Research shows that traffic to online dating sites increases significantly the week after Valentine’s Day, so we thought we’d help you put your best foot forward (digitally, that is!).

A quick Bluetrain office poll revealed that 40% of our team have tried online dating. And while this alone may not be all that fascinating given the fact that we spend most of our day on the Internet anyways, our marketing perspectives on the world of online dating may be of interest.

So, in the name of love and the Internet, here are some proven digital marketing principles that you can use to connect online this Valentine’s Day!

Persona development

Before you optimize your online profile, think about who you want to appeal to in the first place. Who is your “ideal audience” and how can you persuade them to click on your profile? Perhaps you are looking for someone who shares your love of the great outdoors, or someone who enjoys reading the classics over coffee. Keep these “ideal traits” in mind while you optimize your profile so that you can be sure to attract the kind of people you would be interested in connecting with.

Optimizing your online profile

Love it or hate it, when you need to get the word out about something, you almost always start with an ad.

Although you may not have realized it, the profile you created back when you decided to try online dating is in fact an advertisement. You may or may not have paid for it to be shown to your fellow singles, but you did put a message out there for the world to know: “Hey, my name is so-and-so, and I’m single!”

However, whether that ad is actually working for (or against) you is an entirely different matter.

Navigate to your online profile now and analyze it while considering these questions:

  1. Have I chosen the most visually appealing photos of myself?
  2. Have I tried to showcase my personality and interests through my photos and bio description? Is my bio unique enough or is it reading like a generic personal ad? Is my bio description too long? Too brief? Non-existent?
  3. Have I used specific key terms that will pique the interest of my “ideal audience”?
  4. Do I have a clear call-to-action or does my bio description trail off aimlessly?

Keep reading to learn how to effectively address these questions and improve your profile.

Visually appealing photos

Okay, this one seems like a no-brainer, but appealing visuals really are the center of any good advertising campaign. Think about the last article that you clicked on: in addition to being relevant to you, we’re going to bet it boasted an attractive image thumbnail. In fact, articles with relevant images receive a staggering 94% more views than those without.

The same principle applies to the world of online dating. According to dating website eHarmony, having visually appealing photos dramatically increases the number of messages you will receive.

OKCupid has also analysed hundreds of profiles and come to some fascinating and surprising conclusions about the pictures that attract the most messages.

For women, the typical “MySpace” photo featuring a pouty, flirty look to camera is hands-down the most effective. Men, on the other hand, should look away from the camera and remember not to smile. Yeah, we were surprised as well. But the data doesn’t lie!

And while what constitutes a “visually appealing” photo can be a very subjective thing, strong photos normally feature interesting image composition, good lighting, uncluttered backdrops, and a subject that has been caught at just the right moment.

For more information on how to step up your selfie game, read this article about how to photograph like a pro.

The importance of strong bio content

Don’t underestimate the importance of written communication. Blank bios or hastily written descriptions give off the impression that you are not a person of substance, and you definitely are!

Again, think about the last time you visited a website and read content that was painfully cliche, awkwardly worded, or (gasp!) rife with spelling errors. What kind of impression did that company make? The same goes for your online profile. In order to make a good impression online, you need to display a thoughtful, well-written bio.

The good news is that you definitely don’t need to be perfect. In fact, a study at the University of Iowa showed that honest, sincere accounts are much more successful in terms of messages and dates than flashy (and let’s face it, probably hugely exaggerated) profiles.

Here are some suggestions for improving your current description.

  • Be unique: The only thing worse than leaving your bio empty is displaying a totally generic message that people have read countless times before. When it comes to marketing, it is absolutely crucial to promote the features and benefits that differentiate your product from the competition. Think about your unique value proposition (UVP) or, in other words, what you are offering that nobody else in your market is. Whatever sets you apart, make sure you sell it in your bio!
  • Be really specific! Although it’s impossible to include everything that makes you you in your online profile, it’s still important to give people an idea of who you are. The best way to do this is to showcase your personality through your tone of voice and be really specific when you describe yourself. This means letting your quirkiness and sense of humour shine through in your voice and getting detailed with your descriptions. So, rather than saying: “I’m a computer programmer who likes games” you could try “I design virtual training simulators and enjoy making prosperous trades in Catan”. See how altering word choice and adding specifics made that bland intro more interesting?
  • Use keywords: This one is straight out of the digital marketing playbook, but it also works for online dating because it speaks to the fact that people often use a special language when they communicate with other members of the same group. Someone who is a coffee aficionado, for instance, will know exactly what someone else means when they say they aren’t truly awake until they’ve had a hot cup of their “Guatemalan medium-roast”. Again, think about the key terms that will resonate with your ideal dates and be sure to mention them in your profile.
  • Keep it simple: The best marketers know that the key to communicating effectively is to keep it simple. In fact, the most memorable slogans of all time are almost absurdly simple: Think Different. Just Do It. Got Milk. And while we don’t think you need your own slogan, we do recommend keeping your bio simple. Think about what you want to say and try to say it in a few, well-chosen words. And remember, it’s a bio, not an autobiography. Save some details for the first date!

Include a Call-to-Action

No good ad would be complete without a strong call-to-action (CTA). Don’t leave it up to Mr or Miss Right to decide what to do next—tell them! We see a few of you smarties doing this already with friendly yet assertive messages like: “Want to learn more? Swipe right and ask away!” “Like what you’re reading? What are you waiting for? Message me! (Winky face)”

Give it a try! You’re bound to notice more conversions, er, connections, when you tell people what they should do next.

A few closing notes on personalization and being authentic

Although the focus of this article is how to establish that initial connection online, we think it is also important to mention what you can do to improve your chances of connecting IRL (in real life).

Once you’ve optimized your profile, you might consider how the popular marketing concept of personalization could help you create more meaningful connections. Take your initial contact message for example. Sending someone a personalized message is the online equivalent to serving them eggs just how they like them. It shows care and thought, and, well, that’s hot.

Last but not least, be yourself. It sounds corny, I know, but I’m going to say it anyways. No matter how anonymous the Internet may seem, remember that it’s a community like any other and people will get to know you eventually, especially if you’re spending a significant amount of time there. So, be authentic and courteous, and you can’t go wrong—marketing theory or no.

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