opinion

Secrets of the Paysite Joins

AJ Hall

Would you join your own web site? Why?

Once you can answer this you’ll have the information you need to start identifying ways to improve your site so it sells and retains members better than ever before.

A well-built paysite front end has only one goal: Closing sales.

You may have heard the expression “the devil is in the details” or “God is in the details.” The second quote is often attributed to architect Mies van der Rohe and although it may not have originated with him, he was a famous practitioner of the concept that less-is-more and details are what matters.

With paysites, the secret to their sales ability often comes from the areas that site owners, webmasters and designers ignore. The magic lies with the subtle sound that stands out amidst all the white noise. This is where your marketing message takes center stage. It’s the song you sing with your sales copy.

Paysite owners are very focused on content and design. They obsess over the look of things, the specific features they feel they can’t live without, the way things must be presented in order to make their customers happy or prevent them from being unhappy. But the reality is, they’re working only to please themselves. Most of them have no clue whatsoever what makes their customers happy and much of the time their customers couldn’t care less about the very things they’re obsessing over.

Many of my very own software customers are so lost when it comes to this stuff that after years of giving Elevated X CMS users free advice we decided to start a spinoff service called Pay Site Optimizer just for providing site analysis and strategy information.

I’ve built, designed or optimized hundreds of adult paysites over the last 14 years. When I look at a paysite I can usually identify several problems within the first 30 seconds of looking at a tour page. Generally these are obstacles to sales that actually work against the site when it comes to making sales. Either visitors get off on the tour and have no reason to join, or they’ll exit prior to the join page. The join page usually deals the death-blow and will kill the sale for at least half of any remaining suffers who make it that far. The promising thing is that it’s all fixable.

Optimizing a tour is not easy. It could be and likely will be the subject of several different articles. The truth is that small changes can make a big difference and something as seemingly small as how many free video trailers are playable on a page can mean the difference between single or double digit sales days for a lot of sites.

A well-built paysite front end has only one goal: Closing sales.

If we break things down the Mies van der Rohe way and focus on the details we can demystify the sales process.

The customer’s journey begins long before they arrive at your paysite – it begins when they encounter the first link in the chain and they first learn of your site via a search result, a tube video, a gallery page, banner or other means. This is the point when pre-selling begins. This step is an often missed opportunity. Once a customer passes this stage in the sale process they arrive at your paysite which (if used correctly) is really just a traffic funnel that leads them to your join page.

As site owners we think “get them to my site any way I can and get them to sign up.” All the marketing material we create is used solely to drive traffic to the paysite. The problem with this thinking is that the entire burden is placed on a tour design to do all the work.

A well designed tour’s job is to close the sale. Instead, most paysites have a tour (likely designed by someone with zero knowledge of marketing or the psychology of sales) that they entrust 100 percent with the tasks of initiating the sale, convincing the customer, overcoming objections and closing the sale. And site owners wonder why traffic is down, bounce rates are high and conversion ratios are low.

What the marketing materials should be doing is pre-selling the customer so that a higher percentage of those who decide to visit the site are somewhat qualified as possible buyers. In other words, by the time they reach your site there should already be a strong likelihood that they will sign up for a membership. If you had a professional sales force, your paysite tour would be your top closer.

I’ll tell you a secret – a well-designed header banner and well written sales copy will outperform a fancy, expensive tour design almost 100 percent of the time.

When I advise my customers on how to optimize their paysites I tell them to have a few nice headers designed for a fraction of the cost of a tour design – and rotate them on page load. The money you’ll save is better spent elsewhere.

To achieve goal No. 1 of closing sales, recall your answer to the question from the beginning: Would you join your own website? Why?

The “why” is the information you want to start sharing with people the moment they first learn about your site. How often do you update? Is your content HD? Is it tablet and mobile compatible? Is your site interactive? You want to begin to tell people of the benefits of being a member of your site long before they see your tour for the first time. Then on your tour you want to drive these points home, reinforce them and offer even more reasons for a customer to sign up so it becomes harder and harder (no pun intended) for them to resist signing up just to see what’s inside your site.

Then, you want to experiment and test like crazy until your web stats show more and more people making it further into your tour and more people arriving at the join page.

The job of your design is not to dazzle people, it’s to convey your main selling points and hammer them into a customer’s mind so when the blood rushes to his dick he can still recall exactly why pulling out his credit card seems like such a good idea. The fact that your slick tour gave him a hard-on is fantastic but his hard-on doesn’t have its own credit card so you still need to appeal to his other senses if you want him to sign up and not blow his load and go to sleep before he has a chance to pay.

To do this, make your sales copy speak to your customers’ innermost fears and desires. Keep singing sweet melodies to them until they sign up.

Remember that God (or the devil if you prefer) is in the details. Pre-sell from the moment a potential customer learns of your site. Use your tour to close the sale, not handle the entire sales process. Write solid sales copy. Reinforce the reasons for joining and bait the customer. Use your join page to overcome any remaining obstacles in a customer’s mind and make the decision to sign up an easy one and you’ll be well on your way to making more sales.

AJ Hall is a 12-year adult industry veteran and the co-founder and chief executive officer of Elevated X Inc., a provider of popular adult CMS software for the online adult entertainment industry. Elevated X powers more than 2,000 leading adult sites, has been nominated for industry awards 11 times and won the 2012 XBIZ Award for Software Company of the Year.

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