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8 Marketing Lessons From Online Dating

what Online Dating can teach you about marketing I recently stumbled upon a video conveying some behavioral data analysis from dating site OkCupid. Twelve seconds into the video interview with Sam Yagan, OkCupid’s Co-founder, I thought I was listening to expert marketing insights.

So I decided to really draw the parallel between online dating and inbound marketing. Here are the 8 top similarities:

1. Be Selective with the Wording

In online dating , the very first words you share with a prospective date can tremendously impact the progress of your communication. Your choice of a greeting, for instance, might affect whether or not you receive a response.

In marketing , the very first words you communicate with a prospect can influence the rest of your relationship. While in online dating people might prefer “Howdy” as a greeting, in email marketing they want to see a follow-up that corresponds to their latest activity, e.g. an ebook download, blog subscription or a webinar registration.

2. Optimize Presence for Search Engines & People

In online dating , users should not use Flash because the player supposedly adds seven years of age. As Sam said, “a 28-year-old using Flash has the same attractiveness as a 35-year-old who doesn’t use Flash.” Though such tweaks might be trivial, they still exercise a big impact on one’s overall online dating success.

In marketing , companies should not use Flash because it makes it difficult for search engines to crawl. This becomes pretty important if you add too many Flash elements to your site and thus have fewer pages indexed by Google.

3. Emphasize the Aspects You Are Good At

In online dating , it is recommended to “show your best assets and put your best foot forward.” For example, if you have good abs, you should feel encouraged to showcase that.

In marketing , it is a best practice to demonstrate your company's thought leadership and industry expertise. We often advise businesses to visit other departments and showcase the knowledge hidden within the organization. You can do that in the form of blog posts, industry reports, short videos...

4. Create Authentic Messages

In online dating , you should be mindful of the words you use so that you don’t look spammy and inauthentic in your messages. “If you use the word ‘sexy,’ or ‘cute,’ or ‘beautiful’ in a message, you are going to get a 30% worse response rate than if you talk about interests that she has in her profile,” said Sam.

In marketing , you should be fully aware of the needs of your target audiences. Tweak your messaging to reflect the interests of your visitors and leads. Strike a conversation that ties into their previous activity on your site. And don't sound spammy.

5. Let Your Personality Shine

In online dating , you should write grammatically correctly. Be funny and engaging. People value your efforts to be interesting and authentic.

In marketing , you should be similarly remarkable with your content. Let your personality shine in your writing, email communication or video production. Don't just dump text for search engines to index, but use your unique voice to convey a meaningful message.

6. Keep Your Messages Short

In online dating , you want to keep your messages short. As Sam said, in the offline world, no one wants to hear a four-minute speech about “how great you are.” Instead, focus on the conversation partner and start a conversation by asking a question.

In marketing , we are encouraged to keep emails and landing page copy short and to the point. It requires skill to provide people with enough context in a brief message. Often times, starting an email with a question yields positive results.

7. Study Best Practices

In online dating , experts have covered a bunch of common tips and best practices in terms of what pictures and messages work. Read their blog with dating advice. While they are not there to “tell you how to date,” they give you the tools and research to make it a smooth process.

In marketing , we offer tons of free marketing resources about each element of your business strategy. We have also published great success stories and case studies that can provide marketers with some valuable lessons.

8. Invest the Time

In online dating , people are advised to “invest in your profile” and “take the time to write a very careful profile.” Put as much effort into it as you would put in a conversation at a bar, Sam advised.  

In marketing , you should be constantly investing in your online presence and inbound marketing. Writing blog posts, optimizing pages, follow-up with leads, analyzing results--this is all going to take effort. Set the right expectations for yourself and invest the time.

At the end of the video interview, Sam admits that online dating “is a little bit of a marketing game.” No joke!


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