My Friend Spent 6 Months Building a Market Discovery Test on Tinder to Find Love. Here’s What Happened.

June 12, 2024

By Emily Fontenot

A few weeks back, I was having drinks with a friend (let’s call him Jim) when the subject of our love lives came up. He’d been dating the same woman for about four years now and felt certain he’d found “the one.” 

“So how did you two meet?” I asked, expecting the typical answer.

“It’s actually a funny story,” Jim said, then proceeded to tell me the following tale of how, over a period of six months, he had carefully constructed what amounted to a full-funnel market discovery test to find his perfect match.

Unbelievable? Borderline crazy? I thought so, too. But the more I pressed him for details, the more it started to make sense. I began to question my whole “leave-it-to-fate” approach to dating. 

Was Jim actually onto something?

Was modern dating really just a numbers game? 

Instead of waiting for fate to intervene, could we accelerate the process of finding love, like Jim, by taking matters into our own hands?

These were big questions for a Friday night happy hour, but I had to find the answers. I had to learn more. The following is a true story, based on the timeline Jim laid out for me that night.

 

Fall 2018: Jim’s Newly Single

Jim finds himself single for the first time in six years. He decides to take a break from dating and focus on his junior year of college as a marketing student. 

 

Spring 2019: Jim Tries the “Apps”

Jim’s friends talk him into creating a Tinder profile, which starts out promising enough. After some initial success, though, his matches begin dropping to about one every other week. 

Feeling discouraged, Jim starts to second-guess himself. Were his prompts too short? Too long? Too honest? Too tongue-and-cheek? Was there one tiny thing standing in the way of him and his soulmate? He felt powerless against the whims of the algorithm and the thousands of split-second judgments made by people who he’d never meet. 

Deflated, Jim began to wonder if online dating may be a deadend. 

 

Fall 2019: Jim’s Eureka Moment

One day, while sitting in a marketing class at the start of his senior year, Jim hears the professor compare dating to marketing. Something clicks. 

“Of course!” He thinks to himself. A cohesive picture begins to form in his mind, tying the two seemingly disparate worlds together.

Jim feels a sense of hope around dating for the first time in months. He doesn’t have to sit idly by, wondering whether he could be doing more to find the woman of his dreams. He could leverage his intimate knowledge of marketing to start getting objective answers to his burning questions.

 

Fall 2019–Spring 2020: Testing

Jim selects an ad platform, opting for the cheapest route available to him as a college student: Tinder. He then creates his ICP, taking stock of past relationships to identify what qualities he’s looking for in a potential partner.

He caps off his profile with some compelling photos. The photos are the easy part, since he’s recently gone on a trip and taken some decent snapshots. He has some female friends select their favorites and arrange them in the optimal order. Now it’s time to test the copy.

 

Round 1: Testing a Story-Based Approach

Jim begins testing a new Tinder bio every week, using different formats. The first is a story-based direct response style copy, inspired by the Disney film Cinderella. He writes and rewrites the copy multiple times to get it just right and under the character limit. 

The response? Crickets. Zero matches. Obviously the lovely women in his ICP aren’t vibing with this story-based approach. He tries a handful of other approaches over the following weeks, none of them yielding much success.

 

Round 2: Finding His Formula

Somewhere around the sixth round of testing, Jim lands on the following formula: 

Hook

Interesting fact 1

Interesting fact 2

Interesting fact 3

Funny CTA

In just one week, this nets him an impressive 6-7 matches. He’s finally getting somewhere. 

Jim decides to swap out the copy in the formula every two weeks. Two of the highest performers that net him the most replies during that time period are as follows: 

  • Do you want to be my movie buddy?
  • What’s your favorite color? I’ll wear it on the first date.

The matches are pouring in, but only a handful ever lead to reply. There’s more work to be done.

 

Round 3: Empathizing with the “Customer”

One day after class, while chatting with his female friends about his recent efforts, Jim catches a glimpse of their Tinder matches. He can’t believe how many messages they’re getting. No wonder they weren’t responding; they were completely overloaded! 

He begins to empathize with the person on the other end of the “swipe” who’s being put in the difficult position of making a decision based on what amounted to very little information. He knows from his marketing background that empathy is key to effective communication. He decides to use this as an opportunity for personal growth.

Jim asks himself, “Knowing that women are disproportionately pressed for time on dating apps, how do I avoid wasting both parties’ time and energy on conversations that don’t lead to dates?”

It was clear that both parties needed the chance to learn more about the other person sooner rather than later to minimize wasted time and energy. After doing some research, Jim decides the best strategy would be to move matches off Tinder and onto Instagram as quickly as possible.

