For the past couple of weeks, I have been following a simple formula for my first contact messages on Plenty of Fish, which is a freebie (i.e. ad-funded) dating website. I used the “36 questions to fall in love” concept as a starting point to create a new profile text, and to concoct basic opening messages using the idea that using questions from the early stages of the experiment would generate the beginnings of the intimacy process, just like it did in the experiment.
With Valentine’s Day about an hour away (less by the time I finish writing this piece), I figure it’s time to look at some early results.
I keep a simple spreadsheet of my attempts at online dating, mainly so I don’t accidentally re-message someone who’s already rejected me, and also in the hopes that I might spot trends in those who do or don’t get back to me (or even bother to log back in). That made it easy to keep track of the POF messages I sent (although I wasn’t as scientific as I intended: I should have recorded for each one which questions I chose, but didn’t).
I wrote that PoF seems to demand money to see who’s viewed you. Turns out, this is not true (or no longer true). I just rarely get views so didn’t know about it. Until I started this experiment.
In fact, of 7 messages sent out in the last 2 weeks (yes, I’m picky!) 4 of the recipients later viewed my profile. 2 seem not to have logged in again since my message. Previously, I would be lucky to get maybe 1 in 20 checking me out after I messaged them (I’ve had one or two I didn’t message look, but when I checked them out it’s an obvious “not interested” from me). No one has yet replied to my messages.
This implies that the formulaic messages (customised and tweaked for each recipient, of course) are working. It also implies that it is not the case women check out the profile first, then read the email (which is what I had read previously).
That means that something about the profile isn’t closing the deal. It may just be that they see I’m a big fat fatty and lose interest (in which case, I’m not interested anyway). I work on moving more and eating less (the only sure way to lose weight) but that’s a longer-term project, not something I can change quickly and easily. That leaves the profile pictures, or the profile text, as the potential stumbling blocks I can do something to change. And I think I’ve nailed it with the photos, to be honest. Still need a better full-length, but what I have is good enough for now. That leaves the text as the problem.
Two possibilities: the old text was better than the “36 Questions” text; or, neither was good and I need a new approach to writing it. For the sake of having a control, clearly I need to revert to the old text (maybe give or take a line or two from the new one that I particularly like) and repeat the experiment for a similar time or number of messages (whichever takes longer). If that doesn’t work, I need to find a new method.
Another point for development: in discussing the original experiment and challenging the questions posed, I mused, “Can I, perhaps, come up with questions to fit in Set I to replace the ones that I disliked? What about Set II or Set III?” Perhaps having some more questions that seem to fit at the first two levels, that I’ve produced myself, I can increase the range and scope of my opening messages, and make them even better tailored towards the specific recipients.
But to my mind the biggest thing I take so far from this is surprise at just how effective the simple message formula proves to be compared to the creative writing efforts I made before, that tried to reply to the profile. “I can tell when it’s a copy-paste email!” declare so many profiles. The results so far suggest that many recipients either don’t care, or actually can’t tell. Or maybe, think it’s a good thing.