There's A Science Behind Sales
Fundamentally and organizationally, webmasters should be sales-focused from the ground up. This includes having reliable metrics for analyzing the effectiveness of your sales efforts. Rather than obsessing over the number of hits, visitors or page views that your site is receiving, focus on what matters most: your bottom line.
For paysite operators, the number of new monthly sales may be the most important figure to track, as it illustrates how good a job you are doing at selling your product in the current market. If you can only cope with following one stat, this is it — as long as you can answer the questions of “how many sales did I make this month?” and “is that better or worse than last month — and by how much?”
If that amount represents an increase over the previous month, then you are growing. To make that growth worthwhile, focus next on retaining the customers you win over.
It is much easier to keep an existing customer, even today, then it is to go out and find a new one, so by caring for your members — providing frequent updates, bonus material, loyalty discounts, etc. — you can help ensure a steady and increasing source of revenue, rather than having to start over again from scratch each month.
Coupled with the number of initial sales, this metric will tell you when (and how) you are able to convince someone to buy and how satisfied they are with that purchase (based on retention rates, which should also be increasing). Poor retention equals an unsatisfying experience for your members — something which needs to be seriously addressed if you want to be in this business in 2011.
Finally, measure and then maximize your actual revenues from the site, including the initial and recurring membership fees, plus any cross- and upsell income you generated. While abusive cross-sales practices pose increasing risks, there are legitimate offers that can earn substantial revenues for site owners. Likewise, upsell and affiliate opportunities, as well as ad and traffic sales, can all bolster earnings and may represent the difference between success and failure for an increasing number of sites.
These three figures: sales, renewals and revenues, are vital to understand before you begin to study how much raw traffic and how many chargebacks it took to get that far, etc. as these are the factors that are important to measure — providing context for raw comparisons of visitor volume, page views, bounce rates and other common metrics.
But is this all there is to the sales story?
Online conversions are no longer a hit or miss affair, with marketers benefiting from a wealth of scientific research into the psychological mechanics of the sales process and the consumer’s emotional buttons that must be pushed to make it all happen.
A paper entitled, “Influencing the online consumer’s behavior: the Web experience,” by assistant professor Efthymios Constantinides of the Netherlands’ University of Twente finds that “Online marketers can influence the decision making process of the virtual customers by engaging traditional, physical marketing tools but mainly by creating and delivering the proper online experience, the Web experience: a combination of online functionality, information, emotions, cues, stimuli and products/ services, in other words a complex mix of elements going beyond the 4Ps of the traditional marketing mix.”
The 16-page paper outlines the forces that influence online consumers and how these forces may be shaped by savvy marketers; detailing the functionality, psychological and content factors that drive Internet sales.
Another downloadable PDF report, this one weighing in at 27 pages, discusses an issue of vital importance to all ecommerce websites in general and adult entertainment offers in particular — Trust.
Originally published in the Journal of Strategic Information Systems, the 2002 paper by D. Harrison McKnight, Vivek Choudhury and Charles Kacmar, entitled “The impact of initial consumer trust on intentions to transact with a website: a trust building model” (https://www.msu.edu/~mcknig26/ TrBldgModel.pdf), examines the impact of consumer trust on electronic commerce vendors.
“Building consumer trust is a strategic imperative for web-based vendors because trust strongly influences consumer intentions to transact with unfamiliar vendors via the web,” the paper states. “Trust allows consumers to overcome perceptions of risk and uncertainty, and to engage in the following three behaviors that are critical to the realization of a web-based vendor’s strategic objectives: following advice offered by the web vendor, sharing personal information with the vendor, and purchasing from the vendor’s website.”
Trust is what you make of it, however — something the paper alludes to, stating that “given the study’s interesting results for perceived web risk, the role of distrust constructs in trust building should also be explored.” While the value of the information contained in this and similar academic research may be lost on webmasters that prefer to ask message board readers whether “join now” or “instant access” works better — rather than conducting their own A/B split testing — operators determined to profit regardless of the challenges will recognize these resources for what they are: the way to your customer’s wallet.
With these resources, webmasters can profit by simply tracking sales, renewals and revenues; and then utilizing the timeless sales techniques revealed by the latest research to fine tune their marketing approach — and studying the impact of this tuning as shown in the sales, renewal and revenue figures in order to see what works for your specific site — and what doesn’t.
After that, it is just a matter of getting visitors to your site to be swayed by your now more sophisticated offers.