Building Blocks for 2012
Building a new adult website for the New Year? Perhaps you’re looking to refresh a property that no longer produces the revenues it once did, or is facing other challenges? Maybe you are one of the new breed, riding the .XXX wave into the adult industry and want to know where to begin.
Wherever you’re coming from, or your motivation, embarking upon such a journey requires a cohesive business and marketing plan if it is to be at all successful in 2012 and beyond; so with that need in mind, to kick off the New Year, I’d like to present several specific tips to help make your endeavors more current with consumer demand and more relevant to today’s market reality.
You Can’t Compete Against The Big Boys (For Free)
While the days of inexperienced, no-budget sole proprietors building adult empires on their willpower alone are long gone, smaller operations can still thrive today by finding and developing their own approach to a favorite niche; leveraging a personal passion and understanding for the product to cultivate sales from any like-minded fans. Entrepreneurs with loftier goals, however, will need a bankroll to match. A complicated legal landscape, substantial content, infrastructure, technological and traffic expenses, and a playing field dominated by a small handful of experienced companies leveraging unparalleled assets, all add to the expense of “getting out there” and playing with the big boys. A group with a $100 million could shake things up, as could others for less, but online adult today is a business like any other — and like no other; so be properly capitalized or face extinction.
What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?
Having an end-game is vital, such as “I want to establish an adult ad network with $___ annual earnings,” but any projections out past five years are “imaginative” at best, due to the rapidly changing operational environment. Put a three year cap on your plan, but don’t limit major investments, such as brand and domain names, to this time range. For example, having a tube site is one thing, but building a brand around a transient phase of adult technology, by including the word “tube” in the brand and domain name, causes an “outdated” view among the audience once the next big thing comes along. Following this line, having a decent brand name may be more essential than a decent domain name. Consider “Google” — it’s not only a brand name, but now a verb — how cool is that? But for many operators scrolling through a list of potential domain name acquisitions, “google.com” may not seem to be the best fit for anything — proving that just about any domain name can be branded. Of course, having both a generic, “tradmarkable” brand name and any directly related domain names that you want is optimal. For serious efforts, this may mean both the .com and .xxx versions, plus other TLDs, for a rounded portfolio. Finally, keep in mind that consolidation driven by economies of scale and intricate global business and marketing models is the name of today’s game, so positioning the company as a target of acquisition right from the get-go may make a lot of sense for operators.
Having A Website Is Only One Piece Of The Puzzle
Launching a standard adult website is “easy” enough, but it’s only one part of today’s multi-pronged content marketing approach — although websites do still play a significant role in generating revenues. In 2012, however, your adeptness at social media integration and marketing may determine your fate — as will having the ability to cater to the mobile market; as Smartphones and tablets are rapidly gaining traction and may become the dominant platform within the next several years.
This is all part of using technology to extend your content marketing efforts to the broadest possible audience, leading them ultimately back to your website, but not forcing prospects to actually visit your website in order to view its content — or drive its revenues.
For example, by using RSS feeds and other “push” technologies, including the still-viable power of “legal” email marketing, website owners can deliver highly targeted content and offers well beyond the reach of their websites — tightly weaving their advertising, keyword-rich back-links, plus other monetization tools, directly into the content delivered by these feeds and other methods.
Finally, remember that universal accessibility is important — and this includes cross-browser and cross-platform compatibility; upholding W3C standards; developing apps; boosting access speeds and ease of navigation; along with compatibility with readers and other access devices, as well as (dare I say it), automated download managers.
Content Is King, But Traffic Is Everything
Rather than re-hash this timeless “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” debate, I’ll note that content drives traffic and (if you’re smart) vice-versa. The best content in the world is meaningless from a marketing standpoint, unless prospects are exposed to it — prospects that drive your revenue stream.
Look at each single piece of content offered: is it optimized for traffic generation? This means not only visible watermarks, but in-clip video ads, custom image EXIF files and search optimized text, file- and directory names, among a host of other features.
Once your baseline content offerings are optimized, look to your visitor stats to see which search keywords are bringing prospects to your site then create new content targeting those terms for a more customercentric marketing approach. Do not make the mistake of believing that just because you build a great site with superb, unique content, that traffic will automatically flow into it. Consider this when planning a traffic acquisition budget.
You Need to Profit Even If Porn Is Free
The better your content, the more likely it is to face one of the biggest challenges for adult marketers today: piracy. Couple that threat with the glut of “legitimate” free porn that is so readily available and you are presented with an audience that has no need to buy your product.
For you to succeed, you’ll have to impart upon them the desire to obtain it from you at a price — even when they know they can find it free elsewhere. Do not think that “sex sells, so this should be easy,” think bottled water sales, where consumers with a tap in their home gushing “free” water still prefer to pay for a premium alternative, based upon a preconceived set of perceptions surrounding quality, luxury and exclusivity.
Take this model to online adult and provide a premium alternative to free. Competitive pricing is a major consideration in this equation — competitive not only with other sites offering identical or similar content, but competitive with “free.”
In addition to this, diversify your site’s revenue streams to go beyond memberships, to ad space and product sales, affiliate upsells, email harvesting, and other monetization strategies.
Provide tiered access with an extended tour offering lots of free content to drive visitors to your site and its offers and provide subscribers with greater quantities and higher quality.
Doing so will help mitigate the negative effects of piracy, generating revenues despite a lack of “sales,” while having that properly optimized content “in the wild” still delivers some value, even when shared.