Looking for Love Online: Marketing Lessons from the Top Online Dating Sites

by 5 10/08/2013

Online dating is a billion dollar industry. Each month around 450,000 searches are done on the keyword “online dating.”

So which companies are battling it out for the affection of singles looking for love online?

Well, of the 170 companies who’ve had ads running for the keyword “online dating” over the last 3 months, there are 4 that have proven to be more attractive than the competition.

These 4 have Impression Shares of 87% or higher (that means of ALL the searches performed for the keyword “online dating” on Google, the ads of these companies appeared at least 87% of the time). After these 4, the company with the next highest Impression Share is only showing up about 55% of the time.

So let’s take a look at these companies getting most of the love from Google (and those searching for online dating) to see what strategies you could borrow to win the hearts of more of your prospects.

Consumer-Rankings.com

Leading the pack with a 89.6% Impression Share and an Average Ad Position of 2.8 is Consumer-Rankings.com.

1 - cr ad

They’re taking an approach you’ll see in a lot of hyper-competitive markets. Their ad is not about selling you on signing up for their offering. Instead they position themselves as a resource to help you find the top online dating sites. (Consumer-rankings.com is an affiliate for the dating sites and makes money when they send singles to the sites they are affiliates for.)

One thing to point out about this ad is something not many people pay attention to in AdWords… the domain name. The URL that displays with your ad (known as the Display URL) can have a big impact on Clickthrough Rates (CTRs).

The URL ‘consumer-rankings.com’ has a degree of trust built in because it’s similar to Consumer Reports. It implies they’re an impartial company providing objective rankings for the online dating sites and will help people find the dating site that’s best for them.

That’s not to say you should go out and change your business’ domain name just for AdWords, but depending on your goals, niches, strategy, etc., it’s something to consider.

(Oh, and in case you’re wondering, yes, the Display URL for your ad has to be same domain you send your AdWords traffic to.)

Also notice this ad has a lot of numbers in it, which you’ll often find is a trait of top performing ads. It also has a lot of social proof going for it with the 72 reviews with a 5-star average and the 191 followers on Google+.

In addition, they effectively use Sitelinks (the blue links under the ad), which can help increase CTRs and get prospects more quickly to the most relevant page on a site.

And, lastly, they have a call to action in the copy which tells people what to do when they get to the site—compare reviews and sign up for free.

Speaking of the landing page, let’s take a look at it…

website fulfilling the promises made in the ad

The landing page immediately delivers on the promise of the ads by displaying the 5 Best Dating Sites of 2013. (By including the year, which was probably left out of the ad due to space limitations, it makes the page seem up to date and highly relevant/reliable.)

The top 5 sites, with their main features, overall rating, a summary and a highly visible “Visit Site” buttons, are nicely laid out in the table at the top.

The other thing to point out here is there’s a decent amount of copy on this page. To be at the top of the pack in this competitive niche, I’m sure consumer-rankings.com has done a lot of testing and found that having a lot of copy on the page helps conversions.

I don’t want to start a long vs short copy debate here. Just want to point out that having a lot of copy is not necessarily a bad thing.

Match.com

Match.com had an 88.3% Impression Share over the last 3 months with an average ad position of 1.4.

2 - match ad

The Match.com ad is pretty straightforward. And, because they have a brand that’s quite well known in this market, that works for them. It also lets them use their company name in the headline of their ad with more effectiveness than most companies would likely see.

(Notice how they used the Registered Trademark sign in the ad—using symbols like this, when possible, can be a nice way to make your ad copy stand out from the competition.).

The ad also asks a question (another effective strategy to test in your ads) and has a clear call to action that offers the benefit of seeing Pics and Profiles for free.

2 - match lp

The landing page they’re testing here is quite simple. No fancy header at the top. No navigation bar. Not much copy.

There’s little doubt about what they want you to do: continue on to start looking at profiles, sign in if you’re already a member or hit the back button. That’s it.

If there are a limited number of things a prospect can do when they get to your website, it’s worth testing a stripped down, bare bones landing page like this one.

eHarmony.com

Like Match.com, eHarmony also had an 88.3% Impression Share over the last 3 months, though averaged a much lower position, showing up with an average ad position of 5.5.

3 - eh ad

Average ad position is something worth testing in AdWords. Being in the #1 or #2 spot may not be the most profitable spot for you. For one of my clients, we discovered that averaging around position 4 is the most profitable  spot so we are much happier being there than in the top spots, even if it means missing out on a bunch of clicks.

The ad is fairly straight forward and, like Match.com, eHarmony benefits from a very well known brand so can effectively use their company name in their ad.

In this ad, they get some proof into the mix with the line “#1 Trusted for Online Dating,” which can help reassure those who are a bit reluctant to give online dating a try.

And they also use some intrigue/curiosity in there to try to get the click with the call to action of “See Who You Match With!”

3 - eh lp

At first glance above the fold, their landing page is similar to Match.com, with short copy and a very clear call to action with a form prompting users to start their search.

What’s different is this: If you scroll under the form, there actually is a lot of copy on the page.

The copy lays out the main sales arguments for using eHarmony. eHarmony seems to be one of the higher priced options in the marketplace so very well needs the extra copy to convince people it’s worth spending a little more on this service compared to lower priced competitors.

Top10bestdatingsites.com

This site’s had an 87% Impression Share over the last 3 months with an average position of 1.7.

4 - Top10 ad

This site, like consumer-rankings.com, is a rating/review site that simply wants to collect affiliate revenue by sending people to the actual dating sties.

Their ad has many of the same things we talked about in the consumer-rankings.com ads: use of numbers, use of Sitelinks, proof elements and a call to action.

dating site that follows a successful formula

And, the landing page has a similar layout as well. The focus is mostly on the table that compares the various dating sites with links to the sites.

Again, you’ll notice a lot of copy under the table—similar to but different from consumer-rankings.com. At comsumer-ranking.com, the copy is about the features readeres should consider when comparing dating sites. Here, it’s about answering customer questions: why to try online dating, how to choose a dating site and tips for finding a date.

But overall, the ads and landing pages of these two comparison sites are very similar. And that’s a good indication that they’ve found a profitable formula that works in this highly competitive niche.

What stood out to you about the ads and landing pages for these sites? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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About 

Adam Kreitman coaches business owners on how to make their websites more compelling to their prospects.. and to Google. He owns Words That Click, a firm specializing in Conversion Optimization and managing Google AdWords campaigns for small businesses.Follow him on Google+

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5 COMMENTS

Live chat software

Excillent information. Its interesting to see how similar a lot of these “top” sites are. It also shows that including dates to ensure it seems current and have a lot copy in the main bulk of the site.

I find it funny that only a few years ago, Plain simple sites where the best thing now its all about giving the end user a silly amount of text to read. Somehow google decided this was best and everyone had to get in line.

October 8, 2013 Reply

Fit Missy

Great post and really interesting how big the industry is!

October 8, 2013 Reply

online dating UK

Hello,
Excillent information. Its interesting to see how similar a lot of these “top” sites are.Great post and really interesting how big the industry is!

October 28, 2013 Reply

DatingForLoveNow.com

Finding that one special someone seems to be the driving force for so many people. Thanks for the terrific article and useful information!

November 2, 2013 Reply

Jolie Cameron

Brilliant article.Very informative.

November 29, 2013 Reply


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