OPW - Sep 15 - Priceless! This is a wonderful piece of internet dating history. Thanks to Sam Moorcroft, President of ChristianCafe.com for forwarding it to us.
OPW - Sep 15 - Priceless! This is a wonderful piece of internet dating history. Thanks to Sam Moorcroft, President of ChristianCafe.com for forwarding it to us.
BUSINESSWEEK - Feb 28 - The $30M advertising and marketing push had made ChristianMingle an unexpectedly popular dating site with 8M registered users, 154K paying subscribers at $19.99 a month. That’s almost double the 84K paying subscribers of SparkNetwork’s groundbreaking Jewish singles site, JDate. SparkNetworks.com was founded in 1997. JDate grew rapidly by word of mouth. ChristianMingle was launched in 2004 and remained small until 2010, when Spark consulted with local ministers and prominent Christian leaders about how best to serve their constituents. As a result, the company founded an advisory council of church leaders and hired ChristianMingle spokeswoman Ashley Reccord, a pastor’s daughter, to help conduct outreach. Then the company launched Believe.com, which features Christian editorials, and redesigned the site into something more devout-seeming than JDate. Spark reported the number of ChristianMingle paid subscribers grew 89% for the Q4 of 2012 vs. the period a year earlier. There are other suitors in the market for Christian romance; eHarmony and ChristianCafe.com.
by Logan Hill
See full article at BusinessWeek
WASHINGTON POST - Jan 10 - ChristianMingle is owned by the same company, Spark Networks, that owns JDate, the wildly successful Jewish dating service. Indeed, JDate has been the engine behind ChristianMingle’s “God” campaign this year. Spark has plowed revenue generated by the older, more established JDate into promoting the Christian site. ChristianMingle is now the biggest of Spark’s 28 dating sites, each for a specific subset of singles. The company says ChristianMingle is the nation’s leading Christian-based dating site, with ~8M registered members. Spark Networks' Christian dating division had revenue of $22.9M during the first nine months of 2012, an increase of 111% over the same period the year before. (Its Jewish division had revenue of $19.4M, down 5%). Spark poured ~$30M into marketing and advertising for the division, more than double the year before. Overall, Spark lost $4.45M over the first three quarters of 2012 after a loss of $503K during the same period of 2011. ChristianCafe, which says it is the only Christian-owned dating site among the major players, has a marketing tie-in with Focus on the Family, the conservative Christian group founded by author and radio preacher James Dobson. Focus on the Family once had ties with eHarmony.com and its founder, Neil Clark Warren, but eHarmony has moved away from a Christian-centric approach in a bid for a broader market.
by Paul Farhi
See full article at Washington Post
CBN.COM - Feb 9 - Sam Moorcroft is CEO of ChristianCafe.com, an online dating site solely for believers. He appeared on Christian television CBN.com this week. He said the "old ways" of finding a mate at church or through friends are "falling by the way side." "The advantage of using a Christian only dating site is that that's our entire purpose," Moorcroft explained. "When you're on a site like Match.com or other secular ones you have to troll through all of these other profiles to figure out, 'Is the person I'm interested in actually a true believer.'"
PRESS RELEASE - Nov 14 - ChristianCafe.com is now in alliance with Focus on the Family and its singles ministry, Boundless, to help Christian singles connect online for marriage-focused relationships. In this alliance, Focus on the Family and Boundless will promote ChristianCafe.com to their followers.
OPW - Sep 28 - Canadian TV show ‘Full Circle‘ invited Sam Moorcroft, co-founder of ChristianCafe.com, to talk about online dating for Christian singles. "In 2000 it was a very different world back then; people would be confused when I said I was working in online dating", he said. "People have been using online dating sites for 10 years now and have realized that it’s just normal people looking for love not a bunch of weirdo’s." ChristianCafe.com claims ~2M members. The site gives everyone a free trial up to 10 days. After the trial, they can buy a membership from just 30c a day.
OPW - Sep 19 - eHarmony no longer associates with Focus on The Family, but it was the springboard for their start. ChristianCafe.com, meanwhile, loves Focus on the Family. Husband and wife team Sam and Polly Moorcroft are the co-founder (Sam) and CEO (Polly) of ChristianCafe.com and were featured on Focus on The Family's single ministry show, Boundless, to discuss the history of internet dating and Christian dating. Listen here.
