Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Online dating as part of the ‘sofalising’ generation

There’s a new buzz-word going around at the moment – ‘sofalising’. According to an article I read today (Daily Record, 15.11.2010) more than a quarter of all adults in the UK do all of their socialising on the net or via mobile.
At a time when texting your friends or posting a status update from the comfort of your home is so much a part of daily life, online dating is part of this social phenomenon. Instead of taking the uncomfortable step of introducing yourself to a stranger in real life and facing rejection, it’s far easier and more convenient to meet people online and chat in the safety and anonymity of your own home.
Social media is such an integral part of communication in our busy lives, and online dating is constantly growing as part of this, with the popularity of instant messenger, live chat and social gaming.
As a society we are almost growing apart, living our lives in a virtual reality, but at the same time online dating can introduce you to a world of so many people and you can chat to someone on the other side world and it’s as if you are in the same room.
According to the survey, as a primary means of contact with friends and family, 71 per cent of adults said they use text, 31 per cent chose social networking sites, 27 per cent picked email, and 18 per cent use live chat.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Great things are happening

You may have already heard that we have started growing our niche dating portfolio with a couple of small acquisitions.

The addition of PlanetSappho.com to our dating portfolio opens up new opportunities for us in terms of reaching out to a whole new audience of femme lesbians across the world. We will be looking to grow this site and also learn from it to contribute to the success of our portfolio as a whole.
We have also added GranAmor.com, a Spanish language dating site for those who are serious about dating and who are more likely to be looking for a long term relationship in Spain and other Spanish speaking countries. Online Dating is really growing in Spain and we aim to be at the forefront of this growth.
This also means that our white label dating partners have more opportunities for growth.
There are still many open doors for entry into the dating market. Whether by picking up on a niche that is under-represented or by creating a niche of your own, the opportunities are there.
If you want to speak about setting up your own niche dating sites, speak to us at iDate Paris.
The Internet Dating Conference (iDate) is held on 16th-17th September 2010 at Hotel Concorde Lafayette, Paris.
Book your place at the iDate conference here.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

EasyDate plc

It’s been quite a month here at EasyDate HQ.
You may already know that our company listed on the London Stock Exchange AIM market on 30th June.
Not only are we the first dating company to be publicly listed on the London Stock Exchange, but we are also the first Scottish company to list since 2007.
We would like to think that people will see this as a sign of the industry taking its place in the mainstream.

Thank you to all our partners and third party providers who contributed towards our success in making this happen.
It’s onwards and upwards from here…

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Come and see us at iDate Beverley Hills

If you are seriously interested in entering the online dating industry then you should visit the next iDate event in Los Angeles and stop for a chat.
The iDate events give you the opportunity to meet others in the industry and understand a bit more about how the industry works and what you need to do to be successful.

There is still so much scope in this industry and there are new sites being launched daily tapping into yet more unfulfilled niches, meaning there are still endless opportunities for newcomers. This is particularly true if you already have an existing source of traffic that you feel you aren’t monetizing to the max.

If you are going to attend, we look forward to seeing you there.

                                                                            
More info on iDate 2010 Beverley Hills can be found at: http://www.idate2009.com/innerpage-la.php.

If you want to pre-arrange a meeting then add a comment to this blog.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

What role will Social Media play in your business?

Social Networking sites have such a crucial role to play in the future of online businesses that it is now when you should be taking notice and looking at how you can use social media in your business. Whether it is just to create a facebook page for your company or interacting with your customers through twitter, the time has come to get started.

If regular interaction with your customers is likely to improve your business in anyway then twitter could be the way to tackle this. Check out my comments on Social Media sites below.

Facebook

There are several ways in which Facebook can be used within your business. Because of the huge, seriously active audience on the site, a page on your company and/or services is a great starting point and as long as you go about it correctly, this can really start to increase awareness of your brand.

In addition to a permanent presence on Facebook there are some fantastic advertising opportunities. Because of the nature of the site it is possible to do highly targeted advertising campaigns. This can be very effective if you are running a niche dating site, which is maybe aimed at a specific age group.

Twitter

The popularity of Twitter has really taken the Social Media world by storm. This simple online tool which allows you to let people know what you are up to in 140 characters or less is just pure genius in its simplicity. For some businesses it could just be what you need to get your name in front of your customers more often. You can keep customers updated on new products, special offers or even just changes within the company.

Some of the most impressive examples of brands using Twitter to keep in touch with their customers include Starbucks (http://twitter.com/starbucks) who have almost 1 million followers and Zappos (http://twitter.com/zappos) with 1.7 million followers. These guys have such a loyal customer base and impressive customer relations that it probably wasn’t too huge a task to reach those numbers.

