You’ve seen ’em before. Ads so targeted, they almost creep you out. Could I use the same technique to find a wife?
I’ve got 6 months to find out.
Long Story, Short
Bottom-line, if you…
- Want to discover how to personalize your dating experience (or learn how to create targeted Facebook ads),
- Are looking to explore new options to find a spouse,
- Are tired of relentless dating site spam,
- Want to learn new ways to connect with people online,
- Enjoy funny stories from the ad-ventures of a crazy marketer…
You might enjoy my experiment to find a spouse on Facebook.
Ever have one of those brilliant ideas at 4 in the morning? Mine happened at 05:47. Sometime after last night’s sausage burned through my stomach.
“Like shopping for a perfect fit,” I told myself. “And it could be a huge time and money saver.”
What makes sense in a half-sleeping stupor, does not always work out well when fully awake.
But I realized… maybe it wasn’t as silly as it sounded.
After all, the odds of finding a spouse aren’t exactly in our favor. Using the Drake Equation of romance, I estimate the number of potential spouses in Spokane is 64.
Given the population of my town is over 212K people, that’s less than a .03% chance of finding a spouse. Not 3%. That’s .03%.
(How I arrived at the number of potential spouses – 212,067 X 51% (women) X 31% (never married) X 16% (20-29; age appropriate) X 12% (evangelical protestant) X 10% (reciprocal attraction; which I guess is higher than the below example due to shared beliefs). Source 1, 2. See below for details).
As they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
So I decided to take the plunge.
And most importantly… For
You see, I’ve always enjoyed taking a scientific approach to marketing and life.
Because I’ve found that the scientific method is one of the key ingredients to long-term, repeatable success.
Well, turns out that mindset bleeds into the rest of my life too.
So I decided to see if I could find the perfect spouse with Facebook ads. In six months.
What You Will Need If You Wanna Find The Perfect Spouse on Facebook
I wrote this experiment from my own experience. But I also wrote this for you to try out too. If you like.
To my methodical friends and readers: I know, I know. I won’t pretend this experiment is statistically significant. I’m not planning on droppin’ several G’s on a longitudinal study to wait for other folks to get married.
But if you’d like to try this experiment for yourself, here’s what you will need:
- A website or landing page to send your future spouse to.
- A Facebook page to create ads (if you need help setting this up, here’s how to setup a Facebook page)
- A credit card
- A list of qualities and characteristics of a perfect spouse
Scissors, silly-putty, stick of dynamite, and Elmer’s glue(whoops, wrong experiment)
The Facebook Spouse Experiment
Alright, my fellow mad scientist. Let’s turn on our Bunsen burners and get cookin’ with our experiment!
And keep your eyes peeled for some other crazy shenanigans…
Hypothesis: It is more cost-effective to find a spouse by running targeted Facebook ads than it is using an online dating service.
For this to be more cost-effective, it begs a question…
What is the typical cost of online dating sites?
I never realized how many dating sites there are. I got to 130 before I threw in the towel.
I decided to change gears and run the Facebook experiment against 5 sites:
- Plenty of Fish
(I wrote a personal review of each site below. If you are looking for a bigger comparison, I’d recommend Wikipedia’s comparison of online dating websites).
Measuring success is another challenge…
I plan to only marry once. And stay married.
Although this isn’t perfect, I will use the number of first dates from a site to be one measure of success. This I feel is the primary goal of dating sites.
The second measurement will be which sites leads to the most long-term dates. I will define this by going out with someone for more than 3 dates. Sure, I’m not married.
Again, ideally I would just date one person. But, that may not be the case. I cannot know until after the experiment starts. And I don’t plan on dating multiple women at once.
The final barometer of success will be which site provides me with a spouse. After all, that’s the end goal.
I dare you. Try this experiment at home. See what happens. Get a laugh, maybe even get the girl (or guy). You will never know until you try…
How to Create a Site That Draws Your Spouse to You Like a Magnet
If you aren’t interested in setting up a web site at this point, click here to skip to the experiment.
In order to find a spouse using Facebook ads, I need a site to send her to view more about me.
Setting up a site is simple:
Step 1 – Buy a Website (or Domain) Name and Setup Your Hosting
You can use your name if it’s uncommon (e.g. jasonquey.com).
If that doesn’t work, try a middle initial, a fun word that describes you, or a different domain ending (such as “jasondquey.com”, “jasonisthebossquey.io”, etc).
Once you have a domain name, you will need to host your site.
This allows your spouse to see your site.
I wanted a fast web host so that my site would be fast. I did not want a potential spouse to leave my site because it loaded too slowly. Or worse, crash on me.
