I did my fair share of online dating, joined several apps, and observed people making the same mistakes ad nauseam. I've also worked for one of the oldest international dating sites, and the display of photos and written profiles I've come across is a dismal sight for the most part. I asked myself, "What's wrong with these members? Their online dating profiles are boring, full of cliche, and ultimately fail to stand out. They are supposed to be marketing themselves." Part of my job was to help these members refine their profiles by writing down what makes them a great catch and teaching them how to take great selfies.
Then a lightbulb moment: there's a lot that online dating can teach us about marketing and vice versa. Why are these users not getting any engagement and interest, or why are they not attracting suitable dates? What is it about the profiles that fail them to succeed at online dating? Why are they seemingly ignorant about the best practices for online dating?
The questions mentioned above hold for marketing. Why are marketing efforts not getting any engagement or interest, or why are they not attracting the right customers? Assuming you're looking for a long-term relationship, not a hook-up, let's look at some marketing lessons gained from online dating.
Have visual appeal.
People make instant appraisals and quick judgments when clicking through dating profiles, so great pictures matter. Often ignored are badly-cropped, blurry, dated, and unflattering photos. If you're most likely to steer clear of such profiles, you wouldn't want to hire a company whose site looks unremarkable, especially if the competition appears better visual-wise. A potential customer will notice a high-quality site with a simple design and visual appeal.
Create a catchy headline.
A catchy headline for online dating describes what you would want the other person to know about you, making them see and feel you at your best. It should be attractive, optimistic, and straightforward, but some talk about how they're new to online dating, how their ex cheated on them, how they've made bad choices, how they've been on the site for ages, and how online dating sucks. It's like sporting a "Do Not Date" this person sign.
Likewise, why would you want to market your business's shortcomings before selling them on what you have to offer to a potential customer? For example, if you're a new business, don't lead with "We may be new and inexperienced, but...". Instead, talk about why you started your business and your dedication, passion, skill set, and talents. Like with detailed, high-energy, well-rounded online dating profiles, make them feel your positive vibe with a catchy headline.
Online dating profile generators are now available to fill out profile text fields on online dating sites for users who are uncertain about their writing skills. The same goes for marketing. AI copy generators like Anyword are now creating engaging and quality content for every platform.
In online dating, catfishing is the act of luring someone into a relationship using a fictional online persona. I suggested incorporating verified profile stamps on genuine profiles to minimize catfishers on the dating site I worked for. Online dating users and customers don't like it when you're not upfront about who you are.
Don't pull a bait-and-switch about how much your services cost. If you charge additional fees, don't leave that out when you publicize discounts and prices. Don't omit affiliate marketing disclosures or any financial relationships with other brands and products. Don't deceive your audience by accident or purpose. Don't catfish.
Target your audience.
Most dating sites guide your search with compatibility scores based on questionnaires where you have listed what you're looking for. People look for everything from a long-term monogamous relationship to someone looking for a third wheel in their polyamorous relationship.
However, most people ignore what other users say they want in a potential online date. They focus solely on what they want, send generic messages, woo everyone they find moderately attractive, and spread a wide net, hoping to get lucky. They are the dates who don't pay attention.
With online marketing, be aware of your customers' wants. Focus your campaigns on connecting with your target audience. Do what you do well, and concentrate on those energetically and enthusiastically seeking that instead of customers who are only kind of, sort of fit.
Who are the customers you want to work with? Who is the audience you want to serve? If you want to connect with the kind of customers you want to work with, don't try to do everything for everyone. Pay attention.
Make an effort.
With online dating, a generic message will be your undoing. "How are you?" means "I don't care enough to try, so feel free to delete this message." No effort is the kiss of death. Customize your messages if you're reaching out to people to build connections. Make it about them. One marketing lesson is learning about your potential customers' needs and how you can deliver a personalized product or service.
The dating site I worked for mainly had mature American men looking for Asian women. One successful member crafted some of his messages in the native language of the woman he communicated with. It took him all of two weeks for her to commit to him.
There are so many self-proclaimed good guys in online dating, who are so lovely and pleasant, yet no woman wants to date them. Instead, women look for good guy traits in potential dates. A study found that men who listed interests and characteristics in their profile increased their chances of receiving communication requests by 125 percent more than those who didn't.
Similarly, proclaiming you're the best doesn't do much good in marketing—list specific ways why you are the best and prove it.
For instance, if your website offers online courses, are they the most extensive? Do you provide individual attention and real-world skills? List straightforward ways to deliver better learning instead of saying, "We're the Best."
Don't expect immediate commitment.
Online daters usually communicate with numerous people and may even have several dates scheduled for the same time frame. Multi-dating or talking to more than one person at a time has become the norm.
Some people multi-date because they want to keep their options open. No one will commit until they meet you, see what you have to offer, and form that connection with you.
In marketing, leads might be erratic and superficial. Even if your quality is better, your competitor woos them by offering lower prices. Put more effort into winning them over. Show them what you have to offer. Convert those leads by learning their needs and directing them as to how you can fulfill those needs so that they won't multi-date.
Test and evolve.
When I was actively dating online, I tested several niche dating sites, experimented and played with my profile. I've changed photos to see which will get more engagement and refined my written profile to spotlight different facets of my character. No, I don't have a split personality. I was conducting split tests. One marketing lesson from online dating: continuously update your profile, pictures, and messages until you've optimized your profile for online dating success.
Review different platforms to see what sends you the most traffic with your online marketing efforts. For example, try emphasizing various services on your landing pages and test multiple offers and ad campaigns to see what attracts your target audience. Create a new subject line for an email, redesign a new webpage, tweak a call-to-action button, and test each recent change until you find the most effective version. Use tools like Google Analytics to help you track results. The time and effort will be worth it.
Also, consider this.
There are estimated to be nearly 8,000 dating sites worldwide. Singles have many options for finding dating sites to suit their needs. However, with so many sites saturating the market so quickly, the quality of dating sites is declining. The software of the dating site I used to work for is decades old, with no coherent design and strategic thinking behind it. It has become a mismatch of add-ons and hacks, and the users complain that none of the features are working. We had constant outages and a high volume of support calls. It needed a top-down redesign to increase customer usage.
Ensure that your hosting platform and website builder will help your business grow, engage and look fantastic. I'm non-techy, and I don't know a single line of code, so Estage works for me.
Digital marketing and online dating have a great deal in common. Both are trying to draw in and create genuine, worthwhile relationships with people you actively want to connect with. I hope the marketing lessons from online dating listed above help improve your campaigns.