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Inside The Online Dating Industry
by Joe Tracy, publisher of Online Dating Magazine

Back to Reality...
Breaking Into the Online Dating Industry

Welcome to the first installment of “Inside the Industry,” a weekly column that takes a closer look at the business of online dating. The purpose of this column is aimed at both education and action. I aim to educate readers while providing action techniques for smaller online dating services to better compete with the “big guys”. Of course, many techniques I discuss could apply to the well-respected “big guys” as well.

Whether you’re an online dater or a player within the industry, educating yourself on each service can work to your advantage. That’s why Online Dating Magazine, in conjunction with this column, has launched a new area covering the Online Dating Industry. Check it out. The Online Dating Industry section is a continual work-in-progress that is updated weekly with new information and insight.

Understanding the Online Dating Industry
To understand how to build and/or run a good online dating service, it’s vitally important to first understand the industry.

If you’re thinking about breaking into the industry, here are a few things to consider:

1) Buying an “online dating site” from eBay for $1.99 won’t make you millions of dollars. It will only make you $1.99 poorer.

2) Launching without a Business Plan, Marketing Plan, Web Marketing Strategy Plan, Consumer Service Plan, Competitive Affiliate Plan, and lots of money is like putting $10,000 on number 13 of a Roulette wheel and hoping it hits on one spin of the wheel.

3) Putting your dating site on a $7.99 a month shared hosting plan shows the exact faith you have in your business to succeed. Add the $7.99 to the $1.99 eBay template purchase and now you’re down $9.98, a meal for three at Taco Bell.

4) If you haven’t won the lottery or don’t own 100,000 shares of Google, then think twice about what you’re doing. The online dating field is highly competitive and the top sites spend millions of dollars a year in advertising alone. If you do own 100,000 shares of Google, then just buy one of the top three online dating services!

This isn’t meant to discourage those looking to start an online dating service – only to bring you back to reality so that you can examine the marketplace from a realistic standpoint. Obviously, it’s too expensive to start a service to compete with,, and Yahoo! Personals, so why not start a niche site? That’s where the potential to make decent money with minimal effort lies. Plus, the valuable experience you gain by starting niche and small will be of great aid to you should you decide to expand your empire.

But even in starting a niche service with minimum investment, it’s vitally important that you have a business plan and marketing plan in place. And the number one question you have to answer is “how will I get my members?”

This question and more we’ll explore in several future columns because attracting sign-ups and getting those members to convert to a paid membership are the “holy grail” of the online dating industry.

And that brings us back to reality…

Starting an Online Dating Service - Good Idea or Bad?
Many people start an online dating service in hopes of attracting even a small sliver of the billion-dollar pie. The problem is that there are thousands of these people for a marketplace that is already established through giants like,, and Yahoo! Personals. Each of these companies already have money (millions of dollars) and hundreds of thousands of users; thus providing an immediate impact for someone new to online dating. So how are you going to compete with them?

Let me ask you; if you were getting into online dating for the first time, would you go to a site with over a million members so that you could have an immediate selection of potential dates, or would you go to that just opened a week earlier and has, maybe, 100 members (none paying and none in your area)? For nearly 100% of the Internet population, the answer is easy – you go with the established and "proven" service.

Now here’s where things get interesting… Many of the top online dating services know they have a “monopoly” on the marketplace. And as a result they start to lose focus of what is most important to their business – customer satisfaction. Instead of becoming more customer friendly, many of these services will do the following:

1) Raise Prices.

2) Automatically charge your Credit Card monthly “for your convenience”.

3) Make it harder for you to leave their service.

4) Make it difficult for you to contact them.

5) Make it difficult for you to communicate with others (by not allowing non-members to respond to paid member inquiries).

Do these services think that leaving negative impressions on users will help the industry grow? They are killing a lot of the potential growth through insuring that a large number of consumers have bad experiences.

Now contrast that to a company like Apple. What did Apple do to get back into the marketplace full force? They listened to consumers and created innovative products at outstanding prices and all with the user experience and customer satisfaction in mind. They make it easy to contact them. This creates loyalty and loyalty means returning consumers and a growing marketplace.

You may be the innovator of a new online dating service concept and you may have a philosophy of always putting consumers first in order to grow a loyal following that never has to think about contacting the Better Business Bureau in order to get a situation resolved. You may have the best ideas in the world, but if you don’t approach this business with a realistic view and a full-proof battle plan, then it will fail.

The online dating industry is over-saturated with competitors. Keep that in the forefront of your mind because if you ignore it then your new service or concept just adds to the problem.

Next week we’ll explore some new approaches some people are taking in launching new online dating services. In addition, I’ll provide my first tip in building up a member userbase.

Until then, I’m going to leave you with a link on research into why some people are more likely to be contacted during their online dating experience than others. It’s enlightening to both online daters and industry insiders:

What Does She Have Over Me?

Related Links:
» So You Wanna Start an Online Dating Service...
» Starting an Online Dating Service

» Online Dating Software

Joe Tracy is publisher of Online Dating Magazine and is often quoted by the media in relation to online dating topics. His Inside the Online Dating Industry column is published monthly.

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