This article is from Alex Pasykov, CEO and founder of dating apps hilly And Taimi, who will speak at the TNW Conference, which will take place on 15 and 16 June in Amsterdam. If you’d like to join the event (and say hello to our editors!), we’ve got something special for our loyal readers. Use the promotional code READ-TNW-25 and receive a 25% discount on your business pass for TNW Conference. See you in Amsterdam!
2023 was a difficult year for startups. Getting finance has become increasingly difficult, and this is no different for the dating app industry. Investors want dating companies to operate effectively without generating investment. Dating companies that combine technology solutions with a strong brand have an advantage in further expanding their user base through organic growth, performance marketing and paid acquisition. That’s why it’s now more important than ever to align product strategy with trends to build a sustainable dating business.
AI and the future of dating apps
Generative AI may be the breakthrough technology of 2023, but for dating apps the possibilities are limited. We’re likely to see some features that help users start a conversation faster or better than just “Hey, how’s it going,” using AI-generated prompts and prescriptive icebreakers. But because users still want to chat with other real people, dating apps can’t just allow big language models to impersonate users on the platform. No one wants to date a chatbot in the real world.
However, AI can be integrated to improve algorithms and make dating apps run more smoothly. For example, it helps to suggest people to connect with, based on a user’s preferences and usage history. And while chatbots cannot replace users on the platform, they do can provide fast and efficient customer support. So dating apps can use large language models to answer user questions or help with other questions.
Greater segmentation and personalization
In the near future, dating apps will move towards more personalization for segmented audiences. Since Tinder’s breakthrough in 2012, it has reached all audiences. But now apps are gradually evolving and starting to cover more specific dating preferences for specific audiences. So instead of one big app that covers all needs, we made different apps for different audiences and dating interests, such as polygamous relationships or dating for Christians.
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While segmentation is a growing trend, extremely niche apps like pro-vaxxer/anti-vaxxer apps may not have the most sustainable business model. By dramatically narrowing your audience and relying on a small user base, you introduce risks that can make it difficult to raise funding or provide desirable metrics to investors, no matter how cool your idea is.
While some dating apps target specific audiences, others target specific needs. For example, there are apps where you can indicate your preference for a one-night stand instead of a long-term relationship. There’s a catch, though: when apps target specific audiences, such as people looking to date, users are likely to switch to other dating apps that meet more needs than such nuanced experiences.
The future of dating apps
While it has become increasingly difficult to raise funding, the online dating landscape has also become more complex. The main problem is still that most dating apps run on business models that require users to keep using the apps for as long as possible, rather than meeting their needs quickly. That said, dating apps that can successfully shorten the time between a first like and an actual meeting are likely to succeed in the long run.
In this regard, niche apps that target specific audiences or needs are leading the way. These apps set the standard of service quality for their target users and will take the level of service to the next level. If larger apps can learn from their experiences by integrating and effectively serving those segments within their own apps, it will accelerate business growth and adoption of these apps in society.
The goal of dating apps is not to make every user fall in love with each other, but to give them the freedom to pursue what they want at any time – romantic or sexual. Today someone might be looking for a date, tomorrow a casual encounter, and the day after that a long-term relationship. By understanding the complexities of online dating and keeping abreast of users’ changing preferences, dating apps can increase their chances of success in key business metrics that matter to investors.
Watch Alex Pasykov’s speech at the TNW conference on June 15-16 to learn more about successful go-to-market strategies. Use the promotional code READ-TNW-25 and receive a 25% discount on your business pass for TNW Conference.