There are some things we just can’t live without, and companionship is one of them. Many of us desire partners, whether the relationship involves enjoying the here and now or sticking by each other’s sides "‘til death do us part." Unfortunately, it isn't easy to find people we resonate with on an intimate level. This is especially true in today’s world where we spend approximately 23.8% of our weeks at work—and that doesn’t even include the time spent commuting, cooking, cleaning, and completing other life maintenance tasks.
Finding love in a busy world
If you relate to the idea of a schedule that’s always full and a to-do list that’s never empty, perhaps you also understand the struggle of finding time to socialize. But if you don’t go out and spend time with others, how are you supposed to find companionship?
Enter dating apps.
Online dating apps: The new norm?
Once an industry regarded with suspicion and shaded with misconceptions, dating apps are no longer seen as laughable or out of the ordinary in any way. In fact, it’s now the most common way for people to look for love and intimacy.
Service after service has been launched by hopeful entrepreneurs looking to capitalize on the innate human desire for companionship. And with nearly half of U.S. adults aged 18 to 29 currently using or having previously used dating sites and apps, the size of the market available for capture is massive.
The main players in the online dating game
Dating apps are a dime a dozen, but there are a few that dominate the current scene. Tinder is probably the most recognized worldwide, with 75 million users every month and availability in 190 countries. But Tinder isn’t the only main player.
Badoo, Bumble, and Match each hold substantial shares of the dating market, with the former being hard on Tinder’s heels for several years. All of these apps serve the same audience but take a slightly different approach to matchmaking.
Different people prioritize different things when searching for partners, which is why dating apps like Plenty of Fish, Coffee Meets Bagel, and Tastebuds answer to their needs in a unique way. The diversity in offerings makes it difficult to consider any single service the best dating app. There’s a service for just about everything, whether users are looking for long-term partners based on music taste or brief, mutually beneficial flings.
How to compete with the best dating apps
The value of the dating app market is high and still on the rise, reaching $5.61 billion in 2021. With all the dating apps you can undoubtedly look forward to competing with, how can you make sure your app captures the market share it deserves?
Making a name for yourself in a relatively saturated market begins with meeting a specific audience’s needs in a way that no other service provider is able to. In other words, the three simplified steps to competing are to identify your ideal user, define their needs, and build a product specifically with them in mind.
Identify your ideal user
Product differentiation always begins with identifying who you’re creating the product for. This is especially true when it comes to the dating scene, where preferences vary widely. You won’t stand out from your competitors if you’re merely a platform to bring two people together without any thought and intention behind the match.
Before you go any further, develop a clear idea of who your ideal user is:
- What demographic criteria do they meet?
- Are they looking for partners within their geographical area?
- Are they looking for casual relationships or something long-term?
- What core values do they consider important in matchmaking—education level, mutual hobbies, professional domains?
- Are they looking for a single, monogamous partner or open to non-traditional relationships?
Questions like these will bring your ideal user to life and make it easier to understand what needs have to be met.
Define your audience’s needs
After you’ve fleshed out the characteristics of your ideal user, it’s time to define their needs and how you can meet them. Keep in mind that since so many dating apps are available already, chances are that your audience is already on one (or a few). Your job is to perform competitive analysis and identify what needs aren’t being met by those platforms in order to create a solution that comes closest to what they’re looking for.
Surveys, focus groups, analysis, and extensive research are crucial during this stage. If you’re able to answer your users’ desires in a unique and meaningful way, you’re right on track to becoming a top app in your sector.
Design with intention
Now that you have a clear idea of the customers you will be serving, it’s time to design a mobile app that fills that gap in the market. Use your market research and ideal customer profile to build a product that is both functional and appealing.
While it’s important to stand out among the crowd, remember to include the key components of any dating application: social features, which make it possible for users to connect online.
Since dating apps are meant to facilitate one-on-one connection, users need a way to be matched with people they potentially resonate with. They also expect to be presented with a solution to evaluating and spending time with each possible match—through chat, voice notes, video dates, and even games—otherwise, your platform is no different than the average social media site.
Building a relationship-centric dating app with social features
Online dating has come a long way since the early days of putting a personal ad in the newspaper. For many couples today, online platforms are the primary method of communication. That’s why as a dating app, you need to provide users with a way to connect with pre-qualified matches.
The more you’re able to facilitate quality matches, the more users you’ll attract to your dating service. To build a relationship-centric online dating app, make sure it is equipped with the following features:
The perfect way to showcase users’ unique personalities
Dating app users are looking for a quick and convenient solution to meeting potential partners, and they don’t want to waste time on people who don’t interest them. Profiles make it possible for them to showcase what they find important.
How much or how little a user is required to display on their profile is up to you. Most online dating services will ask for the basics: name, age, location, photos, and a personal bio. Aside from that, there’s plenty of room for creativity and even a gimmick that’s unique to your brand.
When designing the user profile pages for a dating app, keep in mind that the number of fields required can be a delicate balance: asking for more information can contribute to higher quality matches, but demanding too much can be a turn-off.
The basic threshold of exchanging words
Chat is a crucial feature of any social app, and online dating is no different. Private, user-to-user chat channels make it possible for matches to test the waters and see if there’s a spark.
A good matching algorithm may put the right users in the same room, but they won’t be able to explore that connection without a chat feature and push notifications that prompt response. Chat is a simple, low-pressure way to feel out your dynamic with someone before committing to a longer conversation or perhaps even a video date.
An illustrative flair added to the get-to-know-you-better process
Text may suffice for a simple conversation when you’re talking for the very first time, but it’s limiting for forming a closer relationship. File-sharing features make it possible for users to color the conversation with images, audio clips, video clips, and more.
Support for custom file types is a crucial feature because it doesn’t place limitations on what users want to share. The more flexibility for conversation your mobile app offers, the less likely users are to migrate to different platforms.
A channel to greater intimacy in conversation
You can improve the appeal of your dating app by giving users a variety of ways to build relationships. One of the most important features to include is the ability to send voice clips.
If a pair has a matching personality profile and wants to see if they have something worth pursuing, voice calls or clips are usually the next steps to getting to know each other. There’s no doubt: it’s a feature dating apps can’t overlook.
The next step of deepening your bond with someone worth pursuing
Out of all the social features you could offer, video is possibly the most important. When paired with an algorithm that offers better connections than other platforms, your place in the dating app market is much more guaranteed.
Many online dating app matches won’t go any further than a text chat before parting ways. However, once a pair hits it off, they may want to spend time together in a more personal way. There are times when they decide to meet in real life and go on a date, but there are also occasions where a lower commitment date is appropriate.
Rather than lose your user base to Facebook Dating, make sure your app is equipped with video chat features. The ability to talk face-to-face—despite the assistance of the Internet—is much more intimate than a text conversation. And by adding some extra value by offering them first date suggestions, users will continue using your app and be less hesitant to ask someone out online.
If TikTok is any indication, your audience loves short-form videos. Why not give them the ability to create and share them with their potential matches?
Video clips have an incredibly high user engagement rate and are enjoyed by senders and recipients alike. They’re a great way to highlight your individuality in just a few seconds—some people even use them as conversation-starters!
Social features: The key to matchmaking in the digital age
Dating services that give users a variety of messaging options can increase engagement rates and enhance retention. Chat may be a good start, but it's not enough. You can offer users greater flexibility and stand your ground against social media platforms and other dating apps by integrating features such as file-sharing, voice clips, and video capabilities.
To cement your spot among the most popular dating apps, give social features the precedence they deserve. After all, mobile apps built to keep users engaged have to leverage the power of human connection.