Other Social Networking sites such as MySpace and Bebo, which seem to have lost ground to the ones mentioned above can also offer up great opportunities for brand exposure and customer interaction. I may cover these another day.

Feel free to comment

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Not all white label dating providers are created equal

If you are really serious about setting up a dating site and you are in the process of comparing the providers offering a white label dating solution, make sure you are armed with all the facts before making your decision.

 What size of database do they have?

It is important that the members you bring to your site are able to find people ‘near them’. If they don’t they will leave your site.

- Easy Date has 15 million

 Which countries do they operate in?

You will want to consider your expansion options, so make sure your white label dating provider covers other countries so you have the possibility to expand your portfolio.

- Easy Date operates in UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Spain, Sweden – and continue to expand the countries available to white label partners.

 What is their track record like?

Have the white label provider any visible evidence of success either for themselves or for their white label partners? This is important because it will show whether their platform has demonstrated the potential to create a profitable, scalable business.

- There are 7 dating sites in the UK Top 50 (source: Hitwise March 2010) operating on Easy Date’s platform - that’s 14% of the countries most popular dating sites.

 Good luck with your venture…

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Traditional or Casual?

The traditional and casual dating audiences have gradually come closer together as many sites that are considered as being casual are accepted into the mainstream. Mostly because this is a better fit for real life and realists have concluded that we do not go out actively looking for a husband or wife as soon as we turn 21.

What we really want is to continue having fun with our friends and at the same time to make new friends and have a lot of fun along the way.

Of course this doesn’t mean that there is no room for traditional dating sites.. actually quite the opposite. They compliment each other very well and because of this reason it could actually be worthwhile creating both a traditional and a casual dating site and use the opportunity to cross promote your sites.

It is generally well known that casual dating sites can provide a higher income, mostly because they can convert better and the Average Revenue Per User can be higher. However, this doesn’t always need to be the case and it is very much dependent upon your source of traffic.

My advice would be to launch both a traditional and casual dating site and cross market them to get increased ARPU. What have you got to lose?

Consolidation is the key

As you may have read, EasyDate has just acquired the online dating portfolio of Allegran, which was property of Associated Northcliffe Digital. This strategic move has now rocketed our growth and gives us a very substantial market share in the UK.
It is always worth looking at acquisitions as an excellent way of accelerating your growth. Even if you are a smaller company, looking to grow rapidly, there are always acquisition opportunities out there. It is just a matter of finding them or making sure they find you.
Our most recent acquisition brings the popular LoopyLove, GirlsDateforFree, QuickFlirt, MatureDating.co.uk and DatingforParents into our portfolio.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Size doesn’t matter… well most of the time

One of the greatest opportunities you have in the online dating world is the possibility of expanding your service internationally. In many cases this can be a very lucrative venture, particularly if you are able to fill a niche that either doesn’t already exist or is poorly represented in the country you are entering.

Even a small dating site within a specific niche can be very lucrative. So size doesn’t necessarily matter. It can be all about quality instead of quantity. Even just by expanding to the English speaking world you will open up a wealth of new opportunities without the need to concern yourself with language issues or other barriers of entry.

USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland are all very open to online dating and growing almost as well as Europe is. So there are a lot of opportunities to explore niches in these countries.

The opportunities are there. Take them now while the market is still strong.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Invest in a good domain

Buying a domain name is an investment that will rarely lose you money. Of course there are exceptions to this, but in general a good domain name will hold its value quite well and sometimes even grow in value, particularly if you have built a site which has attracted a reasonable amount of traffic.

There are a number of factors that will determine whether a domain name is of any value or whether it will work well for you. So, it is important to determine which of these factors are of importance to you and your site project.

You may decide that a good keyword domain will limit your marketing spend as it will attract organic traffic. This approach doesn’t suit everyone.

How many people would use google if it was called mostrelevantsearchengine.com? OK, so maybe not such a good example. But you get the idea. Sometimes building a brand is your goal and so a memorable brand name will carry much more value. Sites such as Facebook.com, Bebo.com, Twitter.com are all good examples of branded sites whose names do not necessarily describe their purpose, but who have attracted such high volumes of traffic that the domains themselves probably hold a very high price tag.

By building volume of traffic to your domain you also increase the value of similar domains, misspellings and country specific domains. This is mostly because they will pick up some traffic from users seeking out your service. So, it is worthwhile buying up all possible variations to avoid paying a premium further down the line. This is particularly relevant if you are building up a brand.

