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

Online Dating Industry Grab Bag

After being on hiatus for exactly one year, I'm pleased to announce that the Inside the Industry column is back for good with weekly updates for those who are a part of the online dating industry.

For my first column back, I've decided to tackle several different subject in this grab bag of online dating topics. Let's start with Don't Date Him Girl.

Don't Date Him Girl Lawsuit

If you recall, I once tackled the topic of reputation management systems, like Don't Date Him Girl, and the flaws they contain. In the case of Don't Date Him Girl, since I last wrote about them, they had a lawsuit filed against them by a man named Todd Hollis. The suit was for defamation of character where Don't Date Him Girl allowed a person to anonymously post alleged erroneous information about Hollis. Don't Date Him Girl also had his picture posted, name, address, and other personal identifying information.

The case was filed in June 2006 and just this week a judge dismissed the case on a technicality. The lawsuit was filed in Pennsylvania, but Don't Date Him Girl is located in Florida and the judge said the lawsuit should have been fired there. The ruling isn't an outright victory for Don't Date Him Girl as it leaves the door open for the lawsuit to be re-filed in Florida.

There's a great article titled "Unethical Website of the Month" that perfectly points out the many problems with Don't Date Him Girl and hopefully some day the site will be held accountable for their actions.

New Service May Set Standard for Refund Policies

Research shows a growing dissatisfaction with people who use online dating services. Most service charge high prices and make it very hard to unsubscribe. Customer service is virtually non-existent. A new online dating service, however, is setting the bar high in how it deals with refunds. The site is called Let's Grab a Drink. As of this writing, they were only available in Houston, Minneapolis, and Chicago (starting small like this is smart). But what I want you to read is their refund policy, which states:

"You may cancel your membership at any time by merely clicking on the 'Cancel Membership' link at the bottom of every page. Follow the simple instructions. If you are a paying member, your account will be immediately cancelled and a pro-rated credit will be issued to the credit card you used when subscribing to the service. You may cancel at any time for any reason, no questions asked."

Can you image how much more popular online dating services would be if they had a policy like this? All you have to do is look at complaints filed against online dating services with the Better Business Bureau to see that more than 90% of the complaints deal with refund policies. True and are two of the worst offenders in this area. Making canceling easy and offering a refund of the remaining balance is smart... very smart. It's nice to see someone stepping forward to create a better experience for the end user.

Office Hours with Dr. Jim

Dr. James Houran offers a lot of insight to our online dating readers. In addition, he often touches on topics that industry insiders should be reading. I'm highlighting two of his recent columns that I think you should read:

1) Compatibility Tests and Attraction
2) Universal Attraction and Physical Attributes
3) Online Dating Sites Losing Edge?

His columns are published every Monday and can be accessed from the Office Hours with Dr. Jim page.

LavaLife Changes is migrating from a credits service to a monthly fee, thus removing one of the major advantages of using the service. Effective immediately, members can only purchase a monthly subscription. Those who were already members can continue to purchase credits for a limited time.

It will be interesting to see how this works. has been rebranding its identity lately to be more of an adult online dating service. That, coupled with going to a monthly subscription fee, really changes the branding of the company. It will be interesting to see what happens in the months to come with this new migration.

Online Dating Banner Exchange Changes

The Online Dating Banner Exchange, which is owned by Online Dating Magazine, has made a major change to its service. As of this month any sites signing up for the exchange must display the banners at the top of their page(s). Our aim is to become a premium service and increase the clicks people receive. No longer are sites allowed to just stick a banner on a Links page and receive credits.

Top of the page banners gain greater exposure and more clicks, thus making the exchange much more effective for everyone.

It's great to be back and I look forward to our discussions in the future! And we'll still continue with the...

Tip of the Week
The tip of the week is back and this week we are looking at unique selling points.

Tip #11: Get Your Unique Selling Point in Front of Users
This week's tip is inspired by something I mentioned in my column - the refund policy of Let's Grab a Drink. As we know, online dating services which are not free do not like to part with money. They will make sure their policies dictate you don't get any refunds and make it hard for you to unsubscribe. The Better Business Bureau is swamped with complaints on this issue. That means that Let's Grab a Drink has a unique selling point to help sell its service to potential online daters. This is something that should be highlighted and advertised by the company. And your unique selling points should too.

First, keep in mind that your unique selling point needs to be something other online dating services don't do. For example, few offer background checks, but does. This is its unique selling point. True makes it known on the front page that they screen for felons and if one gets through, they will sometimes take the person to court and put out press releases about it that are picked up by major media.

When PlentyofFish started, it had a unique selling point of being free. The concept caught on quick and now the site makes hundreds of thousands of dollars... a month... in advertising (most of it from Google Adsense - )

PlentyofFish's success has spawned a lot of competitors, but the service has already solidified their position because they once had something that virtually no other online dating services had - a unique selling point.

You need to create a unique selling point for your company then use that to provide reasons why people should use your service over the hundreds of online dating services crowding the information superhighway.

Note: If you know something an online dating service is doing right, please let me know. We are going to be highlighting more of the positives of specific services, providing them with free publicity as a result of their desire to be more user friendly.


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 once a month.

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