This blog was originally posted in October 2016
For millions of people, dating apps have very quickly become an essential part of everyday life, hoping that the next swipe, scroll or pocket vibration will reveal The One, The Next One or at the very least provide a gentle ego massage.
The allure of mobile dating can be, by its nature, addictive. It can be exciting, frenetic, frustrating and a lot of fun - all, of course, driven by our insatiable insecurities and crippling desires. They give us the opportunity to present the most attractive, successful and interesting versions of ourselves, and compress the fear of rejection to a level that we can absolutely deal with, no problem - they must have lost their phone.
I am sure you have deduced by now that I am familiar with dating apps.
The convenience is revolutionary. If you don’t have the energy to roll off the sofa on Friday night, put on something that resembles suave/scandalous, and eventually retreat back to the sofa four hours later with a lonely pizza slice - don’t worry, there are plenty of dating apps to pass the time, and who knows…
Which brings me to my point - there are lots of dating apps, in fact almost as many as there are fish in the sea. Competition is fierce, and although demand is growing as stigma is dissolving, users are likely to have a one night stand with your app if you don’t give them the experience they were hoping for, leaving you heartbroken, dejected and with a churn rate scarier than the thought of being alone forever.
So what can you do to make sure the relationship between app and user flourishes into a long-lasting, loving and loyal one? Luckily your resident mobile marketing agony aunt is here to offer some solid advice.
1 First impressions are crucial
After the part where you spend far too long making yourself look amazing, first dates mostly consist of careful analysis, strategy and tracking everything your date says and does to make sure you don’t blow your chance with them. This is alarmingly similar to onboarding a user in a mobile dating app (...and they say romance is dead). The first time user experience is crucial for any app, so make sure that you drive engagement early on by highlighting all the cool features that will help their chances of getting their dream date. Welcome tours and tip overlays help to overcome first-time friction particularly well.
2 Always ask for permission
Umm… Anyway. Don’t be premature when it comes to flashing your iOS opt-in message for notifications and location permissions. Make sure that you show the value to the user of opting-in with an attractive in-app message. Dating apps have a huge advantage as they use push to tell people that they’ve got a match or other exciting things. Use this to your advantage by telling them about this. If the user is ready to trust you, take them to the opt-in screen; if they’re not ready, let them get to know you better before asking again.
3 Don’t be a stalker
We’ve all had that one person who just won’t leave us alone. Don’t be that person/app. Control yourself and know what and when is acceptable to send. We also don’t want push notifications waking us up in the middle of the night. Be smart about this. Messages that are personalized, contextual and sent at the optimal time are by far the most successful in terms of driving engagement, retention and revenue.
4 Know when it is reasonable to ask them to pay the bill
This is a sensitive subject, and another one you definitely don’t want to get wrong. There are obviously different payment models available, and even more with the recent changes to iOS 10 subscriptions, but they all essentially have the same problem - conversion. There are techniques which can make a huge difference to conversion figures, however. A/B test different price plans, and target serial daters with specific offers. If your app monetizes through, e.g. people buying credits or tokens, you can test: a) how many free credits they get at the start; b) how much credits cost; and c) how best to package these offers.
5 Don’t be left to wonder what went wrong
There are usually signs that a relationship is struggling, and this is equally true on mobile. In-app surveys are a great way of finding out what the user thinks of your app, and completion rates are impressively high using this method. Also, if you think you’re doing great, make sure to take advantage of this! App ratings matter, and a great way of improving your rating is asking a user to rate the app when they have just interacted with their potential soulmate. Dating apps deliver highs and lows, and you definitely want to pop this question during a high!
So there we have it, it’s not all doom and gloom is it? Forget those churned users, you’re an amazing app with a great future ahead of you. You’ll meet new users, I swear, and you’ll be better prepared to make something long lasting of it next time.