How to market a dating app: Everything you need to know
The dating app industry continues to burn bright in 2022, with the beginning of the year already enjoying a 17% increase in year-over-year growth when compared to January 2019. Business of Apps recently reported the number of dating app users grew last year to 323.9 million, with the dating app market hitting US$5.61 billion in revenue.
Despite the continued demand, however, 90% of startups do unfortunately fail—including dating startups. Your dating app marketing strategy has to be air-tight, ensuring you show users what makes your dating app unique, fun, and applicable to their individual needs. In this guide, we explore how to market a dating app in 2022 and push toward your most ambitious targets—including where to start, managing your online presence, paid user acquisition, and best practices.
Dating app sessions and installs in 2022 see growth
Adjust data mirrors global trends in growth for the dating app industry. Looking at global install growth by monthly averages, we can see the installs have overcome the dip that took place during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, to continue growth through H1 of 2022.
Similarly, dating app sessions worldwide have continued steady growth from 2020 into the first half of 2022. You’ll note that for both installs and sessions, the month of May proved productive with installs averaging 18.5% higher and sessions 3.5% higher than the averages of H1 2022.
Dating app marketing strategy: Where to begin
Users won’t waste time on a dating app without other active users to interact with, so it’s critical that your audience is exposed to user-generated content the moment they open your app. This presents a predicament for developers looking to release a new app that hasn’t yet built up a loyal, active community, but there are ways you can optimize your app’s momentum prior to launch.
Find your niche and define your message
Apps such as Tinder, Bumble, and Grindr dominate the mass market, but there are plenty of opportunities to find your niche and build a loyal community. Defining your target audience is a critical step to ensuring your community will build organically and is an effective way to improve your value to users.
Once you know your unique selling point and what defines the users who need your app, you must develop how your vision will be communicated to potential users. For example, The League is a dating app aimed at users looking to “find love with elite dating.” To ensure it attracts its target audience, the app requires an application process to prove a user’s eligibility. The League’s website states, “An advanced screening and monitoring system keeps our community well-balanced, highly engaged, and full of high-powered (and empowered) people who are ready for a long-term relationship.” The app positions its community as an elite group, thereby attracting similar users to submit applications. The company has also considered ways in which searching for a date with users from a similar education and career could be problematic: “authenticating with LinkedIn will protect your privacy and block you from your business connections and coworkers who also authenticated.”
In contrast, Bristlr – a niche dating app designed to connect “those with beards to those who want to stroke beards” – is marketed as a more light-hearted experience.
Dating app marketing: Organic traffic from your website
Because people love to talk about dating, you can’t afford to ignore the interest that can be generated by promoting your app with an official website. It’s essential that your landing page conveys your vision and includes a registration form—especially if you haven’t launched yet. This will enable you to keep interested users up-to-date with your launch and any other future updates. This approach will also help you solve the initial challenge of launching a dating app with an enthusiastic community from day one.
Setting up a regularly updated blog on your website is another way to generate interest in your approach to online dating. This creates opportunities to attract users to your app. Below are four best practices to perfect your dating app’s blog, including examples of how it can be done.
1. Dive into the nuance of your dating philosophy
Your blog is the perfect space to share your position in the market. Fortunately, there are great examples to learn from, such as OkCupid’s announcement that they would include preferred pronouns on users’ profiles. The blog entry states that “OkCupid is proud to be the first and only leading dating app to create a dedicated space on profiles for LGBTQ daters to share their pronouns.” Not only does this update users of the feature, but it also promotes the brand’s focus on inclusivity. The blog entry includes the story of how they collaborated with GLAAD, a leader in the promotion of LGBTQ acceptance, to achieve their goal.
2. Creating content for SEO
Dating culture provides plenty of opportunities for dating apps to rank high on search engines, and there are some great examples of how companies have harnessed people’s interest to drive organic traffic. Bumble’s “The Buzz,” for example, created this guide to “ghosting”, which currently ranks on the first page for the term. This is a cost-effective way to raise brand awareness.
3. Viral content for social media
Your blog also presents an opportunity to create viral content that can be shared across your social media channels. But make sure your app is bringing value to readers. For example, the dating app Once, created by an all-female team, had a viral blog post about determining your emotional profile across four areas: intuition, extroversion, physicality, and independence. The blog explained each of the four areas, enticing readers to try the app and take its personality quiz to find their perfect match.
