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How SEM is Like Online Dating

Published: February 14, 2013

Author: Jaime Sikora

Today’s post is by PPC Associates teammates Jaime Sikora and Laura Rodnitzky, who touch on two concepts they have a bit of experience in…

jaime sikora ppc associates

Recently, we had the epiphany that Search Engine Marketing and Online Dating can be quite similar at times. Here are some best practices for both. (Happy Valentine’s Day!)
laura rodnitzky ppc associates

Put Your Best Face Forward
In advertising, you want an accurate yet attractive picture of the product you are trying to sell. Make sure it’s displayed prominently on the landing page and it stands out; having a picture of your product mixed in with multiple other similar-looking products doesn’t do any good.
You obviously wouldn’t showcase a picture of your product from five years ago; you want to show the most recent, accurate version. Also, since you are trying to sell the product, make sure the product is portrayed in a flattering light.
Naturally, the same things are true for online dating. Don’t post a picture of yourself hidden in the back of a group of 18 people, a picture from five years ago, or a picture of yourself sitting on the couch in sweatpants eating Doritos. (I’ve seen it – Jaime.)
Make Sure Your Ads and Landing Pages are Honest and Accurate
In advertising, you are encouraged to disclose any information, such as the price, that could be a dealbreaker for some in the initial ad copy. If you do that, those who can’t afford said product will self-select out, and there won’t be any wasted clicks, time, or money spent on people who don’t have conversion potential.
Same thing with online dating profiles – be accurate and upfront about your height, weight, whether or not you have children, etc. in your profile. If it’s a deal-breaker for someone, it’s better he or she find that out now, instead of wasting time and money pulling him or her further into the conversion funnel, only leaving you with eventual “cart abandonment” and a higher CPA.
Focus Your Efforts on the Dating Site (or Search Engine) That’s Going to Get You the Biggest Payout
For most of our clients, we put the most work into Google AdWords because it captures the most traffic, but there may be cases where Bing or Facebook or Ask.com (doubtful) is better for what they need. With online dating, there are a ton of sites, and creating a worthwhile profile and responding to people takes time, so choose one or two sites that are really worth the effort. If you’re only interested in dating Jews, focus on jdate. From what we’ve heard, eHarmony is for people really looking to get married. HowAboutWe may be good for fun, adventurous types. And OkCupid seems to attract a lot of creative types.
Keep a Close Eye on Newly Released Creative
It’s a true story – I (Jaime) started on a popular dating network with the headline “If This Does Not Go Well, it Will Serve as Material for My Blog.”  I got a decent response from that, but after a while, I wanted to try something new. I switched out to “Actually, I’m Just Looking for a Date for My Friend’s Wedding”. Let me tell you, CTR & CVR plummeted. Granted, there could have been some seasonality, but I largely interpreted this based on the creative change. When I went back to the control headline, presto! Response came back. The bottom line: when releasing new creative, watch it like a hawk.
Pause Keywords When the Stock is Depleted
If you’re not going to be able to deliver the goods, don’t advertise the product. There’s nothing more frustrating for an online shopper than finally finding that perfect dress/poster/widget/whatever, putting it in your cart, and finding out that it’s out of stock. Bait and switch is not cool! When it comes to online dating, don’t put yourself out there if you’re not going to be available. We’re all busy – but we make time for dates. If you can’t do the same, you shouldn’t be looking.
Make Sure Your Ads and Profile Have a CTA
With ads, this is pretty easy – give people a reason to click. With profiles, it’s the same deal. If you just write “I’m a nice guy looking for the right girl,” it gives us no reason to check you out. If you say “I’m passionate about travel and am looking for someone to share my next adventure,” we’re interested. Same goes for messages you send. A “hey, like your pic” is not going to get a response.
Use Settings to Filter Out Unwanted Clicks!
In SEM, target by geo, device, etc. In online dating, tell the system what you do/don’t want in terms of age range, geo, income, has/doesn’t have/wants kids. This narrows your results and leaves you with only the best options for ROI.
Optimize, Optimize, Optimize
As search engine marketers, we can’t rest on our laurels after launching a new campaign – we constantly pore through data to figure out what’s working and what’s not, and we adjust things accordingly. As online daters, we do the same thing – if our profile is consistently attracting the wrong kind of guy, we need to optimize the settings and text to better target the type of singles we’re looking for.
– Jaime Sikora and Laura Rodnitzky

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