Did you know the revenue from online
dating industry is over $1.9 BILLION?
And that over 49 million people
have tried online dating at least once?
I could not resist writing about this enticing subject.
Welcome, Cupid! Here are some cool online dating growth hacks.
Online dating is a billion dollar industry.
And Ok Cupid enjoys a good share of this pie.
The user growth strategy OKC has been largely due to its blog.
According to CEO Sam Yaga,
the blog does not
Content on their blog is informational and sharable.
Look at their post titled “The Mathematics of Beauty”.
Their Twitter account has 49.7 k followers,
and Facebook page has over 70k likes.
The company does not focus on those numbers.
Their aim is to create content that users would love;
In my opinion, their biggest growth hack
is utilizing Big Data to enhance online dating.
You can call it the NSA of online dating.
No wonder, all four of its founders are Harvard Math majors.
Since there is stiff competition in the online dating business,
OkCupid has remained relevant in spite of the presence of giants such as Tinder and Match.com.
Just so you know, all these are owned by the same company- The Match Group.
Become data-driven; data is indispensable for growth.
Create interesting, shareable content.
And finally, have a USP that can differentiate you from the competition.
Challenge: Grow user base
Growth hack: Relentless Innovation
The dating niche is tough to crack.
As the social stigmas related to
online dating continues to fade, the consumer demand grows.
The United States generates the most revenue
for dating services in the world.
In 2018, it had a market volume of $1,714 Million.
Tinder took birth in the September of 2012.
The dating app is backed by IAC, also owners of Match.com.
How did Tinder get its first users?
Let’s talk about Tinder’s launch strategy.
A hack that startups use to build supply
is by paying (recall PayPal’s example) or offering incentives to users.
For the location-based social search mobile app,
the incentive was ‘supply of women” on its platform.
This is quite similar to the local bars
that have events such as the “Ladies’ Night”.
Tinder’s target demographic was young women. And this led to growth in its male users.
Whitney Wolfe, former VP Marketing @ Tinder,
would travel all over the US, and meet members of her sorority as part of Tinder’s marketing campaign.
After the presentation, she would have the participants (women) install the app.
Further, she would then visit the corresponding brother fraternity,
have them check out the app.
Tinder’s growth rate?
The dating-app soon tripled to a 200% growth in user-base,
from 5000 to 15000.
Tinder started exploiting the collegiate
Greek system to expand its users.
Word of mouth amongst the sororities
proved to be the much-needed traction for Tinder, creating a snowballing effect.
The dating app did not stop there.
It spent a great deal of time optimizing the user experience.
The “swiping” feature (left to dismiss and right to confirm),
and the card-format user profile helped Tinder win audiences using smaller-screen phones as well.
As you know, on Tinder,
you cannot see the next profile until you dismiss or confirm the existing profile.
The urge to know “who is next” is a
powerful psychological element that keeps users hooked on to Tinder.
I like what the Guardian had to say about Tinder,
The dating app ingeniously dealt with
the rejection issue (that OKCupid and Match.com could not tackle)
using the double opt-in feature.
This means no more clutter of messages in the inbox!
Tinder registers more than 1.6 Billion swipes every day,
and created more than 20 Billion matches so far.
On an average, a Tinder user spends about 90 minutes on Tinder.
Tinder did not create something new.
It innovated around an existing (rather difficult) idea of online dating.
What can you learn from this?
Focus on user experience.
How can you make your product/service better?
Explore new ways to reach users.
We talk about digital and other ways of marketing.
But Tinder used word-of-mouth tactic quite efficiently. Do not dismiss any channel without diligent research.
What happens when a woman responsible for the massive growth
of an online dating app sues that company for sexual harassment
and creates her own dating app instead?
The lady in question is Whitney Wolfe Herd
and the company was Tinder.
Herd did not cry about the situation (although she did get $1 million in settlements).
Instead, she created a unique dating app in 2014 targeting women- Bumble.
The unique feature of Bumble is that a man cannot
contact a woman unless she decides to message him first.
How did Bumble get its first users?
Herd took the same route as she did while promoting Tinder-
going to her sororities.
Only this time, she would focus on the pain points of male-dominated relationships.
Her team took pizza boxes and cookies (with Bumble stockers)
and offered a piece of pizza to the fraternity boys for signing up with Bumble.
Her app made the women feel empowered, comfortable and confident.
In my opinion, this is one of the finest online dating growth hacks.
Herd also says that while people associate Bumble along
the “hookup” image of Tinder, she gets emails about Bumble weddings and engagements.
The Bumble Queen has been criticized for her “neo-Nazi” attitude.
They also receive threats from men.
The dating app has over 20 million users in just 2.5 years.
Herd turned down a $450 million offer from Match Group recently.
Bumble is valued at over $1 billion.
How about a break from the online dating growth hacks,
and enjoying some ice on your head,
or breaking it free with Zumba?
Let’s go back in 2014!
Do you remember Facebook videos of a person (or someone else)
dumping a bucket of ice and water on their head?
I sure do.
From celebrities to business tycoons,
the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge had everyone involved.
ALS stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
And the Ice Bucket Challenge aimed at promoting awareness about it.
