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The Art of the Reel: How Cam Networks Attract and Retain Customers

The Art of the Reel: How Cam Networks Attract and Retain Customers
Stephen Yagielowicz

From the industry’s roots as a means for a solo model to share a webcam feed with a single fan, to today’s sophisticated networks serving tens of thousands of models and their millions of customers, camming has skyrocketed in popularity and profitability.

From solo model to super network, however, regardless of the size of the operation, the need for new prospects and the business necessity of keeping them as loyal fans, remains the same. For a glimpse into this competitive playing field, XBIZ recently asked a handful of experienced operators, “What does your cam network do to attract new customers and keep them coming back?”

Our models don’t just say, ‘No, I don’t do that.’ They say, ‘I’m sorry, that’s not a fetish I’m personally familiar or comfortable with, but I can refer you to Model X, and this is more in her wheelhouse.’ This sense of good karma in passing customers back and forth among the My Fetish Live models helps to foster a deeper sense of community.

Here’s what they had to say:

FFN event manager Elli Rudolph told XBIZ there are many experiences on Cams.com that keep its members coming back for more.

“Part of that is the choice members have when they come to the site,” Rudolph revealed. “Our unique Buzz-Mode and Tipping Mode allows members to have fun with amazing models for tip amounts that they decide in a group environment.

“For one-on-one privates, members can have a premium experience in a more intimate atmosphere and really get to know the model of their choice,” Rudolph added. “Interactive toys, cam-to-cam experiences and offline private phone calls are also available on the site.”

MyFetishLive.com owner Michael Goldsmith says one of the major factors that bring in new customers “is our willingness to push the envelope and to be inclusive of some of the more esoteric and extreme fetishes that many sites won’t allow.”

“From our inception, we have had a very strong organic following that has been a key to our success,” Goldsmith explained. “A lot of our new customers follow their favorite models here through social media. We do very little advertising on our own. Aside from social media, our affiliates bring in a lot of new highly qualified traffic.”

As for customer retention, Goldsmith thanks the site’s models for that.

“Our models do a great job individually, but no one model can be everything for everyone,” he told XBIZ. “As such, and I feel that this is something that does make My Fetish Live somewhat unique, is that our models are very good at communicating with each other and referring customers back and forth when they receive a fetish request that is outside of their knowledge set. In short, our models don’t just say, ‘No, I don’t do that.’ They say, ‘I’m sorry, that’s not a fetish I’m personally familiar or comfortable with, but I can refer you to Model X, and this is more in her wheelhouse.’

“This sense of good karma in passing customers back and forth among the My Fetish Live models helps to foster a deeper sense of community among the models,” Goldsmith elucidated, “and our customers pick up on those good vibes, which in turn, creates a stronger connection with the site.”

Jim Austin, Stripchat’s head of business development, told XBIZ there is no new, secret strategy for attracting new clients.

“The traffic marketplace is hard and extremely competitive,” Austin said. “But one advantage that we do have is that we are a fresh product, and affiliates enjoy our good sign-up rates because we don’t have a saturated user base.”

For retention, Austin underscored that the company offers “a lot of cool features that help build customer loyalty,” and while he noted its email marketing is quite successful, he confided that it is the strength of the site’s models that keep users coming back for more.

“Our clean, easy-to-use interface is also one of our deciding factors,” Austin explained. “Too many times cam sites can become almost like a circus atmosphere with weird notifications, jumping emoticons and other strange stuff.

“But the primary factor that keeps our users coming back is the fact that Stripchat was built on the latest technology and not stuck in legacy code,” Austin illuminated. “That allows us to offer the cam user the best viewing experience.”

Senior affiliate manager Katy said the most important source of new visitors for BongaCams is its affiliate network, BongaCash.

“We are very grateful to our partners for their support and efforts to promote BongaCams,” Katy told XBIZ, “and we make sure their work is paid in full.”

Katy underlined one of BongaCams’ advantages is “being who we are — a freemium website.”

“Our visitors want to get a glimpse of what they can get for their money, and BongaCams is where they come for that,” Katy remarked. “By trying out our free membership they can decide if it’s worth it, and lots of them think it is. And for sure, one of our main [secrets to] success lies in our models — they are what keeps the fire burning with their passion and love for their work.”

COO Shirley Lara shared that Chaturbate has always focused on making the user experience as easy and seamless as possible.

“This starts with placing the highest traffic chatrooms on the home page, regardless of whether the broadcaster is male, female or a couple,” Lara revealed. “Then, we constantly research and implement enhanced viewing options to allow users to experience Chaturbate video streams their way, [including] the new feature theater mode, the PanCam that is in beta now and the ability to choose from as many payment options as possible to purchase tokens while maintaining their privacy.”

Speaking to that last point, Lara noted the company recently introduced Bitcoin as a payment option, due to customer requests.

CAM4’s head of PR Derek Devlin said, “Truth be told, we do very little!” emphasizing the role that quality performers play in a site’s profitability.

“We have a thriving community of awesome people who each and every day meet, engage and entertain,” Devlin offered. “It’s our performers who build genuine relationships with fans and it’s these long lasting relationships that help to keep people active on the platform.”

VNALive’s Vicky Vette told XBIZ VNALive reaches fans via word of mouth “through social networks and girls letting their members know they are live,” and noted the company does press for special events.

Additionally, pricing plays an important role in the network’s ongoing success.

“Guys come back because they are tired of spending $6.99 or more a minute to chat with a girl, [where five] minutes costs more than $35,” Vette said. “With VNALive, if you spend about $25 (or less) a month you can chat with 60 different girls with no per-minute fees.

“We have about 200 (or more) member shows a month,” she continued. “That’s 12,000 minutes for less than .002 cents a minute. When guys do the math they stick around and come back.”

For other companies, the focus is on building quality partnerships and substantial advertising budgets that can help level the playing field.

“We team up with the best studios and models in the industry,” FreeWebCams’ Eric Wexel told XBIZ, “and spend millions of dollars on media buys to attract and keep our customers.”

It is clear from these comments that while each network has its own secret sauce, a reliance on the best performers and their ability to attract and retain fans is key to gaining market share and ongoing sales.

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