It's All About Trust

Cheryl Cain
For many operators of adult e-commerce websites, "porn" is the name of the game. These operators couldn't be more mistaken, however. The reality is that if you expect today's scam-weary consumer to whip out a credit card, then "trust" needs to be the name of the game. But how can this consumer trust be earned?

One way in which your adult website can be seen as "trustworthy" is by looking out for your site's visitors – educating them to the perils they face at less trustworthy websites.

For example, a recent FTC Consumer Alert was issued, warning that the "Cost of 'Free' Adult Content Adds Up." While savvy consumers may have already seen this bulletin or were exposed elsewhere to the basic information contained within it, creative marketers can take a warning such as this and incorporate it into their arsenal of sales tools.

This alert focused on the problems associated with "dialer" technology and while dialers are no longer a common tool within the industry, highlighting their abuse can help ease consumers into making a purchase via a different (more trustworthy) billing mechanism.

Here's the basic message of the alert, which is also valuable as a source of information about the types of "warning" messages that our customers are receiving:

You're surfing the web and come across an adult entertainment site that claims to offer content for "free" and doesn't require a credit card number for access. All you have to do is download a "viewer" or "dialer" program. What to do? Since you're at the site to view content, downloading a "viewer" program might make sense. A "dialer" program? What's that? And who cares? You're getting free content.

But the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns that there's a catch: Once the program is downloaded on to your computer, it disconnects the Internet connection you had and reconnects to an international long-distance phone number, at rates between $2 and $7 a minute. You could end up with a phone bill for hundreds of dollars for calls to places like Vanuatu in the Southwest Pacific, Chad, Guyana or Madagascar.

FTC officials say that because these scams are so lucrative for the operators, it may be only a matter of time before they appear on sites that feature games, psychics, gambling and other services.

Here's how you can minimize your chances of downloading a "viewer" or "dialer" program that could turn "free" content into an expensive mistake:

Be skeptical when you see opportunities to view "free" content on the web. Free doesn't always mean free.

Clicking "OK" isn't always okay. Don't click OK unless you know exactly what you're agreeing to. Read online disclosures carefully. They may be buried several clicks away in pages of small print. In addition, read the language in the gray boxes on your screen.

Beware of any program that enables your modem to re-dial to the Internet. If you see a dialog box on your computer indicating that it's dialing when you didn't direct it to, cancel the connection and hang up. Check the number you're dialing and continue only if it's a local call.

If the content you want to view leads to a "viewer" or "dialer" program or you find unauthorized charges on your phone bill, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission...

A Working Strategy
With this type of information out there (as well as the negative experiences of surfers already "burned" by dialers) causing fear among consumers, why not play off of it, providing your site's visitors with this information on how to protect themselves from fraudulent billing practices?

Instead of them having to pay for unwanted content via unwanted means, you could show them how they can easily pay for just the content they want, whether it's a single image or video – or more – all through (for example) the mechanism of the PayAsYouClick billing system.

Do you see where I'm going with this? Relaying the message that customers can get exactly what they want, whether it's a little or a lot of content, right now and for a known price, and providing this message in an upfront and truthful manner, will help instill trust in your offer – and "trust" is the name of the game!

By educating your customers you and your site will be seen in a better light and should notice an increase in conversions. While there are many operators who feel that lies and abuse are the way to get money from surfers, taking a more honest approach pays. Try it out and see for yourself.