Not a first impression I wanna make on my spouse.
Step 2 – Build Your Site
These plugins will help make your site look good without paying for a designer.
Step 3 – Use Powerful Words to Captivate Your Lady’s Heart
Why should a stranger go on a date with you?
I’m not saying they won’t. But you need to give them a compelling reason to do so.
In my case, I wanted her to give me an email so that we could connect a little more before going to coffee.
Step 4 – Get a Friend to Review Your Site
What makes sense to you may not make sense to someone else.
I had the opportunity to ask some of my marketing friends for advice. But really, getting any trusted advice should be useful.
Johnathan Dane, who runs an agency that creates landing pages and sends traffic through Google ads, suggested I nix my “gangsta” pic at the bottom of my page.
I thought the picture looked good. And it shows me without my lion’s mane (which is how my hair is now). But he said it needed to go.
Likewise, I had writer extraordinaire Aaron Orendorff evaluate my wording on my Facebook ad.
This is the final ad I will send to all the single ladies:
Looks good. Now on to what’s more important…
Shopping for the Qualities and Characteristics of a Perfect Spouse
I dunno ‘bout you, but this is where things get real intriguing.
I mean, it’s one thing to find a pair of jeans that just fit just right (and the radioooo uuuup).
But this is 10x more important you get a good fit shopping for your soul mate than a pair of jeans. I mean, you want a partner for life, right?
Before we begin, if you are doing this experiment, I’d recommend you list out some of the characteristics you’ve been or are attracted to in a spouse.
It could be recurring themes from previous boy/girlfriends, things you’ve enjoyed doing, or just a dream list.
The list doesn’t need to be set-in-stone. Most of mine aren’t deal breakers. We will add more later when going through Facebook’s available options.
The list is just a starting point to get you to narrow your audience later on.
Having a specific audience will keep your costs down and your chances of new dates up. Does that sound good to you?
Here’s my quick list:
- Single female
- No kids
- Never married
- Conservative Christian
- Lives 25mi from Spokane, WA or in Spokane Valley, WA
- At least somewhat athletic (does sports of some kind)
- Not super high maintenance.
I’d suggest setting a timer for 2 minutes and write everything down as quick as possible. You can always delete what you don’t want to target later.
Some of the general points (like “Conservative Christian” or “somewhat athletic”) I will want to drill down on later as I get into creating the ad.
Setting Up The Facebook Ad to Find Mrs/Mr Right
Ready to find that special someone? Because it’s game time!
Step 1: Click on the little triangle next to the padlock in the upper-right corner. Select “Create Ads”
Step 2: Select “Send people to your website.” Add in your URL of the website where you created your personal ad. Hit continue.
Step 3: Setting up the ad audience.
There’s some decent amount of ground to cover, so let’s dig in:
First, leave custom audiences alone.
You can use this if you wanted to specifically target those whom you have an email for. Just export your email address book and upload the document here. Otherwise move on.
Keep locations drop-down menu as is. Add in your city and delete the default country.
Age… what to do about age. I remembered back in high school the classic “half-your-age-plus-seven” rule.
- Doing quick math, I get 20 for my minimum age range.
- Doing a little algebra (my mother would be proud), I setup a formula of [my age: 27] = X/2 + 7. I get a maximum of 40. Blech! I’ll tweak this later though.
Now to dial it in with detailed targeting.
This is where the fun cranks up…
Do you remember the list of qualities we created above of your ideal spouse?
Time to get that out.
I’d recommend typing some keywords based on each point into the detailed targeting section.
You’ll notice Facebook will suggest some other options worth adding to the list too. This is another reason having a list is handy.
Here’s a question you might have: How do you drill down on general categories?
If you remember, I had listed “conservative Christian” and “somewhat athletic” on my list of qualities. Facebook allows me to narrow each of these down by adding more options.
Initially, if you add another option to the detailed targeting list, you are telling Facebook to find someone who has any one of those specific details to qualify.
So listing “Christian” and “sports” would mean the ad would be shown to anyone who is a Christian OR enjoys sports.
To make this more precise and (hopefully) win more dates, there are three refining options in the bottom:
- Exclude People
- Narrow Audience
Exclude People excludes anyone who has a trait I list.
So if I were to add “golf” to this category to the above example, I would be sending my ad to anyone who is a Christian or likes sports, but it won’t send ads to specifically likes golf.
Narrow Audience will help you build a specific audience by requiring someone has each trait.
Using our example, if I wanted to send ads to someone who is interested in Christian theology AND likes sports, I’d add sports into the “Narrow Audience” box.
