As the online dating industry becomes more and more competitive, sites are always looking for new ways to acquire users, bring in extra revenue and increase engagement.
A company from New York wants to help in all three of these areas, by introducing live chats with dating advisors, to help singles who are frustrated with online dating.
LiveDatingAdvice are currently in talks with a number of dating sites, including a public company, who are interested in bringing this premium service to their platforms.
We spoke with Arthur Malov, the CEO of LiveDatingAdvice, about his company’s idea, how online has changed offline dating, and why they want to be the personal trainers of the online dating world.
What is the service you are offering to dating sites?
The concept is simple. Think about when you go to a gym, you have already paid a membership, and you have a lot of equipment to use – you can do bench press, leg press, whatever you want to do. What is your goal? To get in shape. But you don’t want to get frustrated, you want to know how to not injure yourself, and you want to do it correctly. So what would you do? You would get a personal trainer.
Personal training is a gigantic industry. In the US alone, they do something like 6m sessions every year.
Now say if you are in the same position on a dating site – you don’t know how to write a message, you’re not sure where to start with your profile, you don’t know how to select photos. It can be scary when you are getting started. And let’s say you have started, but you aren’t getting any results. And usually in dating, people are not as aware that they have a problem. So when people get a personal trainer they usually have a problem that they are aware of, that they want to change.
In a gym, you might get frustrated: “I keep doing bench presses, but something isn’t working, I’m not getting any bigger”. With online dating it’s, “How do I use quick messaging?”, “Do I use winks?”, or “Should I focus on my profile more?” – what should be my way. Our service is really like personal dating trainers.
And the very interesting thing most people don’t realise, is that with personal training, it didn’t exist until the mid-80s. But by the late 80s, early 90s, personal training became the norm.
We think this is how it will be with online dating and dating advisors.
What sort of advice will you give to online dating users?
We are able to do live advisors. It’s not only that a person goes in and they maybe don’t know how to pick photos or send messages. So first we help to improve their profile and they are getting more messages and dates. But once they know that, they are going to have other questions. Questions about other aspects of their messaging as they are progressing. Questions about dates, questions about when to call, when to follow up.
We are not only giving advice on online dating, but on offline dating. We are being the go-to people who they can always login and ask.
How are you planning to integrate dating advisors onto dating sites?
So it’s actually white label. We are not putting our brand on it, we are saying that, “Yes it’s an IDCA certified advisor”, but we are not putting our name on it. So if it were Match, it would be Match dating advisors.
This allows sites to engage with their users – higher quality engagement – and keep them on the site longer. If the user wants to unsubscribe, companies can offer the service to keep them on the site. They can say: “Hey you shouldn’t unsubscribe, you should probably check out our dating advisors, maybe they can help with some problems you are having.”
It would be an extra premium service – two weeks for $49, and a month at $79, so it’s very affordable.
Who are you aiming this service towards?
We are building the model for people who maybe don’t realise there is a problem. A lot of people message saying: “Hey what’s up?” or, “How are you?”, which is not very hot. And the people writing those messages, they don’t realise they are making mistakes.
People don’t realise there is an issue consciously, but subconsciously they know something is going wrong. We are making it easier to pull the trigger, rather than searching for a dating coach, finding 10 selections in your town, then having to pay thousands of dollars. If it were on a dating site, and was cheap enough, people would buy the service impulsively.
Why do you think people will want to use live dating advisors?
The issue we’re seeing with people is that they’re getting frustrated very quietly, there is nowhere to go and complain about it. I mean people still do, there is a lot of negative feedback on comment sites, but there is no clear way to complain to somebody.
And yet online dating is like a roller coaster – it goes up and down emotionally every day. You might get a good message, and you’re really happy, and then 10 minutes later you get another girl who says “I’m not interested”, and people don’t understand what’s going wrong. If you multiply that by every day for 30 days, it is constant highs and lows.
