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How I Met My Girlfriend by Running Ads on Facebook: A Growth Marketer’s Playbookby@0xjack
1,443 reads
1,443 reads

How I Met My Girlfriend by Running Ads on Facebook: A Growth Marketer’s Playbook

by Jack LiuFebruary 6th, 2023
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Dating apps suck and it’s not unusual to swipe 10+ hours a week just to get a few matches. For anyone who makes $50/hr and more, that time value adds up really quickly. I thought maybe I could leverage the Facebook algorithm to find interests that could be targeted in ads. I then set the demographic parameters like age, whether they identified themselves as single, and a few select cities. And on Jan 1st, we celebrated 1 year together.
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I met my girlfriend by running my own dating ads on Facebook. And on Jan 1st, we celebrated 1 year together.


Here’s the complete step-by-step process on how to growth-hack your own dating life.

How I Thought Of The Idea

In 2020 at the height of the pandemic, I read a news article about a guy named Mark in the UK buying up billboards that pointed to his own dating website. He was looking for a wife but got email entries from both men and women.


It was great PR but a terrible way to reach his goal. What were his criteria? What was going to be his process of finding the woman with his criteria? I imagine he probably got a ton of entries, but they probably weren’t high quality.



The campaign that inspired me.



Being a very experienced Facebook marketer, I knew I could do better. I thought maybe I could leverage the Facebook algorithm to find interests that could be targeted in ads, then set the demographic parameters like age, whether they identified themselves as single, and a few select cities.

Dating Apps Suck, So Why Not Trying Something Different

Only guys would understand this but it’s not unusual to swipe 10+ hours a week just to get a few matches. And then the conversations are not great. For anyone who makes $50/hr and more, that time value adds up really quickly. In one month, someone could easily spend $2000 of their time value just swiping.


Indeed, I have a friend who did just that. Thankfully, it worked out for him but I didn’t want to waste my life swiping.

Getting Setup

There are quite a few things that are required to get this all working:

  • Setting up a Facebook fan page
  • Setting up a Facebook business account
  • Setting up a Facebook conversion tracking with their pixel
  • Building a list of targeted interests
  • Setting up the website
  • Getting good photography

Facebook Setup

The Facebook setup was by far the most tedious. In regards to getting approved to run ads for yourself, it’s relatively simple. Facebook will consider what you run as dating ads so you have to fill out this form.


Fortunately, I got through very easily and so did my clients. The form is really for dating app businesses, not for individuals.


I had to set up a Facebook fan page because all Facebook ads now require it in order to run ads. Setting up a Facebook business account was important because if my ads were disapproved for any reason and the ad account was suspended, it would only be the business account, not my personal account.


This is very important! I do not suggest running your own dating ads through your own personal account. I won’t go through how to set up a Facebook business account here, but there are a ton of videos that walk through it step by step.


I had to also set up the Facebook pixel tracking. When women were interested, they had to fill out a form on the contact page. I put the conversion tracking on the homepage, as well as the contact page.


Here’s a secret: I did not put tracking on the email conversion. Here’s why. With Facebook ads, you can tell what the objective of the ad is- clicks, conversion, video views, etc. And the objective that you set will tell Facebook to further optimize ads for that objective. This helps to bring down the cost of the ad.


I thought it would take way too long to get enough email-submit conversions in order to optimize the ad. By the time I got a few hundred email submissions, that felt like it should be enough matches and I could stop running the ad!


Instead, I put tracking on people who viewed the Contact Page. For this, I used “ViewContent”. Here, my thinking was I could get people viewing the Contact Page much faster, at which point Facebook would further optimize the ad and show it to more people who are likely to view the Contact Page.

Figuring Out Targeted Interests

I knew the attributes and qualities of the woman I wanted to date. I then fed those attributes into Facebook ads using interest targeting.


I created 3-4 main attributes or interests I was looking for. For example, I wanted to find someone that was growth-minded and athletic. A lot of times, “growth-minded” and “athletic” are not direct interests that can be put into Facebook ads targeting. So I had to find proxy interests.


Someone who is growth-minded I thought, would probably have interests like:

Tony Robbins, reads a lot of books, maybe likes Rich Dad Poor Dad, maybe likes entrepreneurship. And the people who are athletic might have interests such as REI, yoga, biking, etc.