4. Share your users’ success stories
Across your landing page and your blog, it’s important to share your dating app’s success stories. Users need to know that you are worth their time, and showing real-life examples of app-crossed lovers is a persuasive tactic. Take Match.com for example, the dating app that has a testimonials page on its website. Here you can learn that 2.6 million couples have met thanks to the company, with specific stories detailing what sparked their interest and the couple’s plans for the future. Note that the type of stories you tell should align with your app’s unique selling point.
App store optimization (ASO)
ASO is another essential practice that will help you get the edge over your competitors. With a saturated market, dating apps must use ASO to prove their value and share their unique selling point. Moreover, quality ASO will boost organic installs, bringing you the most valuable users.
Here are five all-important areas to focus on when implementing ASO.
- Include keywords (dating and your niche) in your app’s name
- Add keywords to your app’s description
- Localize content for best results
- Use primary and secondary app categories to reach more users
- You must include screenshots and other useful images to attract organic installs
You should also encourage satisfied customers to review your app in the app store, giving your app another reason for users to install. For example, you could prompt users to rate your app after they have matched a certain number of users, ensuring that the most active users are promoting your product.
Paid user acquisition: Identify your most valuable users
Paid user acquisition is another critical component to successfully marketing your dating app. It allows you to reach your target audience, identify which users are the most valuable, and learn which channel they came from. This is where an attribution partner can help. With the right insights, you can learn from behavioral patterns and optimize your campaigns for long-term success. With Adjust’s Audience Builder, for example, you can segment audiences using your Adjust data. This enables you to create lookalike audiences and build upon your most successful results. This has seen proven success, with Jeff Gurian, VP Marketing & Ad Monetization AT Kongregate, stating that the main benefit is showing ads to users you know are valuable.
To get more insights on ASO and paid user acquisition, check out Part 1 of our guide: Scaling your app to 1 million users.
4 best practices for your dating app marketing strategy
Develop your app’s gamification If you’re not considering how gamification can improve your dating app, you’re missing out on a fundamental method to retain users and improving the user experience. In his TEDx talk, gamification pioneer Yu-kai Chou describes the term as “harnessing the power of play,” which perfectly describes why you should want to gamify your dating app. This can be particularly powerful in the dating market because – just like gaming – dating apps are designed to be fun. For instance, the dating app Jigsaw hides matches’ photos with a jigsaw puzzle that can only be solved piece-by-piece by having a conversation.
You can identify areas that should be gamified by discovering how your app can be more competitive, entertaining, and simplified. For example, it could be as simple as introducing GIFs and emojis to your chat function. Listening to user feedback on any features that are damaging your app’s gamification should be considered.
Share user-generated content
User-generated content is an effective way to share your message in a manner that your audience will see as authentic. When companies share relevant user-generated content on their website, social media channels, or any other digital platform, they enjoy a 28% increase in customer engagement.
Integrate social media into your app
Dating apps are designed to be social, and can, therefore, benefit from embedding social networking functions. Tinder’s integration with Facebook, for example, allows users to sign up with ease. It’s smart to make use of social media outlets’ APIs so you can use features that users are already familiar with to your advantage.
Embrace the social discovery aspect of dating apps
The New York Times recently reported that the dating app market is thriving in China due more to social connections and not necessarily romance. Many apps are adding “social discovery” features built around users' personalities, interests, and hobbies. Bumble has long tapped into the drive to find friendship, with its Bumble BFF debuting in 2016. Even Tinder now has a live interactive dating feature, Swipe Night, in which singles follow a crime story together. At the end of each episode, users work with another user via a “Fast Chat” to analyze the story to solve the mystery together. At the end, these two users can decide whether or not it’s a match.
If you can add social discovery features and advertise the potential for connection, your dating app may be able to capture more users. To learn more, read Social becomes a major factor in the growth of dating apps.
For more insights, take a look at global benchmarks for app performance in our Mobile app trends report 2022, get Our top 5 tips for mobile app hyper-personalization, or learn everything you need to know about A/B testing.
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