Ep. #50 A Data Driven Approach to Online Dating with Scott Valdez
Online dating was a desert and looked down upon in general - it wasn't something you wanted to admit to. That was the 90s. In the 2000s it blew up into something that has most people now accepting it is a normal way to meet to date, hook up and even to marry.
Last week our editor Jackson Hunter reviewed a cool course that makes use of data to improve your results with online dating - everything they advise on has been tested 1000s of times.
That course was The Click Magnet Dating System, and when I looked at it I knew it was going to make for a great interview - so reached out to Scott Valdez to get him on to discuss his data driven approach.
It turned out to be a knowledge packed episode and we even went on a bit longer, so it's around 90 minutes this week. Enjoy.
Specifically, in this episode you'll learn about:
- How Scott Valdez uses online dating while he's traveling to meet women and have dates setup before he arrives in a new place.
- Why online dating tends to build trust with women quickly and how facebook can help with this.
- An overview of the best online dating sites that Scott Valdez uses in and out of the U.S.
- Why it's a good idea to pay for extra services on some of the free dating sites.
- The new mobile dating apps and how they differ from the standard online sites and you need to use a slightly different approach.
- The problems and challenges with the adult dating, casual dating and hookup dating sties.
- The importance of photos, how much work to put into them and how to get them rated so you know how good they are.
- "Time to response" - the most important metric you need to track to improve with online dating.
- The benchmark metrics from Virtual Dating Assistants that you need to hit (e.g. response rate, and date rate) otherwise it's a red flag and you are doing something wrong.
- How to choose the online dating site or app according to what you are looking for: hook up, short term or long term dating and marriage.
- What should you keep in mind when selecting women to message in online dating (paying attention to photos and profiles).
- Experiments with traveling and organizing parties with women met via online dating.
- How different approaches like cocky, funny and sincere tend to work with different platforms and women of different ages.
- How online dating can help you start learning quicker when you first start learning and practicing your dating skills.
- The top 3 recommendations from Scott Valdez on what to do to improve your dating as fast as possible.
Items Mentioned in this Episode include:
- The Click Magnet Dating System: This is the course describing the complete system that Scott and his company Virtual Dating Assistants use including their data tracking spreadsheet and some template messages.
- Virtual Dating Assistants (ViDA): Scott's company which provides a fully outsourced online dating system for men and women.
- The different online dating sites and apps that Scott mentioned in the interview:
- Free dating sites with very large memberships: OKCupid, Plenty of Fish (POF) and Badoo (outside of the U.S.).
- The largest paid access dating site: Match.com.
- Rich men dating not so rich women sites: Millionaire Match and SugarDaddyMeet.
- Religion specific websites: Christian Mingle and JDate.
- Adult dating and casual hookup dating sites: BeNaughty and AdultFriendFinder and Fling.
- The new mobile dating hookup apps: Tinder and Badoo (mobile app).
- Other data driven info and experiments in online dating:
- MyBestFace: OKCupid photo rating service that you can use to find your best photos for your dating profile.
- OKCupid's OKTrends blog: OKCupid published a lot of data driven analysis on dating behaviors that took place in OKCupid between 2009 and 2011.
- Math Genius that Hacked OKCupid to Get Dates: Just recently this news broke about a maths PhD, Chris McKinlay, who developed an application to hack OKCupid and create an ideal profile for him to get matched to his ideal women. Interesting read. Scott and I discussed this before the interview but ran out of time to include it in the interview.
Tim Ferriss' outsourcing online dating experiment: Neil Strauss interviews Tim about an experiment he ran in the late 2000s on online dating sites which resulted in him finding his girlfriend at the time.
Books, Courses and Training from Scott Valdez
Full Text Transcript of the Interview
[Angel Donovan]: One of the things I love about this show is that every time I ask where someone is, they're in a different place. Where are you today, Scott?
[Scott Valdez]: I'm in Colombia.
[Angel Donovan]: Great. I've heard some great things about that, and it's not the first time I've talked to someone from there. It seems to attract a few of us dating guys.