With online dating, people might have been online for six months, a year, or a couple of years, and they’re not satisfied. They burn out and they leave the site because they’re not happy. There are some people who are happy, who have figured it out, but they are a minority.
The vast majority are basically going through this process of constant frustration. Most people can’t afford matchmaking, and most people don’t actually want date coaching either, but if they had a solution right there in front of them, they would use it.
They don’t want to put a lot of energy in, and usually they have a specific problem, an itch they need to scratch. They might have sent out a bunch of messages, but they aren’t getting any responses back. They might know there is a problem, but they don’t know what the problem is.
In the Pew Research study last year, they found that 22% of online daters have asked their friends to review or aid them with their profile. That’s gigantic. But how many people don’t have friends who can help, or maybe they don’t want to go to their friends? And on top of that, are their friends going to give good advice?
They aren’t going to an expert IDCA certified advisor, they are going to friends who might or might not help them well.
As a dating coach, how do you think offline dating habits have been changed by online dating?
Well we are now going on about four times as many first dates than we did 10 years ago.
In the early 2000s, before you went on a date, you treated it as more important – you are thinking about that person, they might not be perfect, but they are not disposable. Now, if you are going on four times as many dates, you have now got eight dates a month. All of a sudden, every single date becomes much more disposable. You are investing less per date, and you are looking to filter – especially for women, looking to filter out the guys immediately.
It’s like you go to a buffet, and they only have five things on the menu, you’ve got to choose one of those options. What if you go to a buffet and you have 100 options, you will probably enjoy the buffet with five options more, because even if you pick something amazing, you might want to try one of those crab cakes, but you are too full. And then you have that regret: “Maybe I should’ve had that, there are so many more things to try, and maybe they’ll be better.”
We are trained to simplify our options, but online dating pretty much said, “No, you don’t want to limit your options, you want them unlimited.” It’s the paradox of choice – the more choice we have, the harder it is to make choice. In dating it’s very similar. And yet the feeling of choice is addictive, it’s something that we like to have. And therefore online dating is almost playing into that psychologically – which is completely fine, because choice is great – but there is going to be some backlash.
In the old model, a guy might have to approach in a bar and he has to show some certain traits and be confident, be able to improvise. But with online dating, you count that part out, it is taken out of the equation.
As coaches, what we are noticing is that before, you had to go out and develop the skill of talking to women, and break through the nervousness. But now, if you are a decent guy you will probably date online, and all of a sudden you get pretty good results, you no longer need to approach. And so the guys that approach women are still going to approach, but the problem is that the guys who might have approached women, there are going to be a lot less of them.
Why do you think your service is so attractive to dating sites?
Acquisition of new clients is now harder than ever. And for dating sites, our service is a gigantic tool. It gives them more money, but this is actually not the biggest plus for what we do, it’s more about the retention of clients – they get a good feeling when they get help.
It is a white label service for dating sites – where they can say: “Hey, work with our live dating advisors right now”. The user goes and clicks and there is interaction. Sites can then send updates and have featured advisors on the site. This results in much more engagement.
With dating sites right now, it’s very much you come, you pay us, and hopefully you figure it out. People get frustrated, which is why the majority of online daters have three or four services they have tried. It is like people trying different gyms without addressing the real problems.
What stage are you at now, are you hopeful that the deals with dating sites will go through?
The deals will go through – we have a number of big dating sites interested, along with medium and smaller sites. It’s not a question of “Is there a need?”, it’s a question of “How much of a need is there?”
We are starting to raise money now, because we have larger players coming in, and there are some elements they want to adjust, such as how they implement it in their own system. But we are raising now, and we are figuring out our game plan, now that these companies are interested.
What is your next step?
Our next step is, we want to reach out to dating sites, we are starting to raise funds and investment. And it’s a fantastic opportunity, we’ve been in date coaching for eight years, this is our new project, and this project has been completely embraced by dating sites. So we would like to make dating sites a lot of money and keep their users coming back, while helping people meet that awesome someone without mandatory confusion and frustration that comes with online dating.