Paysites: Giving Them What They Want

Imagine walking by a line of retail shops. Each shop has windows so dirty you can barely see through them. There’s plenty of signage out front but it’s so poorly written you’re not quite sure what they’re selling. You peer through the windows and you see the same dingy, worn out clothing on display. You ask yourself “how are these shops still in business?”

Welcome to the world of adult paysites in 2013.

I’ve yet to meet a paysite owner who doesn’t want more traffic. Whether you have a lot of traffic or just a little, for it to be worth anything you need to have a site that’s capable of converting sales.

The world of paysites has become selfindulgent. Nearly every new startup we’ve encountered at Elevated X over the last few years has been entirely about the ego and desires of the site owner and not at all about the needs or wants of the customer.

Existing site owners can be just as arrogant, having been successful in the good old days when the sales came easy. If they’re honest, many of them will admit that they wouldn’t even join their own websites today yet they piss and moan all day long and blame tubes for taking away their sales.

A strong selling site focuses on fulfilling the wants and needs of the customer.

People are still very willing to pay if you give them the incentive. The online marketplace is more alive than ever but consumers are smarter and with greater options, they can afford to be a lot more selective.

If you want to be successful and see increasing sales you need to really think about what it is that today’s customer wants and focus on doing your very best to give it to them.

Despite the downturn in recent years, we’ve entered a new era. Erotica and porn are generally accepted and in many circles sexuality is considered a healthy part of human existence. Smart companies are embracing this and the really smart ones are exploiting the shit out of it.

This is good for paysite owners because it means there are more ways to appeal to people’s senses and attract them as buyers, as well as keep them as recurring members.

Hollywood movies feature graphic, very realistic, simulated sex scenes. Our culture eats up graphic erotica novels. Cable shows about swinging and polygamy are the subject of water-cooler conversation. Young adults find porn to be less taboo. It’s common for women to talking openly about vibrators and adult videos among their girlfriends. More surprisingly, women are discussing sex in mixed company. More couples of all ages are enjoying porn together as a regular part of the sexual routine.

It’s real. It’s here. It’s happening now. Exploit it and your site will make more sales. Start thinking about your customers and better yet, think like your customers!

If you make things interesting to people and present them in an interesting way that engages people they will be drawn into your site. Simple ways to do this include use of social media tools like Twitter and Facebook, interactive polls, contests, user commenting, top lists and other features that go beyond static content.

From a content standpoint, the canned production format that worked great 5-10 years ago isn’t working as well anymore. Neither is the method of dumping a shitton of wall-to-wall sex scenes into a database. Simply telling someone they can download a bazillion videos is no longer enough to make them fork over their hardearned cash. You also can’t get away with shooting the same scene every week with different models and set dressing. The new breed of mature consumer isn’t going to pay a monthly fee for this.

What will they pay for? They’ll pay to get lost in a fantasy. They will also pay for information, knowledge, variety and entertainment. They will pay heavily to ease their fears and to fulfill their curiosities. People also love to gossip and to see what other people are doing. The magic of the Internet is that it lets them do this privately and anonymously.

Today’s customer also has much higher technical expectations. Content needs to be higher quality. It needs to be viewable on a PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone and any tablet or mobile device you’re using. It needs to look good on a TV so you can play it with a Roku or use your Apple TV to play videos via Wi-Fi.

I recently started a site analysis and marketing strategy service called paysite Optimizer. As result, much of my time lately has been spent studying paysites and identifying what they’re doing wrong. There’s a lot being done wrong; each report is several pages long.

It’s forced me to look at a lot of sites I’d never seen before. Some are big adult brands and others are tiny, obscure sites belonging to niches I never even heard of despite thinking I had seen it all.

After seeing nearly every major studio site, big program sites, kinky sites, a fart fetish site and even a furry comic web site, I realized that aside from the obscure niche sites, the other sites were very similar. They’re so similar that in some cases they’re interchangeable. When content is similar, branding, packaging and different features becomes more important.

The biggest trend is that most of the paysites I visited are severely outdated. Site owners seem to be very disconnected from what today’s customer wants.

The big question is: why should someone join your site?

Going back to my opening paragraph, if you look at the dingy windows and crappy signage on most paysites it seems the reasons to join are tons of old videos, frequent updates and possibly a mobile version and/or live shows. Big deal. When presented with this for $29.95, the free videos on YouPorn are looking better and better despite their low quality.

I’ve yet to meet a paysite owner who doesn’t want more traffic. Whether you have a lot of traffic or just a little, for it to be worth anything you need to have a site that’s capable of converting sales.

The first step toward doing this is modernizing.

1) Make your site look like it was built within the last couple of years. This means it should be designed for a minimum of 1024 resolution viewing. Preview thumbnails and DVD box shots should be large enough to clearly see the action. Text should be big enough to be easy to read. Make your pages free of clutter, easy on the eyes and easy to navigate.

2) Make your site tablet and mobile phone compatible. Your primary site can be tablet friendly. For mobile users, forget responsive design, it’s simply not good enough and is a lazy shortcut and a poor substitute for a dedicated mobile versions of a web site. Give customers the best viewing experience possible even if it forces you not to be lazy. The results will be worth it in the long run.

3) Offer up to date videos in MP4 format with large versions as close to 1280 resolution as possible and as close to HD as possible. Believe it or not, HD is not a requirement in many customers’ minds and most sites will do just fine as long as video quality is near-HD and clarity is very high.

The second step is presenting your site in an appealing way.

1) Present your content in a way that makes it appear to be more than just a dump of content. A cold, lifeless “all you can eat” approach is not going to convert as many sales. Make it seem as if you actually care about the product you’re selling. Clean the filthy store windows. Pop for the $300-400 for a nice new modern site logo and header design to spruce things up. The return is almost always worth the small expense.

2) Think about your packaging. Rather than just telling someone they can watch or download a ton of videos, sell them on WHY they should want to be a member of your site. What’s interesting or special about your videos that someone should want to buy them? What’s different about your videos than all the other videos out there? Is there any benefit to being a member besides just accessing the videos?

3) Focus on things you can do (or say) that would make someone want to be a member of your site. Make it easy for them to make the decision to sign up and make it easy for them to figure out how to sign up to be a member. Do your very best to take away their fears and objections and make it seem like very little risk to join and make the join process quick and easy.

By modernizing and focusing on ways to stand out and cater to your paysite members’ needs, you will instantly become part of the minority. You’ll be among the small percentage of paysites that have what it takes to convert today’s buyer – this is exactly where you want to be.

AJ Hall is a 12-year adult industry veteran and the co-founder and chief executive officer of Elevated X Inc., a provider of popular adult CMS software for the online adult entertainment industry. Elevated X powers more than 2,000 leading adult sites, has been nominated for industry awards 11 times and won the 2012 XBIZ Award for Software Company of the Year.