Jeremy Corenbloom is Marketing Director UK and Ireland at online dating service match.com, a leader in a market that is seeing its offering appeal to an ever broader audience.
He spoke to CMO.com, and I began by asking him about match.com’s primary marketing objectives in an increasingly diverse and fast-growing space.
Corenbloom: We are looking to appeal to all singles who are looking to find a partner. Our objective is really about establishing our brand so we have strong brand awareness and brand relevance. We also talk a lot about brand preference, which is very important to us. This means looking at all the different initiatives we can bring to market that will encourage singles to prefer match to all other brands. Of course we also have a target to ensure we have a really strong pool of singles at all times. It’s very important to us that we continue to bring new single people into match.com.
CMO.com: Single people constitute a very diverse audience. How do you identify and engage with such a vast consumer base?
Corenbloom: Aged 25–34 is probably our sweet spot, but match’s proposition appeals increasingly to a wider audience, so we are making sure that we have strong strategies to reach out to all of those audiences.
We use different methodologies for trying to identify single people looking for a relationship (we term these ‘receptive romantics’) through our marketing and media, depending on what channels we are using. For example, for TV we will look at programming, scheduling and times of day, and use our research and our understanding of single people and their behaviour to match those things together.
CMO.com: How has match.com used digital marketing and how important is this to the brand?
Corenbloom: It is a very important channel for us from a marketing perspective. The 25-34 year old audience spend a lot of time online and it is important for us to be in the medium where they are consuming. Over the last couple of years, we have looked more and more at the way that social media plays a role, through paid, owned and earned pieces, and we have a much stronger strategy and a more solid understanding now. We continue to learn, and social continues to be a very exciting growth area for us and for our consumers.
CMO.com: Can you share an example of a lesson you have learnt?
Corenbloom: In social we have learnt the value of integrating campaigns. A good example which extends beyond social media itself is how we use our sponsorship of the TV series Love Island, which finished in mid-July. We did a lot of testing and learning throughout the six week series to make sure we were building success across a number of KPIs.
One example of our test and learn approach with Love Island is around identifying the best timing of when to put marketing investment into Twitter--for example, should we be engaging while the show was running or during the ad breaks, and if so which ad breaks? We discovered that it was much more effective to engage while the show was happening, and advertise when the show finished. It is an interesting lesson for us to apply to other shows.
CMO.com: Which social media channels does match.com find most effective?
Corenbloom: We have worked hard to build our presence through Facebook and Twitter, but we find that Facebook is increasingly a home for match members to talk about things that are happening--for example, events or the product itself--whereas Twitter tends to be where we reach singles who haven’t yet joined match. The two platforms play slightly different roles for us, and we now tailor the content to meet the two audiences.
We constantly look at what role other social channels might play, but as a service brand without a tangible product it is quite difficult to find that sweet spot on Instagram or Flickr, for example. As yet we haven’t managed to make them work as hard for us as Facebook and Twitter.
CMO.com: How important is data for a company like match.com, which collects a wealth of information on each member?
Corenbloom: It has always been important, and the nature of our business means we have always been data-rich. We continue to invest in tools to help us to understand data, which helps us to refine the innovation we bring, both in marketing and in the product. We work closely with the partners who produce this technology for us to see how we can improve it and develop further insight going forward.
CMO.com: Can you share an example of how match.com has used such data in its recent marketing?
Corenbloom: We did a lot of research which led to the launch of our recent ‘Love Your Imperfections’ campaign, which was based on the recognition that our category has a tendency towards fairytales and storytelling, yet consumers actually want a brand that is more true to life about dating.
Love your Imperfections came out of that starting point and the insight that, if you don’t like your imperfections, someone else will. We integrated that into our product and had a drop-down box asking our singles to tell us what imperfections they have, and that produced a rich source of data which we were able to use to inform our CRM initiatives and make interesting PR stories. Shyness was the number one imperfection, but for lots of people that can be a very endearing quality. That data helped us to work very hard in bringing our ad campaigns to life.
CMO.com: Is online video becoming more important for match going forward?
Corenbloom: Being a service brand and trying to establish our offering in a visual way, we recognise its importance to our audience, and we are constantly looking at ways we might be able to use it. We have looked at some interesting initiatives this year, such as video with our relationship expert, Kate Taylor, who recorded several ‘to camera’ pieces talking about different topics. Kate’s videos surpassed our expectations, and what was interesting was understanding what success looked like. We soon realised that the metric for success for Kate’s videos was not necessarily the number of people who viewed the video but the number of people who viewed it all the way through, with the performance proving to be four times higher than control in an AB test.
We are trying to test and learn through a mix of different video content, and I think online video will continue to become more and more important for match.
CMO.com: match.com has recently launched new events such as the Aphrodisiac Cafe and the Love Train. Is offline activity and marketing just as important as online now?
Corenbloom: We have always been about bringing people together, and initially we found the online platform was a new and effective way to do that--and it remains that way--but what we have also realised is that bringing people together in real life has a lot of advantages too. We came to that conclusion, following research and insight that we gathered from our members, understanding that they would like to meet in person as a group. Because of the size and scale of our programme we are now running around 35-40 events around the country every month. Offline events continue to be a core part of our strategy.
CMO.com: Where do you see the biggest challenges and opportunities for match.com over the next year?
Corenbloom: As consumers evolve, and taste and attitudes change, the challenge at match is to remain relevant and remain a key brand of choice in our category. We need to continue to not just follow but get ahead of consumer trends, and innovate accordingly.
Mobile is an exciting area. More people now use our mobile service than our desktop service, so really we are mobile-first and we are still learning how to best harness that channel. We are also very interested in the potential of smart watches and wearables. We are looking closely at how this new technology has become adopted by consumers--wearables are certainly on the match team’s agenda going forward.
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