Let's assume the initial hurdles standing between you and meeting the next Love of Your Life (or Your Night) online have been cleared – you've chosen a dating site, written an engaging profile, and selected the perfect profile picture.
Now on to the hard part…
Time to start messaging some women.
But first, there’s one important question to consider – do you invest 15-20 minutes writing one custom message, painstakingly crafted to include specific details mined from her profile? Or do you go the “mass appeal” route, and fire off the same message to 15-20 women in that same amount of time?
Let's get some perspective.
You spend 20 minutes composing The Perfect Message. You’ve read her profile, Googled that author she mentioned four times, and managed to tactfully point out your similarities without sounding desperate.
You may get a response, you may not – and there's a lot of reasons for a lack of responses. Maybe she was out of town. Maybe she’s seeing where things go with a guy who got there first. Maybe she’s had a crazy week at work. (Maybe she's just not that into you). But the reason is irrelevant.
The point is, that's 20 minutes of your life you'll never get back. According to Christian Rudder, co-founder of OkCupid, users on his site exchange about 4 million messages – a day. That's roughly 166,666 messages being sent every hour – one of which was yours.
You need to stop wasting time. Let’s push the odds of meeting someone back in your favor.
Here’s where control C, control V come in play.
That's right, copy /paste. In his book, ‘Dataclysm: Who We Are When We Think No One’s Looking’, Rudder weighs in on whether a canned message actually works, or if women see through that BS in an instant.
In a nutshell, he said the copy/paste strategy is 25% less effective in terms of response rate, but in the long run it always wins when you compare the effort you put in to the results you get back.
To look at it a different way, using a template message is 75 percent as effective as creative a custom message, and a hell of a lot faster. Of course, we here at ViDA have been saying that since 2010, but it’s always nice to have an irrefutable data source on our side…
If you want better results in less time, copy/paste is hands-down the way to go.
(Further reading: This section of ‘Dataclysm’ reprinted on NYMag.com)
Sounds great, but I still need a message…
No, what you really need is an icebreaker. A thought-provoking, fun, playful message that stands out from the crowd of “hey, baby what's up” and “hi” messages from all the losers who haven't read our blog. Once you come up with a few good ones, test them out and keep the winners. And it's surprisingly easy to come up with some good ones, if you keep two rules in mind:
Get her attention with the subject line. No “yo, wassup”. No “hey gorgeous”. Be creative, be original, be INTERESTING.
Make it easy for her to respond by asking a question in your message. And here's where the copy/paste strategy comes into play. What you ask should be broad enough to ask anyone, yet specific enough that the woman will think you actually read her profile.
Don't worry, it's easier than it sounds. Use the “advanced search” function of the dating site to select a particular interest or keyword, let’s say “travel”. The search results are a goldmine of women interested in travel. Here’s an idea of a travel-related message you can quickly copy, paste, and send to every woman in that list:
“It looks like you have a good sense of adventure, so tell me this: If someone were to offer you an all-expenses paid trip to anywhere in the world but you had to leave in the next hour, where would you go?”
The topic engages her, the question is easy to answer, and thinking about it brings her to a happy place in her mind – she'll feel emotionally connected to you in a positive way while she's answering it. And the key here is SHE'S ANSWERING IT. You've got your proverbial foot in the door now.
Travel is one topic, you could also create a message built around cooking, swimming, dancing, reading – whatever subjects you have in common with your target woman. If you enjoy hitting the slopes and want to share the experience with your next girlfriend, search “skiing” and send a message like this:
“I see you enjoy skiing so tell me, would you rather heli-ski freshly open avalanche chutes in the Swiss Alps or get completely off the beaten track on untouched land in Antarctica?”
But make sure to keep your question hypothetical. Don't assume she'll say yes to a date by asking something like “I saw you enjoy dining out. If I was going to take you on a romantic date, what would be your restaurant of choice?” She wants to get to know you first.
It's really that easy.
Invest fifteen minutes coming up with a list of questions, then sit back and reap the rewards. Sure, you might not get a response to every message you send, but in that 20 minutes it used to take you to crank out one message, now you've sent out 20. (Even more if you turn off Game Of Thrones and start focusing).
Here's a few Dos and Don'ts to keep in mind when writing icebreaker messages:
- Use humor and creativity.
- Keep it relatively short (this is the age of Tweets, after all).
- Use good grammar, spelling, etc…you only get one first impression.
- Ask her a question to which she can easily respond.
- Compliment her physical appearance. She gets it all the time.
- Overuse exclamation points, “netspeak”, and emoticons. OMG, it's totes annoying!!!
- Don't be random, this isn't fifth grade. Your message should make sense within the context of her profile.
- Mention taking things offline in your icebreaker message.
And remember, you’re not in this alone. You wouldn’t try to repair your A/C unit if it stopped working, right? So if you’re not getting the results you want from online dating, call in the experts today!