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Find Your Valentine: How to Optimize Your Online Prospects (for Business and Dating!)

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In this article, you'll learn...

  • How online dating is a lot like conducting business online
  • How to effectively market yourself online
  • Five ways to amp up your online profile and attract quality prospects

It's that time of year again. Your local drugstore is filled with heart-shaped boxes, your email inbox is full of special offers for roses and chocolates, and you've found yourself dodging your single friends who have organized a group pity party to embrace and "celebrate" your collective solitude. Yep, Valentine's Day is looming, and you're still alone.

But before you blame your singleness on your preferred dating site's poor inventory of prospects, stop and think about how your profile might be performing. We've collected a lot of data about how people interact with websites, how they shop for products, and what convinces them to buy. I know from first-hand experience that some simple tweaks to a website (mobile ones, too)—including your dating profile—can seriously improve its success.

That in mind, I'd like to offer our from-the-trenches insights to help the lovelorn and unattached everywhere improve their personal conversion rates to turn "single" into "significant other." I can't exactly close the deal for you (you'll need to defer to another kind of expert for that advice), but I can offer a little strategy that might just help you get more (qualified) eyes on your profile and lock down a date for the big night.

Before you start tinkering with your profile, lay out your strategic goals; it's what you'd do in business, and it makes sense for dating, too:

  • Attract as much visibility and traffic as possible.
  • Clearly describe your value proposition.
  • Position yourself as attractive to ideal prospects.
  • Be transparent and authentic—you may as well find someone who likes you for you. (It's so much easier that way, after all.)

Now that you know what you're trying to do, it's time to get some results.


1. Position yourself with strategic headlines and calls to action

A lot of people enter the online dating world thinking that to ensure success they should cast as wide a net as possible. But, assuming you know what you're looking for in a mate, there's no point in attracting anyone who doesn't meet your criteria. And since we've determined that one of your goals is to be transparent and authentic, you've got to start by figuring out which characteristics to lead with.

Take online dating site Loopylove.com (now cupid.com). We tested and tweaked multiple variables throughout the site—the progress indicator, registration-page layout, default form-field entries, the presence of sample profile pictures, etc.—to determine which variants would convert and engage the most visitors. By applying the resulting data to the overall website strategy, we were able to increase the number of sign ups 31%.

So, think about several factors that you can control on your profile: your picture, the total number of pictures you can feature, your headline, bio, and so on. Try a few different combinations over a few days to determine which ones yield the best results—or the most emails from qualified prospects.

2. Don't forget to incorporate a keyword strategy

Once positioning is settled, you'll want to make sure that the rest of your profile aligns with it. Let's face it, we all have our predetermined requirements for a potential lover—and online daters are no exception. With thousands of people logging into these matchmaking sites, it's imperative to narrow it down to top matches. And the first basic way to achieve this? Keywords.

When I asked Justin Phillips, an SEO expert from Channel V Media, for a real-world example of how a minor change to keyword positioning resulted in love (ROI) for one of his clients, he cited a project for Fidelity Insurance: "By adding the word 'Florida' to the phrase 'Boat Insurance,' we were able to hone in specifically on Florida-based boat owners—not just any boat owners—looking for insurance. That single update resulted in a quick increase to Fidelity's site traffic and allowed us to create a niche for them."

So, yes, throw in your main keywords—adventurous, funny, smart—but fill in other keywords to further specify and capture attention: Mountain climbing, The Marx Brothers, Mensa. They won't grab everyone, but they'll be a green light for your perfect match.

3. Reassure prospects that you're a risk-free purchase

From the moment you arrive, a good website gives you the clear sense that you're in good hands by clearly demonstrating its promise and reliability. Thanks to accurate product pictures and descriptions, good customer service, and a secure checkout, the company increases sales and loyalty—and visitors complete their purchases knowing that the product they're buying will arrive with all the right features and functionality (and that their credit card info is safe and sound).

But how does this translate to online dating? Though I wish I had some clever marketing tie-in for this one, I'll admit to being a little out of my league here. This is simply a matter of common sense and good etiquette: Reply to your prospects' emails, show up for the dates you agree to, and look and act like the person featured in your profile picture when you do.

4. Get a little fresh

Fresh content, that is. Online dating can be a full-time job, so it's no surprise that many people neglect to update their profiles regularly. You know who you are. You've had the same glamour shot up for years, and you haven't updated your "About me" and "Who I'm looking for" since online dating sites replaced the singles section at the back of your local newspaper. Assuming your looks and needs have evolved since then, it's a shame to think that qualified prospects are flipping past you every day because there's nothing new to see. It's time to make updates work in your favor.

Take the case of one of our clients, a European budget airline: By simply swapping out images and continuously updating vacation promotions every week, it increased clickthroughs 41%—and sales 4%.

By creating new and different engagement points, and by highlighting your latest best offer, you're a lot more likely to catch the eye and spark the interest of your Mr. or Ms. Right.

5. Be at the top of your game

You log in late at night. You lurk. You visit the site only when someone else takes the trouble to write you. With this passive approach, you're not only failing to capture the attention of potential mates but also falling low in the internal rankings of the dating site itself.

When it comes to the latter, the science is simple: Identify and prioritize the content, links, and other elements that engage people. This logic translates to the online dating world. Sites tend to feature users who are the most active on the site, who update their profiles regularly, and who reach out to other users and respond to interest.

So just how do you get to be one of those prioritized profiles? By logging in and connecting during peak times, which statistics reveal to be lunchtime and evenings. By updating your profile—whether with a new headline, picture, or information section. By connecting with other users—whether by contacting them back or by reaching out to others yourself. Even better? Get online during peak hours, update your profile, and connect with people.

* * *

Happy Valentine's Day!


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Mark Simpson is founder and president of Maxymiser, a global expert in multivariate testing, personalization, and optimization solutions

Twitter: @MarkJ_Simpson

LinkedIn: Mark J. Simpson

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  • by Sharon Long Fri Feb 11, 2011 via web

    Thank you, Mark! I'm about halfway through writing a book called "Marketing Is Like Dating and I Can Help You Score" so this article made me smile big time! It's a great analogy that really gets people thinking! :-)

  • by Mark Simpson Fri Feb 11, 2011 via web

    Hey Sharon, No problem! And as for your book--great title. Sounds like a fantastic read. It should do especially well in the Manhattan marketplace

  • by Shelley Ryan Fri Feb 11, 2011 via web

    So, Mark... are you single? Want to hook up for coffee sometime? ;)

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