Funnels // Dating as your ultimate marketing exercise

April 11, 2021

I love love, dating, sex and all of it. Despite being single for large chunks of my adult life, I’ve always approached dating with a sense of great amusement. Every right swipe and awkward first date filled me with a sense of potential. And every terrible chat exchange or cringe-worthy first date is just another funny story for my friends.

I do also work in marketing, and think deeply about advertising strategy. In my early thirties I got increasingly frustrated with my love life, and decided to apply marketing 101 to my Tindering.

At the time, my parents were becoming very vocal about their desire for grandkids, and my wonderfully solutions-focused mother gave me a Man Date Mandate. In other words, go on at least one date a week. What I noticed was that while the volume of my first dates increased dramatically, it wasn’t leading to many second dates, let alone relationships.

So I put on my thinking cap. This is actually pretty common with marketing. A client puts together–in their words–an incredible offering they believe everyone wants. We serve out 500,000 ad impressions and no one bites. Huge problem.

There are two ways of approaching this:

  1. Try a bunch of shit all at once, blinding hoping something works, or
  2. Pinpoint the biggest issue so we can concentrate on improving that first.

Enter the conversion funnel.

If we map out every stage of the purchase journey we can figure out the largest area of concern. It’s likely that you have drop off points at every stage, but there’s potentially a big ‘low hanging fruit’ change you can make that will give you the biggest incremental improvement on your results. Once that’s sorted, then you can go ham on little optimisations to further lift your game.

Here’s your standard marketing conversion funnel:

Pretty neat, huh? Figure out your audience size at each level, and calculate how much of the audience doesn’t move through to the next stage. Now we can make informed improvements based on where our leak in the funnel is. For instance:

  • Low volume in the funnel: We actually don’t have poor drop off, but we aren’t getting enough users into the funnel to begin with. We need to cast a wider net from the outset.
  • High drop off between awareness > consideration: We’re getting the message out there but people aren’t taking the bait. How do we make the ‘product’ more interesting?
  • High drop off from consideration to conversion: People are interested but why can’t we seal the deal? How do we drive a sense of FOMO and urgency?
  • High drop off from conversion to advocacy: Why don’t our punters want to talk about us? They like us, but not enough to share the word?

So let’s transfer this into the wild world of online dating. Here’s the conversion funnel, re-imagined for love:

Here are some common issues at every stage of the dating funnel, with some handy suggestions.

  • Low match opportunities by volume: Broaden your age or geo location. Try new apps to find different people. Pay for a premium tier of an app to get seen more or match outside your local area. Remove any attitude/behaviour filters that aren’t deal breakers (e.g. smokers, drug taking, pets).
  • Low match rate: Get friends of your desired sex to brutally screen your photos. Try a variety of different photo settings to show you’re well rounded (e.g. friend shot to show you aren’t a loner, festival photo/sports team photo to show your interests, close up smiling shot to show off your vibe). Remove any potentially inflammatory comments from your profile (e.g. don’t match if you like pop music, won’t date anyone shorter than 5″10, if you can’t handle me at my worst then you can’t handle me at my best). Try different apps that have more of your desired ‘type’ of person. Consider if YOU are the problem and you’re declining a lot of matches on your end.
  • Low chat rate: Put cheeky conversation starters in your bio that encourage opening lines (e.g. I think chocolate is overrated, convince me otherwise). Start convos yourself. Try different pick up lines. Find something interesting on their profile to make it easy for them to reply, but also don’t pick anything too obvious because everyone else has probably used it too.
  • Low first date rate: If chats are fizzling out quick, try organising first dates sooner before they get bored of the chat. Test out suggesting different types of dates to see what sticks. Be conscious of the cadence of date set ups and suggest a date early or mid week. Steer conversations towards activities as a starting block for a date (e.g. Have you been to the latest NGV exhibition yet? I’ve been dying to go). If your messages seem to be getting hectic responses, check if your profile accurate depicts your values or (sorry if this is mean) see if you can tweak your flirting approach to be softer. If you’re the one declining first date offers, figure out if you’ve been too open with your matches and make sure you’re only matching with people you actually want to eventually see IRL.
  • Low second date rate: If you were the one to decline a second date, figure out if it’s something you can screen earlier (e.g. if you go on heaps of first dates with 27 YOs and find them too immature, then change your age range). If you get ghosted/rejected heaps, figure out if you are perhaps presenting yourself online in a way that isn’t true to you. Try different date settings where you be comfortable and show your true self.

Go forth and enjoy filling your funnel (not intended to be a euphemism).

Full disclaimer: I completely acknowledge that dating is not for everyone. Finding love is not be a goal for everyone, and there is so much more to life than sex. I hope enjoy this blog post as entertainment, but I’ll definitely be waiting for an invite to your wedding if it works. x


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