How to Successfully Market Your Paysite Offerings

With a flip-flopping public consensus on message boards, depending who you choose to listen to, you’ll be led believe that one paysite business model is better than another.

Unfortunately, the silent majority don’t participate in message boards and as my last XBIZ World article covered, there’s no collection of published sales stats to offer up industry-wide estimates of sales sources or volume.

Every paysite owner and content producer should be using a site management software platform that allows them to sell both memberships and on-demand content and should not expect to do equal revenue from both or have both be equally successful but to treat the addition of either/or as additional revenue.

It shocked me to learn over the last year or so that there are still tons of sites operating on one specific model — exclusively. Those still doing really good numbers with hosted clip stores have yet to make the move to running their own sites on their own platform and have yet to add monthly memberships (or longer-term memberships) as an option.

On the other side, those still heavily involved in the membership market and still seeing strong numbers have yet to add a purchasing channel for individual content items be it digital full DVDs, scenes or clips.

Nearly every producer I’ve talked to says the same thing: “I don’t want to lose my ____ sales to ____.” If membership sales are solid they don’t want to lose those $29 or $39 sales to a $5, $7 or $10 VOD sale. If their VOD sales are solid they don’t want to lose their diehard fans and porn addicted whales to a $29 or $39 all you can eat unlimited download membership.

This begets the question “Is there a way to do both?”

Of course there’s a way, but how it can be done to drive maximum sales without one traffic and sales source cannibalizing the other and reducing the site’s revenue is the challenge.

Here are a few ways site owners can increase sales by offering both membership and on-demand content purchasing without as much risk to the bottom line.

Sell different content on-demand.

If you already have a solid membership site, consider offering content for direct purchase that’s different from your member content but complimentary to it so you don’t upset or anger your members. No one likes being upsold after they’ve paid a substantial amount for a membership. By differentiating the content, members will have a clear understanding as to why it’s not part of their membership.

The easiest way to do this is to have a separate navigation tab or link for VOD content so it’s obvious to a member that it’s a separate site section with optional content. This allows you add a new revenue stream without offering so much or such similar content that you lose members.

Some sites can’t get away with this but many can. A solo model for example can’t offer softcore solo videos with membership but charge for hardcore videos without risk of pissing off members. The model could, however, reduce this risk if the member content is consistent and the VOD content differs e.g. softcore/hardcore member content and BDSM or fetish content is VOD only.

If you’re doing well with clip sales and don’t want to jeopardize that by offering memberships, consider only offering a membership for access to your older content or content that’s been saturated and slowed sales-wise and charge a monthly, quarterly, annual or one-time fee for access to the member’s archive.

Another thing that’s very easy to sell alongside a membership are related text or video products or programs such as how-to guides and instructional videos. If you’re a producer, for example, you might try selling a 30-minute video about how to shoot your own movies, recruit models, how to get started with XYZ, or whatever is appealing to your audience that you have extensive knowledge about.

Sell a different version of content on demand.

With the increasing expectation of HD or Ultra-HD, the window of time for being able to upsell a giant HD or 4K or better video file is closing quickly. The safer play is to offer longer, better, or slightly different versions for on demand purchasing, similar to popular Hollywood movies being market with a separate “Uncut” version.

This is obviously only possible if you shoot your own content but there are multiple creative ways of doing this to allow membership volume to stay the same.

One is to offer video scenes for members and offer full length DVDs or longer scene compilations for on demand purchasing. Another is to go the route of Hollywood and offer scenes or DVDs with additional footage, extras or bonus content for on demand purchasing.

Only offer downloads for on-demand content.

This is another gray area and one that carries some risk of upsetting members, the exception being if a site offers a free or cheap membership option or has clear differentiation of what’s available for streaming/online viewing only and what’s available for download.

Many members still expect to be able to download videos so doing this will require careful experimentation if a site isn’t already well established with a streaming-only membership setup.

If you opt to go this route there are a few methods but I feel most of what I’ve seen being done is too risky as upset members usually never come back. The safest way to explore this is to shift to a streaming-only site model (if not already) and then separate the download option by adding a “Buy” link to the site’s main navigation and making it an obvious section with information explaining that members can download and own the content.

Regardless of which of these methods (or one of your own not covered here) that you decide to go with, personally, I would probably start by offering something different rather than a different version. If I had DVD content for example, I would test an existing membership site by offering scenes for viewing (or just streaming access) and the full DVD for purchase only. This or selling totally separate content, say for a similar or complimentary niche, is less risky than making a bigger content shift.

The same is true for stores. I would probably start offering memberships with my older content first or something related but not exactly the same as what sells for me on clip stores currently to alleviate the risk of giving up one for another.

Every paysite owner and content producer should be using a site management software platform that allows them to sell both memberships and on-demand content and should not expect to do equal revenue from both or have both be equally successful but to treat the addition of either/or as additional revenue.

By offering customers the best of both worlds, site owners are increasing their ability to make a sale out of every visit, regardless of the customer’s buying preferences or budget constraints. This in itself should be incentive enough for every producer and site owner to make the move toward offering both recurring, long term access and individual content purchasing options.

AJ Hall is a 16-year adult industry veteran, winner of the 2016 XBIZ Tech Leadership Award and CEO of Elevated X Inc., a provider of popular adult site CMS software. Hall has spoken at industry trade shows and written 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, 2014 and 2015 XBIZ Award for Software Company of the Year.