Why Online Dating is Not for Marketers

Welcome to my brain….

As I enter into what’s probably like my 3000th day of being single, I’ve been inundated with ads on all of the dating apps trying to entice me to upgrade for “cuffing season”.

First of all, WTF is cuffing season?

A quick Google search told me it’s the time of year where everyone couples up, but the Cleveland Clinic explained the science behind it in the article 8 Strategies for Dating During Cuffing Season

“Cuffing season is a social phenomenon that carries some negative connotations because it suggests people “handcuff” themselves to a partner out of necessity or desperation. But there’s no shame in wanting a relationship when the days are dark and cold. In fact, there are some very real biological reasons for wanting to hold someone close during this time.” 

Um. Ew. I’m sorry, but the absolute LAST thing I want as a divorced mom of two kids is to be “handcuffed” to someone. Really? This is what you’re selling?  Ok, maybe it makes sense for Tinder, but for real…

Ok, full disclosure, I’ve tried the “upgraded” versions of these mostly free apps. This is what you typically get.

  • See who likes you
  • Access to view the “top picks
  • Advanced filters
  • Message before matching….

As a user, I’ve been intrigued enough to try it, but once you get through all of the people that “like” you, it’s completely worthless.

Now, as a web developer who is obsessed with analytics and is up to her neck in website audits, and a marketer who is sick of the horribly targeted ads, I have identified my top 5 issues with dating apps and possible solutions that could be resolved through REAL “upgraded” services. While I should be charging for my expertise in these matters, my bleeding heart tells me that I need to do this for the greater good. So here’s my gift to you:

Problem 1. FILTERS
Ok-SOME apps have facial recognition that verify that your face is actually your face, but that doesnt stop a person from filtering the hell out of their uploaded photos.

Solution 1. FACIAL RECOGNITION
Apps should use facial recognition on ALL uploaded photos. We have the technology. These app developers have the money. I think this feature should be built into even the free versions because we are ALL sick of being catfished. Except for maybe those actually holding fish in their pictures, but I digress…

Problem 2: CREDIBILITY
The difference between traditional social media and online dating apps is that you have no idea if a person is real, a super creep, or a bot. AT LEAST with social media, you can see if a person has real friends. You can see what the person posts, how they interact with their online friends. Dating apps provide ZERO insight on a person’s credibility other than the user’s own (usually half-assed written) bio. 

Solution 2: FORUM INTERACTION
Hear me out. I’m not talking about an open forum where everyone can comment on post updates. Obviously, that could lead to some serious entertainment…I mean safety concerns between jealous perspectives, but it could be limited to “likes”, emojis, and gifs. As a user, I would be more compelled to “like” someone if I see a lot of interaction on a page. As a marketer, I know that seeing that someone is getting a lot of attention on the platform, then they are in higher demand, thus giving me a sense of urgency about…i dunno…cuffing them???

Problem 3: MAKING THE DATE
Talk is CHEAP. I know I’m an extrovert that loves to meet new people, but there are a lot of people that have no interest in actually ever meeting and that is WEIRD.

Solution 3: BOOKING FEATURE
WHAT IF a dating app was like AirBnB? Again, hear me out. What if you could see your match’s availability AND request a date with that at a particular time and place? I mean, no BS, no back and forths, and there’s a record of where you’ll be in case ya know, you end up going missing. Honestly, I can’t believe no one is doing this. I read Hinge did something like this with Open Table once, but I’ve been on there for like two years and I’ve never seen that feature. So much for being the app made to be deleted…

Problem 4:FEAR
Oh, you mean meet an unvetted stranger you met on the internet in a town you’ve lived in for only six weeks? <sarcasm> I don’t see why anyone would be afraid of that. </sarcasm>

Solution 4: REVIEWS
SO AGAIN, like AirBnB, what if you could (anonymously) review your date after a booking??? Gaawwwwdddd, how awesome(ly hilarious) would it be if you could be like “5/5 stars recommend. Would eat here again.”  Sorry, Mom. Sorry, Dad…. 

We have consumer reviews for EVERYTHING. I think it’s time to be able to read some authentic reviews on some bad (and good!) dates. Right? (PG-13 rated, of course) 

I may or may not have used this logic after a bad date and a glass of wine several years ago when my kids were out of town when I purchased ratemydates.online (I no longer own that domain). Don’t judge me. Some people buy clothes or plane tickets after a glass of wine. I buy domain names. 

It also adds an element of transparency. I’m not the type to judge on someone’s lifestyle, but it’d be super cool to know if the person you’ve matched with is actually not “really” available. Looking at you 65% of the people I’ve matched with…

Problem 5: BEHAVIORS
I recognize this is likely solely MY problem as I am in the throes of (procrastinating) analyzing website conversions while auditing clients’ websites, but whatever. I wanna see people’s activity.

“Solution”: 5: ACCESS TO DATA 
I don’t mean having access to personal identifying information, but I would loooooooooove to know the following of my perspective suitors:

  • Swipe rates – Does this guy swipe right on EVERYONE, or am I special? I need to know.
  • Bounce rates – how much time does this user spend looking at profiles before he swipes right?
  • Click through rates – while there’s no external links on a dating profile, I want to know what type of pictures my potential future ex-husband spends the most time “studying”.
  • Conversions!  How many of this user’s matches have turned into actual dates?

So, that’s my 5-step plan to make online dating a little less awful. What do you think?