How to promote dating apps? Ideas, new mechanics and monetization strategies
Online dating is an ultra-competitive yet promising and profitable niche. Tinder is a giant in the dating industry. How can other dating services compete? One way is to split up the audience and offer new techniques. In this article, we will analyze how the dating industry has evolved and how to succeed in it. Grab ideas, numbers, case studies, monetization strategies, and ASO insights.
Most relevant trends in 2022
Finding a mate has never been an easy task. COVID restrictions have changed not only the format of communication, but also the format of dating. For example, Bumble introduced a form about vaccination and acceptable places to meet, so that users can immediately assess the risks of interacting in public places with people who do not get vaccinated.
For a long time, dating services focused on the swiping mechanics and quick matchmaking, but this approach has given rise to a number of hypotheses among psychologists and sociologists that in this way the value of the match is lost. You can always swipe further and communicate with more people at the same time. In this regard, dating apps are exploring the mechanics of slow dating and data analytics to give users more time to get to know each other and find common interests, if they are not specified in a profile.
On the other hand, society is feeling tired of restrictions, so more and more users have noted that they do not know what they really want from dating. Dating apps are trying to solve this problem with quizzes and situational marketing, such as asking about horror movies on the eve of Halloween.
Most popular dating app
Here we can’t escape the discussion of Tinder and Bumble. These apps remain popular and they are successfully assimilating the latest mechanics. As we mentioned before, during the pandemic, services with video chat support became widespread, and even apps that rely entirely on voice messaging, such as Vox, began to pop up.
However, Tinder algorithms are often criticized because of the different cost of premium subscriptions for owners of iOS and Android devices. Besides, there are problems in the algorithm which for some time linked high-status men with less wealthy women, which led to the big Tinder scandal.
For example, in the last 3 months in the US App Store, users searched for dating apps for the query ‘Tinder’ 4,257,804 and ‘Bumble’ 2,007,162 times. That’s 200,000+ and 49,000+ more than in the same period in the past.
Free dating apps VS “free*”
The very concept of a free app is a fairy tale.
Most dating apps remain conditionally free* for now, but in 2021 it became obvious that free features are more and more often becoming a part of paid subscriptions.
Among these features is often an unlimited number of right swipes (likes). It also entails their unobvious daily limit mechanics. In other words, users of free plans never know when the likes will run out, because their number is not always tied to a specific number, but may depend on the intensity and match conversion rate. For example, Tinder recently added the unlimited likes feature to its cheapest subscription and reduced the number of daily likes to encourage in-app purchases.
On the one hand, such a decision is motivated by the large number of users who like the whole feed in a row and thus interfere with pair-matching algorithms. On the other hand, this is an important aspect for active users that they do not want to give up. From the users’ point of view, this type of dating apps are losing the most important feature — speed.
Paid features, as a rule, are associated with an increasing number of displays of your profile. You can also pay for the ability to open blurred profiles or write to users directly from the feed without matching. Paid plans also allow you to remove ads from the app.
There are more and more paid features, but that’s okay. After all, even the Little Mermaid paid for dating.
Try new techniques
Since the industry is highly competitive, dating apps are constantly looking for new techniques to engage users. This is a great platform to experiment on. Let’s check out the most gripping ones.
Coffee Meets Bagel uses a smart algorithm, not a swiping method. A small number of matches are offered to you every day, based on the information you provided. It is slow dating for thoughtful communication with just a few people. Crown works in a similar way. Every day, the user gets 16 candidates. The user compares them with each other and keeps four of them in the final, with whom he can continue to communicate. There is another app, S’More, that focuses on the communication itself, and not on appearance. The app provides blurry profile pictures that can only gradually unblur. You literally get to know each other little by little. The mystery persists, forcing you to use the app every day and watch the photo unblur. Video chat is blurred too.
