Making virtual dating accessible: Anukool Kumar on the OkCupid marketing strategy

OkCupid marketing strategy 2

As pandemic changes/redefines the landscape of virtual dating, OkCupid India attempts to standout by creating customized solutions and experiences. Anukool Kumar shares how the OkCupid marketing strategy helps in creating brand awareness and eventually revenues.

With everything going virtual during the pandemic, online dating too received a virtual push as social distancing and self-isolation helped in melting inhibitions and apprehensions around the concept. A number of dating apps reported increasing users for Tier II & III towns while women users in metros too saw a spike. As per various reports, the second COVID-19 wave witnessed a surge of 20-25% new users across different dating apps to find their perfect match. We speak with Anukool Kumar, Marketing Director, OkCupid India, understanding how the brand is working through this phase with customized dating solutions as a USP and unravel their marketing strategy.

The Tagline Story

With the tagline of ‘Dating deserves better’, OkCupid forayed into global markets back in 2004. The dating app brought ‘Love is…’ – a multi-leg year-long campaign to find bespoke love through the platform. The IP aims to recognize and celebrate that every person is seeking a different kind of love.

The campaign was kicked off with four short films as well as a VoxPop which is a dipstick video of single Indian millennials as they express their honest views of what love means to each of them. Kumar shares, “The four campaign films add these insights along with user responses to questions on the app to articulate what love is to different people.”

Drawing insight from user responses to over 3000 questions on OkCupid, the campaign intends to break stereotypes about what relationships mean for dating Indian millennials

As an extension of the initiative, the brand also released a series of illustrations and partnered with influencers for content. The content marketing efforts for mass-reach also extended to multiple 60-second stories on YouTube and a dating show.

Marketing Strategy: Online Dating in 2021

As part of the OkCupid marketing strategy, the brand takes a two-fold approach, focussing on generating awareness while keeping the momentum of this messaging consistent across all social and digital platforms.

Kumar summarizes:

  • Always ON: Keep delivering your brand narrative to your consumers; focus on reach
  • Reinforce: Use influencers, content partnerships, and social media to reinforce your brand message (bring spikes)
  • Topical: Do occasional stuff and be relevant to the audiences – say what they want to hear whether it is Women’s Day, Valentine’s Day etc.
  • Tone of Voice: Be a part of conversations! It’s important that the brand stands for its values and keeps delivering them via conversations with media and across all other platforms.
  • Measure: And then finally measure all of it, if something works, scale, if something doesn’t move on to the next

Keeping a digital-first approach, the brand is not limited to social media for visibility but covers all platforms like YouTube, Podcasts, video streaming platforms like Hotstar, and music streaming platforms like Spotify while working with influencers to speak to the users for the app.

Throughout all the initiatives, the product keeps the ethos of enabling users to find the kind of love they are looking for. Kumar highlights, “The core of our strategy is to keep reinforcing the brand narrative of finding one’s own kind of love across platforms and keeping our messaging consistent in all the engagement that we do.”

Social Media Play

Social media predominantly plays the role of generating awareness and acts as a representative of brand voice. Kumar says, “The aim is to utilize each platform’s USP to its best to reach out to our audience and keep the conversation rolling.”

OkCupid India has maximum followers on Instagram with 24.9K followers. This is followed by 12.8K subscribers on YouTube, 2313 followers on Twitter, and 534 followers on Facebook as per the data on 16th August 2021.

Instagram & Facebook

OkCupid leverages Instagram and Facebook to visually depict the different ideas of love and varied takes on it through videos, stories, post-formats, amongst others.

Instagram comprises memes and fun content around dating and moments, ranging from Bollywood dialogues to even comic strips as the post formats. In addition to this, as daters find love through the platform, the testimonials are showcased through the OkCupid love stories of all ages and types.

With pink and ink blue as the prime brand hues, OkCupid’s Instagram page also remains abuzz with Reels comprising relatable content. Kumar shares, “Due to the organic nature of Instagram Reels and high engagement factor, they have become an integral part of almost every brand’s social media strategy.”

OkCupid also focuses on influencer collaborations that involved theme-based content on what Love means for various people. For example, the OkCupid women’s day campaign ‘Ijazat Hai’, in collaboration with Mukti Mohan and Keshav Sadhana highlighted how independent women deserve love on their own terms, amongst other factors.

The brand leverages Facebook for dynamic content and latest campaigns, OkCupid also utilizes the platform for data and information while redirecting customers to their blog page. The brand also advocates inclusivity. Consequently, the social media posts cover the theme profusely.

As part of the OkCupid marketing strategy, the brand further associates with OTT shows that align with their ethos to bring engaging content for the target audience.

Twitter is primarily used for interactions and for initiating engaging conversations with the user around the subject of dating and love.

YouTube

YouTube has been used to create and present OkCupid content IPs like ‘The Dating Show’, the ‘Love Is..’ – a digital campaign video that is written by Dhruv Sehgal, and starring Mouni Roy.

Each of the platforms redirects the users to download OkCupid app. Kumar shares, “The combination of all the platforms, each with their own strategy and set of tools and content, all work together to drive the overall results.”

Also read: Whiskas Marketing Strategy: Ganesh Ramani on shifting the context from cat superstition to cat curiosity

Content Strategy

The brand keeps its theme of ‘finding love that you deserve’ at the core of all communication. They saw a 763% rise in conversations around vaccination between March-May 2021. Profiles that flaunt the vaccine badge are expected to have a 35% increase in match rate with others who are either vaccinated or getting vaccinated soon.

The brand’s content buckets comprise OkCupid’s overall messaging – love, serious relationship, being authentic, slow dating, etc. with the evolving times.

Kumar highlights, “Our content strategy is to talk about relationships in a way that’s true to the 21st century – constantly challenging the status quo.” The key to remaining relevant is to always speak about what rings true for our audiences while remaining consistent, he adds.

Marketing Trends & Tips

In recent times with lockdowns across the country and a heightened regard for safety and health, the brand noticed that millennials were not restricting their intention to find love within a certain Pincode and expanded the distance to match with their potential partner. They are seen investing their time in forming stronger emotional bonds with their potential matches online before making plans to meet them in real life.

Kumar highlights, “In India, we witnessed a 26% increase in conversations with over 91% millennials still looking to date virtually and find love.”

The industry continues to observe higher engagement on social media, which is one of the top mediums for visibility and recall.

Kumar encapsulates top tips for the marketers in the days ahead:

  • Process is king – Sometimes, we are so occupied with the thoughts of the outcome that we tend to ignore the importance of the process and learnings that come our way. It is the input that should always matter as it will help one grow followed by the outcome that will definitely result in the input that you have put in.  
  • Measure – Don’t do things just to tick them off a list and don’t fall in love with your idea. Measure constantly and reiterate to find what works for your brand- not your personal bias. At OkCupid, we dedicate time every week to measure all that we do. Every Monday at the end of day we look at the activities done throughout the week along with the outcome. Doing this allows us to identify trends and scale up or pull the plug on ideas that just don’t cut it- this is what makes us efficient marketerers.
  • Be eager– There is so much to learn and always so much more to do. Hence, always be uncomfortable and you’ll be surprised at what all you can achieve.

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