Dating SitesIntent Marketing

From Freemium to Premium – 5 Marketing Tips for Dating Apps

By Ilana Hart
Tuesday, December 24, 2019

So you’ve got plenty of users roaming around on your dating app—chatting, swiping, tapping, and coming back for more. That’s amazing!

Actually, it was amazing back in 2015.

Back then, there were only a couple of dozens of online dating services, lead generation was fairly easy, and revenue from ads was sufficient. 

But that’s not the case anymore. 

As the online dating market becomes saturated and super competitive, companies that want to survive must evolve from a freemium model to a premium offering. And they need to do it fast.

But how can you “woo” users who enjoyed your freebies into purchasing your paid services?

It’s really all about being in tune with what they really want and need, and then building a trusting, committed relationship. 

Sounds a lot like dating, right?

Whether you’re looking to take your dating app into the premium space, or you already have a premium model and want to exponentially boost your user base—you need to have a solid, intent-driven marketing strategy in place.

How can you do this?

Here are 5 tips to help you push your dating app users from freemium to premium:

Tip #1: Understand Your User Profile

Can you guess how many dating apps there are out there?

There are over 1,500 dating apps or websites that users can choose from.

That’s a lot of competition. 

But the good news is: If your potential users are serious about finding a life partner (or at least a dinner-and-a-movie kind of date), their options narrow down, and they will probably look for the premium option.


Luciana Telles, CMO at Spark Networks, offers her insight:

The “no strings attached” kind of folks tend to look for “no strings attached” apps; while those who are ready for a serious relationship, will also commit to a serious relationship with their premium dating app.

So it’s up to us, marketers, to navigate between these two types of users and understand where people are in their dating journey.

But how can you differentiate a player from a keeper? Here’s your answer:

Tip #2: Target High-Intent Users

The difference between a freemium seeker and a potential paying customer, today, manifests in their online behavior. And it’s super easy to detect.

It’s in how they interact on social networks, the questions they ask on Quora, their Google search queries, etc.

So, how do you spot high-intent users?

Again, it’s just like dating.

Luciana gives a great analogy:

So you first have to recognize where the person is in their journey and target them with the right content. And, once again, intent marketing comes into play:

Take a look at the types of keywords that people are typing on Google. Here are 2 examples: 

  • Best dating app for middle-aged Christians
  • Top 10 dating apps for wealthy women

That’s super specific, right? And the results are hyper-targeted:

Converting freemium dating apps users to premium customers requires a different approach to marketing. Here are 5 tips marketers can use to target them with the relevant information at that specific point in time.

Serious users are often looking for a niche area of dating, like dog-lovers, fitness enthusiasts, food aficionados, or something that fits a specific demographic or religious affiliation. These users are ready to put down money for the right app but need some guidance to figure out which one is the best fit.

So, once spotted, how can you target a high-intent user?

The key here is to deep-dive into the customer psyche and ask all the “Why” questions: 

  • Why are potential buyers behaving in a certain way?
  • Why are they using certain search keywords? 
  • Why are they reading specific web pages? 

According to Simon Sinek, people respond best to messages that target the brain’s center of emotion, behavior, and decision-making:

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” 

So it’s critical for your brand to engage the user by delivering targeted information like comparison charts, reviews, and relevant editorial content that will support and validate their purchase decision.

Dating app companies must be able to identify:

  • What people are searching for
  • When they are searching for it
  • Why they are searching for it

Answer these 3 questions, and you’ll be able to align your content strategy accordingly, customize the messaging, and help convert potential buyers.

Here’s an example of smart messaging that targets the correct brain center:

Hinge, the dating app that is geared toward the younger generation, has revamped the brand and changed its slogan to, “The dating app designed to be deleted.

How brilliant is that?

It sends a multi-layered message:

  • Here is not just another “swiping” app.
  • There’s a job to be done: find love. And this app is your best working tool.
  • You might spend some money on a subscription, but you’ll save hundreds of hours on fruitless searches and heartbreaks.

Hinge pinpointed the target audience, figured out their main pain point, and came up with the perfect hook to attract them.

But that’s just the first step. 

Next, we have to adapt the user experience so that it will cater to the premium-seeking clients’ needs. But more on that in tip #5.

Tip #3: Focus on Search Engine Marketing, Both Paid and Organic

The reason why intent marketing is such a powerful approach for dating apps is that Google’s search algorithm also considers it to be highly relevant. 

And when Google thinks something is relevant—it ranks it higher on the SERP (Search Engine Result Page).

If you haven’t done so already, you must conduct diligent keyword research, decipher which keywords match user intent, and then build an SEO strategy that reflects this. 

Remember “Best dating app for middle-aged Christians?” Now’s the time to incorporate it into your content.

This will put your “download app” LP in Google’s good graces, and eventually boost you to top positions on the SERP.