[Scott Valdez]: It's one of the best places that I've been for online dating. I do a lot of traveling wherever I go. I use dating sites, as I imagine you could guess. This is one of the places where you wouldn't ever run out of women to message online, and it produces a lot of interesting and attractive dates for me.
[Angel Donovan]: Do you exclusively yourself just use online dating, just nothing else, or you focus on that all the time in your life and outside?
[Scott Valdez]: In my life, I'd say about 95 percent of the women I date right now are from online. I still do meet women out at bars, but it's rare that , it used to be that I would meet a lot of women out at bars as well, but now it seems like when I'm at a bar, I'm already with a woman, with a girl that I met on the internet.
Basically, I have less single nights out, which is good for me, and I like it that way, but yes, I do recommend having more balance maybe even than I have myself, but since I do this for clients, it's good for me to be at the top of my game, and I do actually enjoy it. I spend a lot of time meeting women online and with them in person, which reduces the amount of girls that I meet out and about.
[Angel Donovan]: That's cool. I like to hear about a bit of specialism, you know? It means that the guys can get more value out of you, so it's all good. What's your background? How did you get into this online dating stuff and making a company out of it and everything?
[Scott Valdez]: Basically, online dating was initially a good idea for me, because I met my first serious girlfriend on Facebook. Right when it came out, it was actually a decent place to meet girls. Now it's a terrible place to meet girls, but when it first came out, it was much easier to hit a girl's inbox, rather than her Other box.
I don't know if everybody's aware of that, but usually if you send a message to somebody you don't know, they're not going to see it. Back then, it was the wild west of Facebook and I was just logged in, saw tons of hot girls on my campus.
It was only available for my university when it first came out at my school, so it was just a great place to meet girls, and I met a handful of girls, and then one of them became my girlfriend. I saw online as an opportunity to meet women, but then I went to online dating, and once Facebook , that relationship ended and I got online, I sent messages on Facebook and no one was responding.
I was like, "What the hell happened? It was such a good place to meet women. What's changed?" I didn't really get it, so it just didn't seem like an efficient place to meet women anymore. I moved to dating sites, because I'd started to hear people talk about Plenty of Fish and some of the other properties.
I started sending messages and I also struck out there, didn't have much success, and so I had to go back to the drawing board, start reading blogs and start educating myself on what the best practices were, so to say, with meeting women online.
Eventually I got it down myself. I started meeting lots of women, it took a lot of time, effort, and energy, but I did figure it out on my own, and then I started to work for an American company that was working me pretty hard in terms of just the amount of hours I was working.
It was a startup, and so I just decided, "Hey, what I'm doing is really repetitive. Why don't I just get somebody, like a younger guy that's in college, pay him, have him do the messaging for me, and that way I don't have to deal with it? I can just go on the dates."
I ended up doing that. I hired a guy on Craigslist that was a creative writing student that wanted some extra work on the side. I hired him for not much more than minimum wage, and it took a little while in the beginning to get things to flow and get him to really do things the right way.
[Angel Donovan]: Just to stop you there, what year was this?
[Scott Valdez]: When I was starting out with my dating, this was about '07, 2008.
[Angel Donovan]: There's a video out there where Team Ferris describes how he did something similar, where he outsourced. He just did it one time, as some kind of experiment, and he hired a whole bunch of teams to work on different dating sites, and he got a whole bunch of dates just for a few days, all lined up. He did his as a one-off thing. Did you ever see that?
[Scott Valdez]: Yes, I did. He took a really different approach than I did, but yes, it was a similar idea. He basically hired low paid Philippino assistants to send all of his emails. He actually had Jamaicans on the team, but they were pretty low paid overall, and a lot of them, half of the people that were working on it weren't even native English speakers, which for me, is mindblowing to know that he actually did have success wit hit.
[Angel Donovan]: Right, it might have been just sheer volume. I wondered about that, too.
[Scott Valdez]: Yes, it was probably very, very high volume and a fairly low response rate, but he's not a bad looking guy, either. He's a pretty tall, fit guy.
[Angel Donovan]: Okay, so you had this guy working for you, and it was going well?
