Online dating site trends of the future: our recap of the London GDI Conference

This past September, Global Dating Insights (GDI) – the leading source of news and information for the online dating industry – gathered the international dating industry during an engaging conference in London.

With renowned speakers and insightful presentations of more than twenty leading industry-disruptors, the conference tackled some of the industry’s most important questions and exciting foreseeable trends of the future.

The dating industry might be facing some challenges with retention and engagement, but online dating sites are increasingly more creative in retaining customers and improving their user experience continually.

Here is our recap of the GDI Conference in London 2019, and the trends emerging in the near future.

Bringing the online dating world into the real one

Bringing online and offline together with real-life experiences such as members events and marketing campaigns has become an important strategy for many dating sites.

Online dating sites need to keep up with the latest consumer and demographic trends to improve their retention and experience. That is, what their users are seeking. Thus, many sites and apps have gone the route of making their dating apps feel more like a community.

Millennials and Gen Z are authentic experience seekers. From that insight, UK dating app Clikd has found creative ways of engaging their demographic. The company started organizing events to bring together its users. For one night in a venue, people meet 20 fellow users to find their ideal partner and are picked to jet off to a lavish holiday together.

Clikd has also launched its popular marketing campaign ‘the Clikd Summer Internship’, the world’s best internship to find love. The winning applicant is paid to go to 10 dates over 10 weeks and produce content to engage fellow users, as well as many other fancy perks obtained through the internship.

For selective dating site the Inner Circle, according to an interview of co-founder Michael Krayenhoff, offline events help to emphasize stronger brand loyalty from users through deeper connections.

Venturing into real-life experiences is a trend that has proven to work for businesses to strengthen their brands and match their users’ needs.

Engaging users through video

Standing out in the crowded dating industry is no small feat. Users often drift between two or three different dating apps daily, so it is essential for companies looking to overcome fierce competition to improve their user retention.

Video is dubbed to be the next big thing in the dating industry. CEO of location-based app happn, Didier Rappaport has emphasized that video is the significant future development in the industry, and many businesses are going down that route.

He said in an interview: “We need to allow people to hear the voice, to see the mannerisms and understand the person better than just looking at their picture,” adding that happn is working on developments to bring more real life into online dating with video interaction.

Video features are launched as we speak. The Meet Group’s app MeetMe has recently implemented a one-on-one video chat feature to facilitate confident connections and user safety before meeting. Members can start video-chatting with users they have already exchanged with to get a better sense of the person on the other side of the screen.

Expanding platforms’ value propositions, such as including video features, is an upcoming trend that will most likely improve user engagement and usage.

Making apps more human and creating better interactions

According to a study by eHarmony, 70% of American singles are looking for a serious relationship. It is no surprise then that singles are looking for value in dating, and not just mindless swiping anymore.

Many value-driven, and niche, online dating apps have popped up in the last few years and grown exponentially, privileging quality over quantity. It’s not just about the profile picture anymore.

For instance, Neargroup puts personalities before pictures by matching users before they can see each others’ pictures – ending the profile picture swiping craze.

Another example of a value-driven app is Say Allo, also present at the conference. Say Allo is a self-proclaimed ‘relationship app’ for matures singles focusing on compatible connections without wasting time swiping away.

Focusing on quality over quantity, dating app Once follows the trend of slow-dating with only providing their users with one match per day.

Dating fatigue and burnout are now so common; it has become a new challenge threatening retention for apps to tackle. Many companies have taken action against certain online behaviors.

Ghosting – which is the practice of ignoring dates and leaving messages unanswered after speaking to or going on a date with them – has been an issue for singles on dating apps for a while. And it is an issue for apps themselves driving disillusioned users to delete their accounts. To tackle the problem, some companies have launched anti-ghosting features. Dating app Hinge has rolled out a feature dubbed “Your Turn” pushing users to answer their abandoned matches.
Similar strategies are used by apps Bumble and Badoo to avoid the ghosting scourge threatening their retention and usage.

Online dating safety comes first

Another challenge to overcome for dating companies is to increase the number of women on dating sites. Dating sites still have a majority of male users. Some reasons being the fear of bad encounters or inappropriate experiences such as indecent pictures or sexual harassment. According to a study, across the dating services, 18% of participants reported having an issue with another user in the past.

Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd asked in an interview “why is it allowed digitally when it’s not allowed in the streets? People are operating on their phone. We need to keep the internet safe.” To attract women, new ideas are tested to give women more control over their dating experiences, including video interactions.

Contrarily to Chatroulette’s community with its lack of safety and unfortunate experiences reviewed online, dating sites are betting on restricted video features to enhance their community and make their users feel safer – especially women – before meeting their potential love-interest.

The Online Dating Association (ODA) is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to safety and standardizing best practices in the online connection space. At the GDI conference, the ODA emphasized the importance of setting ethical frameworks and standards for the industry as authorities and governments will demand more control and more regulations may come.

This is something online dating sites will need to pay close attention to. Stay ahead of the game and learn more about liability and moderation regulations in our interview with law professor Eric Goldman.

Dating apps thrive not merely by using technology to enhance user experience and retention, but also by creating safety features and guidelines to protect their users and brand reputation.

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