Example worksheet of interests



I then took this list and put it into the Facebook ads targeting. But I used “AND” instead of “OR”. That means I was telling Facebook to narrow the audience to someone who is growth-minded AND athletic, not someone who is growth-minded OR athletic.



But sometimes, the AND audience is so small it’s better to use OR instead.


Example of Interests in Facebook



In the example above that I ran for a client, I was targeting women 21-32, single who were interested in BOTH wrestling and video games. The audience size here is a bit bigger than I would like. Usually, I try to aim for a 100k audience to start out.


With this campaign, I remember the ad costs increased very quickly so I expanded the audience size.

Setting Up The Website

The website was the easiest part of the whole process. I used Squarespace to get set up quickly. One could easily use WordPress.


I created the website as if it was a sales letter. After all, I was selling myself. I incorporated all the parts of a winning sales letter into the website as best I could: a great headline, photos, the product offering (me!), social proof, and a FAQ.



The offering. It's clear who I was targeting.



The social proof. The first two is a joke, but the last is a real quote.


Good Photography

Good photography is a MUST. It serves two main purposes: showing interested prospects what you look like, but also to be used as the ad itself. I had already paid for photos specifically for dating so I just put those on my website.


For clients, I suggested they have photos of them doing different things. That seems obvious but I had one client who only put photos of himself in cosplay. That’s cool, but I thought he was not showcasing a lot of his other qualities. Later on, he changed that and got better results.


The photos I used were very purposeful in order to show I was a well-rounded person. I had a picture of me in front of the coffee sign which suggests I like to think about new ideas. I had a picture of me doing the Argentine tango, to show I had a very interesting hobby. I had a picture of me with my friends in Thailand. And then of course I had a professional photo of me as the main header image, to show I was serious about the effort I was putting forth.


I also had my own domain name. I would not suggest using a subdomain from Wix, Leadpages, or other sites that give you a subdomain. It looks very unprofessional and shows you’re not serious.

How To Ask For A Picture

This is an important consideration for sure. And let’s be honest, we all want to know what the other person looks like before committing to a date. I thought about this for a while when setting this up.


Obviously, I couldn’t just ask for someone to submit a photo because that’s super creepy. So instead, I asked women to include the URL of their social media profiles. That serves two purposes: one to know that they’re real, and two so I know what they look like.


I thought that people would usually put a decent photo of themselves as the main image on social media so that should be good enough. It worked.

From Interests To Dates

When I first ran this campaign, it was July 2020. At the time a lot of cities were not open so the best thing to do was to get on a Zoom call. Typically, I would look through the emails to see if there was something that person said that interested me. If there was, I emailed back.


After a few emails back and forth, I suggested we do a Zoom call. I counted each Zoom call like a date. And from there, if the Zoom calls went well I would suggest meeting in person.


My workflow was to connect via email, then have a Zoom date, then suggest a meeting in person after the 3rd or 4th Zoom date.

Reception

From my standpoint, I don’t see any risks in running a campaign like this but I do understand the stigma behind it. Some people thought it would convey desperation. I hear that a lot from women, and maybe they have a point.


But then again, why use dating apps? To me, it’s the same thing.


When I first ran this, I too had some reservations. What would people say about me in the comments?


As it turns out, 99.99% of people (both men and women) were very positive. I’ll leave this as proof.




The Results

I ran my campaign 3 times over the span of a year. Each time, I would run the campaign for a month and get enough interests that I pause the ads. Typically, I would spend about $200 on ads for that month.


Dating "leads"


I also ran ads in Europe, just for laughs. I mean, everyone was at home so I figure maybe they would want to chat. Also, the benefit of running ads in non-US countries is that it costs way less.



Screenshot of ads. Yes, I got 6% link CTR



I probably had over 200+ submissions from interested prospects. I probably did Zoom calls with about 10 different women. And out of that, I met 4 in person. And the last woman I met, we’re still together.


Sorry, no picture of her… yet. She said she’ll let me drop a press release if we get married.


Of all the growth hacks I’ve implemented over the years, this is by far my best. After all, what’s the value of finding love? Priceless.


What’s a cool growth hack you’ve implemented? I’m always looking to learn from others.