opinion

Dating Trends: Keepers for the Year

Matthew Pitt

2013 was a bumper year for the casual dating industry. We saw hook-up apps like Tinder make it into the mainstream, a mobile explosion and an incredible number of new entrants to the market, as well as the formation of a number of strategic partnerships giving strength to a variety of existing brands. 2014 is set to be similarly progressive for the dating industry; if you want to be successful, keep your finger on the pulse.

THINK MOBILE FIRST

Take good care of your customers and they’ll take good care of you. It goes without saying that member retention, particularly in the realms of dating, relies heavily on the members’ experience of your service.

Last year was the year of mobile and that came as a shock to, quite frankly, no one. We’ve seen the continued impact of mobile on the dating industry for the last three years, but in 2013, growth accelerated at an even greater pace. The volume of mobile traffic to the WhiteLabelDating.com platform is approaching 40 percent and we’ve released a variety of enhancements to our platform in the last year to further improve the mobile user experience. Adult content, by its very nature, demands heightened privacy options. It’s those privacy options that mean mobile conversions are typically high with mobile now responsible for around 50 percent of all dating revenues.

The reason this isn’t even greater is because of the disconnect between the ease of accessing a site from a mobile device, and paying for a subscription service from a mobile device. So far, we’ve seen mobile platforms spring to life and adapt to the changing landscape. In my opinion, mobile dating has now hit a wall. In 2014, there needs to be a mobile revolution — not just an evolution — to truly fulfil multi-device revenue potential.

A mobile first strategy is essential. Remember that dating apps are not the only option available to you. Mobile web can also be an exceptionally beneficial, allowing for greater flexibility and lower production costs. An increasing number of companies now place emphasis on responsive design, but whilst it’s best practice, it’s still not an industry-wide standard. When it comes to mobile, one of the major missing components currently preventing widespread mobile payment adoption is the limitations in mobile billing options. In developed casual dating markets like the U.K. and Australia where smartphone penetration is high, I believe that in 2014, we can expect to see innovative technical billing solutions leading the way at the forefront of the mobile dating revolution.

SHAPE USER EXPERIENCE

Aside from mobile dating innovation, there will be a major change to the entire mobile web experience. Further, deeper and more detailed analysis is needed into how consumers interact differently with mobile and desktop dating services. Dating site owners will no longer simply provide a responsive site design, instead shaping the complete user experience design to meet the needs of the multidevice user, with greater variations between the desktop and mobile experience. The transition between the two should not simply be mechanical; garner fun and enjoyment in your mobile product — after all that’s what dating is all about. Let your marketing strategy and advertising spend structure reflect that. If you want to truly see revenue soar, improving user experience should be your number one priority for 2014.

THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX; GO NICHE

The reason the majority of WhiteLabelDating.com partners are so successful in the casual dating scene is that they don’t put all of their eggs in one basket. They have strong-branded portfolios of sites and their dating businesses span multiple niches; they cater to each and every taste, giving every individual what they want from casual dating, whilst vastly minimizing acquisition costs in the process. Dating startups cannot compete directly with the big players; offering a targeted alternative will be where you make your mark and your money. If you’re already offering niche services in other verticals such as content or affiliate marketing, use dating as a proven brand extension technique to capitalize on your traffic and boost brand loyalty.

Building a platform, service and support infrastructure and a member database is hard to do on your own. Take advantage of the existing infrastructures already available to you to start generating revenues quickly and offer the best possible user experience to your would-be members.

BUILD STRATEGIC ALLIANCES

Your best friends in the industry are also the people who will help you make money. Whether you’re at the shows together or you’re back in the office, keep in touch — industry relationships can be endlessly valuable. The adult industry is notoriously shy about sharing findings and advice, even among peers. If you want business to boom in 2014, it’s essential to build a continued consolidation of strategic alliances. Two heads are better than one, and three or four are even better. Take time to develop inter-industry partnerships and have confidence in your peers; if we share information about our findings and increase transparency, we can make the industry and the service we offer even better.

PLACE IMPORTANCE ON CONSUMER SAFETY

Take good care of your customers and they’ll take good care of you. It goes without saying that member retention, particularly in the realms of dating, relies heavily on the members’ experience of your service. If you don’t already, meet the consumer demands from your site and place an emphasis on providing high-quality customer care. That means be easily contactable, provide clear instructions on how to use your sites and other processes and take a hard line on preventing online fraud.

When it comes to online safety, it’s crucial that the industry works together to effectively stamp out scammers and fraudulent card use. Scammers have taken on an element of recourse when it comes to casual dating. We need to lead from the front in abolishing them entirely, before regulators have to enforce this.

In 2014, we can expect to see the emergence of a number of dating brands adopting an increasingly professional approach to looking after their users, offering a high level of end-to-end service with dependable e-commerce operations. Be one of them.

Matthew Pitt is operations director at WhiteLabelDating.com, one of the world’s most successful privately owned casual dating platforms. Pitt leads international growth and new business development. With more than 15 years experience in the digital media industry, he has extensive knowledge of the online dating industry as well as other e-commerce sectors.

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