opinion

Traffic and Billing Choices Find Intersection

Stephen Yagielowicz

One of the ways that adult paysite operators can improve their efficiency, profitability and sales is by examining the various ways that traffic composition and flow can impact, and are impacted by, their chosen billing options. While it is easy to say that the more or better the traffic, the more sales a website will make, XBIZ readers are interested in other issues beyond this simple explanation.

An obvious example is the U.K.’s recent “no debit cards for porn” mandate, which means that adult merchants targeting British consumers need to ensure alternative billing channels are in place, if they want to mitigate the loss of this popular billing mechanism.

The convergence of traffic and cash isn’t just about problems, however, as there are many opportunities that can be uncovered when you take the time to focus on anything and everything that encourages, or hampers, sales on your targeted website.

Another easy example is the need for mobile ready join forms that are geo-targeted to the customer’s location, language and their currency of choice. Other less obvious issues include join form load times and the effect this metric has on abandonment percentages, where potential customers simply get tired of waiting for the sale to go through and leave, if your join form is responding too slowly.

The convergence of traffic and cash isn’t just about problems, however, as there are many opportunities that can be uncovered when you take the time to focus on anything and everything that encourages, or hampers, sales on your targeted website.

For example, savvy affiliates may find that sending traffic directly to their sponsor’s join page may prove a better strategy than sending traffic to the site’s home page — if the affiliate can do a much better job of selling the sponsor’s site, than can the sponsor itself.

In order to take a closer look, XBIZ posed a few questions to the billing folks and other members of the XBIZ.net professional network, including asking what they see as the most important factors influencing the intersection of billing and traffic today, as well as how their companies address these issues.

The responses were enlightening. Judo Porn of No Limits LLC told XBIZ that currently the biggest problem is the marriage of the pre-join form and the actual credit card billing page; an inherent problem resulting from the use of third party billing companies; and points to a variety of overlooked issues that he feels greatly reduce a site’s potential sales.

These issues include the use of pre-join forms without collecting email addresses for follow on marketing; including emailing those that don’t join after completing this step, which is reason enough to collect email addresses on a pre-join page. Judo Porn also points to the use of pre-join buffer pages featuring extraneous content as being steady sales killers.

Listing prices on the pre-join form and not offering a trial deal, or offering recurring packages next to non-recurring packages, also make the sale-killing list; but these factors are not alone.

“I think inherently well thought out artwork is typically missed on pre-join forms and definitely on join pages,” Judo Porn states, adding that another problem area is a join page that does not display the specific amount that the customer is being charged. “That should be up top, the price you are paying today — big, bold and with well thought out artwork … and the terms of signup [described] on the signup page.”

Judo Porn also takes exception to third party billing scrubs, or the level of authentication of customers and control over a site’s transaction throughput, which he says are set for the masses rather than for individual sites or submerchants, adding that “the list goes on, but this is what I have tested and found to be barriers for typical sites.”

According to VinnyWTS from ACH / online check processor WTS, more traffic doesn’t necessarily equate to more revenue; with one of the company’s primary concerns being to protect its clients from fraudulent transactions, whether coming from an affiliate or from the consumer.

VinnyWTS told XBIZ about how WTS validates and screens clients’ traffic before a transaction is pushed to its banks, and notes that not all of this will directly apply to how credit card transactions are handled.

“The first level of screening takes place when a consumer enters their personal and payment information on the join page. WTS validates the identity of any ‘first time purchaser’ by matching personal data (name, address and last four digits of SSN, etc.) through several third party databases. This all happens in real time,” VinnyWTS stated.

“Next we ask the consumer an ‘out of wallet’ question that only they will know the answer to. If they pass that level of verification, we then authenticate their bank account as being open, valid, and in good standing.”

“All of this happens seconds after the consumer hits ‘Submit,’” VinnyWTS clarified. “If the consumer passes that level of fraud scrubbing, we grant them access to the site.”

WTS also performs an additional level of verification by performing a manual review of all transactions before sending them to the bank.

“We have full-time staff that are trained to identify consumers or transactions that have a high probability of being fraudulent,” VinnyWTS confided. “Once identified, we immediately remove access for those users and remove them from our bank files.”

By the time the transaction actually makes it to the bank, the risk of fraud has been reduced to a minimum.

“We perform these measures to protect the integrity of each transaction and to increase the opportunity for our clients to optimize their ‘good’ traffic,” VinnyWTS says. “Our join pages are mobile compatible and we offer clients the ability to perform cross sales, one-click upgrades, micro-trial purchases, user loyalty programs, and much more.”

“All of these tools help to maximize the potential earnings from each ‘good’ piece of consumer traffic that becomes a paying member,” VinnyWTS concludes, adding that as ACH tends to recur longer than most credit card transactions, the value of “good” traffic actually increases for the company’s clients.

According to Red Apple Media CEO and co-founder Steven Daris, the best way to see what works for your online business is to do A/B testing, and to try different methods.

“See what converts better. Many website owners only look at general web stats and don’t think to use the variety of other tools available to give them richer information on what is selling, what is not selling, what converts, and if landing page 1 is better then landing page 2 or 3,” Daris told XBIZ. “And of course your sites should always be fast.”

“Test your sites often to make sure they load superfast and, if you have sample videos or video content, that they load an all devices and all versions of the operating systems you’re targeting,” Daris adds, concluding that site owners should “Test, test and test again — and then look at the data.”

It is all food for thought when considering how traffic and billing can come together, a better understanding of which can make a huge difference in improving a site’s sales. Take a look at how your site, or the site you promote, handles its join process and see if you can spot room for improvement.

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