From hunky handymen on TV commercials to Hooter girls and bikini models, it’s long been known in advertising circles that sex sells. But, what tack do you take as a marketer when what you’re selling is sex?
Not literally, of course. However, selling adult products and services presents certain challenges for business owners and marketers, not the least of which is how to present your wares to the masses.
There’s a fine line between marketing adult materials in a way that clearly demonstrates what you have to offer and showing too much. Although these products are aimed at consenting adults who want to add a little spice to their love life, the amount of hoops you have to jump through to market them online can make it hard to sell such products and services outside of equally adult, sometimes dubious, websites.
So, what’s the best way to market your adult products? Do you keep it clean, or is it okay to get down and dirty?
Eye-Opening Facts and Statistics About Adult Products
The adult product industry brings in about $9 billion dollars a year. However, that number doesn’t reflect the full extent of revenues from adult products and services, It only refers to gross revenues from companies that sell a combination of toys, lingerie, and erotic videos in a brick-and-mortar shop. It excludes online sales and revenues from companies that sell one type of product exclusively, such as adult movies. Since many of these products are sold online, the possible revenue stream is exponentially larger.
Although there is no one company that holds a market share higher than 5 percent, there are literally hundreds of mom-and-pop and eCommerce shops that sell sex toys and related accessories. This can either mean that you need to specialize in order to carve out a niche or work hard to gain an audience in an oversaturated specialty market.
The Problems Inherent in Selling Adult Products
Regardless of how you feel about sex and sexual expression, selling adult products in a mainstream online setting is challenging at best. You don’t necessarily need to buy advertising space on a porn website, but you do need to pay attention to terms of service agreements (TOS) from social media platforms, search engines, and even some web hosting services.
Many will ban any ads that are overtly sexual, show nudity, or are accessible to minors. Even auction sites like eBay and eCommerce platforms like Amazon and AliDropship have very strict guidelines concerning adult product sales. Such products and services can only be advertised on InstaGram and Facebook under a very narrow set of parameters, and Google has a separate set of guidelines for sex-forward eCommerce marketing. There are also pay portals that will refuse to process orders for adult products.
The fact that you have to market your goods discretely doesn’t mean you’re relegated to marketing on the fringe side of the Internet. You can advertise however you’d like on your own website, provided your hosting service or eCommerce platform allows adult content. You just have to be creative about how you spread the word and get eyes on your pages.
- Know your audience. Who is your audience? Creating an ideal buyer persona will inform how you market your company and where. For example, an audience of young singles is easier to reach on dating apps. If your audience is middle-aged women looking to spice up their marriage, engage with them by creating a blog.
- Know your platforms. How you construct your ads, including everything from images to text, depends on the platform. If you buy ad space on an adult website, you can be as explicit as you’d like. Others require a more subtle or low-key approach.
- Know the rules. Look at service agreements, TOS, and community standards guidelines before deciding if a platform is compatible with your content marketing strategy and vice-versa. You should also pay attention to laws in various jurisdictions. An online store can have a wide reach that transcends borders. Some countries have very strict legislation surrounding adult content and products.
Effective Marketing Strategies for Adult Products and Services
Marketing your adult products or services can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. Here are some tips from successful online adult retailers who’ve mastered to art of sex-positive advertising.
Create a Landing Page
In fact, create several landing pages, each geared toward a specific customer segment or product line. Research shows that creating 10 – 15 SEO oriented landing pages will increase your conversions by up to 55 percent. Landing pages help build brand awareness and direct qualified leads to the right products or services. Make sure to do your keyword research to improve your search engine rank.
Make Your Content Educational
One of the few exceptions for sexually themed advertising on social media is educational content. You can try creating a Facebook page for your business that focuses on health and wellness or relationships. Add content that includes the importance of self-care and making time for your significant other, and then slip in some discrete mentions of how certain products or “marital aids” can help.
Rather than putting a CTA on your social media posts, invite visitors to subscribe to your newsletter. You can also add FAQs to your website and start a blog that details how to use products and their benefits or offering advice.
Education needn’t be boring either; keep it fun and light. Post funny memes or interesting quotes and facts about relationships on your social media.
Leverage Email Marketing
Once you raise brand awareness via your landing page and social media engagement, you can provide value-added contact via email. This is a good platform for updating customers about new products, offering discounts, and making suggestions based on shopping history.
Just be aware that some states and email providers prohibit advertising certain types of products and services through the mail, including email. The same goes for certain images or video content. Gain their interest through carefully worded but fun messaging and then invite them to your website to view the merchandise.
Encourage Customer Engagement
Social media is a good places to start. Encourage followers and subscribers to share product reviews and stories. Add interactive media and quizzes to your website to match customers with specific products. Make sure to link answers to product pages.
Keep it Discreet
Although attitudes toward sex are more open and relaxed than ever, many people are still uncomfortable when it comes to buying sex toys and accessories. By allowing your audience to explore their sexuality or try new things without embarrassment, they’re more likely to patronize your business. Ship merchandise in non-descript packaging, and make sure that the company name that appears on the shipping label and credit card billing is neutral and non-sexual as well.
When it comes to marketing adult products and services, it’s best to keep it classy. Doing so is unlikely to hurt your business. In fact, you’ll attract a wider audience and prevent sanctions that come with TOS violations.
The pros at Level 343 have deep experience working with companies in a range of industries and market segments. Get in touch with us to day to talk to a digital marketing expert about your business marketing needs.