opinion

The Art of the Upsell

A.J. Hall

Since 2006 my company Elevated X has sold CMS software used by thousands of adult pay sites including the official sites of dozens of studio brands. I like to login to my customers’ sites from time to time to see what people are doing. When I look at studio sites I see a lot of similarities but the one thing missing from nearly all of them is product upsells.

Oddly enough, I do see upsells for other membership sites. It’s crazy to me that people are willing to send their own customers away and literally give them to a competing site for a $30 payout but won’t make an effort to sell them products. It’s even crazier considering how high we know the markup on sensual products is.

The beauty of selling from within a site’s member’s area is that the people seeing the ads are pre-qualified. They’ve already made a purchase so they have already proven to be buyers who are willing to make an adult related purchase online.

I understand that for a lot of site owners and webmasters what I’m suggesting can’t be done easily and that’s a good excuse for not upselling. For my own customers using Elevated X to run their sites, however, it can be done very easily. Within minutes someone can add a banner ad to any page on their site, yet so few are doing it.

Every page on a pay site’s member’s area creates an opportunity to sell something that doesn’t compete with the site in any way. We know the result of people watching online porn. We also know the motivations and that they’re varied but the list is not extensive (e.g. visual arousal, education, curiosity, inspiration, fantasy fulfillment, etc.) Because of this, there’s little risk in having a site that has well placed, relatively unobtrusive ads. By this I mean that ads should be in highly visible page locations and large enough to be noticed but should not be confused with or get in the way of the actual content.

If you’re willing to send your customers to another site once they’ve paid to join yours, at least send them to a site that doesn’t compete with what you’re offering them. Instead of upselling other sites and sending customers away, studio sites should be using prime page real-estate on headers and side-bars to show ads offering specials on masturbators, lubes and stimulators that can be enjoyed by and appeal to just about anyone.

As a member moves deeper within a site, every page should have specific, relevant ads. For example, a video showing a woman using a Hitachi wand to get herself off should have an ad next to it to buy the Hitachi wand. If she’s wearing hot pink French panties, there should be a small ad under the ad for the wand to buy similar panties. If it’s a massage scene there should be an ad to buy the massage oil. If the scene features a whip or handcuffs or a blindfold there should be an option to buy these items. If a scene setup is that the performers are a swinging couple, have a link on the page to buy a book on Amazon about how to get into swinging. Videos featuring condoms should have ads for condoms. With all ads, there should always be an angle: They’re not just condoms, they’re the very best condoms… the ones preferred by porn stars.

The beauty of selling from within a site’s member’s area is that the people seeing the ads are pre-qualified. They’ve already made a purchase so they have already proven to be buyers who are willing to make an adult related purchase online. The space used to show ads is not being used for anything mission critical so showing ads really has no downside from a user-experience perspective. If done tastefully, upselling can actually improve the user experience for pay site members.

AJ Hall is a 14-year adult industry veteran and CEO of Elevated X Inc., a provider of popular adult site CMS software. Hall has spoken at industry trade shows and is a contributing writer for several trade publications. Elevated X software powers more than 2,000 leading adult sites, has been nominated for more than a dozen industry awards and won the 2012 and 2014 XBIZ Award for Software Company of the Year.

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