New video formats
Most dating apps have a video format. Apps that did not have it before began to embrace it in response to the pandemic and lockdown to compensate for the possibility of a face-to-face meeting (e.g, Coffee Meets Bagel). But at the same time the video chat can look different. For instance, the video chat in Blindlee is blurry too. You can control the blur of your camera as well as the blur of your match’s camera. One of the interesting features is a specific topic of discussion, which is suggested by the app for the first call. For example, do you prefer to celebrate the New year on the beach or somewhere with snow?
During the period of coronavirus restrictions, dating services were especially in demand. New dating apps keep appearing. However, the geography is not even. For example, in Russia 95% of the market is occupied by classic dating apps with swiping method, there are practically no apps with intriguing techniques.
The example of an asymmetric dating app is Bumble. In this app, only women can make the first move. The app is also developing towards networking and making professional connections (both women and men can write here first). When filling out your profile, you need to set your goals. For example, there is a column «career growth» in the application form.
People can be matched based on common interests.Tastebuds, for example, works with taste in music. Perhaps mutual love for Queen is the success of the relationship indeed. In another app, NUiT, people are matched based on astrological compatibility.
Find a business niche with a narrow audience
How else to compete with corporate giants? One way out is to split the audience and create your own narrow niche. Many apps follow this strategy. Let’s take a look at nine of the most popular apps:
- Muzmatch is an app for Muslims to help them find a partner. The increase of the user base is really impressive — in 2017 there were 200,000 users, but now there are 4,000,000 users from 190 countries. In the profile, you should write in how many years you would like to get married, how religious you are and how often you pray.
- Feeld is an app for polyamorous couples. The user can choose from 20+ sexual and gender identities to find eligible people. It is possible to share photos within the app.
- HER is an app for queer women that focuses on creating a safe space. The app even has volunteer moderators, who monitor compliance with community rules.
Lack of understanding the efficiency of dating apps in building long-term relationships is one of the important issues. The Hinge app tries to resolve it by collecting feedback from users about how their first date has ended and why this partner did not fit them well. Machine learning processes the collected data and suggests the next matches.
- GRINDR is LGBTQ dating app that has launched in 2009. Now the app has millions of users. Its mission is to create a supportive environment where diversity and mutual respect thrive.
- Pure is an app for those, who’s looking for a hookup, not a serious relationship. You have 24 hours to arrange a meeting. If you need more time or want to chat longer, you can turn off the chat timer. All photos self-destruct after being seen and if someone takes a screenshot, you will get a notification about it.
- Plenty of Fish is an app primarily for young people who’ve just graduated from college. It is part of Match Group, who also owns Tinder, Match.com, Hinge, OKCupid, Twoo, Meetic and OurTime.
Despite the rise of dating apps and social media, 71% of young people aged 20-30 years suffer from loneliness in varying degrees (Cigna’s survey).
- MeetMe is a dating service for people aged 40 or plus. The app does not position it as a key feature, but the data shows that the app’s primary audience is users between 46 and 55 years old, and the second largest group is between 55 and 65 years old.
- Luxy is a dating app for millionaires, 60% of users have a verified annual income of more than 200,000 euros. As the creators of the app say, the purpose is not to find relationships for ‘sugar daddies’, but to bring together rich like-minded people.
- Muddy Matches is a countryside dating service for rural singles.
Asian dating apps
The Asian market for dating apps is one of the fastest growing areas in the category. The trend is largely due to the fact that users from these regions want to stay within their culture while moving to other regions.
Marketing of Asian dating apps often focuses on the marriage between users rather than finding a date. For example, eHarmony gives users the impression that matches are more likely to lead to marriage. The service focuses on long-term relationships and offers a personality quiz to offer the most relevant profiles in the feed.
The chart shows in detail the compatibility with the partner in various areas. Matches can be sorted by compatibility score and by user reviews — it’s a really working tool that allows you to find your soul mates.
Another popular service in this segment is Elite Singles. The app is also focused on people who are looking for a serious relationship. The service offers a fairly large quiz about status and level of education, as well as a number of associative questions when registering.
Also, when creating a profile, the preferences of ethnic groups and religion are taken into account.
