by Jenny Hatch March 30, 2016

What Paid Search Marketers Can Learn from the Dating Game

At some point in all of our lives we all enter the dating game. Trying to find the “one” that’s right for us. We start out with many eligible prospects and then slowly weed them out trying to find the best fit or conversion.

Turns out the dating game isn’t that different from marketing. You still choose your target persona, nurture prospects, use calls to action, A/B test, remarket and try to avoid automatic turnoffs.

So, what can you learn about paid search marketing from the dating game? Let’s find out.

Keyword Match Types

In AdWords, you have the choice of how specific your keywords are. You can choose broad match, modified broad match, phrase match, or exact match keywords.

Broad match are more like a catch-all whereas exact match are exactly your keyword. Depending on which type of targeting you use with your keywords, your net of prospects will widen or shrink:

  • Broad match is like including everyone who is single regardless of age, gender, etc.
  • Modified broad match takes the targeting one step further and puts a gender or age limit on dating prospects.
  • Phrase match takes it one step farther by specifying that I’m interested in 25-30 year old guys who have similar interests to me.
  • Exact match is like me only considering guys who are 6’2″, blue eyed, brown haired, loves hang gliding, and between the ages of 25-30. Its so specific that its hard to find an exact match.

In paid search marketing—as in dating—it’s usually best to use a combination of modified broad match, phrase match, and exact match keywords. This allows you to cast a wide, but still targeted net of prospects.

Instant Sell vs Nurturing Prospects

I’m sure you’ve been bombarded by an ad or two that wants you to sell you something then and there without telling you anything about it.

Maybe you’ve also had a similar experience with dating? I know I have.

Regardless of whether the pitch is from a company or a shameless flirt, it’s off-putting and I am less likely to convert.

A better approach? “Court” your prospects.

Relationships take time and aren’t built over night. It takes time to get to know a person and trust them enough to date them.

Same thing is true in marketing.

Start the marketing relationship off with an introduction, show interest in the prospect, answer their questions, show them the benefits of working with you and build trust before popping the question—will you buy?

Free trials, e-downloads, testimonials, and FAQ sections are common ways to nurture prospects without trying to force a sale on the first date. In addition, you can set up remarketing and RLSA campaigns to stay in your prospects’ minds after the initial introduction.

Calls To Action

Calls to action are good for two reasons when it comes to dating and marketing—they’re a great way of making it clear that you are interested in a relationship.

I recently went out on a date with a guy who had been trying to go out on a date with me for two months. He’d text me occasionally and say, “Let’s do something this week”.

Talk about vague. He wasn’t so great at making specific plans.

Eventually, I took matters into my own hands and responded, “I’m free Wednesday after 7,” and guess what? We went on a date Wednesday night at 7.

Your call to action clarifies what the customer will get out of a “relationship” with you. Maybe its a free trial, maybe its a consultation, or maybe its a great price on a product or service. Regardless, make the offer clear up front to make converting easy for the customer.

A/B Testing

Finding the right messaging for your target audience takes practice and continual tweaking whether you’re dating or marketing.

That’s why A/B testing is a good idea.

You run two ads or landing pages against each other to see which one performs better. They might have different headlines, different calls to action, different messaging, etc. The goal is to find which one attracts more people who are a good fit for you.

Once you find which ad or landing page converts better, you pause the less successful one and start a new test.

If your agency isn’t A/B testing, its time to re-evaluate that relationship and give Disruptive Advertising a try. We A/B test continually to improve conversion rates through achieving the right messaging for our clients.


After a first date, its customary to send a post date text to your date to say thanks show that you are interested in further dates. In marketing we use something called remarketing.

Remarketing to past website visitors keeps you in the forefront of their mind and reminds them of all the great benefits of your company.

However, remarketing can be done wrong in two ways—over or under remarketing.

If you over target them, you’ll come across as a stalker. That’s creepy. A quick prevention to stalking is limiting impression share on your remarketing ads.

On the other extreme, if you under-remarket to past website visitors, you won’t stay in their mind.

We are bombarded with so many ads each day that if you limit impressions to 1 a day, your customer might not notice your ad and you definitely won’t be in the front of their mind.

With remarketing and post date texts, its important to be tactfully present in their mind. Not too forward, not too invisible.

Keep the Mystery Alive

In dating and marketing, too much information at once is a turn-off. Its overwhelming and undesirable.

A better approach is just the right amount of information to interest a person and keep them coming back.

It’s like a free trial with limited access to your product or a landing page with the call to action “learn more”. It keeps your really interested prospects coming back and weeds out those who aren’t as interested.

A good marketing example of keeping the mystery alive is sharing the right amount of information on your landing page. Some landing pages have way too much information up front.

Keep the amount of information right for the product or service—if it’s an emergency service, you don’t have time or desire to read information, you want help right away.

So, don’t give them a 2,000 word landing page to sift through.

On the other hand, if you’re selling a high-tech, costly something or other that has taken years to develop, maybe more information will be useful.

Some customers like to read and really understand what they’re getting. Others don’t. Know your clientele and keep the mystery alive accordingly

Things Not To Say

We all have a list of things that are automatic turnoffs in dating. For me, poor grammar and spelling and showing up late are turnoffs.

In marketing, sometimes its a little harder to find indications of customer personas that are “turn offs” to your business.

A good place to identify indicators that someone isn’t the right fit of customer for you is in the search term report and using negative keywords.

When we build a new account for one of our clients, we come up with a list of keywords to target and then run it through a tool to see what real people have searched for using this keyword. There are many such tools out there, I recommend Ubersuggest.

Once I’ve found the searches associated with my I then go through the list to see which phrases and words I don’t want to show up for. I add these as negative keywords.

For instance, if I offer home repair services, I don’t want to be showing up for any DIY related keywords.

Once your account has data, comb through your search term report for additional words or phrases you want to exclude because they don’t convert, it isn’t something you offer, or its off-target in some other way.

Targeting the right keywords brings the right people to your business and avoids those people who you aren’t interested in doing business with.

Tying the Knot

Marketing and dating aren’t so different after all. Whether you’re attracting the right customers, testing your message match, or getting “dates” to come back for more, remember to flirt and put your best foot forward.

By the way, if you’d like me to take a look at your paid search accounts and help you identify your ideal audience, let me know here or in the comments.

Personally, I think marketing is easier than dating. Do you agree? Tell me your thoughts below.

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Jenny Hatch

Jenny Hatch

As the Executive Assistant, Jenny's primary focus is to help the Executive Team better lead the company with the proper financials, reporting, presentations, accountability etc. Jenny's role as an account manager, social media marketing manager, and accountant along with her recently earned MBA have allowed her to develop an understanding of the business that few others have.

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