8 Lessons From Online Dating For Email Marketers

Earlier this year I tried my hand at email marketing here at DiscoverOrg. I figured it’d be pretty easy. After all, you’re just dropping some buzzwords into a few compelling sentences, right? Wrong. Not only was writing a good, short, email message to prospects difficult – it felt familiar.

Where had I felt this severe frustration in writing a really convincing AND brief message? Then it dawned on me.  When I tried to use dating apps.

You may not immediately connect the dots between agonizing over email language and choosing which witty line to use on Tinder. Well, unless you’ve spent way too much time doing both of these things (like me). And then parallels are pretty clear. My colleague, Steve Waters, penned an article last year on, “How Prospecting is Like Online Dating: 5 Mistakes Online Daters Can Teach Salespeople.” As a sales guy, Steve talks about getting on the phone, listening, and sharing. Let’s be honest though, people don’t talk on the phone anymore when they’re dating.

The kids these days? They use apps. They use emojis. And, they swipe. Everything comes down to the ability to endear yourself to someone through something downloaded off the App Store ten minutes ago. For that reason, I’m going to narrow Steve’s topic even further and highlight eight key reasons why email marketing is exactly like using a dating app.

1. Grab Their…Attention By Personalization

If you’re not personalizing your emails and putting the effort into making them catch the recipient’s eye, then you’ll probably fare no better than those firing off two-word intros on dating apps. Anyone who’s downloaded a dating app has gotten the vanilla “Hey” or “What’s up?” message in their inbox. These types of messages exhibit zero originality and communicate absolutely nothing about the sender. Something personal like, “What’s up, Derek? Did you really go to Antarctica?” will always yield more and better responses whether you’re trying to get a date or a response to an email.

2. With Increased Access Comes Increased Market Competition

When you’re sending marketing emails, there’s other people vying for the business of your prospects too. You can’t stop them. They’re free to send as many messages as they want and technology has made it easier to reach prospects. The ability to separate your message in their inbox from the countless others is what’s ultimately going to make you successful.

Similarly, it’s starting to get pretty crowded in the dating app world. While we’ve all heard that there’s plenty of fish in the sea, there’s also plenty of other fisherman going after that special fish that you’re looking for. With dating apps becoming more prevalent and it being easier than ever to sign up, someone might beat you to the lure if you’re not casting your line well.

3. I Wrote You a Helluva Novella for an Introduction

It’s no secret that shorter emails are read more often and are more effective at getting the attention of the reader. So, how do you impress the recipient in such little space? Try not cramming too many separate ideas into one message. Focusing on the ultimate call-to-action is a good start. Similarly, if you send a four sentence introduction to someone after swiping right, you’re likely going to come off as someone who likes to talk about themselves or someone who lacks social awareness. Neither of those are qualities known to lead to romance.

Don't Be Pushy in Email or Dating4. No One Likes a Pushy McPusherson

If you send too many emails to a prospect in a short amount of time, you’re going to come off as over-aggressive and needy. Effective email cadences are both art and science – and knowing the right frequency to send your personalized and just-the-right-length messages is a difference maker. Anyone who’s ever been in a relationship can attest that showing too much interest too early is a surefire way to turn someone away. It’s hard to know what someone’s thinking, especially when they don’t respond to all of your messages. Push the envelope too much and you’ll end up unsubscribed from that person’s life forever.

5. Confidence is King

We’ve all gotten those emails that start like this: “Mr. Smith, I’m sorry to intrude. I understand that unsolicited email may be a nuisance. However, I’d appreciate just a few minutes of your time if you can spare it.” Those kinds of emails project a very timid and defensive personality. The best sales and marketing professionals have confidence in what they’re offering and they’re not afraid to show it. The same holds true when swapping messages with someone your age on your phone. Someone begging to go out on a date or apologizing for sending too many messages usually ends up stuck at home on Friday night.

6. Dress for Success

First impressions are important. Emails with inconsistent formatting or typos abound are likely to turn off a recipient. Strong grammar and well-written sentences go a long way in establishing yourself as someone worthy of respect. After all, why not put your best foot forward? The same applies to your dating apps. Use your best pictures. Only show your good side if you have to. Teapot that arm as far out as you want if you think it makes you look better. You usually only get a few seconds to impress and leaving bullets in the chamber is only going to hurt your conversion rate.

7. Timing IS Everything

There are plenty of studies out there on the best time to send an email. Some say that Tuesday mornings are the best. Others will vouch for Monday afternoons. The key is to hit the recipient during non-busy times or when they’re at their desk. Another trick I learned from our Marketing department here at DiscoverOrg is to make sure your emails don’t go out on holidays. After all, you’re not supposed to be working! The same holds true when messaging that special someone. Avoid sending messages at 9pm on a Saturday. You’re supposed to be busy doing interesting things with your hundreds of amazing friends. If you ever find yourself sitting at home alone writing crafty message to your matches on a Saturday night – put the phone down! Sending messages at that time is going to reveal something about you that doesn’t do you any favors.

8. Know Your Audience

This may be the most important of them all. And like the all-important bread that makes a sandwich great, we’ve bookended these tips and tricks with our best piece of advice. Personalize, personalize, personalize. If I wasn’t able to drive it home before, then let me leave you with this final piece of advice. Cold emails are most effective when they’re personalized. It makes the recipient feel like significant time was spent on the message. For example, when a sales development representative references a certain technology in their existing tech stack (because they use DiscoverOrg) or noticed the prospect just got promoted, they’ve instantly separated themselves from the rest of the pack.

Our customers routinely send us thank you emails whenever a Trigger leads them to a meeting. Why does that happen so often? Because those types of emails usually strike a chord with the recipient. Online dating is no different. If someone’s profile indicates they’re a vegan, don’t suggest a fancy dinner at the city’s best steakhouse. If they say they’re adventurous and have pictures bungee jumping, you should probably stay away from poetry reading as a first date. Using what you can glean from their profile to create a more compelling message is a no-brainer when it comes to messaging others on apps.

Does this mean that email marketers are doing pretty well for themselves in the dating world? Probably not.

Will downloading a dating app lead to an increased response rate on your cold emails? I wouldn’t bet on it.

Should older married email marketers be worried that millennials are going to take over the email marketing job market? Definitely not.

Nonetheless, the similarities between these two very different worlds are plentiful. Communicating value, expressing genuine interest in the other party, and building rapport are all things that we need to do to get to the next step – whether that’s a 15-minute phone call or a coffee date with that new special someone.

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Derek Smith

Derek was DiscoverOrg’s first researcher in 2007 and now a decade later he’s responsible for the processes ..read more