Match.com Touts Success Stories

Online dating site Match.com has unveiled a marketing effort highlighting success stories from its 10 years of matchmaking on the new Success.Match.com site.

Match.com spokesperson Kristin Kelly said the idea for the site resulted largely from a September 2004 survey of 4,743 newly married or engaged couples registered on WeddingChannel.com. That survey found 12 percent of the couples had met online, and nearly a third of them had met on Match.com. Over 75 percent said they would recommend Match.com to their friends.

“The results of this survey point to a dramatic cultural shift in the way people find love,” Kelly said. “The goal of Success.Match.com is to allow our couples to share their love stories with the world and to inspire others about their own romantic futures.”

Online dating sites’ fortunes have fallen hard in recent months. According to the latest Jupiter Research (a Jupitermedia Corp. division) survey, 33 percent fewer consumers browse online personals today than one year ago, causing industry growth to slow considerably.

The report shows the online personals industry grew 73 percent in 2002 and 77 percent in 2003. In 2004, that number declined and the market grew only 19 percent. In 2005, the industry is expected to grow by just 9 percent, to $516 million.

To combat this, the networks are struggling to differentiate themselves and get more mileage from their marketing dollars. Converting casual users to subscribers and appealing to “serious daters” are two strategies many sites are employing, said Jupiter Research analyst Nate Elliott.

“Serious daters present an attractive opportunity for personals sites,” said Elliott. “These users convert 20 percent more often, are twice as likely to purchase long-term subscriptions, and pay up to twice as much per month as casual daters.”

By harnessing word-of-mouth testimonials from real people who have met through the service and married, Match.com hopes to build its brand as a relationship site, and to do so with free creative content from its members.

Success.Match.com allows users to find success stories by keyword or location. Couples can submit stories describing how they met and fell in love and upload photos to bring their stories to life.

Another way the company hopes to take advantage of the social networking effect of its users is through its Match.com Mobile offering. The service, which is available to cell phone subscribers of Cingular, Nextel, and now Sprint, allows users to create profiles, upload photos, search profiles using multiple search parameters, including geography, and ultimately chat with like-minded individuals.

“From a community perspective, our friend-finder application is one that draws users with a strong interest in using it and [who] are willing to pay for it,” said Mike Baker, COO and president, Enpocket, which powers the technology behind Match Mobile.

Though many companies come to Enpocket looking for ways to “mobilize” their existing assets, to get the most mileage out of their existing ads, that’s not the most compelling reason to get involved with mobile marketing, Baker said. “The long-term value is in helping brands to build a community of users.”

Advances in rich media capabilities and processing power of phones, improvements in network transmission speeds, and willingness of providers to launch third-party services from their portals all bring the long-promised “year of mobile marketing” closer to reality, said Baker.

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