Here are some actionable tips for building your content strategy:

  • Incorporate user-intent keywords in new content, but also go back and refresh old webpages.
  • Focus on content that highlights the benefit for your users at the specific stage they’re in.
  • Adapt the content format to your user’s needs; whether it’s comparison tables, in-depth articles, reviews written by fellow love seekers or by love doctors, funny videos, etc.
  • Look at how users are engaging with your content and what their next step is, and be prepared to adapt and evolve at all times.

But don’t rely on organic ranking alone.

Another key strategy for boosting your site’s online visibility is through PPC (Pay Per Click) campaigns.

Google has increased the on-screen real estate for PPC ads substantially and has recently tested a total of 14 PPC ads in a single mobile SERP.

Here’s an example of how PPC dominates the page:

From Freemium to Premium – 5 Marketing Tips for Dating Apps from Natural Intelligence

See how the organic results are pushed down?

And as a result, the top 3 PPC ads get over 40% of the clicks.

In order to attract premium users, you need to be hyper-targeted, match the audience with proper messaging, and allocate a bigger budget. Remember though, these are the users that are ready for a committed relationship—both with their dating app and with their future partner, so the ROI on PPC campaigns can be very high.

Tip #4: Create a Seamless Subscription Process

We’ve all attempted, at several points in our lives, to pay for something online, and were faced with clumsy UI and slow download time. 

We’ve also had to fill out signup forms with loads and loads of fields.

And let’s not even mention the horrific Captcha:

Captcha GIF by Scorpion Dagger - Find & Share on GIPHY

No! We are not robots. And if a company doesn’t have enough resources to check it automatically—that’s a bad sign for what’s in store. 

Don’t frustrate your premium customers. They pay top dollar and deserve a state-of-the-art user experience. In fact, 30% of buyers abandon their shopping cart due to long and confusing processes. 

You don’t want to be part of these statistics.


So make sure that the transition from freemium to premium is effortless for your users. Here are some basic guidelines to follow:

  • Ask buyers to fill out just the minimum amount of details. Don’t worry, they’ll update their profile at a later time.
  • Don’t condense all the fields onto the same screen. Break them down into several stages and make them pleasant and appealing.
  • Make sure the checkout process is seamless, and that the payment page is visually uncluttered.
  • Monitor, test, and re-test. Companies make endless iterations until they reach the perfect flow.

Now that your purchase flow is flawless, it’s time to take care of the overall UI and UX of your dating app.

Tip #5: Design a Premium Dating App UI

You must recognize that in order to deliver a premium service, you must deliver a premium UX (User Experience). Your premium customers expect nothing but the best.

This, of course, narrows all the way down to the design and UI (User Interface) of your dating app.

Let’s review Hinge—the dating app that uses your Facebook friends to facilitate romantic connections. The app underwent a complete redesign to present a more sophisticated look and UX

Here’s an insightful explanation of the change by Founder and CEO, Justin McLeod:

In short: the app was revamped to express an Instagram type of feel, where instead of just swiping left or right, users are encouraged to actually engage with one another by commenting on each other’s info and pictures. 

This, according to the Hinge team, will save singles worldwide from the “dating apocalypse.”

That’s something worth paying for… Isn’t it?

Here are some steps you can take to reinvent your dating app’s UX:

  • Re-evaluate your design: typefaces, colors, buttons, etc. It all has to ooze exclusivity.
  • Revive the user profile: it’s all about enabling users to better present themselves in order to create in-depth acquaintances. Give them center stage to do so.
  • More photography, less animation: they shouldn’t feel like they’re in a game. Use real-life illustrations, think authenticity.
  • Wrap it all up with a brilliant tagline: Now that you have your new “voice” it’s time to express it all with a smart, concise, and memorable line. 

Once these steps are completed and your app’s DNA is distinct, why not go ahead and update your logo? Like Badoo did in Spring 2019:

Natural Intelligence's from freemium to premium dating apps guide.

A much more mature logo, that exuberates style and class.

Enjoy this voyage you are about to embark on. Rebranding is like pumping fresh blood into your company; it’s where we as marketers can truly shine bright. 


The online dating industry continues to grow, with a wide array of premium apps and sites—for the over 40s, under 40s, food lovers, pet lovers, massively wealthy, quiz-night geeks, and the list goes on and on. 

Each user is looking for a different kind of dating experience, and marketers need to know how to pinpoint where the user is in their journey.

Those who can implement a tactical approach to identifying user intent, and tailor their SEO and content accordingly, will be able to drive higher conversion rates and convince more users to sign up for a paid subscription.

So let’s recap our top tips for using intent marketing to turn freemium users into premium customers:

  • Understand what people are looking for and where they are in their buying journey.
  • Engage high purchase intent users with targeted information like comparison charts, reviews, and relevant editorial content that validates their decisions.
  • Apply user intent to your SEO and PPC strategies.
  • Create a seamless customer experience from start to finish, make sure that your app is user-friendly, and optimize the payment process.

Natural Intelligence is a global leader in intent marketing. For more freemium to premium marketing tips, fill out this short form, and our marketing specialists will contact you. 

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