XBIZ Summit Wrap-up, Day 1

CHICAGO — The Windy City welcomed a worldwide gathering of webmasters and digital media mavens, marketers, merchants and banking interests, to the 2011 XBIZ Summit, which kicked-off earlier today.

The event, taking place from June 10-12 at the Sofitel Water Tower Hotel, features a variety of advanced learning, networking and social opportunities aimed at unleashing the next wave of adult industry profitability — building upon the past to unlock the future.

Leading the event’s educational series was the day’s first seminar, which examined several innovative traffic-building strategies. Entitled “Social Marketing: Profiting from Alternative Traffic Sources,” the panel featured Sam from MyPornProfile.com, Joanne Cachapero from the Free Speech Coalition, Lauren MacEwen of 7 Veils Media, Paige Little of SexyLittlePaige.com, and Kelly Shibari from The PRSM Group and was moderated by Pete Housley of PornStarTweet.com.

“Shifting surfing patterns are concentrating an increasing percentage of online visitors at fewer venues, leading adult website operators to ‘fish in new ponds,’ such as Facebook,” stated the show’s promoters. “This and other sources of new visitors can be very productive when handled correctly and are growing necessities in an era when search engine updates can wreak havoc overnight.”

The panelists quickly began to reveal the ways in which to harness, filter and benefit from these unique traffic sources.

Shibari noted that social media is an addition to, not a replacement for, more traditional types of marketing and not just “something kids use when they want to talk about ‘Glee.’”

“It’s important to pick the right social media format for your product,” said Cachapero, adding that it is important for users to “be authentic.”

“The business has changed to a social business model,” offered MacEwen. “The loyalty that you are able to create with social media is second to none.”

As to ROI and the importance of choosing the right social media platform, the panelists seem to agree that Facebook tends to offer a better return than Twitter, but note the popularity of the latter with performers seeking a quick and easy way to connect with fans.

“Facebook is more passive,” MacEwen said. “But one of its strengths is the ability to share.”

This “sharing” is not always appropriate within the workforce however, making the use of NSFW (Not Safe For Work) tags a smart idea.

The importance of following your followers vs. not following them, the proper ratios between followers and the followed, the use of Lists to organize followers and other techniques for profiting by and building adult traffic via social media were also discussed.

Treating premium website operators to a specialized discussion on current adult paysite tech, “Paysite Profits: Creating Hot-Selling Front-ends and High-Retention Back-ends,” sought to satisfy the ongoing needs of entrepreneurs seeking ways to get consumers to pay for porn today.

“Despite a widespread consumer perception that content on the Internet should be ‘free,’ the traditional paysite model continues as one of the foundations of profitable operations, begging the question of ‘how can I get surfers to pay for premium pre-recorded content?’”

This was the basic premise that set the stage for this session, which promised that its group of adult industry veterans would “provide valuable insights and strategies on how to build a better mousetrap, while evolving the subscription-based business model,” a promise which was kept.

Moderated by XBIZ’ President Alec Helmy, the session’s panelists included Colin Rowntree of Wasteland.com, “punk rock porno princess” Joanna Angel of BurningAngel.com, Sean Eggert of CCBill and Epoch’s Harmik Gharapetian.

Among the topics discussed by this mix of paysite promoters and payment processors was the value of branding and brand consistency as well as its impact on adult paysite design.

Logos used for branding YouTube videos also serve as webpage headers that build trust and provide cohesive branding, for example. This branding also effects the way in which a network of sites is promoted, with “buy one, get them all” being one strategy. Joanna Angel offers one-price access to her network, for example, while Rowntree offers his sites ala carte. Rowntree’s strategy allows for internal cross-sales as a revenue-boosting tool, while Angel relies on a large depth of content to retain visitors and increase profits. 

“If you can get someone to ‘jerk off’ and then stick around to cuddle, you’re on the right track,” Angel offered. “You have to have something going on at all times or they will leave.”

The intricacies of single and two-step join pages were also discussed, with Rowntree saying that his tests reveal a 20 percent increase in join form submissions by using a single-step process as a means of emphasizing simplicity.

The billing reps agreed on the need to simplify things, but not necessarily on the need for a single-step approach.

“A small ‘yes’ leads to a big ‘yes,’” Eggert said, of two-page join forms, which typically ask for the prospect’s name, email address and desired username before going to a payment page.

“We recommend asking for the least amount of information necessary to make the sale,” Gharapetian offered, adding, “Keep the form simple.”

Billing options, cascading and the need for multiple processors were underscored, and the session’s paysite operators revealed some of their favorite secrets for profiting from paysites.

“Translating the text will give you a 25 percent increase in traffic from organic SEO efforts,” Rowntree opined, while Angel revealed that her join page lacks a header banner image or other navigational links, “so folks can’t go back once they get there.”

To paraphrase an old saying, “all work and no play makes for a dull event,” but this is not the case at the XBIZ Summit, where the first full workday wrapped with a Double Decker Bus Tour of the City of Chicago — combining a great networking event with an opportunity to see the city in a way unlike any other. Tour highlights included some of Chicago’s great neighborhoods, and notable landmarks, such as the home of the Cubs, the home of U.S. President Barak Obama, and the home of Oprah’s Harpo Studios.

The double-decker bus excursion, most famously tied with the city of London, England, also provided a tantalizing foreshadowing of the upcoming XBIZ EU event slated for London.

Held at the popular Hunt Club, The Speakeasy Social rocked the XBIZ Summit, capping off the event’s first day. Sponsored by Netbilling, this “Chicago speakeasy” gathering harkened back to the dark days of prohibition, when gangsters who illegally peddled alcohol ruled this city. Event attendees had no fear of arrest for enjoying a beer or other beverage this night, however, as the adult industry’s movers and shakers socialized in this relaxing and entertaining venue, which is located mere minutes away from the Sofitel Hotel.

With so much to do, see, learn and share, the 2011 XBIZ Summit reflects the reality and opportunity of the adult industry today. Building upon the strong foundation set by the show’s first day, the event is sure to be a continued success throughout the weekend. Stay tuned.