Smaller dating sites that target a specific group or interest are growing in membership as larger “one size fits all” sites decline.
Sites catering to specific religions, ethnicities, and sexual orientation are growing at extremely high rates. According to information from Hitwise, in March, the Top 3 gay sites on the web increased their US share of site visits by 54% over the year before. Religious sites increased their traffic by 69%, while the top five mainstream sites lost 7% of their hits over the same period.
As the online dating sphere grows and more people are using the services, it seems they are dissatisfied with the experience they get from the large dating services and are in turn choosing sites that are more specific to their life situation, in spite of the fact that the niche sites have fewer members to choose from. The old “quality over quantity” argument is winning over users to more focused sites.
Another niche group that is having a lot of success is the adult dating realm of sites like AdultFriendFinder. Over the last year, the top three adult dating sites have gained 56% more US traffic. These sites cast a much wider swath than the other niche sites, since their niche is basically anyone who want to find somebody to have sex with. I’ve heard that’s a pretty large group.
Of course, marketing in more focused sites is a lot easier since the membership has already put themselves into a group to target. However, for all dating sites, how are they not unlike MySpace and Facebook when it comes to the kind of great data that can be mined and targeted? All of these sites have users enter personal preferences in their profile data, and as they grow and receive more traffic, there’s a lot of opportunity for effective marketing. While everybody’s obsessing over Facebook, they may be missing out on the dating site bonanza.
I’m sure nobody’s missing out on it, but it doesn’t get nearly the social media marketing attention it deserves.
Thanks to Mark Brooks and Techcrunch for the story.