This article originally ran in the June 2013 issue of AVN magazine.
Beginning this month, AVN is adding a new feature designed to pick the brains of adult industry insiders. For the first line of inquiry, reporter Stewart Tongue asked business leaders this question: “What is the most interesting new software, service or business tool that you have started using in the last six months?” The responses highlight several methods of collaborating on work remotely and using deeper levels of already known tools to gain even more productivity.
In addition to software that help evaluate stats and sites, other tools that ease the burden of administrative tasks faced by every successful company were brought to light during these interviews. Each tool dovetails nicely into a suite of functional pieces of software that can allow you to expedite tasks and stay on track while getting more done during the course of each day.
Best Known, Least Utilized: Google Analytics
“I read the Harvard Business Review looking for new business tools, and now I spend more time going over how to use Google Analytics than I ever thought I would,” said Michael of ZTOD.com. “In going over Analytics, one of the key elements that I have spent a lot of time on in the last two months is understanding the use of goals better, and seeing how to use them in conjunction with funnels and multi-channel funnels. Defining goals for things like declines really changes your perspective on your billers.”
Google Analytics is perhaps the best known and most underutilized traffic tool ever built. Most webmasters have used it at one point or another to check basic traffic pattern data or identify obvious problems with bots or disadvantageous landing-page designs. However, Google continues to refine the level of detail Analytics offers with enhanced real-time stats, goals and custom reporting. Whether you have never used the software before or have been using it daily for years, a visit to Google.com/analytics to look over the newly evolved functionality is time well spent. Even a few minutes can quickly improve your profitability by putting current data from your own site to better use in your marketing campaigns.
Analyze This: KISSmetrics
The KISSmetrics.com website explains that while Google Analytics tells you what happened, KISSmetrics is designed to tell you who did it. KISSmetrics attempts to fill in the gap by showing you every action each individual performs during a visit to help you identify who your most valuable customers are and how to get more of them.
Keep Priorities Straight: JIRA
“I would have to say the most interesting tool we’ve used in the last six months is without a doubt JIRA,” said Jason of Crakmedia.com. “Being able to streamline and prioritize tasks for our development team has seen our efficiency and productivity increase exponentially.”
The software, which can be found at Atlassian.com/software/jira, includes a 30-day free trial offer. It is designed to streamline business planning while fostering a task-oriented approach to creating greater efficiency. As the JIRA site suggests, issues are everywhere—they aren’t just bugs in your code. Issues are tasks filling your inbox, ideas proliferating in spreadsheets, and requests hiding in legacy business systems. JIRA is designed to easily capture and organize your issues, prioritize them, and allow your team to take action on the items in a sensible priority order. The software also includes many features that enable your whole team to stay up-to-date with the activity going on around you.
Master List: Any.do
Connecting to your own task list from anywhere is also easier now thanks to software from the Any.do website. “I’ve started using Any.do as a simple task manager that syncs between my phone and other devices,” said Clement of VideosZ.com “They also have a chrome plug-in and it’s hooked directly into my Facebook account, so it’s a very simple and useful tool that allows me to keep all of my tasks up to date on all my devices. I used to have different lists in different locations, and things are so much easier now that I am in constant contact with my schedule of meetings and tasks no matter where I go to do business.”
The software is available for free via Chrome or in the iPhone app store and was voted one of the best apps of 2012 by Appstore and Techcrunch.com. It also includes optional support for task sharing to help teams make progress together in a more mobile work environment.
Managing Project Management: Basecamp
Basecamp.com may be one of the oldest and best-known collaboration tools out there, but it continues to attract new users every day because of its versatility and stability. “My favorite tool is without a doubt Basecamp,” said Moreno of DatingFactory.com. “Basecamp is a productivity tool and a project management tool which is very simple to use. Unlike many others out there, Basecamp has almost zero learning curve and lets you become a proficient user pretty much immediately. Dating Factory has employees all over the world, and for us Basecamp is a great tool to share projects, ideas, instructions and goals with all of the members of the company. You can add projects, files, and documents, manage different calendars, and most importantly set reminders for yourself or your colleagues. Basecamp makes my project management a breeze and improves our productivity in so many ways every week.” The company website also boasts a 97 percent approval rating from customers and thousands of new users every week.
Need for Speed: SendFaster
Other webmasters have started using new tools to make advances in the performance of their sites for consumers. “The most significant piece of technology to come down the pipe in the last six months has been the SendFaster service from Mojo Host,” said Spike Goldberg, CEO of Homegrown Video. “It has created a new way to work with the TCP protocol that was originally created in 1974 and has sped up the delivery of our streaming to customers worldwide. We have fans in Australia that have complained for years about the quality of streaming. Even with CDNs we were unable to improve their experience. Only after SendFaster came along have we seen those fans reporting that their experience had improved.”
In the modern age of the internet, nobody is willing to wait even a few extra nanoseconds for content they expect to be delivered instantaneously. New approaches to video streaming and data hosting are breaking down delivery barriers quickly and connecting customers to the content they desire as if it were playing off their own internal hard drives. When paysites openly compete with massive free content sites, things like delivery speed become important ways to distinguish the paid user experience from all of the free options out there.
While webmasters continue to look for new tools to improve efficiency, productivity and profitability, it is also worth noting that many adult companies are taking an even greater interest in creating their own tools in-house to maximize data security while keeping all of their customization options open.
“This is actually a hard question for me to answer because we build all of our tools in house,” said Ross of TrafficForce.com. “One thing we have found is that having custom tools makes a world of difference because we can evolve them any way we like. That’s part of the reason why TrafficForce focuses so heavily on providing new, useful and innovative custom tools for our traffic clients. The new mobile access we offer is the first of its kind for a major traffic broker, and the entire thing is built by our development team as a free addition to our CPM traffic platform. So, if I started naming specific tools we build for our staff, people wouldn’t be able to get most of them out of a box. But something like our mobile access is a great example of the kinds of things we are working on, and working with, every day.”
The Best Tool May be a Custom Tool
As the proliferation of mobile apps, custom software and quality developers continues to grow so will the ability of companies and webmasters to make tools to fit specific purposes. One SEO expert who asked not to be named also pointed out that some tools are only useful if they are custom made because once they become mass marketed they lose their effectiveness. In an industry that essentially sells adult content by using the newest and best technological platforms, it should come as no surprise that many of the most advanced tool users are becoming some of the best tool makers.
The days of scratching out a list of tasks on a yellow notepad with a pencil are effectively gone for good. So are the days of guessing what is working or not working in any particular marketing campaign. A long era of data discovery seems to be hitting its horizon as forward-thinking business leaders now turn their attention to the kinds of tools that allow sorting, sifting and utilizing that massive amount of data in the most effective manner possible—giving customers, colleagues and business owners what they each want most efficiently.