According to ALS Association, the 2014
Ice Bucket Challenge raised over $115 million.
More than 17 million people around the world took the challenge.
Rick Smith has written an interesting post on Forbes
about the Ice Bucket Challenge.
How did this viral video begin?
Chris Kennedy (a golfer from Sarasota) posted a video on July 15.
According to Time, this was the first instance in which
the Ice Bucket Challenge and ALS were linked.
Here is a video screenshot of Mark Zuckerberg enjoying the bucket of ice over his head ☺
What made this campaign viral?
For starters, the campaign had a simple and clear to understand
the objective- Raising funds for the ALS research.
Second, the activity was fun to watch.
Who wouldn’t laugh watching someone pour a bucket of ice
over their head?
Three, the challenge had an “immediacy” to it-
the nominee had 24 hours to perform the challenge.
The campaign is an excellent example of multiplying users-
it would call on the participants to encourage three people to participate.
Talk about the multiplier effect.
Lastly, the “feel good factor” associated with the Challenge
helped spread the cause.
The emotional connection related to raising funds for
a noble cause and the fact that everyone rich or poor could participate
fuelled the viral growth of this campaign.
What could happen when
an aerobics instructor forgets his music at home?
Either he would have a bad day,
or it could turn into a world’s largest and most successful dance-fitness program,
with classes in over 110,000 locations across more than 125 countries.
When Alberto “Beto” Perez, an aerobics teacher,
forgot his music at home in 1986, he had to improvise to teach the class.
This meant incorporating hip-hop,
salsa, martial arts and even Indian Bollywood style.
Students loved it.
And in 2001, Perez left for the US.
Alberto Perlman (now CEO Zumba)
heard about the instructor from his mother.
When Perlman visited Beto’s class, he saw the potential of Zumba.
He, along with his childhood friend Alberto Aghion,
decided to start a company that would offer infomercials,
and Zumba would be their first featured product.
The trio created a demo tape,
licensed the brand, and were all set to sell on infomercials.
People from all over the nation started
calling the call center (Aghion’s cell phone) to inquire about Zumba.
The demand was not just for tapes,
but to take the class or become a teacher.
And all this led to the birth of the Zumba Academy in Miami in 2003.
They expected 20 people to show up; 150 arrived!
And in just two years, the Academy had readied 700 new instructors
cum entrepreneurs- teach Zumba, sell Zumba attire and CDs.
The fitness program has attained widespread popularity.
Their clothing line has an unstoppable demand.
The business sells more than 3.5 million units
of clothing through their online shop.
What’s the secret?
Zumba clothes exude vibrancy, color, and life.
That’s unconventional for the typical dark-colored yoga gear, common in gyms.
The official apparel sales are about $10 million per year.
I checked their website and saw some amazing testimonials.
Here is one of them:
People love Zumba because of its upbeat music as well.
The company has used this to further its growth-
bringing in singers, launching new CDs, Zumba cruise, fitness video game and more.
Zumba’s biggest growth hack has been listening to consumers.
While many large companies turned them down,
they continued to focus on their consumers who just couldn’t get enough of the fun way to workout.
Did you know that the name Craigslist comes from its founder Craig Newmark?
And that the online classified-ad operation happened by accident!
Newmark began an email distribution list to friends in early 1995.
The first email went to ten or twelve people.
Well, soon, word of mouth led to massive growth in the number of
subscribers and postings.
Initially, Newmark focused on social events of interest to software and
Internet developers for the SF Bay area.
The absence of moderation, however, fueled further growth in the
mailing list for non-event postings.
Growth in users led to the addition of more categories such as “Jobs”.
The website craigslist.org went live in 1996.
Newmark worked on his idea alone and grew the website to around
1 million page views per month by the end of 1997.
It was with the joining of lead programmer and CTO
Jim Buckmaster that Craigslist evolved into a full-fledged website.
As of November 2017, Craigslist had 60 million users;
80 million ads and about 50 billion page views per month.
You do not need huge capital or resources to start a business.
A good idea, and most importantly, believing in that idea and
implementing it often takes you ahead in life.
Howard Schultz’s dream has made Starbucks a global brand.
Here is a photo of the first Starbucks store established in
1971 at Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle, Washington.
What did Starbucks bring to the table?
It created a concept of a place between home and work where people
can have an enjoyable experience drinking coffee.
It would not be wrong to say that Starbucks taught America how to drink coffee.
What draws loyal customers to Starbucks?
First, Starbucks is not just about coffee.
The global chain serves about everything you would like
with a cup of coffee- donuts, sandwiches, cakes and more.
It has even started selling coffee-free beverages as well,
thus appealing to a large audience.
Starbucks’ ambiance is consistent across the world-
whether you are in Los Angeles or Tokyo, you would immediately identify Starbucks.
It is the Starbucks experience that draws out long lines
every day outside the stores.
The coffee chain has always kept adding new features to attract users-
free wifi, cashless payments (the Starbucks App), free drinks, and more.
It has a powerful social media strategy around its website,
social media platforms, and what’s your Starbucks Idea.
With this crowdsourcing technique, Starbucks gets free ideas
and direct customer interactions.
