In 2007, Nick Collins noticed a void in the adult market for consumers who wanted to feel safe about signing up for adult website memberships. A lot of people had been ripped off by underhanded business practices, and this was translating into lost sales and dollars. Collins gathered a small team and started adultsafelist.org, a collection of websites that had passed muster as legitimate business entities with no history of underhanded practices.
But the operation didn't take off.
A lot of people had been ripped off by underhanded business practices
"Initially we had some technical troubles because the system we used was a little antiquated," explains Collins, president of AdultSafeList. "So we gave it a facelift by hiring a professional to design it and make it more user-friendly. We re-launched several months ago under a new domain name, adultsafelist.com. It's a PHP-driven site now and much more user friendly."
The results of the improvement have been nothing short of spectacular. In just a few months, AdultSafeList has become akin to an online adult Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.
"Our target audience is the adult webmasters," Collins says. "Basically what we are is a safety service for the consumer of adult products, whether it's a service, an adult product, an adult toy or just someone looking for adult content. We feel these consumers deserve the same security that someone buying through Amazon gets.
"We offer two things. First, we offer an adult safe list, which is a directory of websites that tells consumers which merchants have been verified by us as safe, legitimate and secure. This tells surfers that they can order from these merchants and they won't have their personal information sold to other merchants, and that if they order something for 99 cents, they won't receive a bill for $99.
"This service also acts as a consulting tool for the merchants, because we help them to become more transparent and to convert more browsers into buyers. We take it very personally that an adult merchant wants to become safe and verified, so we actually call them to make sure we talk directly to a representative. We get certain information from them via fax and email to verify their existence, and then we do safety and security background checks on them. When a merchant is listed in our directory, we feel confident that they offer a safe site for the consumer."
The second feature that AdultSafeList offers is its trust seal, a golden badge image that webmasters can put on their sites, assuring surfers that the site has been audited and found safe. Surfers can click on this seal and learn the webmaster's contact information and support information. According to Collins, the trust seal has made consumers feel confident enough to make purchases, and the boost in sales figures of the websites with the seal bears this out. Collins offers an example.
"TheNaughtyNation.com contacted us complaining about a lot of abandonment of the site's shopping cart," he says. "The visitors to the site were leaving when it came time to pay. The webmaster was looking for a way to convert more of them into purchasing members, and asked for our help. We audited the site, doing a Google search to make sure there were no reports about scamming, and we found no red flags. Then we made a couple of suggestions that would enable the site to be listed in AdultSafeList, and also to receive the trust seal we place on safe sites.
"When we finished the investigation and granted our seal to the site, we asked the webmaster to place the seal in the spot where there was the highest rate of consumer abandonment. The effect was that surfers checked out the site, liked the content, and seeing the trust seal decided to pull out their credit cards. The site got great results and the webmaster called us a few weeks later, saying that the abandonment rate had gone way down, and that they were converting more surfers into paying customers."
The entire AdultSafeList procedure and seal costs webmasters just $150 per year, and this fee is the same for all types of adult sites, regardless of whether they offer streaming videos, dating services, or niche content. And the process of getting on the directory list is painless.
"We try to make the auditing hassle free," Collins says. "The whole process takes only a couple of days, because we know the webmasters are busy and we don't want to linger. And if there's a problem that we find, we let them know about it. If, for example, we find that they resell the contact information on their paying customers to others, we let them know it's not acceptable and that it needs to be fixed before they can be listed in our directory and receive our trust seal. This is really a value-added bonus, because webmasters are receiving consultation from us.
In the short few months of its existence, adultsafelist.com has received glowing feedback, both from merchants and consumers.
"The adult web merchants really have been raving about it," Collins says. "We've done a couple of studies with our clients, and we're getting a lot of traffic from consumers who are looking for safe adult sites.
"One of the things webmasters like is that many surfers click on our safety seal. Webmasters can keep track of that traffic and know how many people are that interested in learning more about the site.
"We also get a lot of good feedback from the surfers, saying their last computer was blown up because they went to an unsafe site looking for videos, and now our seal and safe list has allowed them to join sites with confidence. Surfers also appreciate the fact that they can report problems directly to us, so we can pass those reports along to the webmasters.
"It's really an open forum that benefits everyone."