them?

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Brenda Barron

Brenda Barron Brenda is a freelance writer from Southern California. She specializes in WordPress, tech, and business and founded WP Theme Roundups. When not writing about all things, she's spending time with her family.