It’s no secret, hooking up, dating, relationships — call it what you may, the idea of meeting someone on a personals website and potentially being involved in a sexual relationship, whether real or virtual has captured the minds of users throughout the world.
And with the success of giants like FriendFinder and others, a myriad of imitators, wannabes and competitors have sprung up all angling for a piece of the lucrative pie.
Success in a marketplace that borders on adult and mainstream requires some savvy techniques and a keen eye for recognizing trends and taking advantage of opportunities.
But success in a marketplace that borders on adult and mainstream requires some savvy techniques and a keen eye for recognizing trends and taking advantage of opportunities.
With the ever-expanding mobile market, companies that have taken the plunge into the dating game now know how to effectively embrace the trends and apply their own tried and true techniques in order to carve out a place for themselves.
XBIZ 2012 Dating Affiliate Program of the Year Award winning company, DatingGold, is a prime example of a company that recognized the opportunities early on and is forging ahead as a leader in the market.
Company Vice President Alfonsus Kusuma (AK) said Dating Gold is diligent about staying ahead of the curve and one formula for success is completely embracing the mobile market.
“As mobile dating continues to grow, the amount of smart phone users increases. There are now more people on mobile phones than on computers and the rise of those phones to the smartphone platform will only continue to grow in 2012. Our strategy is keeping mobile site more interactive,” he says.
With a lineup of sites that that includes Amateur-Match.com, DatemAtch.com, TextNMatch.com, XXX Dating, SpiceorNice.com and more, the company has positioned itself to take full advantage by offering mobile versions of each with an emphasis on providing the real experience of connecting with someone at the other end.
Features such as message centers, instant messaging, sex advice, live chat, profile ratings, photo comment ratings, hot lists, buddies and one of its most proud accomplishments — Online Cupids — an exclusive service that the company says increases participation on all of its sites.
This method of keeping the user constantly engaged is a trend more and more dating sites must nurture and develop and not simply rely on stagnant photos and occasional responses.
The traditional methods of converting regular members into premium members is another key aspect of the successful dating equation, that Dating Gold believes will also benefit from mobile applications.
‘Without question, we are planning for doubledigit growth in mobile usage in 2012 and beyond across all of our dating brands. The key to our success will be ensuring that product features and functionality are tailored to the variety of devices they can access our content whether tablets to smart phones. Email was the primary method of member exchange that is now giving way to SMS on mobile. That’s a big shift in your process and spawns a new concern of protecting our members privacy,” AK says.
Nice sites are also becoming a hot button.
DatingGold’s ability to branch out and offer niche sites has also been an element of its ongoing success and is a trend the company says it plans to keep pursuing.
In addition to its suite of straight sites, DatingGold also offers a gay dating site —Man List — through its affiliate program. Man List offers all the matchmaking features of its mainstream sites, but features all male profiles. The company says that using its free premium membership trials, Man List is quickly becoming the fastest growing gay dating site.
Simple techniques incorporated in Man List like browser geo-targeting and advanced granular filtering offering to search and view men in the user’s area may sound elementary, but it’s a strong tool that helps bolster interactivity that’s often overlooked by other websites.
The infidelity niche is another trend that’s doing well for the company along with an increasing demand for BBW and Asian dating niches, according to AK.
Simply having different brands and niches keeps your inventory of sites fresh. Many publishers and affiliates like new brands and fresh faces when pushing traffic,” AK says.
Another prominent online dating group, anchored by its flagship site CitySex.com has also diversified with mobile applications, and has kept abreast of dating trends by adopting some of the key components of mainstream sites.
One part of its program that’s working nicely is its “success stories” testimonials that are text-heavy and deliver stories about the site’s profiles. One profile reads next to the photo of a comely brunette, “The other sites are packed with men who are looking for sex only or are desperate for an immediate serious relationship. I wanted to find something in-between the two extremes. Sure, I want sex, but not if it means the guy wants to get married after seeing me only a couple times! I’ve met several great guys on City Sex who want the same thing I want... to have a good time with no strings attached.”
There are even profiles of `”horny and ready” men telling how many hot girls are on the site and blogs that offer sex advice, pick up strategies, and even advice on “How to have an affair and not get caught cheating.”
But it’s not only about attracting members.
Chief Marketing Officer Adam Winters says, “We have been regularly releasing a wide range of new creatives for both web and mobile versions of our sites as well as numerous landing pages to help keep our offers fresh. Approved affiliates receive steady updates with tested and proven new marketing tools to help them earn more through our program. In addition, we continue to work with our larger clients to develop custom tools for them based on their specific needs.”
Like DatingGold, CitySex has also adopted the niche site trend and has rolled out mobile versions of CitySex, MillionaireDates.com, WebAffair.com, CasualDates.com, and MarryMeSugardaddy.com.
Winters notes that the sites are fully functional on all webkit-enabled smartphones.
“We have been receiving an excellent response from our affiliates who are using this method of promotion due to the outstanding user conversions they are realizing through this channel. Additional mobile versions will be rolled out as new release more sites over the course of this year,” he says.
And of course generating revenue often hinges on a potent affiliate network armed with the tolls they need to send traffic.
Winters maintains that in order to meet the needs of its affiliates and to be competitive in the dating space, it has begun to accept affiliate traffic on a “Per Profile” model in addition to its “Cost Per Sale” option.
But he cautions that because of the inherently more challenging monetization requirements of converting this type of traffic, the company is enabling this option for affiliates on a case-bycase basis.
Dating site pros agree that the continued proliferation of social media will continue to spur on the adult dating phenomena for one simple reason — users want to hook up. And whether it’s clever and creative interactivity or embracing new technology like mobile, webmasters must work at their user relationships — just like in the real dating world.