Customer retention way forward for dating sites

The issue for many dating site owners becomes apparent when they realise the exact nature of the beast they are trying to build. Yes, dating sites are places where singles can now meet online, get to know each other in the chat-rooms and send IMs and private e-mails, but, in order to keep the whole shebang ticking over, it has to be a business that makes the owner money.

Free dating sites generate income through advertising, either on click-thru commissions or companies paying for the advertising space if the page ranks high enough for a given term. Paid sign-ups obviously gain access to greater benefits than a free dating membership and the website owner gets their cash directly through those fees. Either method has its merits, depending upon what you, curious single, want to use online dating for and how secure you want your Internet dating experience to be.

There is no doubt that dating sites that can boast a high, legitimate success rate will go on to use that information in their advertising campaigns. Take match.com, who reckoned at one point that they were responsible for 5% of all marriages in the US. That type of statistic is fantastic if you are looking to attract singles who judge your product, or dating site, by how well it matches with you your perfect partner, if that is indeed the reason you are signing up to online dating.

But this is where the dating site industry differs from many traditional model businesses that offer a service. In the real world, it is taken as read that your business grows by developing relationships with your existing customer base. Relationships thrive on trust, derived from continued good service; the selling aspects get negated as price becomes less of an issue. And generally, unless a major disaster strikes, that customer is yours for life.

However, for a dating site to be recognised as successful, it offers a service that means the two customers who have found love online with each other walk off into the sunset together. For every single success story, the dating site has to replace two customers; in any other realm, this would be a self-defeating accomplishment. This is why so much of a webmaster’s budget goes into advertising to attract new singles to their service and there is that constant quest to find a DCA (dynamic competitive advantage) to get one over on the competition.

But what if there was a way to keep couples as customers after they have began an offline, exclusive relationship? This has to be the way forward unless dating site owners want to continually be regurgitating the same advertising campaign, albeit with updated gadgets. It may well mean changing at least one of the dynamics of the business, but for the sake of a one-time concerted effort to research this aspect and create this aspect of the dating site, even at a reduced rate of membership fee, it is retention of a portion of your customer base that would have never graced the presence of your dating site again. Heck, having someone in your forums and chat rooms who knows the ropes and can advise other singles on the path to online dating happiness is almost like having employees, so it is well worth the effort to at least research your members to see if this is a viable option.

Zoosk has took the bull by the horns in this aspect, with Couple Profiles. It offers a place for people who have met on their dating site but don’t necessarily feel the need to give up their membership to record their relationship milestones. Again, this level of success is a fantastic advert if the target audience judge dating site success by long-term relationships. If webmasters don’t want to continually be chasing two new customers to replace every one success story and yet get membership fees working doubly hard, using those histories to good effect, highlighting couples’ true-life stories, has to be the way forward.

Online dating numbers continue to rise

In more ways than one, it seems, we are spending more time than ever viewing the world through one browser or another. With a whole host of social activities only a few clicks away, the realm beyond the laptop can be brought instantly into our living rooms every night of the week.

According to recent research by online dating agency groups, it’s not only recognised social media outlets receiving such close attention.

Any stigma once attached to looking for love through digital dating agencies has long since exiled. However, few expected online dating websites to become as popular as their growing audience figures suggest.

The results appear to confirm that visitors to their sites much prefer pawing over the profiles of its populous than perusing prospective partners on other platforms, such as facebook, Twitter and their rising rival, Google plus.

However, there are worrying statistics which suggest online dating devotees may be neglecting the real world completely, the one full of living, breathing singletons with whom genuine intercourse exists, in favour of forums, instant messages uploaded photo albums.

As such an unsettling question has been raised: are adults who use matchmaking services online becoming obsessed?

It is not singularly the act of its membership scrolling page after page of like-minded love-seekers causing consternation, for both paid and free online dating agencies, but also the worry that individuals are revelling in the dream itself. Clinging to the hope that their one true love exists just beyond that 14” plasma screen, before which they sit for hour after hour, seems preferable to risking bursting that bubble.

And that is exactly the point that the dating agency representatives who conducted the survey are trying underline. Contributions through their membership fees continue to arrive, month after month, but where are the subsequent success stories?

Of course users of singles dating sites should spend an appropriate amount of time perfecting their own profiles in order to attract that perfect partner. But feedback suggests that members are spending an inordinate amount of their online time touching up their own profile. A more worrying conclusion drawn from this is that members are indulging in their online self rather than actively seeking to approach genuine date candidates, in both the real world and the ever-growing virtual world, too.

The worry for owners of online and adult dating services now recognising this trend is that sectors of its membership are not getting their money’s worth of the services for which they are paying. These ‘personals’ sites, to which they are occasionally referred, offer real opportunities to find love online if the platform is used in the manner intended.

One possible reaction, once members recognise that they have paid membership fees for any length of time but never actually acted upon a request to date, is that they will look to blame the online dating service in question rather than themselves.

This is press that the dating industry, which has worked incredibly hard to assure its solid reputation, is understandably keen to avoid.

So, if you have a success story and found your perfect match online through a dating agency, let them know; they are waiting to hear from you, now.