Traffic Jam: Part 1

Stephen Yagielowicz

Well, it's that time of year again. Tomorrow I'll be back in Las Vegas, and in a few short days I'll be up on stage, speaking on "The Traffic Generation." For those who can't make it, here's a quick glimpse of my impending ramble. For those who will be there, here's a preview:

While Traffic Generation is a topic that I've spoken and extensively written on before, today I want to discuss not "How to Get Traffic," but "How to Get Rid of Traffic." For many adult Webmasters, this is an alien concept: after all, you can never have enough traffic, so why would you focus on how you lose it, rather than obtain it? The answer is simple: If you really want to maximize your site's profitability, then you must pay as much attention to where your traffic goes (and how it gets there) once it leaves your site, as you do to where your traffic comes from.

The Problem
Far too many Webmasters focus their efforts on stampeding as many surfers towards their site's "enter" link as possible. They work Link Lists, Top Lists, Pic Posts, TGPs and Search Engines. They try targeted opt-in email lists, and some even flirt with spam. The methods are different but the goal is the same: to drive fresh eyeballs to their offer. But what happens when the prospect declines that offer, or worse yet, never sees it because he or she doesn't click the "enter" link?

More likely than not, "nothing" happens. The prospect exits your site at a point of his choosing, either by following a link, hitting the "back" button, or by simply closing the browser's Window. Sure, many Webmasters might throw an exit console or two at the prospect, and some might subject the surfer to a circle-jerking console hell, but this is usually an afterthought; a virtual post script to a failed sales pitch:

A Trip to Wal-Mart
If you wish to make a positive impact on your bottom line, then you must pay attention to your traffic's exit pattern, and learn to "control" it as much as possible (and ethical). Take Wal-Mart for example: when you visit this mass market retailer, you should be warmly greeted at the door in a very friendly, helpful manner. This week's current sales flyers are placed near the entrance where they're easily found, and if there's something specific that you need, the "greeter" will tell you exactly where to look for what you want.

Most adult sites share a similar entrance approach, with a cheerful "Welcome!" accompanied by a smiling face, and a couple of ads. While the site's navigational structure may be as vague as the directions to the aisle containing your desired widget — given to you by an uncertain retiree, the main difference between the Wal-Mart experience and a typical adult site is what happens on your way out the door. Doors that the store chooses for you, limiting access to some, paving the way for others; and aware of it or not, you are funneled through a carefully planned, pre-selected traffic flow pattern designed to maximize the company's profitability all the way to the door.

At this exit door, another greeter is standing nearby, and while a major part of their job is to "minimize shrinkage" (a polite term meaning "to keep you from stealing shit"), they perform several additional tasks, including asking you if you've found everything you're looking for. Imagine if Wal-Mart's exit greeter stopped you at the door, prevented your return to where you came from, and started piling those sales flyers on you...

They want to make sure that you do not leave unsatisfied, and that if you are "unsatisfied" that you know where to find what you want. They'll even watch your cart load of previously paid for merchandise while you run back to aisle 3 to get batteries for your new widget. You will also notice another stack of those current sales flyers, just by the exit door; you may see something you didn't know you wanted, but now can't live without, and since the sale is on all week, you can easily return later. Helpful, convenient, and as non-intrusive as possible. Leaves you all warm and fuzzy, doesn't it?

Contrast this behavior with the aforementioned circle-jerk console hell; imagine if Wal-Mart's exit greeter stopped you at the door, prevented your return to where you came from, and started piling those sales flyers on you, shoving them into your face and screaming "Buy This!" Overwhelmed by this assault, you would likely run from the store as quickly as possible, and never return again — I would certainly not make a purchase there.

The moral of this story is that there are ways in which to deal with your traffic that will be remembered as helpful, rather than be resented as intolerable. That as important as being nice to people on the way in is, it's also important to be nice to them on their way out the door. Now that I've laid a philosophical foundation for dealing with the people that make up your traffic, I'll reveal the mechanics of profiting from your exit traffic, however, that's for tomorrow: ~ Stephen