"even as the casual dating segment grows, there will always be a place for more serious dating sites."
Dating-Experts talks to CEO Carsten Böltz about his matchmaking company be2, apps, Tinder and the future of the online dating industry.
Dating Experts: Which feature(s) make your product an outstanding dating experience and how do you drive growth in this competitive market place (e.g. new marketing channels)?
Carsten Böltz: Mensen kunnen zich tijd besparen op be2. Ons algoritme reduceert complexiteiten voor onze klanten, terwijl ze mensen aan hen laten zien voor wie zij geschikt zijn, in plaats van hen onder te sneeuwen met onderden keuzes. Klanten gebruiken hun tijd zo op een meer efficiënte manier, omdat be2 hun aandacht en communicatie focust op de matches, waar de kans op het vinden van liefde veel hoger is.
People can save time on be2. Our algorithm reduces complexity for our customers, showing them people they are well suited to, rather than swamping them with hundreds of choices. Customers use their time more efficiently this way, as be2 focuses their attention and interactions on the matches where the chances of finding love are much higher.
Our growth in the market depends on maintaining a good product experience. You can of course buy your way into market share, but we believe sustainable growth depends on an improving product and improving market perception of the product.
Dating Experts: The Online Dating industry provides people with plenty of options. Do you think your industry changed how people think about relationships over the course of the last 10-15 years? Do you think people tend to move from one relationship to the next faster than they used to before online dating existed? Is this a good thing?
Carsten Böltz: I don’t really believe that online dating has changed the way most people conduct their relationships. People have always had choices and temptations to deal with as they look to sustain long term relationships.
What has changed greatly over the last decade is the perception of online dating. Whereas 10 or 15 years ago many people viewed it as something only for marginalised people with few social contacts, it is now an accepted part of mainstream single life. We all know someone, probably a few people, who have met and formed happy relationships through the web.
Dating Experts: Do you think that online dating has become more sexualized in recent years as it has increasingly switched to mobile? Have apps like Tinder made casual dating mainstream – even for women? And if so, do you think that this trend is likely to continue or will serious matchmaking stage a come-back?
Carsten Böltz: No. I think that if the trend is moving in a causal direction this is more about societal change than as a result of technological innovation. It is especially true that women’s perception of their role has changed a lot in the last decade, with more and more women happy to take control and be unashamed about pursuing what they want. Our casual sister site C-date is seeing a boom in female interest registrations for precisely this reason.
However, even as the casual dating segment grows, there will always be a place for more serious dating sites. It’s all about increasing choice for the consumer. 10 or 15 years ago there were only 2 or 3 players that covered the whole market, now there are many many sites addressing different needs and bringing people together with similar interests and intentions. Effectively, serious dating, which perhaps used to be the only option, has now become just one of several core segments in the market, but it is surely one that will always be important for some people and is here to stay.
Dating Experts: Do you and - if yes - how do you use and analyse user data / user behaviours (Big Data) in order to improve matching and become more efficient? Can you provide examples?
Carsten Böltz: We use data most to help us drive the matching algorithm and overall user experience. All changes in the product are carefully analysed across a range of core indicators right from clicks and views, through to measuring numbers of successful interactions between users. We believe strongly in our algorithms ability to help users select the right people and invest a lot of time into monitoring its performance and improving results.
Dating Experts: What do you think is the next big thing in data use for matchmaking? What will dating firms be able to do in 3-5 years from now that they don’t do today?
Carsten Böltz: The predictive capability of our product is likely to get much higher over the coming years, through every stage of the customer lifecycle, but especially for matchmaking. Here ‘big data’ still holds fantastic possibilities for helping us to deliver on our core promise for more and more people. Essentially, the more data the customer is happy to share and we can collect, the better our chances of finding the right links and bringing the right people together.
Dating Experts: In the last two years we have seen a rise of free dating apps, especially Tinder. Are you concerned that these free apps destroy value in the marketplace and re-define usual market prices?
Carsten Böltz: To my eyes Tinder is targeting a totally different segment of the market and is not a direct competitor. I am focused on providing a high value service to cater for a particular set of needs. My customers are a very different type of people to those being served by Tinder. If anything Tinder looks like a positive for the whole industry and we can be happy about the number of new users that Tinder is bringing to online dating for the first time.
Dating Experts: Do you envisage wearables changing the way people use online dating, the way smartphones did?
Carsten Böltz: No doubt wearables will prompt new products and offerings into the market. However, serious dating is likely to be the segment least affected. Serious dating is about a thoughtful and non-pressured process; taking your time to find the one that’s right. Wearables will be used much more at the casual end of the market, particularly around location based matching.
Dating Experts: Are you preparing a mobile version of any of your sites specifically for the Apple Watch or other wearables?
Carsten Böltz: No, we have no plans to do so. Our focus will remain on improving our mobile experience, as we believe that this is where, next to desktop, the eyeballs are for us.
Dating Experts: What do you feel are the most important success factors to ensure your dating service will still be a big player over the next 10 years?
Carsten Böltz: What do our customers want? They want a relaxed and time efficient service that allows them to present themselves in their best light and make informed choices. More fundamentally, they want us to put them in touch with the right people and take them a step forward on their quest to find a life partner. If we continue to deliver all of this, we will still be going strong in ten years’ time and beyond.