OPW INTERVIEW - Sep 15 - Sam was inspired by Matchmaker.com and started ChristianCafe.com in 1999. He’s also tinkering in the Brazil market. Here’s his founding story... - Mark Brooks
One of the things that made your site quite unique for the longest time was that you had a ‘cuppa joe’ on the homepage instead of having a picture of a happy couple. For a few years you ran a picture of a cup of coffee which I thought was really unusual. Why the cup of coffee?
We were thinking; where would people meet for the first time offline when they had connected online? The most likely place would be a café; it’s unassuming, it’s cheap, they can do it at lunchtime or early afternoon, no commitment, no money involved. It’s a public place so it’s safe. We wanted to capture that whole feeling so we used a coffee cup logo which is actually from a real coffee shop. All the photos you used to see on the site were real people.
Have you tried stock photography vs real people?
Yeah, we are in the process of doing it right now. You’ve got to find a couple that does it from a marketing point of view but doesn’t lack authenticity. We now have a happy couple on homepage, have had for the longest time. We want to rotate different happy couples, real and stock, and gauge which works best.
What are you going to put on your homepage? You mentioned a very personal photograph.
We were thinking about using a picture of my wife and me because our story is very linked to online dating, it’s what we do for a living.
Let’s go back in time. What’s your founding story?
A job came up in Toronto with my brother so I moved there, started a new job but after 6 months I got laid off. So I found myself in a brand new city, only knew 3 people, single and unemployed. I started going online and I discovered personals. I was interested but I thought that the people were weird. To my surprise the women I met were normal. I became addicted. A friend was always complaining that the sites could do a better job and that I should put my money where my mouth is. I approached my brother and he helped finance it. We launched in early 1999. I knew that it had to be niche; I couldn’t compete with Match.com. It took off in the Christian market; within 6-12 months we broke even and from then it has been phenomenally successful.
What dating sites inspired you?
Matchmaker.com, currently owned by Date.com. Their whole philosophy was based on niche markets. Unlike other sites, they allowed full access as if you were a paid subscriber for the duration of your free trial. We still do this.
We have 100,000 actual active members in the last 4/5 months because beyond that we archive people automatically. Other sites say they’ve got 2 million members because they count people who joined in 1999 for a free trial. You should count monthly logins because that is the true representation of how many people are using your site.
You have an interest in Brazil. Tell us more. What sites have you launched in Brazil and how are they going?
My wife is originally Brazilian although she’s been in Canada since 1998. About 5 years ago we decided to open a site in Brazil; my wife speaks Portuguese and knows the culture. But the Brazilian taxation system is medieval and there is so much red tape that we didn’t want to continue. We set it up outside Brazil but Brazilian credit cards can only be used in Brazil.
This is slowly changing as the economy grows. In 4-5 years time Brazil will be #5 in the world for GDP so there is definitely potential. We decided to keep a bank account there and people could pay by printing out a form, going into a bank and doing a transfer. But this is was a big hassle for people and we miss out on impulse buyers. A year ago we decided to operate a free model. We are using Google advertisements but they don’t make us a lot of money.
CHRISTIAN NEWSWIRE - Aug 16 - Despite a more liberalized society, young adult Christians abstain from drinking alcohol at the same rate as older Christians. 65% of 21+ either abstain from alcohol consumption, or rarely partake, according to a recent survey from ChristianCafe.com.
FINANCIAL POST - Feb 28 - It's hard to calculate the exact size of the North American dating industry since many companies are privately held but a Dec '10 report from IBISWorld puts the U.S. dating industry at US$2-billion. 54% of that was driven by online dating, followed by mobile dating, matchmakers, singles events and personal ads. In Canada, online dating alone accounts for $200M. FastLife International, run by Justin Parfitt and his wife Annabelle, calls on 120 hosts in 65 cities across Canada, the US, Australia, New Zealand and Britain to run 2,400 annual events for 60K. Events, held in upscale venues, cost $50 to $80. Sam Moorcroft, President of ChristianCafe.com, decided to tackle the business -helping Christian singles. Mr. Moorcroft, who founded the business with his brother Philip, initially advertised at Canadian churches, singles events, and in Canadian media, but within a year realized his market was in the United States, where he says 30% to 50% of people identify as Born Again Christians.
