Communication

Virtual Gifts will almost Double your Success in Online Dating

Communication
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The owner of DateHookup.com, Dustin, wanted to find out if sending a Virtual Gift with your mail message to a member would increase the chance that the member would reply back. He took about 1 million first contact messages from last month (first contact refers to the fact that the member hasn't communicated with the person before) and compared the ones which included a virtual gift with ones that did not.

He found out that it did greatly improve your chances of getting a response. Your average mail message sent on DateHookup without a gift will have a 14 percent chance of getting replied to. With a virtual gift your chances nearly double to 26 percent. It sounds like if you really like the person, it would be stupid not to include a virtual gift to increase your chances of a reply.

I was surprised at the results. I figured that virtual gifts would improve the chance of someone replying, but not by almost 100 percent. Another thing I was surprised about was the actually reply percentage of 14 to 26 percent. I do not know the overall average reply rate, but if an equal number of virtual gift messages were compared with messages without virtual gifts then it would be 20 percent. This means 80 percent of all messages sent that are first contacts go unanswered. Is this reply percentage rate (which feels low to me) a DateHookup problem, or does this average reflect most dating sites which operate similar to DateHookup? I bet this average reply rate is similar across most free sites.

For more on the story visit the new DateHookup Blog. For more about this dating site you can read our review of DateHookup.com.

OKCupid Adds Ice Breakers

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Have you always wanted to be able to start conversations with other members easier on OKCupid? Now you can as their new Ice Breakers feature is now in beta. Ice Breakers are a little different on OkCupid than on other dating sites (also called Winks, Flirts, Express Interest). Ice Breakers have their own page which when you visit will show you other people with similar interests. From there you can then write a short message to one or more of these people about those interests, an instant conversation starter.

Thanks to Online Dating Insider for the heads up. To find out more about OkCupid's Ice Breakers read our reviews of OkCupid.

The Roadmap to Online Dating Success, Part 4: Emails and Winks

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Now that you've set up your searches and favorited some interesting people, it's time to send some emails!

Set a reasonable rate of emails per week. For my Gold clients, I send 10 first contact emails per week. Ten is a good, round number and prevents you from getting into an assembly-line kind of feel for email-writing.

Favorite first, then email later. This prevents you from going into email overdrive because you’re afraid you’ll forget to email someone. It is very doubtful that waiting ONE DAY is going to mean the person of your dreams slips through the cracks. And if they do, well, it just wasn’t meant to be.

Think of it this way. You email someone one day too late. It’s a well-crafted, well-thought out email. They think:

“DAMN! That person is great, I’m kinda bummed I’m dating someone. This person sounds way cooler. Maybe I’ll cancel next week’s date and go for this one...”

Option B! You go beyond your ten emails a day because a new member popped up that you just had to email because they were just too perfect and awesome. Problem is, you’ve already written a bunch of emails so this one (whether you realize it or not) sounds a little... canned. They think:

“Hmmm. Yeah, not really.” Delete.

Sticking to a maximum of ten emails a week ensures you craft each email individually. Cut-n-paste emails stick out for bad reasons. Make yours stick out for being thoughtful and unique.

Think of it like a cover letter for a job. You want it to have immaculate spelling and grammar, but you also want to convey your enthusiasm for the company and the position they have available. The more you can connect your skills to the company, the better your chances are of getting an interview. Obviously, you’re not REALLY applying for the position of girlfriend or boyfriend, but your goal should be to get the person interested you and the way you could possibly fit into their life.

Don’t wink, unless it’s right after emailing. You can combine an email with a wink, but don’t ever wink alone. Winking is the easy way out. Why spend time writing an entire email when you can press one button and move to the next 35 profiles? It’s like casting a wide net and seeing what you catch, right?

Wrong. Winking sends a message. It says, “You’re not worth an email.” It says, “I’ll see if there’s anything in this for me before investing my time.”

Always email first. Send a wink along with the email (or in a day or two if you haven’t heard back), but never wink alone.

Next up, setting up a routine so the daily grind of dating doesn't grind down your resolve or your eat away at all your free time.

