There are basically three ways to get more sales into your paysite. You can increase your traffic volume, you can improve your SEO and you can improve your conversion ratios. The most successful paysite programs in our industry maximize their traffic performance by investing time and energy into all three of these methods. They understand that continual testing to improve conversions is just as important as the volume, and quality, of their traffic. And for those who rely on affiliates, they understand that maintaining great conversion ratios isn't only important for today's sales, but is also necessary to maintain the continued trust and cooperation of valuable active affiliates who will provide tomorrow's sales as well.
In the April issue of XBIZ World (page 22) I shared specific strategies for paysites to greatly improve their SEO. In this issue I am going to explain the most reliable and effective way to improve conversions.
The new way to improve conversions is the way most large mainstream websites have been testing conversions for years, by running multiple tests side-by-side and simultaneously on live traffic over the same period of time.
The old way to improve conversions was to make a few changes to a page and then wait for a period of time, maybe a month or a pay period, and then check stats to see if there was an improvement in sales and ratios. If there was an improvement, most programs would typically go on to implement the same changes across all of their sites in hopes that the improved ratios could be repeated network-wide. On the other hand, if the changes resulted in a drop in sales most programs would choose to revert back to the original design in fear of making things worse.
The problem with this old method is that it is a very inaccurate way to test conversions for a number of reasons. First of all, if you make multiple changes to a page or a join form, you can’t know for certain which of those changes were responsible for the improvement. Secondly, a lot of different things can happen over a pay period, or a month, while you run your tests. You might experience a change in your traffic, either in quality or volume. You might experience a natural swing in ratios that commonly happen from time to time, or you might pick up or lose an active affiliate. So with this in mind, if you run a test for a month, decide it didn’t work well and then run another test for a month, you’ve opened yourself up to two full months of natural changes in your traffic that could influence your test results.
So not only is testing in this old way inaccurate, but it takes considerably longer to arrive at measurable results, since you have to run one test at a time, and even if you run the tests for a span of a pay period you’re still looking at months in order to thoroughly test all major aspects of your pages.
The new way to improve conversions is the way most large mainstream websites have been testing conversions for years, by running multiple tests side-by-side and simultaneously on live traffic over the same period of time. And the process is simple. You load your pages into professional Conversion Rate Optimization software and make all the changes you want. You then run the test and the software automatically directs half of your traffic to the original page, to use as your control group, and the other half of your traffic to your page with the changes. It then monitors user activity and reports back performance metrics, which show how each page version is performing (based on your pre-determined goals). This means you can run a test and within an hour you’ll know which page version is getting more clicks or which join page is being submitted more often, based on reliable tests that are run at the same exact time and on the same exact traffic.
This testing method removes all outside variables such as traffic source and volume changes. You can literally run dozens of tests at the same exact time on as many individual pages as you want and because this reliable method tracks every single change, you’ll also know which specific changes are responsible for either the improvement or the decline and then you can change out only the declining tests to further improve your page performance. This system of reliably detecting and removing what’s called “losing variations” and adding “winning variations” is what ensures improvement of your conversion ratios. And the time it takes to run these tests is just a fraction of what it takes to run tests the old way.
Conversion testing systems are very sophisticated, they offer incredibly creative features and are very flexible in what you can do. I’ve had a number of clients here at Adult SEO Training who I managed this kind of conversion testing for and the results were exciting.
To help all paysite owners get started with proper conversion rate optimization I am going to offer some basic testing strategies and am going to list some of the more important elements of a paysite to test, elements that are often the culprit of poor conversion ratios.
Friction is any element on your page or within your join form that slows down the conversion process. These elements often include the form fields you choose to display, the number of steps in the join process and the length of your pages. As adult webmasters and program owners it’s easy for us to assume that the average surfer shares our level of comfort with join forms and the billing process in general, but the truth is that we give surfers far too much credit. Many are naturally skeptical of our industry as a whole, many are confused over the join process and others simply may have language barriers that make understanding the process and terms difficult. All of these equate to a level of friction within your join process and each should be considered and thoroughly tested to minimize it as much as possible.
Avoid long join forms.
Long join forms are common, but they’re not necessary. Just because the default gateway templates in your CMS might display many fields for potential members to fill out does not mean they are necessary to display. It’s been proven many times over that long join forms have a tendency to create levels of anxiety and confusion that can turn people away. So because of this it’s important to consider and test the join form options you display.
Eliminate steps in the join process.
Many adult sites require potential members to fill out two forms, one collecting initial information and another collecting billing information. If you’re not restricted to using third-party billing companies you have the option of combining both join forms into one. So rather than collecting an email and a join option before sending the potential member off to a generic white page with a long form to fill out, consider displaying only one short form on one single join page. By testing this you might learn that the reduced step results in more conversions.
Keep primary benefits and membership options above the fold.
Above the fold is the portion of your page that is viewable without having to scroll. This is where all of the most important elements of your page need to be displayed. If your site scatters these elements throughout your tour, try consolidating them above the fold and run tests to determine conversion improvements. This is especially important on join forms, the submit button should always be visible without having to scroll.
Clarity trumps persuasion.
Rather than working to explain to potential members where to click, why they should join and where to click if they do want to join, try modifying your tour pages and your join process to make the process exceptionally clear. The clearer your process the less you’ll have to explain and the fewer chances your explanations will be lost on potential members.
Test your pricing.
I’m sure every paysite owner has tested pricing in the past, but if that testing was done without the benefits that professional Conversion Rate Optimization software provide, than they should be tested again. It’s important to test multiple price points simultaneously on your live traffic to truly understand what your members respond to best.
Test all best practices.
Everything you think should be on a page should be properly tested. Test your calls-to-action, test any trust icons you might be using, test the use of a warning page on your organic traffic, test the style of your join and billing pages, test how you display your content and test how much content you’re offering for free. Surfer experience and perceptions are always changing and the best practices you’re employing might not be helping conversions as much you might think.
Test your message.
What is the primary message you’re sending to your potential members? Are you trying to sell them on how much content you have? Are you trying to sell them on the value of what your memberships are priced at? How many bonus sites they get with their membership? The quality of your content? An individual model or pornstar? The experience of being a member? It’s important to focus your message to potential members and then test that message against others to see what your traffic responds to best.
Learn from failed tests.
Tests that result in worsened ratios are just as valuable as tests that improve your ratios, because they show you what doesn’t work on your traffic. And as you learn more about what your traffic doesn’t respond well to you can begin to implement only the tests that they typically respond positively to. Reaching this point is very valuable because you begin to naturally avoid tests that worsen your conversions.
Always be testing.
Traffic is always changing and what surfers respond to changes with it. So even though you tested to your tour homepage or your join page to near perfection does not mean it’s going to remain near perfect forever. Testing should be an ongoing process to make sure that your tour homepage, your join page as well as each and every one of your internal pages are always converting as well as they possibly can. And remember that every site is different and has its own traffic base, so what works on one site might not necessarily work on another. It’s important to test each site within your network individually to determine what truly performs best on each. It’s only after doing this that you can be sure you’re making the most of every single click you work so hard to get.
How to prepare your own conversion tests.
For more information on conversion testing and how to prepare your own tests please visit AdultSEOTraining.com and feel free to contact me directly. I’m always around to help.