PRESS RELEASE - Feb 13 - ChristianCafe.com has launched an app that connects Christian singles using Android powered phones. Android smartphone users can browse dating profiles of Christian singles and communicate with them using their phone. The Android app experience fully integrates with a member’s account on ChristianCafe.com. FULL ARTICLE @ OREGON FAITH REPORT
MIXERGY - Sep 8 - Mark did this interview from Malta, where he’s making a name for himself in the online personals industry through his blog Online Personals Watch and consulting company Courtland Brooks.
Q: How are you managing your company from Malta?
A: 3 years ago I took a trip to Shanghai. There was an Internet dating conference in Shanghai, and I decided to stay there for 2 months. And business grew. I learned that my clients did not care where I was based as long as the work got done. I brought 15 people onto my team.
Q: What exactly do you do when you consult online personal sites?
A: We help Internet dating companies make more money. And also companies that want to talk to them. We do PR, business development, and strategic advisement.
Q: Can you tell people a little more about the blog?
A: In 2004, when I was working with FriendFinder, I noticed that I was getting great snippets of information from the press. And I consistently didn't have time to read all of the articles. So I thought it would be nice if somebody could summarize and extract the best intelligence out of what the press were writing about. So in June of 2004, I started OnlinePersonalsWatch.com. The idea is that we condense three hours of reading into three minutes of reading a day. In January of 2005, I had three jobs offers on the table, so I decided to take all three. And that is how Courtland Brooks started. At a point from there, I knew a lot of people that I thought could do a better job than me. So, I hired them.
Q: Is there still money in the dating world? It seems to me like most people either go to one of the top sites or they go to Facebook.
A: The reason dating sites have a future is because it's one thing to be single and another to be single and available. And it's even another thing to be single and available and looking. You don't find that on Facebook. Yes, you can find people that say they are single. But are they really single? Are they dating? Are they really available?
Q: But Markus at PlentyofFish has blogged that social networks are taking customers away from dating sites.
A: Yes. It is taking attention. But people want a more focused experience. There are two surprises that we have had in the dating industry. The first one is that social networking didn't kill the dating industry. And the second one is that Internet dating didn't kill the matchmaking industry.
Q: What about the idea that there are already enough established players out there that it is really hard to come in with a new site?
A: It is. Without a doubt.There are thousands of Internet dating services. I rather think it is like starting a restaurant. It's not that difficult, you would think, to start a restaurant. But there's a lot more moving pieces that go into building a successful restaurant than meets the eye. And the same with Internet dating.
Q: Let's say Casey Allen, who I see here in the audience, decides that he is going to start an online dating site. What's the first thing that you'd recommend that he do?
A: First question is, is he a marketer or a technologist? If Casey is a marketer then he should go down the white labeling route and use a service like White Label Dating, DatingFactory.com or EasyDate.
Q: What if Casey Allen happens to be a technologist and he can code something up? What would you advise him at that point?
A: There are two extra routes that he can take. Number one is to use an off the shelf software like BoonEx and another option is use a programming outfit that has already built dating sites in the past.
Q: How do you bring people into a site today?
A: All of the major dating sites spend a lot of money on PPC. So, Overture and AdWords are an absolute mainstay of the industry. PlentyofFish is a wonderful place to run ads. If you can pay an extra 50 cents to a network, then you can get 10 times more traffic. Commission Junction and ShareASale have a good reputation.
Q: What else brings people in?
A: SEO. Also I'm a big fan of affiliates. The problem with affiliates, by the way, is there are rogue affiliates that will send junk traffic. The only way to deal with them is you've got to understand their position. They want to make money. And affiliates tend to be short-term based. They don't care too much about the brand, because they will just switch out to a different brand. So, the only way to really manage rogue affiliates is by laying down guidelines.
Q: We talked about how to get people in the door. What about getting them to multiply? By multiply, we mean viral marketing, getting them to bring their friends..
