Swipe Right to the Top 3 Marketing Strategies for Online Dating Apps

Dating app has become a cultural phenomenon of the 21st century. It has emerged as the primary matchmaking platform for anyone seeking some sort of romance in our generation. Although the matchmaking market presents enormous business potential, it is also challenging to tackle at the same time. According to Forbes, over 90% of dating start ups fail.


In the market where users are spoilt with choices, only a select few have marketed themselves successfully to their target audience. But that’s not the end of the story. Keeping users on your platform is even harder than having them try out your app. Luckily, we can learn from the dating (app) experts, such as Tinder, Bumble, Grindr, Happn and Coffee Meets Bagel. Let’s take a dive into the dating pool and check out the 3 proven marketing strategies from the leading dating apps.


#1 Gamification

Keeping the dating app experience light and fun is crucial. This post would not be complete without mentioning the dating app giant, Tinder. Released in 2012, Tinder has reached 50 million users back in 2014. Tinder is the pioneer of the “Swipe” Culture, which some may call the swiping craze. Swiping is just the right amount of interaction needed to keep the user engaged, while not having to put in too much effort. It takes away the stigma of online dating, and repackages it as “a game”. Moreover, to make the app even more enjoyable, Tinder users can now send emojis and GIFs to their matches.


#2 Differentiation

Niche dating is in. With so many options available on the market, users are faced with limitless choices. Without a unique selling proposition (USP), users will switch and download another dating app in seconds. While Tinder appeals to the mass market, Bumble, Grindr and Happn are prime examples of how to position and differentiate your dating app.


Bumble is created by Tinder’s co-founder Whitney Wolfe, after sexual harassment claims against Tinder CMO Justin Mateen. Bumble differentiates as a female-centric dating app, with which only women can message their match first. The app rose to prominence shortly after Tinder due to its intuitive design and the way it empowers women to “make the first move”.


bumble dating app home screen on phone


Grindr, on the other hand, speaks to a completely different audience. Claiming to be the “world’s largest social networking app for gay, bi, trans and queer people”, Grindr is designed to help gay and bisexual men meet other men nearby. Appealing to a niche segment, Grindr now has over 3 million daily active users globally.


Referring to itself as “the first real life dating app”, Happn helps you connect with people that you have actually crossed paths with in real life. Through geolocation technology, you are able to meet people who share the same interests (e.g. going to the same gym) or do the same activities (e.g. shop at the same grocery store) as you do.


Of course, there are dating apps that appeals to an even nicher audience. For instance, Bristlr, as they put it, connects “those with beards” and “those who want to stroke beards”. Another example is SaladMatch, an app where you can meet people who share your love for healthy salads.


#3 Simplification

We are lazy people, even when it comes to finding the (potential) love of your life. Users look for a simple, intuitive and frictionless experience in dating app.


One of the many reasons why Tinder has been so successful is that users can simply import their social media profile into the app. And voilà! Your dating profile is ready. The integration of social media helped Tinder attract the critical mass needed to have the dating platform up and running. Then things just went from there. Recently, the dating app giant has even introduced new features that further simplifies navigation, such as tapping on the side of the phone screen to move between photos.


tinder new navigation experience


Simplification does not only apply to the user interface. Making a choice is not easy, especially when you are faced with hundreds of thousands of potential matches. To prevent users from feeling overwhelmed, dating apps should simplify the decision making process. Once again, Tinder has nailed this with its swipe-left-swipe-right function. Coffee Meets Bagel (CMB), which promotes quality over quantity, decides to do it the other way. Unlike Tinder, where you can potentially get hundreds of matches, you only receive one “bagel” a day on CMB. In addition to differentiating itself, the one-bagel-a-day limit also simplifies the whole dating experience by reducing the number of decisions users have to make.


Relationships changes. So does the dating market. Trying to please your users in such a dynamic space is not an easy task. Deep understanding of your core audience and constant innovation are the secret ingredients to keeping your users loyal.