A dating site can run pretty well on a keyword domain if you can manage to get a reasonable organic search placement. This is particularly relevant to niche dating sites. But, really, there is no replacement for a good memorable brand.

Check out the domain auctions at http://www.buydomains.com and www.sedo.com.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Do your research

There is no better way to find out about an industry than to speak to the people already working within it.

 The online dating industry has regular events across the world where you will get a chance to hear from industry experts and leaders and get some insight into current trends and future developments.

There are also a few dating industry blogs that can give a bit of insight or at the very least keep you informed of company’s activity in this sector. Of course you will also read my blog regularly, which I hope will provide some useful info.

So what sort of research should you be doing?
You can find out from others within the industry which geographic targeting you should be doing or which niches are performing well. You may be able to identify a gap for yourself in a specific city or country. It is also good to speak to others and find out what hasn’t worked well for them. Learning from the mistakes of others can save you a lot of pain. It is also good just to find out which companies are doing well as this will show you the business models and platforms that are able to perform in the current climate.

All the info you need is out there. It’s just a matter of gathering it together.

You can always give our white label team a call and they will be able to help with some of your research.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Looking forward...

I suppose we are in a very fortunate position to have a growing company which is quite simply going from strength to strength, particularly in the current economic climate. This is no accident. We identified an industry with huge growth potential and placed all our efforts into growing our market share and creating one of the most innovative dating software platforms currently available.

Other industries that may be suffering slightly at the moment could really start to bolster their finances by adding some vertical sites to their portfolio including dating sites. This is particularly true if they have an existing online audience which isn’t really monetised.

The dating industry still has so much mileage and will grow well into the next decade and will evolve and re-invent itself as often as it needs to in order to survive.

And that is why NOW is the perfect time to get into this industry. Don’t wait for the day that will never come. Today is the first day of the future.

On another note...
It always amuses me to read the news from our competitors when they announce their ‘latest’ features and improvements and I realise that these features have been ‘standard’ inclusions on our platform since time began. I even read from one competitor that they now ‘validate’ email addresses. One has to worry about the quality of a company’s database if they have been accepting memberships without ‘validating’ email addresses for so long.

 Good to see these companies learning though and running wildly to keep up with the leaders.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Staying ahead of the pack!

With iDate Miami now behind us and a whole new year and fresh set of challenges ahead of us, I thought I’d do a short summary of the last year and make a few promises for 2010.

2009 was the year of globalisation for EasyDate. With BeNaughty.com having spread into the English speaking population of USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa and India, it soon became obvious that the site has mass appeal and the registration numbers went through the roof.
It was also a year for virtual currency and some serious site improvements across our portfolio. We added a points system that allowed members to buy virtual gifts as well as my of the micro upgrades available on our sites.

Now, looking forward into 2010 and what is in store for our white label partners and affiliates, we will be making some serious improvements to our platform and seriously increasing the earning potential for our partners. And by offering even more countries, we are now able to offer those looking to enter the lucrative online dating industry truly global opportunities.

There will be a lot of news coming from EasyDate in the coming year and we expect that those who are looking to work with a company who are making real inroads and ‘visible’ growth will realise that we are the dating platform providers of choice as is evident through our own sites’ performance.

 And finally…. Don’t forget to get on the Valentine’s Day bandwagon. This is a great time for you to see some real performance from your dating site, so grab the opportunity with both hands.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Your Branding.... Really!!

If building a dating site brand is your long term goal then you need to get it right from the beginning. This is about thinking ahead and making sure that you don't come across problems years down the line when you have grown your dating site and maybe want to consider an exit strategy.

Planning is crucial and that involves making sure you are with the correct white label provider. Clearly my opinion will be biased, so I'll just lay out some facts and you will agree or disagree with them. But either way, they are based on experience and knowledge in this industry.

By building a branded site you will expect it to be part of your business and you will want ownership of the customers that have been attracted to your brand in the first place. After all, their loyalty is to you, because they followed the promises you made in your marketing message. So, ownership of your customers is something you will want to ensure.

Your site itself will need real customisation options so that you can truly give it the look and feel of your existing brand identity or match the brand identity you envisaged from the outset. You'll want the level of customisation that can change the overall colour palette as well as the header and footer of the site.

When you launch your branded dating site you will most definitely want to feel that the company hosting and managing your site is one that is here to stay and that they themselves have solid financial grounding and that their business is successful in its own right and not dependent upon maybe a few white label partners for a large percentage of their revenues. What if these larger partners decided to use another provider? What strain would be place on the company’s resources. And how would that affect you?

This is the level of diligence you should put into finding a white label partner to work with you in building your dating brand.

 Until the next time… good luck.