A Brief Guide to Online Dating Business Terminology

A Brief Guide to Online Dating Business Terminology

Online dating business terminology is not that complicated but it can get confusing, especially for those who are new to this industry. Here is a short list of common expressions put into simple terms that will hopefully help you navigate along the highway of online business.

Affiliate or affiliated partner – a person who drives traffic to another party dating website or to a dating platform. The reward is a fee per registration or per sale or a commission from revenue generated.

Affiliate program – a program created for marketers to drive traffic to one or several online dating sites. Once you join an affiliate program you get access to promotional materials such as landing pages, banners or text links. An integrated revenue tracking system enables affiliates to monitor the performance of their marketing campaigns.

Referral – a partner referred to a dating service provider by an existing affiliate. A reward for a referral is usually a percentage of the sales the referred partner generates. Not all dating service providers have referral programs and the commission rates may vary so you should check the offers page or get in touch with an account manager. Referral programs can also be called second tier affiliate programs.

Revenue share – a business model where an affiliated partner receives a percentage of the sales generated by the users they bring in. It is the most popular business model offered by white label dating platforms as well as by some affiliate programs.

White label dating platform – a technological solution with a prepopulated user database that enables you to create and run a private label dating site with little to no technical knowledge.

Online dating software – a technology package that can be licensed to create a dating site. Some development and own hosting is required in order to set up a site.

Registered user – a user who has submitted their email address and some personal details such as name, date of birth, location and dating preferences. Depending on the dating site, users have limited to no access to member profiles prior to registering and cannot use essential features of the site such as contacting other members.

Registration attempt or join attempt – user’s intention on registering on a dating site by filling in and submitting a registration form.

Confirmed registration – an account that has been verified by a user who has signed up to a dating site. A registration gets confirmed by clicking a link sent to the user via email. When a user signs up to a dating site using Facebook login the registration is considered to be confirmed and additional verification is not required.

Freemium business model – pricing strategy when a dating site is free to register and use, including core features such as messaging members. There is some additional functionality that is paid for if the users choose to use it. This business model is popular with social discovery dating sites and dating apps.

Subscription business model – pricing strategy where users have to pay to use basic features of the dating site. A premium membership subscription guarantees repeat transactions since subscriptions are normally renewed automatically.

Payment methods – the means of paying for online dating services that are available to the end-user. The most popular payment methods in the online dating industry are credit cards and PayPal. Bank link payments are used in certain countries and mobile payments are popular for micro transactions such as purchasing short-term premium membership or virtual currency.

Initial payment – the first purchase a user makes on a dating site. Some white label platforms and affiliate programs offer higher commission rates on the initial purchase that a user makes.

Recurring payment – a payment that is processed repeatedly after the initial subscription period finishes. The service is usually automatically extended provided the user does not terminate their subscription.

Refund – deduction given at the customer’s request to return a payment they had made for online dating services. According to EU law, a customer can ask for a refund without specifying a reason within 14 days of purchase.

Chargeback – a demand from a credit card provider for the funds to be returned to a consumer after detecting credit card misuse or fraud. A two-way processing fee is typically applied to cover the transaction costs.

Traffic – a stream of visitors that come to a dating site. Driving traffic means attracting users with the help of advertising or other promotional efforts.

Traffic source – the online location where a user found a link to a dating site before visiting it. Google Analytics provides a traffic source report that helps determine how many users came to the site directly, were referred by certain urls or found the site using search engines.

Visits – the number of times a site has been viewed within a specific period of time. Visits can also be referred to as views or registration impressions.

Unique visitors – the number of people who viewed a site within a specific period of time. This number is typically lower than the number of visits as one unique visitor can view more than one page of a dating site.

Conversion rate – the number of visitors who completed a desired action or converted. Two essential conversion points in an online dating business are conversion to registrations (or traffic conversion) and conversion to payments. Traffic conversion is calculated from the number of unique visitors who completed registration. Payment conversion is calculated from the number of registered users who made a purchase within a certain period of time (usually 30 days).

Landing page or splash page – a page where users from advertising campaigns are taken to or ‘land on’. A typical dating site landing page contains a user registration form, a written value proposition and some imagery including featured member photos. It is advisable to have a unique landing page for every ad campaign, reflecting the message of each advert.

A/B test or split test – an experiment run with two different versions of imagery or copy with the aim of measuring which one yields the best results. Visitors are automatically redirected to one or the other version of a page (hence split into two groups) and a conclusion can be drawn when there are sufficient results to be statistically significant. The split testing of landing pages is the most efficient way of optimizing the return on investment and can be done regardless of the platform on which a dating sites runs, whether a self hosted and operated site or white label site. There are different types of software available for measuring split test results. Google AdWords have an integrated Experiment tool that can be used for that purpose.

User acquisition – the process of bringing new customers to a dating site. The goal is to maximise return on investment, which means to bring as many customers as possible for the amount of money invested. Some of the most popular user acquisition methods in online dating are paid channels (Google AdWords or other ad networks) and SEO.

User activation – turning a dating site visitor into a paying customer. Automated customer relation management tools are used for this purpose, notifying a user via email about winks, new messages received or new members in the area, all of which trigger repeat visits to the site and help the user move towards the conversion goal.

User retention – activities taken in order to keep customers happy so they continue using the online dating service. Customer satisfaction surveys are conducted to collect user feedback in order to get some insights for improvements. The retention rate reflects a percentage of customers who return to a dating site on a long-term basis.


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