I’ve got a website idea for you. It’s for people looking for houses to buy. But instead of a real estate listings search engine like MLS.com or MLS.ca where you enter the thorough specifics of the houses you want and click «Search», you have to WAIT for the site to send you houses whom it thinks you’d like and you should check out.
Not according to Half Sigma, who reveals to us yesterday the answer to his teaser last August, “What is eHarmony’s Secret”:
Before you can join eHarmony, you have to take a personality test which takes up an hour of your time. This is generally considered a bad thing in the internet world. You want to make signing up as easy and painless as possible. The longer the sign-up process, the more potential customers drop out. …
There’s the theory that after putting so much effort into joining, people are more likely to pay the high fee. Car dealers like to do this to you—make you waste as much time as possible at their dealership. However, what works for a bricks and mortars operation doesn’t necessarily translate well online. It’s a lot easier to just click the little “x” at the top right of the web browser than it is to walk out on a flesh and blood salesman. …
I think I know the real reason why eHarmony is successful, and it’s not the personality tests. But hey, maybe I’m wrong that.
Yesterday, after two months of keeping us guessing, he tell us the answer, and hey, I think it’s brilliant:
Everyone else seems to think that it’s the personality tests that are the key to eHarmony’s success, but I know better. It’s just the throttling.*
Damn it, that’s it.
eHarmony could just be drawing randomly out of a deck of cards and nobody would be that worse off. Members would still read the profiles of the seven matches they get in the morning. Why? Because no woman gets 200 introductory emails a day and no man sends 200 crafted introductory emails a day either. All anyone gets at most is seven per day.
Late last year HS created a dating website based on ideas of his like this. To give you an idea, let me quote you the site’s “About Us” page:
<Dating Site> Is the Better Relationship Site
Are you worried about all of your friends, coworkers and employers being able to find your online dating profile? At <Dating Site>, only your matches are able to see your profile. Furthermore, <Dating Site> allows you to control who you are matched with. You will only be matched with people who fit your age, height, and other requirements. Other members can only send you an email if you indicate that you’re interested in them. At <Dating Site>, you will not be bombarded with emails from men old enough to be your father (unless you want to).
FREE to respond to emails
At most pay dating sites, only paying members can send and read emails. But their profiles are displayed without any warning that you’re wasting your time sending writing them an email. At <Dating Site>, we guarantee that every member is able to read and respond to emails. This ensures that everyone you write to is able to write back.
In this day of inexpensive bandwidth, why do other dating sites have such tiny photos? Photos at <Dating Site> are more than twice as big as at Match.com! <Dating Site> lets you see your matches.
Doesn’t that pique your interest?
He says that his problem is what he described yesterday as the online dating conundrum — “The dating site can only reach that nirvana if people know about it. An unknown site is useless to potential members and earns its creator no money. But advertising is very expensive. … In order to get a critical mass of users, I would have to pay a lot more money in advertising than I can afford, which would require me to raise venture capital.”
Readers, do you agree with Half Sigma about eHarmony’s secret of success? Is a dream life partner for most people only a dream — whose wish-fulfillment makes into a profitable business?