Previously, we've addressed the need to understand the gay marketplace and its particular needs and expectations. If we assume that an ambitious webmaster has heeded our advice and set up a legitimate website that attracts a segment of the gay market, we need to address customer retention — the real secret behind successful gay websites.
Many gay websites are merely cookie cutter sites with advantageous domain names and traffic hungry webmasters. But traffic doesn't mean much to any webmaster if they regard the site as a mere toll on the information superhighway — they may buy once, but continue on in search of newer, more inventive destinations.
"Gay sites are like gay men," claims Benoit Le Chevallier, marketing manager for FasterBucks.com. "They are what they are, open and honest about who and what they are, or at least wanting to be. If a site has quality content that is updated often enough to keep the surfer's attention, and the content delivered is the same that is advertised, then surfers will come back."
Like any business, repeat customers want good value, quality product and fresh content. Determining price points and purchase plans for your website is always a matter of trial and error, but researching competing sites is the best place to start.
Look for websites that surpass your current goal. You may only have a few hundred pictures and a catchy niche like "Naked Gay Republicans" or "Sexy Woodchopping Lesbians," but look for sites that cater to a larger audience. Not only will you set your own sights higher, your customer will sense that your site is growing and worth returning to, even if they fly through your galleries and leave.
The easiest way to make your site appear dynamic is to update it regularly. Strange but true. As you add new galleries, new services and new sections to your site, let your customers know. Old visitors will appreciate being so adroitly directed and first-time visitors will recognize that it's an operational, growing site.
One fact frequently missed by newbie gay adult webmasters is that while conversions are initially lower than on straight sites, gay consumers are more likely to become repeat customers. Veterans in the gay adult niche agree that, in some cases, longer retention rates are more often the result of well-aimed and well-executed websites than from purchased traffic. Additionally, since many gay members seem to be more loyal to the sites they enjoy, it is critical that content remains fresh and high quality in order to bring them back for more.
Typically, customer loyalty happens before the first purchase — in fact, often before the visitor has even considered purchasing. Like a cat pacing before a nap, the gay consumer will often look at various options before returning to your site for the purchase.
Since gay and lesbian consumers are often more web (and porn) savvy than their straight counterparts, they rarely "bite" or make a purchase on their first visit. Only after surfing the web to see if they can find a similar product for cheaper (and, with due diligence on your part, they won't) or free (time to find a new niche), will they return to make a purchase.
In addition to adding and highlighting new additions, more inventive webmasters may want to attach a weblog or "blog" to the site. Blogs not only give your visitors behind-the scenes information on the production of pornography, they also give your site a personality and a face. Frequent entries lead to a steady stream of repeat visitors — consumers that may not purchase on the first or second visit, but instead on the fifth or sixth.
Adding or alternating free, teaser content when updating a paysite will always encourage visitors to get more involved. Like a proverbial hole in the wall, it helps create a dedicated and energetic consumer base before they even make their first purchase. Visitors new and old should be granted a frequently refreshed sample of your wares, if only to entice them into eventually making a purchase.
If there is no opportunity to contact the webmaster — either clearly marked or directly on the homepage — the gay consumer is less likely to make a purchase. Instead, visitors will merely rifle through your free galleries, eating up your precious bandwidth before moving on to a trustworthy site.
Encourage customer retention before your customers make their first purchase by treating all visitors to a welcome, fresh and approachable gay adult website.