The web continues to delight and surprise me on a daily basis, whether that’s new technologies, startups or simply ‘that’ person adding you as a friend on Facebook that used to be so attractive… anyway, where was I?
It’s not often that I stumble across a blog article that leaves me speechless… which was exactly what happened when Mike Butcher’s tweet lead me to this article entitled ‘Startups: Your Online Business Will Fail’ on the site Startup Professional Musings.
It strikes me that the article has been written by a chap (Marty Zwilling) that has no actual experience of the dating industry, or that he’s simply looking for reaction and link baiting. The post states that online dating sites will fail because “everyone expect quick results, nobody can make that happen, and users get very unhappy very quickly”. He goes on to add that dating businesses are tough for the following reasons:
- Direct competition is huge
- No longer a growth market
- Entry cost is very high
- Intellectual property is tough
- Social networks and search engines will lead the way
I would like to introduce Marty to the concept of white label dating sites and maybe address some of the points that he raises. You might want to grab a cup of tea and a comfy sofa. *position self on soapbox*
Whilst I can understand some of the points raised, these are only valid when you’re talking about building a site from scratch. By launching a dating site with a white label provider, partners are provided with a database of active members, so that their site is never empty. Offering our partners a ready-made database of over 2 million members means that any new members driven to the site will be greeted by a buzz of activity and a greater chance of meeting “the one”, which is why on average our members stay 5 months.
With the spotlight turning on successes within the dating industry, more people are becoming aware of the opportunities that could exist by launching their own sites. However, there’s a huge market out there still up for grabs -it’s simply a case of distinguishing yourself from the competition and spotting your niche! Considering new markets, such as the South African network which is currently booming could be a sure fire way to set yourself apart from your competitors. Research is everything!
A DECLINING MARKET?
To say that the dating industry is no longer a growth market is just ludicrous. The UK dating industry is worth £600m a year according to HitWise, whilst Juniper Research predicts the number of paying members on dating sites will rise to 6m in the next 3 years, from 2.6m in 2006 – hardly a slowing market. As the economy goes into meltdown, I would suggest that online dating appears, infact, to be one of the few industries to be flourishing. Since September 2008, we at WhiteLabelDating.com have seen revenues and traffic to our partners increase by over 250%. That stat speaks for itself.
As there are no set up fees for starting a site with us, partners can in principle launch with no associated costs. We work on a revenue share basis, meaning that it’s in our best interests for their site(s) to be as profitable as it/they can. The partner just needs to bring their brand and spread the word. Whilst PPC (pay-per-click) is a traditional (and admittedly sometimes costly) method of driving traffic – we provide partners with much help and advice to encourage them to use other methods which are free to implement such as SEO and social media.
I strongly disagree that users are looking purely for free dating sites. Whilst free dating sites definitely have their place and can be a great tool for cross-promoting paid sites, most of the people using these sites aren’t serious about finding their match. From our experience, people are prepared to pay for a service in the knowledge that fellow members are also more serious and committed to dating. Then of course, there are casual sites, where members are traditionally happy to pay for the service, viewing it as a form of entertainment.
Yes, intellectual property can be tough. However, with a 3rd party provider, the partner doesn’t have to worry about the development of search criteria as that’s all taken care of for them. Plus, the provider will have the funds to continually update the platform, introducing new features to retain members, keeping them interested and engaged. What happened to nosing through profiles anyway?
Social networks certainly offer the potential of tapping into a vast market that may feel that dating sites are still seen as socially unacceptable. However, I would be surprised to see social networks launching dating functionality of their own at this stage. Latest developments have seen these networks open up their platforms, allowing developers to build using their APIs. Therefore the potential here is for smart dating sites to start building dating applications to take advantage of these platforms.
I guess the difference with our partners and the audience of ‘Startup Professional Musings’ is that they’re looking to generate healthy monthly revenue income, allowing them a sustainable improved standard of living as opposed to angel investment… Put another way, for our partners, it’s a lifestyle change as opposed to an exit method.
In short, I don’t think that I could disagree with an article more – but then I wouldn’t be working for a dating company if I agreed, would I? There’s a whole team of people who come here to work every day because we love the company, we love the industry, we want to make our partners money and we want to help people find love. Simple.
*Steps down from soapbox and sighs*