Using Narrow Audience will help you lower your costs and get more quality dates.
Connections is another fun category.
Here, you can start sending ads to those who like your Facebook page or are friends of those who liked your page (or exclude them altogether).
So if you get your friends to start liking your Facebook page, you can use the advanced combinations to target friends of your page. Neato burrito!
For example, here’s what I did for targeting religious beliefs:
As you can see in the picture, I listed similar categories that could be lumped together: she could like (the) Bible, Christian denominations, Christian theology, Evangelicalism, or (the) Gospel.
I hope my future spouse would like all of them.
However, she may not be aware of each category to add to her profile. As a result, Facebook’s algorithm may not pick up her interest if I did one alone.
For each new point, I will click on “Narrow Audience” so that the formula will tell Facebook I am interested in each of these together.
Back To The Facebook Ad-ventures
After finishing my first round of edits, I checked to see I had 17,000 potential prospects. On the one hand, that’s less than 10% of the population of Spokane.
But for this experiment, I’d guess that’s too many (remember, the number of potential spouses’ in Spokane may just be 64).
Ideally, I want the ad only served to the perfect audience.
If I want to beat the cost of dating sites, I will need to narrow the audience further.
I’ll aim for 500. If you think about it, that’s a little more than a date-a-day. Sure, not everyone who sees the ad will click it. And not all of these clicks will turn into emails.
So, I began to explore the other categories that Facebook listed. Oh boy, there are a ton of options!
I began adding to my list:
- Lives within 10 miles of Spokane (means less driving for me and her)
- Completed high school
- Interested in men or unspecified (perhaps she did not fill out her profile fully)
- Drop max age to 29
- Nix auto racing and golf as “sports”
- Make politics “conservative” or “moderate.” Personally, I’m not interested in a “Little house on the prairie” type of wife, so I eliminate very conservative. She may be a fit, (and she may like the TV series). Again, my goal is to be hyper-targeted, not necessarily that this is a deal-breaker.
- Interests: Catholicism, Buddhism, Wicca, Mormon (Book of Mormon), Mormonism, healing crystals, Psychic, Jehovahs Witness, Missionary (LDS Church), Book of Mormon, Apostle (Latter Day Saints) or Islam. As I said before, I want to have a wife that holds my religious views.
- Above $100K in income. My gut feeling is that those who earn this much tend to be very independent. I’m not sure I’d want that in a wife.
- Industry: Architecture and Engineering, Construction and Extraction, Installation and Repair or Military.
- Politics: Likely To Engage in Politics (Liberal), US Politics (Liberal), US Politics (Very Conservative) or US Politics (Very Liberal)
And we’re done!
Now I decided to explore what the dating site competition was like.
Honestly? I was a bit disappointed.
Here’s my brutally honest reviews of:
- Badoo: An Enigma Wrapped in a Puzzle of Festering Spam
- Match.com, The Other Can-O-Spam
- Plenty of Fish (But All In The Wrong Pond)
- OkCupid: Perhaps There’s Hope For The Single Race…
- eHarmony: Move Beyond “Traditional” Online Dating (To This Piece of Junk)
Badoo: An Enigma Wrapped in a Puzzle of Festering Spam
Once part social network, one part game, and one part dating site. Badoo is an intriguing mix for being one of the 500 most visited sites on the Internet. By intriguing, I mean crap-tastical.
Aside from hoping I magically get picked by their twisted dating game, I can only select to see people who are nearby. And to me, my options are very sub-par:
Badoo only has 13 categories in the extended options. And I can only select 3. So if I choose that she speaks English and straight, I’ve only got one category left.
Facebook gave me unlimited options. And I don’t have to pay to use more filters.
Badoo uses a pay-to-play model, where you spend money frivolously to get promoted into other feeds.
Once you give them your precious email, they are quick to send you an email… lots. of. emails.
What’s even more annoying was how many times Badoo (and Match.com) emailed me, even after I hit the unsubscribe button:
? This kinda crap is what unfairly gives marketers a bad name…
I removed Badoo from my list of competitors.
In my book, Badoo might be useful for someone who cares only about outward appearances. Not for someone who cares about internal beauty.
Match.com, The Other Can-O-Spam
In doing my research, I found out Match.com acquired Plenty of Fish, OKCupid, and owns a part of Tinder. I thought they can’t be beat.
Turns out, I’d rather just beat up the creators. And leave.
My initial impression after exploring Match.com?
It’s a cesspool of spam accounts with a few real people.
