The dating site problem – cause, effect and solution: effect

So, we’ve identified the problem facing the world of online dating: every time their product is successful, two of their customers are gone, maybe never in the market for it again. Because of this issue, according to one recent study by Ibisworld, the global dating industry has grown 1% in five years.

I was shocked at that figure at first – thought: that can’t be right. You read of record numbers of sign ups and the annual internet dating industry growing to $2bn – the sector has got to have grown more than that, surely. But, no.

As dating sites refine their product through research, customer polls and reaction to market trends, the product they offer gets better. It has to, purely down to the amount of competition every dating site on the internet faces.

So if you’re making your product better, how do you retain your market share whilst growing your bottom line to satisfy your share- and stakeholders, to then further research how to make it even better to rinse and repeat the whole process? Whack on a whole chunk of expenditure for advertising because you have to replace two customers for every one relationship, the conundrum gets more head-scratch-worthy.

In as far as keeping the shareholders happy, this shouldn’t be a problem. If you’re constantly improving your product, providing that the development costs are less than the capital gains, you’ll be in profit. If you have a customer who’s happy with your service, price, within reason, is not even an issue. Ask anyone in business and they’ll tell you exactly the same. However, there is not an infinite number of ways you can refine searches or add pretty, flashy decor to a site and still retain your dating site brand recognition.

There are exceptions to the rule. Take your high-end dating sites, for example. Cost, for the members there, is simply not an issue. The members pay four-figure premiums per month in return for the site doing all the ground work whilst they get on earning a stash, meaning all they have to do, once they’ve been accepted at one-to-one interview level, is turn up and start dating.

The rule these matchmaking sites are exempt from is fluctuation and guesswork of how much of the market share they can secure. High end dating sites tend to have a maximum membership level, are staffed accordingly, use reputation for the bulk of their advertising and probably turn down more people than they allow to sign up, such is the demand for this executive dating service.

Which brings us back to the ‘growth from within’ conundrum for the mainstream dating site: how do you remain successful without losing your customer base?

All will be revealed in the final piece of the jigsaw: answer

Relationship experts and their roles on dating sites

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll have seen a growing number of articles relating to high-end dating sites and the fact that the singles who sign up for these ‘all-in-one’ sites rely heavily on a relationship expert to take care of their every dating whim for them.

Okay, from the various write-ups in the media surrounding the increased interest well-to-do singles have in online dating of this stature, I guess there has to be a little more to it than what all the glossies have been printing. I mean, you’re not going to pay over the odds for dating advice that someone is going to print in the press for free, are you?

And you’re not going to part with four-figure monthly dating site fees (in three-month subscription chunks, I hastened to add) for information that some relationship coaches are giving away for free, surely?  You ARE?!?!

And that, I suppose, is really the key – the difference between me and those 6-figure city slicker earners who think nothing of blowing £12,000 a year on a dating site subscription because they’ve not got the time to research and digest that which, with a little research and patience, is waiting in cyberspace for zip, just an e-mail subscription away.

And relationship expert, dating coach, lifestyle guru – whatever moniker you want to attach to them – they’re all out there, dangling the carrot with free pdf downloads to get you to sign up in the hope that you’ll one day go on and buy one of their products off of them. Providing you’ve got the time to read, interpret (for an English audience – the majority are American, as you’d guess, with the rest badly re-written copies in a language that starts off close to English in the first paragraph to draw the reader in but then soon descends into gibberish to avoid the plagiarism checkers) and then learn how to act upon the information, you’re quids in!

So, purely in the name of delivering quality dating advice to you, my loyal readership, that the dating royalty in London, New York and Miami pay through the nose for, I’m going to give the rest of January over to what I believe is the closest we’ll get to expert relationship advice, for free!

So, in totally English fashion, let’s start with five articles looking at where you’re going wrong, why you’re still single and why you’re coming back time and again to dating sites to find ‘the one’.

(article series tag: #datingguruuk)

Economy fears brushed aside for loaded daters

It’s not only the monotony of Christmas spent with the family that’s driving singles to the dating sites, as their volumes reach record figures, week on week.

A fear of being alone as the recession strikes is driving singles with more money than sense to high-end dating sites in the metropolis that is New York.

Being able to seek out and afford that latest little number from Gucci appears to be no qualification for being able (or willing) to find love for those who can afford to sign up to the growing number of dating sites willing to relieve you of $1,000 per month or more for the privilege of searching their database for your suitable match.

In a recent interview with Crains New York, one such proprietor has reported that they have doubled their client base in the last two years and how, during that time, the number of exclusive dating sites of this nature has trebled.

Based in Manhattan (where else), Lisa Clampett’s ‘VIP Life’ is a high-profile dating agency which serves the male population only in their quest for the perfect partner.

In order to preserve that personal touch that is demanded by a $12,000/per annum membership fee, she restricts the client base to a maximum of 30 persons at any given time. Okay, it probably doesn’t pan out this way but, that’s one man per day in an average month, each paying $1,000/month for that one day’s service…
…money for old rope, you may think, if you’re a seasoned dating site user.

But this is where the similarities between your mainstream dating site and this level of service end.

According to the report in Crains, for that monthly dating membership fee, dating sites and agencies of this nature do not only match you based on an algorithm they’ve created against a set of pre-defined search terms, oh no.

These niche sites serve businessmen who have not come by the money to afford this service by clocking on 9-5 but rather have thrown themselves into their respective industries and dating has sort of passed them by.

As such, the relationship experts who work for these sort of dating sites can be expected to teach their clients across a whole range of aspects relating to courting a new beau.

This can mean that the dating site professional chooses the date for the member, picks the setting and the time, grooms the gentleman in the art of wooing, picks out suitable attire to attend the liaison and may even have to educate on keeping a conversation going at the dinner table and provide instruction (theoretical, one assumes) on the elements of what may come to pass in the bedroom if the date is an absolute success.

Needless to say, usual rules of first dates do not apply when there’s this much cash and this level of vetting of clientele involved, a marked difference from some of the more suspect advances one receives on free dating sites.

I wonder if they’d give me a discount for a one-month membership if I gave them a glowing review…?