I ran across an interesting post in the TechCrunch forums from a guy in Lincoln, Nebraska named Glenn Shriner. Glenn started an online dating service called DateLincoln.com, and here’s his problem in his own words:
“I cant seem to get internet traffic to flow to it I have registered it with Google and every other search engine and still my numbers are low I have been trying link exchanges and now I am asking this forum to maybe give me some Ideas to what am I doing wrong with my site?”
First piece of advice – dude, there’s a key with a little dot on it in the lower right hand side of your keyboard. Use it. Seriously, though, I give a ton of credit to Glenn. He’s obviously poured a lot of time and money into this site, and it can’t be easy to admit in public to his fellow entrepeneurs that his site is not getting the traffic he hoped for. But he did the right thing by asking for help. He’s already gotten some great suggestions from the forum, and I definitely encourage you to check out Glenn’s site and post your own suggestions in the comments. My biggest piece of advice I would give Glenn is this: you cannot take on the market leaders in this segment head on – you need to boldly differentiate your service or you will fail. The good news is that you picked a huge and profitable segment to jump into, just getting a 1% market share will bring in enough to make a comfortable living. Here are a few differentiating ideas I think might have a chance at appealing to at least 1% of the population.
ThreeMinuteSoulmate: The premise here is that people generally don’t want to invest much time in a new site. Instead of requiring a lengthy sign-up form or just flipping through pictures based on age/sex/location, this site would let you find your soulmate in three minutes or less. How? By cutting out the most time-consuming part of online dating – flipping through page after page of doctored pictures followed by the same generic “I like to go out but am also up for a quiet night at home watching movies” profiles.
The idea is two-fold: First, have the user take a short quiz to determine their personality type (such as this one). Then, use the results to find only one person they are most compatible with. If the user then wants to see additional matches, here’s where you get them to fill out a profile. Limit the number of required fields, and make it as fun and easy as possible.
Why show only one match? Because of a simple human truth: we want to believe that there is one person out there who is perfect for us, a soulmate. We don’t want to find love by choosing the least undesirable person out of a list of 50, we want the cosmic power of the universe to step in an present us with that one perfect person.
WinkBlink – a dating site based on some compatibility theories outlined by Malcolm Gladwell in Blink (and elsewhere). The basic idea is instead of finding a soulmate by browsing photos and horoscope details, users could find matches based on their subconscious similarities.
Users would be shown a rapid series of pictures, text, music snippets, etc.. and would have to 5 seconds to give a knee-jerk love it/hate it response. After completing the test, users would be shown potential dates who gave the same responses. Users could also invite their friends to take the test and see what their “compatibility percentage” is. This is also simple enough to do via cell phone or as a viral MySpace widget as well.
NotMyNextEx – An opposite take on traditional dating sites. Instead of searching based on traits you are looking for in a partner, why not search for things that you are not looking for? This is great for people who have been dating for a while (which is why a lot of people turn to online dating in the first place) and have some dating horror stories that they don’t want to go through again.
For example, instead of saying “I am looking for someone who is between 19 and 23” you could do “I am looking for someone not over the age of 25 AKA I am a college student and I’m tired of creepy old pervs trying to pick me up through online dating services”. You could look for non-smokers, no criminal background, no kids, no tattoos, no bad dancers, etc.. You’d basically be eliminating any negative qualities that caused problems in your previous relationships that you don’t want to put up with again.
Another interesting feature you could add is a section where people could submit dating horror stories and the community can vote on the best ones. The idea here is to channel all the negative energy around dating in general and use it to try to discover people who share your same frustrations, and therefore most likely your same positive aspects as well.
All right, Glenn, there’s a few ideas to get you started. Keep truckin’ buddy, best of luck with the new site. The blogosphere is routing for you. 🙂