Silverpop - Using Online Dating Strategies to Create Successful Onboarding Email Campaigns (Yes, Really!)
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Using Online Dating Strategies to Create Successful Onboarding Email Campaigns (Yes, Really!)

by: Jill Johnson (@IBMforMarketing)
12 February 2016

In honor of everyone’s favorite love-themed holiday, let’s take a step out of the box and look at what online dating strategies can teach us about creating successful welcome email campaigns. Yes, I can imagine your skeptical look, but clearly online dating sites such as and and apps like Tinder have changed one of society’s oldest rituals – how people come together in relationships.

Fair enough, but what exactly do email marketing and online dating have to do with one another? Well, consider just a few of the similarities:

Primary Goals

  • Online daters: Meet new people and eventually get a date
  • Email marketers: Meet new contacts and eventually “convert” them

Acquisition Tactics

  • Online daters: Create an interesting dating profile and market themselves to potential matches until they get a response.
  • Email marketers: Create an interesting website and market themselves to potential contacts until they get a response (email opt-in, purchase, etc.).

Biggest Stresses

  • Online daters: Crafting the right message, waiting for a response, low conversion rates
  • Email marketers: Crafting the right message, waiting for a response, low conversion rates

OK, so maybe email marketers don’t have to worry about sketchy suitors (hopefully), but you get the idea. And once a match is made, the similarities continue: For both online daters and email marketers, it’s crucial to follow certain strategies in the next few communications to eventually get the date or conversion.

Through some research (and real-life experience), we found several key tips that not only apply to online dating but to successful onboarding email campaigns:


Just as your first outreach to your potential date can make or break a chance at a relationship, your first message to a potential customer is equally important. A first impression sets the stage for the relationship you are about to build together.

With that in mind, your first welcome email should be relevant (“thank you for signing up”), timely (within one to two days of signing up) and informative. It should not only confirm their subscription but also address the reason they signed up and set expectations, such as how often they will receive emails, what types of emails, etc. The creative should be simple and focus on the main message, with clear direction as to what to do next and easy-to-find call to action buttons or links.


When getting to know someone, you tell them about yourself, but it’s also important to learn about them. The same goes for your welcome emails. While it’s critical to set expectations, introduce your brand, products and quality, it’s also important to get to know your potential customers so you’re better able to provide them with information they find interesting.

To do this, ask questions via a survey or simple questionnaire, set up and link to a preference center to collect more data, or use content as click bait to capture explicit and implicit preferences. The more you know, the more you can tailor your future conversations to make them more interesting to your prospective customers.


It’s always difficult to gauge the reaction of our match in a budding relationship – what is he/she really thinking? The same dilemma occurs in business relationships. Fortunately, in email marketing, we can use relevant data to determine communication content and cadence. In fact, by using behaviors and segmentation, you can start to see average open rates as high as 40 percent

Look at email behaviors before sending a follow-up email. The content of an email should be different for someone who has already opened a previous email vs. a non-opener who never saw the previous content. Pay attention to customer actions to determine what type of messaging they receive. You’ll more than likely see a few more email opens and actions if you send information relevant to their behavior than if you send the same broadcast email to everyone at the same time.


Sure, there are some lucky daters out there who land a date right away, but usually you need to develop some kind of connection or relationship first. In any welcome series, you may be able to convert a customer right away with a killer offer or incentive, but it’s just as likely that you may need to nurture that relationship before getting the conversion.

Allow customers to get to know your brand, your products and your value. The more comfortable they feel and the more incentive and encouragement you provide to build that relationship, the more likely they are to eventually convert.

Finding a date or finding a new customer takes more than just a pretty profile picture or website. By using your initial outreach to set expectations, build trust, collect information and provide relevant content based on preferences and actions, online daters should see a few more dates on their calendars and email marketers should see a few more conversions.

Related Resources:

1) Ebook: “15 Post-Purchase Emails that Build Loyalty and Boost Revenue

2) Blog: “5 Approaches to Minimizing Unsubscribes

3) Tip Sheet: “Transactional Emails: 10 Tips for Driving Value and Engagement


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