For the most part the details of the transactions are provided by whichever payment service is used. You can use just about any payment service (ClickBank or PayPal, for example). The real bugabo is how to provid the registration code to unlock the ebook. A lot of people use Microcreations Automatic Payment Service, which provides the registration code to the customer immediately upon payment.
The alternative is to use a pay service (monthly fees) that tracks payments and relocks the book if a refund is requested (of course you still need to use ClickBank or PayPal). Gold Panner Software offers two solutions to address the refund issue. One requires a monthly fee and the other a one time fee. Not a lot of people ask for refunds so it is not uncommon for sellers to forego trying to relock books that have been refunded. It really becomes an economic issue if it is worth spending a dollar to save a dime.
The services that do track ebook usage (as well as relocking ebooks) frequently are an annoyance to the customer. You can find discussion about this elsewhere in the forum.
The question regarding a customer's request for key codes first needs an explanation on how the security system works. You have a possibility of a thousand keycodes. Which keycode will unlock the customer's ebook is determined by an algorithm that based on the serial number where the ebook is installed. With the possible 1,000 keycodes the liklihood that any two users will share the same key code is 0.1%.
In other words the customer can request a keycode a thousand times and it will always be the same. The only time it will change is if the customer installs the ebook on a second machine or replaces their hard drive. It is up to you as a vendor how replacement key codes will be handled.
Using Activ you can also use virial marketing. This is acheived by makeing a portion (that you select) to be viewed by the potential customer. After payment is made the rest of the ebook then becomes available. What is great about this approach is if someone gives a copy of your ebook to a friend the ebook is automatically relocked requiring a new license to be purchased for use on the friend's machine. (Okay, there is a 0.1% chance that the friends will share the same key code, but that is a slim chance.) The monthly pay services that offer a way to provide a key code as well as relocking the ebook dismantle the ebook entirely so the only way to view it is to purchase a keycode. These services recommend that you make two ebooks. One for purchase (which is entirely locked) and a second which is used for demo purposes. The system you select really depends on how you intend to market you ebook.
Thanks for the quick reply. I think I need to explain the my questions a little better.
What I want to do is track my customers and my ebooks.
As for customers...maybe I need to do a customer profile, with age, country location, location by state, ***
(male or female), affiliate click thru. That kind of thing.
I wanted to know "How" other ebook authors are tracking their customers. Are other ebook authors using spreadsheets, databases, or maybe a canned software package? Maybe ebook authors are not using any type analysis on their ebook sales. I don't know.
The answer depends on what type of marketing you intend to do. For my purposes viral marketing works best. That is potential customers are encouraged to download and preview the ebook. Previews can be either time limited in that the entire book can be viewed for a certain number of days or a select number of pages can be viewed before purchase--the choice is yours as creator.
Viral marketing means that users are encouraged to share copies of the ebook with friends. Whenever a friend opens a shared ebook they will see a locked version--as mentioned previously there is a 0.1% chance of any two users using the same key code.
Although tracking ebooks marketed using the viral approach is possible it also means a certain level of intrusion on the user because it means that every time the ebook is opened/installed it will have to connect to an online database to register itself. The downside is that users are easily annoyed knowing that they constantly have to be connected to the internet in order to use the ebook. It also means the only real information about the user is their IP address, which means zip for marketing purposes.
The monthly pay services offer systems that will track your ebook and provide some of the information that you seek. Again, the downside, as previous mentioned, is that it requires the ebook to be completely locked and if you want to provide a demo of the ebook it needs to be as a separate ebook.
Studies indicate that every additional step required for the user to make a purchase their is an increased risk of the buyer not completing the sale. IMHO viral marketing reduces the number of steps required to make a purchase and does not require a second download to access the complete ebook as required by the tracking services.
If you want to know more about your customers why not have them complete a simple form on your web site? After the form is submitted you can then email to them a link to download the ebook--this works with whatever marketing approach you select.
I don't use any of the monthly payment systems, but there are those who do and are happy with them. I can understand the desire to gather stats on users when it comes to advertising budgets, but when it comes to the Internet it is more about placement/keywords/content than profile group--IMHO.
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