How eHarmony Stays Relevant In The Age of Tinder And Match Group

LOS ANGELES — Startups are notorious for pivoting, but some companies hold to their values despite demographic and technological shifts.

Take eHarmony, for instance: “It was a group of people who said, ‘We know how to do this one thing.'” If the rest of the planet isn’t involved in this one thing, it’s a waste of time. Within eHarmony’s new headquarters in Los Angeles’ Westwood area, Grant Langston, vice president of brand marketing, told International Business Times, “We will go out of business.”

The “one thing” was to use the internet to match people for serious relationships, with the lofty goal of achieving marriages and lowering divorce rates. People laughed when the designers pitched the concept in the early 2000s. According to Langston, the online dating industry was mainly used at the time for “having sex very easily with someone you don’t know very well,” according to Langston. If you wanted to be in a relationship, you turned to your family, friends, or church.

According to IBISWorld, eHarmony is already one of the market leaders, accounting for 11.9 percent of the $2.4 billion online dating industry. The publicly traded Match Company, which owns, PlentyOfFish, OkCupid, and, most recently, a smartphone app that has turned the dating landscape upside down, Tinder, is David to the Goliath.

The brand’s reach extends into the dating world as well. Next month, eHarmony will launch Elevated Jobs, a job-matchmaking app. It’s possible that this isn’t the final expansion. “We want to be there for any challenge that seems to result in poorly matched people,” Langston said.

There was talk of eHarmony being acquired by Match Group initially, but the company decided to remain independent, and it still is. eHarmony is now privately held and majority-owned, rather than being under the watchful eye of Wall Street. Langston cited more than 1 million marriages and a divorce rate of less than 4% when asked how they describe themselves. This is significantly lower than the United States’ 40% average.

The company’s founding goal was to reduce the single-digit divorce rate, but it’s not stopping there, and in reality, eHarmony’s customers have been shifting. The platform has drawn a younger demographic in recent years. Historically, the average eHarmony consumer was between the ages of 33 and 54. Nonetheless, in the last five years, the company has drawn the interest of more senior executives. The 20-somethings have been a more significant part of the company in the previous two years.

It may be partly due to the Tinder effect, enabling users to organize meet-ups by swiping through images. People who have had lousy Tinder experiences may seek out other options. “Tinder is a magnet for a lot of people who think they have little experience in online dating,” Langston said.

All who have the same eHarmony experience. The company does have landing pages for various demographics and a separate app called Compatible Partners for people interested in the same sex. However, the overall experience is similar, with the shared aim of forming severe, long-term relationships.

“From the outside, they seem to be a partnership business. “Match is a relationship business, but I believe eHarmony picks up where Match leaves off,” said Mark Brooks, an authority on online dating apps.

According to Langston, three factors contribute to the matches’ long-term performance, and thus of eHarmony: “The questionnaire is long; this keeps the creeps away.” We charge the most, which deters those who aren’t severe. We also do an excellent job of matching people based on research.”

However, not everyone enjoys the eHarmony experience. According to sentiment analysis of feedback pulled and analyzed by Applause, the app has one of the lowest overall scores on app stores. I am joining costs a hefty $59.99 per month, which adds another stumbling block for those who aren’t fully engaged.

eHarmony, on the other hand, is seeing a promising development in its smartphone audience. In 2016, smartphone registrations accounted for 66.4 percent of all signups. Mobile accounted for 19.2 percent of signups in 2011. In 2015, the company hit the highest number of subscribers, with 778,000.

A name, a picture, and a swipe on your smartphone can lead to a match with Tinder. Members of eHarmony must answer hundreds of questions, and if they do not pay, they will not see any pictures. Tinder has marketed itself as a dating app that works in the same way as seeing someone across the room in a bar does. eHarmony, on the other hand, is working to fit people for relationship fulfillment — and love.

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According to Chris Monberg, co-founder and chief technical officer of Boomtrain, a machine learning company, EHarmony users are “making a résumé for the work they want.” He warned against describing love solely based on listed desires rather than acts.

eHarmony’s research scientist, Jonathan Beber, explained how the organization optimizes interactions and determines the matching algorithm. “We’re attempting to predict how happy and pleased these users are with their relationships. But do happiness and contentment characterize love?” wrote Beber in an email.

With the addition of Facebook data to the algorithm later this year, social media would become even more incorporated into the matchmaking experience. The information is currently used to power Tinder’s algorithm, which matches interests and mutual friends, but it has been left out of eHarmony’s method so far.

Commitment, desire, and intimacy are the three aspects of love that Beber described, but not every match will have all three. Neil Clark Warren, the company’s founder, and CEO contributed to the concept and analysis.

eHarmony is not a new player in Silicon Valley or the wider dating industry of Los Angeles, with over a decade of experience. Warren is also far older than other industry leaders, such as Tinder’s 29-year-old CEO, Sean Rad.

Warren’s business, on the other hand, is thought to be able to innovate. eHarmony was named the most creative company at this year’s iDonate, an internet dating conference. That isn’t to suggest that there haven’t been any setbacks. Retention rates, subscriber numbers, and time spent on the web all dropped when eHarmony attempted a marketing campaign for casual daters.

Check out: Seven (7) Types Of Dating Stress You Can Go Ahead And Ignore

“For a few years, the company was on the decline, and we were out of business. “There is no community,” Langston said. Warren was retired at the time, but he returned in 2012 to regain the CEO role.

When eHarmony earned $110 million in funding in 2004, venture capitalists hoped for success. “Their metrics were the healthiest. There was a distinct difference between them. “Their retention rates were at an all-time high,” Brooks said.

Despite this, some of their most significant contributions have come from one of the most old-fashioned mediums: broadcast television advertisements. EHarmony began with radio advertisements, then grew to include television. Although the initial investment was about $400,000, they received a complete refund.

Around 70% of eHarmony’s subscribers come from television.
For eHarmony, television does not seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. “I don’t think we offer any apologies for saying we’d prefer not to waste money on television. I want to reduce our TV budget, but TV viewers come into our product at a rate that no other channel can match,” Langston explained.

And, while they’re expanding their digital ad footprint, they’re not spending all of their time doing so. Despite its increasing millennial audience, eHarmony has yet to accept one of the most popular apps among the generation: Snapchat. “Being on it and continuously pumping it out for anything that expires takes a lot of bandwidth. “It was purposefully left out,” said Kerianne Mellott, eHarmony’s director of social media.

eHarmony, on the other hand, has a social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, and YouTube. When it comes to social media, Langston, who created its social company, advises Mellott to stay true to the brand message while not being “absurdist.” “I can’t be absurdist for my TV audience,” he says. “They’re too square.”

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