OkCupid, one of the biggest online dating websites around, has had a bit of an up and down history.
Originally called SparkMatch, itself a by-product of the once popular TheSpark, the site was one of the first completely free dating websites that now abound online. Inc. Magazine looks at the history of OkCupidâ€”it’s struggles and successesâ€”paying close attention to the marketing strategy that eventually pushed the site into the mainstream.
Now Yagan had set out to bring free to online dating, a growing market dominated by a number of, as Yagan saw them, expensive and unsatisfactory competitors like IAC’s Match.com. Yagan figured he could inflict serious damage on [his competitors] by using the same strategy he employed with SparkNotes. “Take an existing business,” he explains, “reduce the revenue that industry produces by offering a free product, and then claim the remaining revenue for yourself.”
The above quote encapsulates what appears to be the founders’ business model, but it’s the Experts Weigh In section that I found most interesting. With advice from the CEO of the guerrilla marketing agency Interference (don’t depend on journalists to write about your company) and a partner at the private equity firm Accel (be more creative in monetisation), there’s also this from the founder of Match.comâ€”their direct competition:
Focus on women. A dating site can succeed only if it attracts a lot of women. [â€¦] For any dating site, women, not men, are the customers. Women don’t want a crazy blind date; they want safety and security, and they don’t want to feel embarrassed. I would take the money they’re spending on PR and put it toward affiliate marketing to women. Yagan and Coyne are clearly smart guys: They should start thinking about how to lower the cost of customer acquisition and build a differentiated audience.