While nobody's going to argue this hasn't been a year we'd like to repeat, online dating has done pretty well, with higher numbers of singles joining dating platforms, and looking for digital networking opportunities.
This week, Andreessen Horowitz, a venture capital and private equity firm, has published an interesting report, analysing how social apps have performed, and which are winning the race of user engagement!
As part of a series titled Social Strikes Back, this looks at how the social media market is growing, performing, and developing to deliver new, future applications.
So, what are the criteria for a dating app that's performing well? There are lots of metrics we can consider:
There's a lot to take in there - but it's essential to bear in mind that merely having millions of users doesn't mean that a dating platform is doing a great job! If 80% of those millions of members don't ever use the app, or log in once a twice a month, for example, it's likely to be declining in perceived value and user experience.
One of the most valuable factors this report considers is 'stickiness' - which is a great concept and one that's nicely relatable even to those of us who aren't familiar with app performance metrics!
What is stickiness? It's the ratio of how many users login per day, on average, and how many log in each month. Comparing the daily users to the monthly users measures whether a dating app is growing, contracting, or staying where it is.
For example, if that stickiness ratio is 33%, that means the average user logs on ten days per month.
Let's summarise the report findings, and see who's outperforming the market in this most unusual of years!
Before we run through these categories, let's remember that the average stickiness rating for dating apps is about 81% (compared to 92% on general social media). So we're considering dating platforms that are topping the ratings in this sector.
We've also seen some interesting stats relating to platforms that aren't explicitly dating, but could fall into that category as networking sites - apps ranking as top-performers in the 'friend discovery' category include Yubo, ItsMe and IMVU.
What is it that these dating apps are doing right - and how have they come out on top of their respective categories?
There are all sorts of reasons:
It seems clear that what the dating customer demographic is looking for, is apps that offer a specific spin, a niche, a context that steps outside of the norm, and provides an experience that is a little more exciting than your general matchmaking and swiping.
As new generations of younger networking site users start using smartphones and downloading apps, it's also no surprise that a platform catering to teens is rising swiftly up the ranks.
Older social networking platforms are never popular with younger kids. Hence, as Facebook started as an unconventional and contemporary app, it's now used by an ageing user base with the average user ages being:
You're not going to want to use a social media app where your Nan is posting status updates every day. Developers are always looking for trends and new experiences that capture the imagination of the next generation, and design something tailored to them.
Dating is no different; mobile apps are now a must, with the majority of users wanting the flexibility to chat on their smartphones, and run through their matches on the commute, rather than sitting at a desktop waiting for their next inbox notification.
Apps that are fast, intuitive, offer superb usability, and visual media are also popular. Traditional messaging is being replaced by live calls, video posts and interactive features that make it a lot easier to get a feel for a personality than you'd get from a few paragraphs on a profile page.
Andreessen Horowitz describes it as a vertical community; an app that is explicitly designed around the interests of its intended user base, which encourages sharing, and features that cater to those hobbies.
It seems likely that we're going to see far more added-value benefits; such as events, podcasts, blogs, competitions and networking that expand on the dating experience to make it much more about inclusivity, shared experiences, and finding your tribe.
Read the full report here, and let us know what you think about these ratings, and if you think next year will see some new contenders topping the rankings!