And rightfully so, because getting responses from the caliber of women you really want to meet is generally the biggest hurdle you face. Online dating is a numbers game where more responses from women you like equal more dates. The first step to increasing the amount of messages flowing through your inbox is to figure out what prompts a woman to respond.
There’s a fair amount of speculation surrounding this matter. Obviously women are a complicated case study, but that doesn't mean we can’t get a little insight from their dating patterns. And when you follow the research, two things become crystal clear: women almost exclusively respond to messages that stand out and encourage a response (i.e. they appear to be original, and they contain a question).
For this reason, the key to an increased response rate is the crafting of a perfect online dating opener. If you can write a message that catches her eye, and closes with a creative question, then you’ll have her responding no matter the circumstances.
But first let's look at some of the Do’s and Don’ts of that first message:
- Don’t just ask her “What’s up?” or lead with some line like “Hey girl, how you doin’?” A large percentage of the messages she receives are some variation of those two questions.
- Don’t write her a book. She doesn’t have time to read it, and you don’t have time to write it. (At least that’s what you want her to think.)
- Don’t tell her how attractive she is or how incredible she looks in one of her pictures. In fact, avoid commenting on her physical appearance at all in your first message.
- Don’t over-use exclamation marks or emoticons. Many women will dismiss a message with multiple smilies and/or winks.
- Don’t mention taking things off the site right away. This creates unnecessary pressure and too many guys are already doing this. She’s not ready to buy what you’re selling yet, so don’t go for the close.
If you’re feeling a little discouraged because you’re the guy doing all those things, don’t fret. It's time to change your approach, and elevate your game with these simple strategies:
- Do use humor. If you can make her laugh out loud, the response is almost guaranteed.
- Do make it easy to read. Break up your message into multiple paragraphs and use correct grammar.
- Do ask creative but easy-to-answer questions. You want her to have fun responding, but if she has to think too much, she won’t put in the work. For example:
- If you had an all expenses paid ticket to anywhere in the world, but you had to take off in the next hour, where would you go?
- Do ruffle her feathers a little bit. Compliment her, but in a vague and ambiguous fashion. For example:
- You seem kind of quirky, which I appreciate in a woman. Normalcy is overrated.
- It’s nice to find someone more three dimensional than a couple of pictures. That’s not something easy to come by around here…
The key here is to stand out from all the other messages in her inbox. A message that catches her attention has a much better chance of success.
Now that you understand the basic rules, you can start crafting your own messages. The first step is doing away with any negative feelings you have toward the “cut and paste” system. It is a great way to optimize your success, so you might as well get on board.
(If you need a little extra convincing, see what one of the Founders of OkCupid has to say about it here.)
Once you’re over that little hump, you can start testing your material. I recommend having at least two different types of openers handy:
- One-size-fits-all openers
- Situational openers
When constructing a one-size-fits-all opener, the goal is to have something in your arsenal you can send to any girl who catches your eye. It should be personal enough that she thinks you've read her profile, but not so specific that you can’t use it for any occasion.
I had the chance to read your profile, and I have to admit, I’m impressed. It’s nice to finally find someone with a little creativity and depth. Those are scarce resources around here.
But I’m dying to know about your sense of adventure, so tell me this: If you had an all expenses paid ticket to anywhere in the world, but you had to take off in the next hour, where would you go?
As you can see, it begins with a small compliment implying you might be interested. And don’t be afraid to let her know she stands out against the crowd. (Remember, you’re in the driver's seat and you have lots of options.) Finally, finish with a question that's fun to think about and isn’t too complicated. This is the most important part of the message.
For situational openers, you are targeting women with whom you share an interest. Find them with the advanced search function on any of the major online sites.
I see that we share an interest in skiing, But tell me this, are you the girl shredding it through the moguls or sipping hot cocoa while working your way down the bunny hill?
Either way is okay with me, but I do have a soft spot for hot cocoa.
This kind of message begins by pointing out a mutual interest, and then asks a question geared toward the topic at hand (skiing, hiking, running, etc.) Give her a chance to brag about herself a little bit, or to point out that she is a total novice.
Messages like these are the key to success in the online dating world.
And once you’ve built a small repertoire, you can start testing them out. Send the same message to 30+ different women and record your results. For the ones that bomb, don’t worry about it. Weed out the underperformers and focus on sending the winners more often. You can also come up with similar but different variations of your winners to see if you can tweak your way to even more success.
It’s always better to invest your time in the beginning by coming up with a few killer messages, instead of wasting hours for weeks on end customizing each one. Once you’ve come up with a handful of winners, you’ll be glad you followed this advice as you sit back and watch the responses roll in.
As you can see by now, crafting the perfect online dating opener isn’t about thoroughly reading every profile and painstakingly creating message after message for each girl that you like. It’s about finding a message that works, and using it again and again.
Online dating is a numbers game and if you follow the strategies in this post, you’ll start to see those numbers flock in your direction, guaranteed.
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