Growth February 14, 2020

How to promote a dating application?



I've been working on my dating service (website and Android app) for almost two years with some breaks. I've done a technical side and trying to promote my app now. The application is similar to Badoo/Tinder.

It is not the best app in the world and I understand that there are huge players on the dating market (Badoo, Tinder, Match, etc). I'm just trying to do my best and get few thousands of active users and earn some money from ads/in-app purchases to make it profitable.

I've published an Android app on Google Play, but it has only 500 installs (3-5 users per day). Also I'm trying to do a SEO optimization on my website, but SEO is a long term strategy and requires a lot of time.

How would you promote your own dating app? Do you have any advices how to promote a dating application to the market?


  1. 3

    I think the dating market is quite like the job board market, as in there is always going to be high demand and more than enough room for multiple players.

    If I were to promote this as my own app, I'd break up my app into various niches by sexual orientation, by intention, by fantasy and anything else my users are currently using it for. Then marketing to this group via the Google Play Store is quite easy (just add the keywords to your app title). Google Play Store search optimization is quite non-competitive right now, and a great way to stand out to niche searching communities.

    If however you'd like to take on the "Goliath" corporations, that's doable but you won't get the same return. Happn is a good example of an app that tried to this. In this scenario, maybe look at all the 1 star reviews of Tinder and Bumble to see what people are complaining about and then build that into your product. Now the next step is to actually promote this via paid acquisition. Set aside a budget of $500 and ideally put it all into either Google or Facebook ads since this is the marketing channel your competitors are using quite heavily and it works for the niche you're in. The purpose of this initial ad spend is to identify your app's customer acquision cost or CAC dollar amount. This is the $ that you spend to acquire a paid user. This number also helps come up with a good pricing model!

    The goal is ideally to have a 3-4+ times return on your cost of acquiring a customer. Once you achieve this, pour everything you got into ads and you should be able to hit the top 50 rank in your app's category within a few weeks.

    My own experiences have taught me a lot about competing with established competitors on an app store. My meditation app competes with Headspace and Insight Timer quite heavily and I learned the hard-way that paid acquisition for generic products is king on either app store, and that usually the top 5 grossing in your category will take the lion's share of the revenues... until you dethrone them, that is! 😉

    1. 1

      Thanks for detailed reply and marketing advices.

      Paid ads is a good marketing channel, but currently I do not have enough budget for paid advertising (1-3$ per application install).

      So I'm trying to get free/viral traffic via SEO/ASO/social networks/etc.

  2. 3

    A good step would be to study how other apps did it. Here is Tinder for example

    1. 2

      Hey @SandroM, thanks for posting this - really appreciate people sharing the article :)

    2. 1

      Nice examples. Thanks!

  3. 2

    @devops787 I built my own dating app, StepUp, and I have tried a number of different techniques, ranging from partnering with speed dating event groups, facebook ads, contacting influencers, going on podcast, modeling in some pictures for a photoshoot studio and more.

    Each has its pros and cons, and I don't have a short answer or the correct answer to your question. I think it really depends a lot on getting your target audience right and after that just going hard after them. I am still in the process of doing that too though. Shoot me an email if you would like to connect!

    1. 1

      @kennethwchen Thanks for your reply. I will contact you soon.

  4. 2

    What about your Daily Active Users (DAU) and Churn?

    Apart from SEO, you will need to optimize app store and play store

    Resources for your reference:

    1. 1

      Thanks for the link.

      I have 8000+ registered users, and 2000 users with filled profile and uploaded photos.

      15-20 daily active users (DAU)
      5-10 registrations per day (login with social networks)

      Currently I'm not calculating churn rate yet, but I think it is high. Because there is not enough activity in the app, so in most cases new users do not receive enough attention and leave/remove the application.

      1. 1

        Thanks for sharing. Sounds like you’re a good clarity and the problem is obvious. Instead of driving new traffic. You should really rethink how to:

        1. Activation: Create a better onboarding process to jump from 2,000 filled profile to 4,000
        2. Retention: Develop a smoother in app experience to encourage people come back

        You mid funnel is kind of weak. It’s hard to turn your existing customers into your word of mouth engine. Your churn and DAU will end up similar or just a small spike occasionally.

        Think about the long term game. All the best!

  5. 2

    I'm sorry to tell you that it's an incredibly tough thing for an Indie Hacker to market. You need a big budget to drive users consistently. I have built two myself (read here) and without ads / some viral aspect to the app it's tough.

    Your best bet might be trying to use the code and taking it to an agency which specialises in dating apps and trying to partner with them.

    1. 1

      Cool story and great PR strategy :) How does your app feel now? Are there any active users and revenue streams?

      1. 1

        nope. it died a slow death. Went on a cool date from it tho!

        Does your app have a niche? Or a USP?

        1. 1

          My app is a general purpose dating without any specific niche. Maybe I will add some specific filters for some niches in the future.

          There are 8000 registered users, and 2000 active users, who filled a profile and uploaded photos. There was only 1 in-app purchase for the whole time. There is not enough activity in the app, so in most cases new users do not receive enough attention and leave/remove the application.

  6. 1

    Hey, thanks for this discussion. Dating sites are very interesting issue

  7. 1

    I think you should look at the most popular dating sites and try to do something of a sort. Here you can have a look at hookup sites reviews, choose the most popular of them and just follow their practice of promotion, hope it will be helpful for you!

    1. 1

      Thanks for your advice.