Currently, around 139 million individuals around the globe use online dating apps, but Pollfish estimates that number will rise by 2023 to 161 million users. Statista reports that in 2019, online dating apps revenue was at $912 million in the U. S. alone; but, by 2021, it is expected to surpass a billion dollars. How do online dating apps generate such a high amount of revenue when most are free to join? There are more ways than one to monetize a dating site and increase your revenue.
1. Affiliate marketing and paid ads
Affiliate marketing is a great way to make money, especially if you have a lot of website traffic, and online dating apps attract many users these days. Affiliate marketing works by posting ads on your app for other brands and when your visitors take advantage of the ad, by either viewing it, clicking on it, or making a purchase, you get paid. Make sure the ads you post apply to your app.
One digital dating app that profits from affiliate marketing is "PlentyOfFish" (PoF). Although this online dating app offers a premium membership plan, it doesn’t charge a subscription fee. Thus, the app has ads posted from Google AdSense, a program that works well if you have a good amount of traffic flowing through your website, which PoF does. In fact, this Canadian dating service has over 90 million members worldwide, primarily in Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Spain, New Zealand, Brazil, Australia, and the United States. Google AdSense is like affiliate marketing, the only difference is Google chooses the ads to place on your site or app. However, the ads are usually consistent with your niche.
2. Subscription and premium plans
Providing a subscription plan is the most common monetization strategy among dating apps. Users gain access to the many premium features available on the dating site by paying a monthly or yearly subscription fee. One good example of this is the “Tinder Plus Edition”. Tinder may be free for all to use, but if a user wants to take advantage of some of its great features and up their chances of meeting their match, they will need to pay for a premium subscription plan. Free users have a daily limit to the likes they can get, but with the Tinder Plus plan, likes are unlimited. The Tinder Plus Edition also includes:
Passport: Users can swipe through other users in different cities and can also change their own location.
Rewind: The ability to undo swipes done in the past, including those swiped away forever.
Unlimited likes: Get unlimited likes.
Super likes: A notification will be sent to the user when someone “Super likes” their profile and they get to super like five members instead of one, which comes with the basic version.
By 2018, Tinder had accumulated 4.1 million paid users, while bringing in a revenue of $800 million.
Other digital dating apps, such as Jaumo and OkCupid, have adopted a similar monetization approach. While they both have basic features accessible to anyone, they also have paid features to set users apart from the rest. For instance, users can become more visible to other users by purchasing boosts. Other paid features include:
• Find out if your sent messages were read
• Remove ads
• Match with more users
• Receive one boost each day
This monetization method should be used besides other revenue-generating processes to increase your earnings. Many dating apps today have a basic free version besides premium features and paid subscriptions. Some dating apps have a subscription plan where users gain access to all the app’s features for a monthly or yearly fee. Other dating apps have premium services available where users can take advantage of a variety of perks, separately or bundled into one plan for an additional cost. Then there are those who have both subscription and premium plans available. These dating apps include Zoosk, Grindr, and HowAboutDating.
3. In-app voice & video chat upgrades
Direct communications are the key to interacting with people you meet on a digital dating platform. Thus, charging a small fee to use a chat feature is a wise choice. Dating apps like eHarmony, Match.com, EliteSingles, and Millionairematch.com are charging users for upgrading with voice chat & video chatting, which must work out well since they are all popular dating platforms with many users.
There are several companies that provide communication options via text, voice, and video chat for private messaging or group chats. CometChat is one of the top communication providers that offer chat for businesses, communities, dating apps, and more. Dating apps need a convenient way for users to engage with each other. CometChat allows you to keep control of your app's communication source with built-in chat platforms that ensure quality, value, and security. To learn more about integrating CometChat's chat, voice and video calling into your dating app, check out our dating solutions page.
4. In-app purchases
Almost every dating app has something users can buy to enhance their experience while on the hunt for their soulmate. One example of this is that users at PlentyOfFish can buy “Goldfish” credits, which they can use to send virtual gifts to other users. Badoo is a very popular dating app that allows its users to use many free services, but it also has special features you can pay for, such as:
• Highlight your messages
• View who liked you
• See who added you to their favorite list
• Browse anonymously
• Undo vote on encounters
• Get featured
• Be the first to chat with new users
• Increase your popularity
• Send crush alerts
• Activate stickers
• Send gifts
5. Rewarded surveys and videos
Integrating rewarded surveys and videos is another monetization method dating apps use to increase revenue. Both can be added to an earnings section that users can click to take part in surveys or watch videos to earn coins, unlock in-app features, or even pay their membership fees. For example, the dating app Matcher allows its users to take surveys and earn extra swipe-rights for a specified time. Other popular dating apps, such as MeetMe, have implemented rewarded videos and in-app advertising to contribute to revenue streams. MeetMe's users can watch videos to boost their profile or receive other extra features as an incentive. They also have the option of paying their subscription for premium services by watching rewarded videos. This is a great deal since you will get paid for every video watched in your dating app and every survey taken.
6. Keep things neat using offerwalls
Offerwalls can keep your offers stored neatly in one convenient location on your app. Users can click on them to see what’s available. They usually contain a variety of ways users can earn free coins or other rewards for completing tasks. The Spotafriend app uses an offerwall for various opportunities, which includes watching a 30-second video for points that can be redeemed for increasing likes, boosting profiles in a geographical radius, and more. When users perform tasks available on the offerwall, the dating app receives compensation from the brand.
It’s important to note that most people are not looking to buy into a dating app that charges for basic features. With the online dating scene expanding more and more, you will have a lot of competition. Thus, if you’re going to charge a fee for special features, make sure they are exclusive and worth the price. Many users don’t mind paying for things that provide value or make an app more enjoyable. Try to include unique features that stand out from the rest.
Also, keep in mind that there are many more ways to monetize your dating app to increase your revenue stream, so don’t limit your app to only a few. The most important part of a dating app is how end users will engage with each other, so you want to ensure the chat feature is fully functional. If you don't want to go through the cost and trouble of building in-app messaging, voice and video chatting yourself, consider a ready-made solution like CometChat. Start your free 30-day trial (no credit card required) to test it out for free, or connect with a member of our sales team to learn more today.