Another popular Asian dating app on Google Play is AsianDating. The peculiarity of this service is that users are matched not in a set radius. Users have the basic option of viewing profiles in different countries. At the same time, the option to send messages belongs to the category of paid features.
In recent versions of the app, the developers also hid the ability to see other users’ likes, which led to a negative feedback from the audience.
Ensuring the safety of users
Data privacy is one of the main issues in the mobile industry in general. Not to mention dating apps. In the fall of 2020, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation published an investigation of sex assaults in dating apps. They surveyed over 400 people who experienced inappropriate behavior or actions in dating apps. 48 of 231 respondents said that they had used Tinder. They reported sexual assaults to Tinder support, but only 11 of them got any response.
After that, Tinder promised to change the reporting system. Bumble took a step further, suggesting that the problem was with the ‘Ummatch’ function. It is easy for an attacker to erase the chat, after which the victim will not be able to use his account to complain to the app support or the police. Now Bumble sends notifications if another person deletes the chat. The user can delete chat too or report it.
Later Tinder has announced that RAINN, an anti-sexual violence organization, had partnered with it for «comprehensive review of sexual misconduct reporting». Plus, Match Group has invested into Noonlight platform (‘an invisible bodyguard’). The app can track your location, verify photos and analyze a person’s activity on the Internet, reporting suspicious ‘findings’. By the way, Facebook was the first to launch similar safety tools, allowing the user to share a live location with a trusted person.
Think about intriguing monetization functions
Mostly, dating apps monetize providing extra functions.
- On Tinder you can get an opportunity to search profiles not limited to your location, restrict access to your personal information, to be seen only to those you like, promote your profile to show it more often in the selected geographic area.
- Muzmatch Gold subscription gives you a special badge to highlight your profile, provides priority display in search and the ability to begin an instant chat with a person you liked the most.
- On Feeld, among the extra features there is posting private photos that only matches can see.
- On Coffee Meets Bagel (CMB) you can get access to read receipts, which let you know when your messages have been read, and activity reports (how likely it is that your potential partner will write to you first).
One of the extra opportunities to earn money is to sell merch. This works well with dating apps that have a narrow audience. For instance, HER app for queer women has its own online-store.
Promotion in the store using ASO
How to promote dating apps in the store? Find relevant keywords for search optimization and use them as much as possible. Good examples are Tinder and Pure. They use the maximum number of characters to fit the keywords into the text metadata.
It is a good idea to use emoji to grab attention if you have extra characters. The competition is huge, so it is better to seriously optimize your app in the store, not missing the chance to get more traffic. You can start with this guide to text ASO and then study the specifics of graphic ASO.
Find relevant keywords to promote in Checkaso.
- Competing with corporate giants basically makes no sense, that’s why it is better to find a niche by splitting the audience. By the way, it works with social media too. There are more and more community-focused apps for young moms (Pumpspotting, Peanut), freelance travelers (Homeis), millennials (Friended).
- Anti-Tinder dating apps are trending now. It is about using new strategies and refusing standard ‘swipes’.
- Providing safety is trending too. Many apps focus on creating a safe space for users, inviting volunteer moderators or using the opportunity to share your current location with friends.
- Generally, dating apps can be monetized by offering subscriptions for more functions. They can be different, it is another space of ideas.
- ASO is particularly important for dating apps promotion due to hot competition in the store. Every opportunity should be used, so choose your keywords carefully, experiment with graphics, and do not ignore the seasonal ASO.
Tinder was the most downloaded dating app in 2020 (it was installed by approximately 75 millions of people all over the world). Badoo got a second place, having registered 44 million downloads. Known as ‘Chinese Tinder’, Tantan was the third popular dating app, just ahead of Bumble and The Meet Group’s flagship product MeetMe. It seems that it is impossible to beat these giants. However, the demand for dating apps is high.
Many countries lack alternative dating apps familiar to Europe and the United States. We suggest evaluating the markets with the Performance tool to find free niches. And do not forget about ASO, for sure. It is a must for promotion in the store. We are always ready to provide fresh analytics and precise data. Give it a try!