Related Stories:
The Roadmap to Online Dating Success, Part 1: Choosing Your Site
The Roadmap to Online Dating Success, Part 2: The Perfect Profile
The Roadmap to Online Dating Success, Part 3: Before You Send Any Emails
The Roadmap to Online Dating Success, Part 5: The Daily Grind

The Roadmap to Online Dating Success, Part 3: Before You Send Any Emails

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I know, you're excited to start checking people out and sending emails and (oh, please don't!) winks. But hold your horses for just a few minutes and do these things first to set yourself up for success.

Check your profile once it goes live to be sure everything looks good. Tweak if necessary. You may find that your profile looks different when it’s up on the site. There may be a one word line at the end of a paragraph that you could remove with a little careful editing. You may realize that your chosen headline cuts off in the preview mode in an inopportune spot. ("You know you want to see my furry...... *click....loading, please wait* ...new puppy!) These are all things that can be neatened up in a few minutes before you get down to the fun part.

Set up your account preferences. Many sites allow you to customize what members can see you and email you. For example, PlentyOfFish allows you to block members who are only interested in casual encounters. OkCupid allows you to specify exactly what kind of people can send you messages, so you never have to worry about getting emails from people who live across the country, are way too old for your liking, or who don’t match you by at least a certain percentage. Match.com allows you to block certain users, for example, your exes, your coworkers, or anyone else you don’t want messing with you while you’re busy searching for love.

Set up your custom searches. I recommend at least three custom searches – one super specific, one specific, and one a bit looser. The search functionality will vary based on your dating site, but you may find my series called Finding Your Match on Match.com (see Story) useful even if you’re not a Match.com member:

Use your custom searches to find people who interest you, then favorite them. Yes, just favorite them. In the next installment of the series, we'll go over what to do next.

For more information on the dating site mention in this story, read our review of Match.com.

Related Stories:
The Roadmap to Online Dating Success, Part 1: Choosing Your Site
The Roadmap to Online Dating Success, Part 2: The Perfect Profile
The Roadmap to Online Dating Success, Part 4: Emails and Winks
The Roadmap to Online Dating Success, Part 5: The Daily Grind

From first contact to first date: A timeline

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Many people ask me, "How do I know when to ask someone on a date? I've been emailing with them on my dating site, but I don't know when the time is right..."

This is at once a very easy and very difficult question to answer, but let's give it a whirl! (Disclaimer: This method is not one-size-fits-all. Your mileage will vary.)

You write a first contact email. It's short, sweet, personalized to their profile, and ends with a question for them to answer. They write you back to say, "Thanks, but no thanks." Do not pass go, do not collect date.

You write a first contact email. It's short, sweet, personalized to their profile, and ends with a question for them to answer. They write you back and answer your question, but do not ask any of their own. Write back, continue to show interest, but do not pass go, do not collect date (yet).

Three Reasons I Never Emailed You Back: Online Dating Tips

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Having used various online dating sites for the past seven years, there’s really not a lot I haven’t seen come across my inbox. From winks from other women (daring, I applaud you) to hate mail, I’ve taken the time to read each and every message people have been brave enough to send my way. But I didn’t respond to all of them. Mostly out of a lack of time, but other times, there just wasn’t anything I could find to say that was…right. So, from a girl who has used online dating to all of you guys out there, here’s some insight as to why I didn’t email you back.

Grammar and usage. Anyone who took the time to read my profile will know that I’m a writer for a living. Grammar and usage are high on my list of “needs” from a partner. Granted, that’s not everyone’s strong suit. I get that. But when your email to me looks like you dropped the Manhattan yellow pages on your computer keyboard and hit “send,” I’m pretty unimpressed. If you’re not a great speller or even writer, take the extra minute to write your email in a word processing program (or even over in Gmail or Outlook) that has a spell check feature. Copy and paste the proofed email into the online dating site’s form and then click send. I’ll thank you a million times over! By not doing this, you’re telling me that you don’t respect what I do for a living. I’ll understand if you’re not Hemingway if you understand that I need you to understand the difference between “your” and “you’re.”