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Abuse, Neglect, Encouragement and Guidance

Abuse, Neglect, Encouragement and Guidance

March 14, 2002
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" Climb up the ladder, not down, and you'll find a much better view. "

How do YOU treat the visitors to your Web site? All too often, visitors to 'adult' Web sites in particular are treated with an appalling lack of respect — and this not only hurts our sales, but the industry as a whole. Here are a few thoughts on the different ways in which surfers are, could be, and should be treated:

Abuse
The bottom rung of the 'decency' ladder, abusive sites use blind, deceptive and misleading links, thumbnails, and advertisements, and do so at their own increasing peril. Launching surfers into console hell, springing dialers upon the unsuspecting prospect, altering their browser settings without the choice or knowledge of the surfer, and doing so in an effort to make a sale, simply doesn't make any sense. For those Webmasters who have so far avoided prosecution by the FTC for the use of such deceptive and unfair trade practices, be warned; you are skating on thin ice, and some of you deserve to be held accountable for your actions.

While the goal of a free site is to send the surfer off to the sponsor before he eats your bandwidth, there are decent and legitimate alternatives to the aforementioned tactics. Justifying your actions by saying that free site surfers are bums and freeloaders just out to glom free porn doesn't cut it. Being hounded by a pack of hungry dogs is not the fault of the dogs, if you're the one who started feeding them in the first place:

The feeling that if you abuse your surfers long enough they will eventually pay for porn doesn't cut it, either. Prospects who have been kicked in the nuts by one site or another may have developed a bad perception of the adult industry, and a perception that leads them to believe that they will be treated the same way even on a pay site. Furthermore, why would they ever trust YOUR recommendation about the greatest source of porn in the universe? You just sent them off to console hell:

Neglect
Far better for the surfer, but no more profitable for the Webmaster, sites that neglect the prospect are doing both parties a disservice. You can build a beautiful and very clean site that doesn't use any of the deceptive tactics employed by abusive sites, but that doesn't do anything to make a sale, either. While the surfer may be happy with what you've given him, the overall experience leaves a very benign, 'beige' sort of feeling:

With nothing for the prospect to get 'excited' about, there is nothing to compel an immediate, and positive purchase decision. A few galleries sprinkled with banners is simply not enough anymore. The problem then lies all too often in a Webmaster desperate to make sales, and looking to abusive, rather than encouraging techniques to try and increase revenues. Climb up the ladder, not down, and you'll find a much better view.

Encouragement
This is where you "should" be. Sites that encourage the surfer by making book-marking easy, and offering help with voluntarily setting their home page to your site. Sites that 'talk' to the surfer, using text and table ads more than banner farms. Sites that strike a decent balance between content and up sell, offering what they claim they do, and helping the surfer find more.

Sites that 'encourage' surfers rather than abuse them, earn their trust; and as any good salesman can tell you, trust equals cash. You are not only helping yourself, but the industry as well. Prospects who visit your site will have a consistent and pleasurable experience; one that leaves them hungry for more. Since you treated them fairly, they are more likely to listen when you encourage them to visit your sponsor's site. The trust you have earned will then translate into more sales, and more revenue on your bottom line:

Guidance
This is where you 'should' be heading. In our increasingly competitive marketplace, heading up the ladder will pay more handsome dividends than heading down. It amazes me how few adult sites actually 'talk' to their visitors, treating them like intelligent human beings whose trust and respect they are trying to earn.

All too often I see an approach aimed towards 'bottom feeders' and I have to ask myself why? Why target the lower orders when the high-end has the discretionary income to purchase your product, and the desire to avoid the waste of time and energy that surfing free porn entails? Sites who can provide guidance to these folks and earn their trust and respect will profit.

Many adult surfers who would otherwise be lost in a sea of pop-ups and misleading offers are waiting to be educated. They want to be shown where to find quality porn, and they have the means to purchase it. They don't want to be treated like greasy-haired sleaze balls who wear trench coats and hang out by playgrounds. They are adults looking for online adult entertainment, and they are unfortunately awash in a giant ocean of crap that does nothing but leave a poor impression of the industry as a whole — an impression that develops a real reluctance towards whipping out the plastic and hitting the "Join" button. Sites who can provide guidance to these folks and earn their trust and respect will profit, and all it takes is to talk to the surfer intelligently, and treat him or her the way that YOU wish to be treated.

Anyways, I'm done rambling and will climb off of my soap box now. I hope that I've given you something to think about, and a fresh perspective from which to view your site with. If you agree or disagree with my presumptions, then click the link below and let us all know about it...
~ Stephen


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