Cracking the ever-expanding online dating and personals market is tough. And even experienced webmasters need to stay ahead of the curve in a market segment that although relatively new, is already offering some unique challenges on a global scale. mThere’s nothing more valuable than solid, no-nonsense advice from those who have “been there, done that” and are now onto the next steps.
New Media Services, the Australian-based online and mobile support services provider is unique in that it offers its full range of services to companies and touches on nearly all of the “hot button” items that can make or break a dating enterprise.
It’s a must nowadays if you want to stay in the game. The first thing you must bear in mind when making your mobile site is design and functionality.
The live interactive support company last year launched a new service for online dating websites called Dating Site Conversion, designed specifically to cater to websites offering online dating.
Dating Site Conversion features three services including CamCast, CandidChat and Penpal that all feature live interactive conversations from real people.
CamCast is a view-and-chat feature with live operators via webcam in a dedicated Instant Messenger for visual interactions, while CandidChat and Penpal feature text-based exchanges via instant messenger and electronic mail.
With a combination of live support, websites and mobile experience, the company can be looked at as a positive bellwether in the ever-expanding dating market.
CEO 25 has seen a significant rise in mobile dating applications in the past years. He cites research done by Flurry Analytics that suggests users spend roughly about an hour and five minutes a day engaged in their mobile apps, but he feels it’s more like four to five times that amount. “In light of this research, one strategy is to focus on the mobile dating application itself. The apps should be pretty much straightforward, without the users spending much time navigating for what they want on the app, “he says.
A firm believer in mobile as the future of e-commerce, Eyking maintains that it should no longer be a debate whether or not webmasters should make a mobile version of their desktop dating sites, or if they had a few more bucks to spare, but just make an iOS/Android app out of it.
“It’s a must nowadays if you want to stay in the game. The first thing you must bear in mind when making your mobile site is design and functionality. You must understand that not all mobile phones perform similarly. You must then decide if it will cater to a specific mobile device or is accessible across all platforms. Of course, the smarter choice would be to make the application available in all platforms: iOS, Android, Blackberry and even Windows-based phones,” he recommends.
NMS feels that mobile apps are a hit for locality-based dating niche, wherein users are looking for potential mates in close proximity. Users can just whisk out their smartphones and activate the app to look if there are any possible people within the premises who share the same interests as he or she does.
This allows them to immediately exchange messages and, if there is mutual interest, decide where to meet. Most mobile users need urgent information when they use their mobile device, so NMS suggests that relevant information be available up front. “We live in a fast-paced world and sometimes people get carried over with this mentality that even finding love should be on a whim,” the company says.
Of course the bottom line is making money, and generating revenue is high on NMS’ list and offers some sound advice.
Dating sites usually start as a free service subscription to members and money only comes in when the service becomes addictive to its members, NMS believes.
The company says a regular member who is into exploring more of what the dating site can offer is always willing to spend a portion of his wealth for the service. When a dating site can come up with good content and exciting features like viewing of fulllength profiles and videos that can only be accessed by premium members, that’s when the dollars roll in.
Although it may seem obvious, aside from revenues extracted from paid memberships, top dating sites also gain from paid advertising. Some run advertisements with the help of Google Ad-Sense while others directly receive advertising deals that adds to the bottom line.
Smart owners, according to NMS, do not stop with the dating service but create complementary products/services that they can deal with their members, like sex toys, paid horoscope and books on handling relationships.
Other top dating sites sell their own-designed applications and platforms to other dating businesses. This method gave birth to web developers offering mobile and web business solutions to dating sites.
Niche sites are also becoming a popular method of expanding dating sites’ reach and generating more revenue. NMS says gay sites are doing well, including Compatible Partners, Gay Dating and Outpersonals — three of the most popular.
These site sites cater to gay men and lesbians who are looking for casual, dating, friends, long-term relationships and even for marriage. The appeal to the gay and lesbians sector, according to NMS is fueled in part by the respectability marriage can afford a gay couple and securing a relationship has helped foster the speedy growth in gay dating.
So with all of its hardearned knowledge what’s next for NMS?
Eyking says his company is putting its money where its mouth is and is in the process of creating mobile dating versions for all of its dating websites.
“We are also exploring opportunities in white label dating websites. Our company offers SMS Chat, which is targeted at businesses engaged in online dating. Included in our services are SMS Chat Platform, Inbox messaging platform and IM chat platform. Moreover, we provide a pool of online chat operators. These operators are people who respond to the messages using the subscribed platform,” he explains.
NMS says it’s also focused on building strong reputations for its online dating sites and consequently building loyal users as it goes along.
The company is also planning to exploit the market on mobile applications to widen its reach, even to non-English speaking countries. Eyking reveals that he is also looking into investing into niche dating websites to explore the company’s options.
Another bit of advice for site owners seriously considering about entering the dating market or stepping up to the next level, is to think about joining forces with an experienced partner.
Eyking says his partnerships are often two-way streets where each company benefits.
“When we offer our services to clients, we prioritize our gains. We make sure to offer them what they really need and we accept service customization. When our clients are satisfied, they surely stay with us for a long time. That means long-term revenue for us.”