 

 

Round 4: Optimizing the Funnel

At this point, Jim has figured out his top-of-funnel (i.e. how to get a match) and is now focused on optimizing the rest of the dating pipeline. 

He’s decided that Instagram will serve as a “landing page” of sorts. He reviews his Instagram bio and his photos from the perspective of what a potential date might want to know. He’s happy to see that his travels, friendships, and hobbies are all on display. His Instagram is ready to serve as a landing page. 


Round 5: Disqualifying 

After a short break for the holidays, Jim is back swiping and matching. Things are going well, and he’s even booked a date. He attributes the success to his new strategy of moving dates from Tinder to Instagram as quickly as possible. 

The date goes smoothly enough, but Jim isn’t feeling a big connection. He realizes that he needs to start disqualifying people based on ICP earlier on in the process. He refines his profile preferences to reflect this and adjusts his approach accordingly. 

March of 2020 rolls around, and the COVID lockdown commences. Stuck indoors, Jim realizes his approach will need to pivot again. Jim needs to adapt in response to a shift in the environment. 

 

Round 6: Pivoting and Scaling

By April, it’s clear that lockdown isn’t lifting anytime soon. With more time on his hands, Jim decides to use this as an opportunity to scale his approach. He increases swiping and even starts testing first messages.

Much to his surprise, he’s actually getting more dates than ever. It turns out that asking someone out on a virtual date is much easier (i.e. lower friction) than asking someone to commit to an in-person date. Jim takes advantage of a limited-time offer on Tinder Premium, and he increases his radius to include all parts of the world. He nails down his pipeline to the following steps: 

  1. Swipe
  2. Match
  3. Message
  4. Move to Instagram
  5. Hop on a call
  6. Casual convo
  7. If disinterested, disqualify and discontinue
  8. If interested, continue to message

It’s an all-out telethon in Jim’s dorm room. He’s connecting with amazing prospects left and right. Suddenly, he’s spending hours on the phone with women who, even a few months ago, he would’ve been thrilled just to match with.

The pressure mounts as Jim realizes he needs to start making some decisions, and fast. He narrows the pool down to a few people that fit his ICP perfectly. He can see a future with all of them, but he’s still not sure who to choose. 

 

Round 7: Conversion

It’s May 2nd. Jim prepares to hop on the latest in a succession of phone calls that, at this point, have all started to blend together. 

He doesn’t have any particular expectations going in. But as soon as he hears her voice, her laugh, he knows this is different. The past sixth months of swiping and profiles and messages and what-ifs all fade into the background. He has found “the one.”

That was the last person Jim ever swiped right on, the last “first phone call” he ever took. A few weeks later, they met in person. The rest, as they say, is history. 

 

 

What Jim’s Story Can Teach Us

“So did you ever tell her?” I asked him. 

“Yeah, I told her a few months in,” he smiled. “She thinks it’s crazy.” 

Crazy or not, this data-driven approach to dating did undeniably work out for Jim. He said he felt sure that, without it, he would still be single.

I found myself thinking a lot about Jim’s story over the last few weeks and what it says about the new world we live in. We’re presented with a vast array of options that many of us understandably feel powerless to navigate. But when we approach life with curiosity and a willingness to adapt, good things can happen, as they did for Jim. 

Maybe we can’t control which customers connect with a given brand or product, and we certainly can’t control who we connect with romantically. But we can dramatically improve our chances of success by doing what we know to do: learning, evolving, and growing every chance we get. 

“Did you ever try to apply those same tactics after you two started dating?” I asked Jim.

He shook his head and laughed. 

“No way, she’d figure it out in a second. Turns out she’s way smarter than me.” 

If You Want Different Results, You Have to Do Things Differently

When it comes to marketing, most of us start out like Jim did, operating off assumptions. We assume we know what a good email subject line looks like, what our brand logo should be, or what kind of discount our customers will respond to. Then, when things don’t go to plan, we start to second-guess our instincts. At that point, we’re left with a choice: Keep doing the same thing and expecting different results, or adopt a new approach.

Here at CleverFunnel, we believe the best way to face uncertainty is with curiosity, an openness to new ideas, and a willingness to evolve when presented with the evidence. Just like Jim took matters into his own hands—using a series of tests to get objective answers about his target market—we help businesses get objective answers about their brand and their customers, so they can reach their goals more predictably.

Our team has run large complex, multi-phased tests on a global scale, enabling our clients to understand their audience on a deeper level and expand into markets with greater confidence.

If you’re curious about our approach and how we might benefit your business, we’d be happy to provide some additional resources or set up a time to connect.