Massive traffic and engagement.
Dietrich Mateschitz was impressed with Krating Daeng (Thai for “red bull”),
an energy drink he bought in Thailand. It took away his jet lag.
His love for that drink led him to incorporate the
Red Bull GmbH in Austria in 1984 with Chaleo Yoovidhya and his son.
He had a 49% ownership in the company.
The company sold 1 million cans in 1987.
The Red Bull team decided to tweak the product to sell it in Western markets.
They removed certain ingredient; and added carbonation, B vitamins,
glucuronolactone, sodium, and caffeine.
The selling proposition was that it increased stamina and mental concentration-
thus making it a hit for long distance commuters.
The company introduced the drink in Germany in March 1994.
And by June, Red Bull captured 25% of the sports drink market.
And it was nowhere cheap- in fact, it cost three times as much
as a can of Coca-Cola.
Expansion into the US
The drink arrived in the US in 1997.
It sponsored extreme sports tournaments to expand its user base in the country.
They own teams such as Red Bull Racing, Scuderia Toro Rosso, New York Red Bulls,
FC Red Bull Salzburg, RB Leipzig, Red Bull Brasil, EHC München, EC Red Bull Salzburg, Red Bull Ghana.
By marketing itself as a drink that could give further endurance at clubbing,
it captured the attention of the young white-collar workers.
Soon, Red Bull became a sensation for vodka lovers.
The company even sponsored the Red Bull Music Academy in NYC.
Some even say that Red Bull would throw empty cans of the drinks in the bathrooms
of clubs to bring it to the attention of clubbers.
They approached their target audience (18 -35-year-old males) at college parties,
libraries, coffee shops, bars and perhaps every other hangout;
and gave them free samples.
By understanding their target audience (young and active 18-34-year-old)
and their hangouts, Red Bull has become a powerful brand.
Red Bull does not directly market to its audience;
it highlights the activities they love.
Their YouTube video titled
“Felix Baumgartner’s supersonic freefall from 128k’ – Mission Highlights”
has over 43 million views and more than 30,000 comments.
Their Facebook page has over 49 million likes.
Red Bull focuses on content “related to the brand”
and not “about the brand”.
And the company has found their success in “extreme sports”.
They even sponsored NASCAR for many years.
Making Customer the HERO
Storytelling has been a strong suit of Red Bull.
They use content that makes the customer the hero.
Check out one of their Facebook posts; it has generated over 202k views.
The headline says “3333 steps in one hour-
time is running against you”.
You see, it is all about the customer.
Here are some punch lines Red Bull uses in their marketing:
● If you believe in it, then anything is possible
● The only limit is the one you set yourself
● You can dream about it, or you can go out and make it happen
● The content inspires you to do more and to accomplish more than you thought you could
This approach has won Red Bull millions of loyal fans.
Here is a chart showing the number of Red Bull cans
sold globally from 2011 to 2016 (in billions):
In 2017, Red Bull stood at #70 on the Forbes List of the most
valuable brand in the world.Growth Hacker is the new VP Marketing
Want to know about a former monk who turned entrepreneur
and became a billionaire in just seven years?
Welcome the 5-hour energy founder Manoj Bhargava.
Those small bottles of energy drinks became a nationwide sensation,
with every gas station and grocery store selling it in huge numbers.
Unlike other entrepreneurs,
Manoj achieved this success in the second half of his life;
he was 51 when he founded 5-hour energy.
After dropping out of Princeton his Freshman year,
Manoj found himself living the life of a monk in the mountains of India.
Once back in the US, he worked odd jobs such as driving a taxi.
It was in 2004, at a tradeshow, that Manoj thought of creating
an energy drink minus the sugar and unknown stimulants.
He was determined to have the drinks in a tiny packaging.
His first prototype was a 2.49-ounce bottle that could provide “five-hour energy”.
By 2011, his product reached $1 billion in retail sales;
and in 2012 it dominated 90% of the energy-shot market.
What was the growth hack of 5-Hour Energy?
While other energy drinks did the job, it often meant a full bladder.
People on the go, especially, truck drivers,
for example, did not like this much.
Next, if you were to fly, you couldn’t carry a Red Bull can with you.
5-hour energy addressed both these areas well-
its small size meant not worrying about going to the restroom,
and its small size meant you can take it through security.
The product marketed itself as an energy drink without stimulants or sugar.
Their website describes the product as:
● Quick, simple and effective
● Fast and easy to drink
● Zero sugar
● Zero herbal stimulants
● 4 calories
● B-vitamins and amino acids
● About as much caffeine as a cup of the leading premium coffee
● Also available in a Decaf version
These helped the brand create a new segment of beverages.
Marketing and distribution
5-hour energy’s biggest distribution channel was convenience stores,
and hence the target audience is those people who are always on the
move and need quick energy to get their jobs done.
Going back to his Monk roots,
Manoj committed to 90% of his earnings to charity in 2013.
Knock knock! Still there?
Hope you enjoyed the online dating growth hacks
as well as the success stories of other companies.
Comment below and let me know your opinion.
For exclusive strategies not found on the blog