Consider these results that came up for me on Match.com:
- Samantha and “Cmurphy23” look a few years above their listed age
- “Lilshorty” appears to have a kid, which I ruled out in the questionnaire (unless she’s even shorter than I expected…)
- OliviaMae3 looks to be a little board (or maybe that’s a tile?)
Another thing: I can’t prioritize what qualities are important to me.
For me, shared religious beliefs is important. Match.com provided 11 daily matches, only four I’d remotedly consider to have shared beliefs.
The “Match Me” option seemed promising. Yet when selecting “20-30 female, 20mi from 99208, Christian/Protestant,” I only got matched with 19 people.
I’m not hopeful.
Plenty of Fish (But All In The Wrong Pond)
Given my experience w/Match.com, as part of the same company, I’m not too hopeful for PoF.
Upon arrival on the site, it’s nice to see they’ve got a site that look only 10 years out-of-style. Not a fan of these junky captcha boxes:
Maybe I’m just in a spiteful mood today (though I’d be curious to hear from any fellow marketers what a captcha box does to their sign-up rates).
It fascinates me that they openly admit they will pair me with those based on my income and birth order:
Then I start thinking about what I earn.
My income fluctuates as a freelance consultant and cofounder of a startup. Plus, I’m not interested in someone who’s interested in me for my money.
My first instinct is to low ball ‘em. But then, that’s a lie… and I wonder how many other people fudge their dating profile?
A study conducted by University of Wisconsin-Madison and Cornell University found that 80% of online daters lie about their height, weight or age.
Compare that to Facebook: 25% said they falsified information in their profiles to protect their identity back in 2012.
That said, Pew Research found that teens and younger kids may make up some of these culprits. So the data isn’t a match. But still…
And it wouldn’t surprise me if Facebook has a plethora of other sources to gain valuable data to work around liars.
As a result, I believe it’s a lot easier to weed out potential liars. Another point for Facebook.
Back to PoF.
I see 7 users want to meet me.
Oh, that’s nice. I haven’t even signed up! Who wants to bet they’re mail-order brides?
And of course, they want me to pay to check out the potential people.
Seriously Plenty of Fish?! Bunch of junk.
Is there no hope for singles?
OkCupid: Perhaps There’s Hope For The Single Race…
Finally, a site that looks like it was made in the last decade!
Might I add, I’m quite impressed by their on-boarding process! (Marketing nerd for how you begin using a site. Sorry, I’ll prevent myself from going any further).
Initially, I thought browsing the matches would be terrible. Clicking on a few names seemed to drudge up the same garbage I saw before.
Then I saw that answering their questions actually helps filter matches (novel, right?).
I felt each question was relevant to getting to know someone better. Not to mention I can choose the importance of the question when answering:
Wow, only 2 from the company and 1 from a person who wanted to chat with me.
And I found out I’ve been livin’ in the wrong state:
Guess if this experiment fails, I now know to head south :).
Well, at least there’s one worthy competitor!
eHarmony: Move Beyond “Traditional” Online Dating (To This Piece of Junk)
Perhaps one of the most loved sites by redditors and imgurians everywhere:
Yup, they got friend-zoned by a dating site.
I mean, isn’t this why people try dating sites? Over 33 million singles and you couldn’t find one that fit them?
Anyway, I made it into the eHarmony site alive.
They have some “potential matches” for me, but I don’t get to see a picture of these matches until I pony up $159 for their starter plan.
Personally, I’m not a fan of paying for a service that shows next-to-nil value to its freebie members. Plus, I’m tired of the barrage of emails:
What is this, the 90’s?! Come on folks…
While doing some research, I stumbled across a review site of eHarmony and noticed a whopping 355 ratings that averaged one star.
They need to hire someone for quality control…
Sure, I get most satisfied customers won’t take the time to review a site. But this is atrocious.
Perhaps finding a spouse using Facebook ads is a bigger value than I first realized…
Perhaps I could turn this into a business that brings a new light to the face of online dating.
Perhaps, if this works… there will be hope once again for the human race.
Will This Facebook Experiment Work?
I hope so… But only time will tell. As I said, I’ve got six months to see how this will play out.
If you’re interested in what happens next in the saga, you can sign up below:
For me, 80% of the excitement comes from anticipation. The other half of my excitement will be spending the rest of my life with my spouse.
So. What else can you do with your new found marketing powers?
- Find your bridesmaids and groomsmen. Or at least meet some new friends. Tweak the targeting or keep it as-is.
- Use targeted ads to land your dream job. It worked for this guy.
- Start a marketing agency. I enjoy my work in marketing. Perhaps you will too.
The sky’s the limit.
Just remember, “With great power comes great responsibility.”