A: Let's start with Zoosk. They are one of the great, recent, success stories. On a typical dating site, you sign up. You've got to put in all your information. With a Facebook based social dating site such as Zoosk, some of that information can be sucked over. And so that really improves the initial conversions and efficiency. Plus, you know, the kinds of people that are on Facebook are going to be a little bit more social. When people talk about a good or a bad experience they think of as Internet dating. They don't tend to think of it so much as, it's Zoosk. It's Match.com. It's FriendFinder or Fling or whatever. I think the industry as a whole needs to make sure that they have a good experience. That means not allowing scammers. Scammers are actually very good for short-term conversions, funnily enough.
Q: How is that?
A: Because they are very active about communicating with people and getting them to convert.
Q: Do you have a sense of what percentage of sales these scammers are responsible for?
A: I don't know. I think for some sites, it is quite significant. For sites of integrity, it is very small, because they kick them off.
Q: What else do people do to multiply?
A: I am a big fan of success stories. ChristianCafe.com is very good with success stories. So is Match.com and PlentyOfFish.com. Now, there is a bit more to be said for social media these days and mobile.
Q: Can you give me an example of one company that's doing social well and how they are doing it, and then one company in mobile and how they are doing mobile well?
A: PlentyofFish does well as a social dating site in and of itself. In terms of social media, well, actually, Zoosk is a good example. They have had some music videos that have been featured, and so has PlentyofFish. PlentyofFish has been in a video on Lady Gaga. So, that's quite a new thing for the industry. I think OKCupid has the best blog in the industry. Again, they have got material that is extremely compelling, extremely interesting. And so they are getting the press talking about it.
FULL ARTICLE @ MIXERGY
See all posts on FriendFinder See all posts on Match.com
See all posts on PlentyofFish See all posts on Zoosk
See all posts on WhiteLabelDating See all posts on Fling
See all posts on DatingFactory See all posts on ChristianCafe
See all posts on Cupid plc See all posts on OkCupid
See all posts on BoonEx
CHRISTIAN NEWSWIRE - May 13 - ChristianCafe.com, a Christian-owned online dating site, launched an iPhone app. iPhone users can view profiles and send and receive email directly from the app. New members can try the service free for ten days. FULL ARTICLE @ CHRISTIAN NEWSWIRE
Mark Brooks: You can see screen caps and a demo here. Users can easily search and message while on the go. iPhone users monetize better than on other platforms i.e. Blackberry, WAP phones.
PRESS RELEASE - Feb 25 - ChristianCafe.com, a Christian owned online dating service, marks eleven years of matching Christian singles this week. The service launched officially on February 26, 1999. Mr. Moorcroft launched ChristianCafe.com with his brother Philip after finding a void in the online dating space for dedicated Christians, back when he was single and searching. FULL ARTICLE @ CHRISTIAN NEWSWIRE
June 2009 OPW News Summary from Mark Brooks.
This is actually the news for June. We're playing catch up. For the full experience, please click here for the hi-res version. July and August are in process. Here's the news we covered for June.
- eHarmony survey finds 51% of single parents believe that they and their children are better off emotionally when the parent is in a committed relationship
- Match and eHarmony success rates.
- Spark Networks revenue down
- DatingTrail.co.uk launches
- Virtual goods startups raise $69 million funding in Q1
- Great Expectations complaints
- PlentyOfFish.com and rapper Flo Rida team up
- McGinn vs Match.com lawsuit
- ChristianCafe.com and Single Christian Network combines
- IAC completes transaction with Meetic
- Meetic signs partnership with MSN for distribution in 12 European countries
-meetMoi location based mobile dating partners with ClearSky
- Virtual Greats and Viximo partner
- Attivio’s Active Intelligence Engine selected to power Deutsche Telekom’s FriendScout24
CHRISTIAN CAFE -- June 1 -- ChristianCafe.com and Single Christian Network have combined. Members of both Christian-owned dating services will now be part of one combined community at ChristianCafe.com. FULL ARTICLE @ CHRISTIAN CAFE
Spark Networks acquires Engage.com. Sugar Daddy sites criticized. New Facebook apps from GenePartner and DateRaters.com. eHarmony lawsuit and Compatible Partners criticism. Matchmakers doing ok according to CNN. Virtual singles marry online, and Courtland Brooks blog launches.
This weeks news from Venice, Italy.