How to Beat the Credit Card Crunch

Marc Jarrett
Hardly a day passes nowadays without the headlines confirming what we already know — the credit crunch has moved from Wall to Main Street, not just in the U.S., but globally too — thanks to the interconnected nature world in which we all now live.

As webmasters, we have all profited from globalization big time. A brief visit to your visitor stats will confirm the fact that the web is the world's first truly global medium and we are already making money from all over the world.

But the downside of globalization means that the credit squeeze and the economic consequences are global in nature too.

As money worldwide dries up, credit card companies are increasingly putting the clamps on their customers. Lenders are taking a wide range of steps to mitigate their risk as unemployment rates tick up and the number of delinquent borrowers grows. Besides cutting credit limits, card companies are raising rates and fees and suspending offers such as no-interest balance transfers. They are also making rewards programs less rewarding and shutting down inactive accounts.

Many people, who are being squeezed by the bursting housing bubble, are increasingly relying on their plastic friends to live on a day-to-day basis. Since their home equity money has run dry and their lifestyles are not changing, circumstances like lost jobs or medical hardships cause them to continue to rely on credit cards, and there is no end in sight to how much additional debt Joe the Plumber and friends will take on. At some point, the dam has to burst, and a lot of people are going to drown...

As millions of people worldwide turn to their plastic friends to help pay for essentials, paying a $29.90 per month credit subscription for porn suddenly seems like an outright extravagance, as opposed to a mere occasional treat.

And more to the point: why should they pay anything with all that free porn out there? Under normal circumstances, it could be argued that recession is actually good for the porn industry. People stay in more, and turn to creature comforts such as sex, as well as stay-at-home entertainment such as porn — which is, after all, a low-ticket item. But, as we all know, these are no normal circumstances and so it looks like those tube servers are going to be real busy this Christmas...

As all those potential consumers worldwide are beginning tighten their collective belts, money is only being spent on essentials such as their mortgage or rent, as well as on utilities such as power, water and telephone service.

The global telephony system, which is effectively the back bone of the Internet, holds the key for web content owners to continue to making money during these recessionary times thanks to premium rate numbers.

Historically the "bad boy" of the telecoms sector due to the abundance of phone sex services, premium rate services have gone mainstream in recent years, with the prize money on shows like "Who wants to be a Millionaire" being financed by such numbers.

As the name suggests, calls to premium rate numbers are charged at a higher than normal rate — this is then collected my the subscriber's phone company who retains a portion and then passes the balance on to the "information provider" whose marketing efforts resulted in the call being made in the first place.

For despite all the free porn out there, people are still prepared to pay for the convenience of not having to seek out exactly what they are looking for elsewhere — which is why "pay-as-you-go" and "buy-now-pay-later" billing for online content via such phone numbers is ideally suited to the harsh economic realities of the world in which we live.

But given all the free porn with which you are competing, this worldwide billing is worth diddly squat if the underlying content you're offering for sale isn't compelling enough — since regular vanilla porn simply will not make the grade nowadays.

If, however, the content that you serve to surfers that pay you this way is compelling enough, chances are good they will come back again (pun intended) and pay you this way — not least, since you gave them the option of not committing to a monthly subscription in the first place.

Thankfully, the pictures and videos that we peddle really do say more than a thousand words — the Internet is indeed for porn, the perfect distribution platform to a global audience. With this is mind and given the ubiquity of the telephone, it is important to ensure that your call-to-action is in a language that the surfer understands — theirs!

Moreover, don't just deploy multilingual geo-targeting on your join page. Surfers don't surf join pages, so deploy such technology on all your pages, especially the primary ones that gets eyeballs. A simple geo-targeted "click here" button will do wonders for your click-through rates.

Given that our entire industry is only about a decade old, opportunities abound for webmasters that adapt and act outside the 'English only' box: perhaps now more than ever, money talks — in every language.