How Hot Are These Online Dating Emails? We Looked at OkCupid, Hinge, and The League

The online dating industry is showing no signs of slowing down. According to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in 2015, 15% of U.S. adults have used online dating sites or mobile dating apps and nearly half of the public knows someone who uses online dating or who has met a spouse or partner this way.

Chances are, you or someone you know has tried online dating. So, we were curious: what does this industry offer when it comes to email marketing?

We looked at a variety of free dating apps and services (Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagel, Hinge, Match, OkCupid, and Tinder, to name just a few) to see which brands actually sent emails consistently and effectively. Here’s what we learned from how three brands are handling online dating emails.


Friendly and approachable: OkCupid’s bold, fresh look

OkCupid is a free dating service that’s been around since 2004; it’s available online and via apps for iPhone and Android. Earlier this year, OkCupid’s¬†app and website both underwent a redesign; now, there’s a bold, fresh look¬†that’s “quirky” and illustration-driven. Here’s a look at the company’s welcome email:

OkCupid online dating emails

Here’s why this design works:

  • Simple, branded header.¬†OkCupid skips the clutter of a navigation menu, using its logo as a simple header, which makes it versatile and effective.
  • Cheerful hero illustration.¬†The illustration style is playful and fun, and the festive spirit is a good choice for a welcome email.
  • Large, legible text.¬†Most of the email is live text, so there are fewer rendering risks, and the copy is short and easy to read.
  • Easy-to-spot CTA button.¬†That CTA button passes the squint test. Plus, there’s just one, and it’s placed adeptly at the end of the email.

Now, let’s take a look at OkCupid’s¬†match email:

OkCupid online dating emails

Here’s why this design works:

  • Personalization.¬†This email could easily invite a user to log into the app to check recent matches. Instead, it shows the new¬†matches, along with a CTA button to view each profile. The email basically says “click me” from top to bottom, in a way that’s personal and engaging to the particular reader.
  • Engaging¬†in-email survey. In the “Improve Your Matches” section,¬†OkC includes a single question in-email survey as the secondary content of the email. This easy-as-pie tactic allows readers to respond easily to a survey, which makes it likely to increase results.

Intimate and warm: Hinge’s relationship-driven makeover

Hinge used to be a dating app driven by swipe technology where users swiped “yes” or “no” on potential matches. Now, the “new Hinge,” which came out¬†at the end of 2016, has ditched the swiping and rebranded as a¬†relationship¬†app. Working with the agency Red Antler, Hinge relaunched “as the dating app for people who are actually seeking relationships.” The new look¬†is modern and photo-driven. Take a look at their welcome email:

Hinge online dating emails

Here’s why this design works:

  • Single-column module design.¬†The email’s layout makes it particularly easy to follow. Using an inverted-pyramid style for each module, the sections include animated GIFs, headers, and a short snippet of text to help you set up. And, by using subtle HTML background colors (white and gray), the modules have subtle borders‚ÄĒanother boost to good¬†organization.
  • Show-not-tell animated GIFs.¬†In each module above, the screenshot-style image is an animated GIF. They add a great interactive quality to the message, showing readers how to get going with the app.

Hinge online dating emails

Here’s another email from Hinge, this time introducing new content to users:

Hinge online dating emails

Here’s why this design works:

  • Customized stock imagery. Hinge takes a basic stock image of NYC and adds the brand’s signature loop-the-loop squiggle through the sky. This small touch is a smart way to get the most out of a stock image.
  • Sweet spot illustrations. The little spot illustrations, or icons, that go with the study’s findings are simple and engaging. They add a little something extra to the email that sets it apart.

Modern and creative: The League’s organized¬†wordiness

The League dating app is best known for its exclusivity. Users have to apply to join, then go through a screening process, and reportedly only 10-20% of applicants are accepted¬†(the rest remain on a waitlist). When it comes to a visual style, The League leans heavily on a black-and-white color scheme, with a mix of photography and some turquoise spot-illustrations. Based on the emails, though, we’d say the League also prioritizes text content over visual. Here’s the welcome email. Well, maybe the “wait” email.

The League online dating emails

Here’s why this design works:

  • Text headers.¬†There aren’t many frills when it comes to this email, but text organization is one thing the League does well. The bold, all-caps headers and bold sub-headers keep the message organized. Ample padding between text blocks helps, too, as do the horizontal lines. Even though the email has plenty of text, it’s still skim-able.
  • Customized linked text.¬†We like that the “Download it now” text is the League’s brand teal color, and we advocate customizing linked text (please no royal blue, underlined copy!). All The League needs to do next: upgrade to a bulletproof CTA.

Next, here’s an update¬†email example. The subject line was:

The League online dating emails

Here’s why this design works:

  • Creative emoji.¬†Clearly, what makes this email stand out is its creative use of emoji. It’s not exactly cutting-edge design, but it’s a cute approach that is likely to catch readers’ eyes. While we often see emoji in subject lines, we haven’t quite seen them used like this in the body of an email. So A+ to the League for thinking outside the box.

Wrap-up: The design tips online dating emails have to offer

  1. Simple, versatile, branded headers are winners.
  2. The more data, the better. Engage readers with an in-email survey.
  3. Animation helps show users how your product works.
  4. Whenever possible, be personal. Customize emails for users to engage them better.
  5. If you’re going to use a lot of text, organize it! Be smart about headers and dividers.

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