How to run a successful dating business: Be SMART

I’ve been at for almost six years now and during that time, I’ve seen the online dating market change a considerable amount. Gone are the days of easily acquiring cheap CPLs and stumbling across unexposed niches waiting to be cashed in on. You need to be SMART with your business to stay ahead of the game and maximise the opportunities you have in front of you. Here are my key pieces of advice for building a profitable dating business.

Share. The major thing that makes unique from any other dating platform is our one-to-one dedicated account management team. They are essentially your second pair of hands; they’re here to offer a second opinion, recommend positive enhancements and act as your eyes and ears of both the dating industry and the platform. If you aren’t willing to share your future plans, give them insight into your marketing strategies or listen to their recommendations, you are limiting the success of your dating business significantly.

Our account managers are very passionate about what they do – we’re always just an email away even on evenings and weekends. We want to work with you to help you develop your business – seeing your growth gives us a buzz. Don’t underestimate the benefits you can reap from account management. As the dating market grows and competition continues to steepen, make sure you utilise the partner team’s knowledge to your advantage.

Monetise. Over time, your dating sites will acquire a database of users; a percentage of whom will pay to upgrade. Let’s say you have a conversion rate of 10% and drive 1000 members to your site a month: 900 people are doing nothing for you or the site except wasting your money with their clicks. Remember, you have already engaged with these non-converted users – there’s still hope!

Among the benefits of using the platform are the size of the database and the plentiful opportunities to launch niche sites. By launching only one or two sites, you’re really missing out on further monetisation opportunities. We always recommend that you cover all of the networks we offer, allowing you to cross-sell between your sites and monetise non-converted users. You can then expect around 10% of your traffic to be cross-sell driven, perhaps even up to a third! This works really well on all networks, but it isn’t the only way to monetise your traffic. On our casual network, you also have the option to offer non-dating products; some of which have proved to be a nice additional revenue stream for some WLD partners.

Analyse. Don’t assume you know everything about your site/s. The dating market is one of the fastest evolving online markets. What works well on your site one month might have a different effect the next. Analyse demographics regularly, breaking them down by age, location and gender, using our Partner Portal. Profile your typical subscriber each month, and then target them within your campaigns. Analyse landing pages and compare them against competitors. Major dating platforms are always evolving their site’s ‘dangling carrot’ to ensure they appeal to today’s user. Competition is high, so you must ensure that your product is up to speed on mobile optimisation and navigation.

Analyse your campaigns and acquisition methods regularly – if you aren’t using our in-house campaign tracking system from within the Partner Portal, start today. It’s essential that if you’re exploring paid acquisition, you track all clicks from registration to upgrade, then split this by campaign, keyword, banner or site to pinpoint exactly what works. Analyse price points regularly with the help of the partner team. They know what the market looks like for each niche in terms of pricing, and even traffic source. Don’t ever settle on one price – adapt regularly to keep in line with the market and to cater to the habits of the ever evolving online dater.

Reach. Whatever your area of marketing expertise, remember that your efforts don’t have to stop there. You should be using at least two acquisition sources: maximise the exposure of your brand and you’ll see the halo effect on all metrics. It’s good business practice not to put all of your eggs in one basket.

Your business could suffer immensely if, for example, you rely exclusively on Google Adwords traffic, and for one reason or another, your account is blocked. Similarly, if you’re placing all marketing efforts on SEO, be wary that an unexpected Google update could cause your rankings to plummet. These situations can, in some cases, put dating site growth back by six to eight months, leaving you left to quickly learn new marketing methods from the ground up.

As well as using the resources in the Partner Portal, there are also plenty of video tutorials and educational guides online to help you stay up to speed on new ways to reach your customers.

Tier your sites to make better use of your time. It’s hard to run just one dating site, let alone expanding your portfolio across the many niches and territories that the platform offers.

By spreading your time evenly over all of your sites, you leave each one to operate at just 50% of its true potential. Start to tier your sites into three levels:

Tier one represents your bread and butter; that’s the legacy brands which have solid marketing strategies that you need to regularly optimise, test price points and landing page refreshes. This will also include the up and coming sites where early signs indicate success.

Tier two represents the mid-range sites in your portfolio. They may not have set the world on fire, but they have steady investment and continue to perform. This may also include newly launched sites on which you want to monitor key metrics; at some point these sites will hopefully move into tier one.

Tier three represents the sites on which you can spend time should you have a spare half a day.  Tier three sites will no doubt be those that you may have spent on in the past which at the time failed, or the sites that have been set up and left to grow organically with little investment. Tiering your sites will better aid your time management and help target your investment into sites that will make you money.

Follow my advice, be SMART, and you’ll be making money from online dating in no time.

Lauren Barnes, Head of

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