[Scott Valdez]: Yes. In the beginning, it was a little bit rough around the edges, but once we actually got the process down, yes, it worked really well. He probably wasn't quite as good as I was doing on my own, but he was up there, and so I was saving a lot of time by not spending it on the dating sites, and just enjoying more dates with the women I wanted to meet.
For me, it worked great, and that's how my company started. I had my brother asking me about it, I had friends asking me about it, because I would tell my core group of friends and family what I was doing, and a lot of them were interested in the idea, and thought it was really cool to be able to get dates without having to do anything. I just realized, with all these guys that I know that would be interested in this kind of thing, why don't I start a service and do it professionally?
[Angel Donovan]: It's like a subversion. I was living in China for a while, and they still have all these agencies there. That's pretty much what online dating is for them, still, I think. You pay someone, and they go and look for someone for you. It's like headhunting, in a way. It's offline, of course, and stuff, but it's a similar outsourcing model.
[Scott Valdez]: Yes, it is similar. That's the more traditional application of hiring someone to find matches for you, and they call them professional matchmakers in the states. They're super expensive, but for guys that really are very marriage-minded, where my clients tend to be a little less marriage-minded. A lot of them do want to get married, but they're not in a rush, like somebody who hires a matchmaker is ready to get hitched.
[Angel Donovan]: It's a big investment.
[Scott Valdez]: Yes, it's also a big investment. Matchmakers in the states, they usually charge at least $5,000, some of them upwards of $25,000, $30,000 just to get started.
[Angel Donovan]: Wow, that's big numbers. Okay, so you got started. What year did the business actually start?
[Scott Valdez]: The business, we founded a virtual dating assistance in June of 2009.
[Angel Donovan]: Very good. Now, how old are you now?
[Scott Valdez]: 29.
[Angel Donovan]: You said you live in Colombia, but is that your lifestyle? Are you always living there, or where do you live normally?
[Scott Valdez]: No, I've been bouncing around a lot. I've actually, in the past two and a half years, I've lived in seven countries. I bounce a lot of them, mainly in South American and central Eastern Europe, for the most part. Yes, I tend to focus on cities that are are at least populations of around two million, where online dating's caught on.
Most cities in the world, where anything over two million, you've got plenty of online dating opportunity, but I do try to take a look at the databases before I move there, just to make sure that there are a lot of attractive girls. I move there, I just meet women online.
A lot of times, I'll do a bit of building a pipeline before I actually get there, just have some girls waiting. It's good to have advice about where to live, how to find an apartment. I've tried to put in work a little bit with some of the girls that I meet online, and yes, it makes moving around, like I'm doing a lot, more comfortable, because you're never feeling lonely if you've always got girls around.
[Angel Donovan]: Right, you're already meeting people. That's great. It's funny, I just chuckled there, because whenever I'm going to move somewhere, I research different things.
I've got my own criteria for somewhere I want to go, and it's normally things like internet, like we were just talking about a second ago, and access to organic food, or whatever other crazy stuff I've got going on in my life, and you have online dating. It's different criteria.
[Scott Valdez]: It's not the only thing, but yes, it's definitely an important part of my life.
[Angel Donovan]: But it pays to do the research upfront, so I guess you learn the same way I do, that it makes a big difference to how it goes. How many women would you say you've dated over this time? You've been on dates with basically how many?
[Scott Valdez]: I have no idea.
[Angel Donovan]: Give me a rough estimate. How many dates does this online dating lifestyle generate, roughly?
[Scott Valdez]: Well, as many as you want, as long as there are enough women to email.
[Angel Donovan]: You're probably an extreme example, because you've been moving around. Someone who went crazy in one city would eventually burn out the whole city, I guess.
[Scott Valdez]: Not really, though. The thing to remember about online dating is that the dating sites, they churn, they switch about 80 percent of their members within three months. There's constantly fresh women to email. As long as you're in a big enough city, you really should never run out of women to email.
Two million plus, multiple dating sites, speaking generally, I have a lot of clients in situations like that that have been getting five or ten phone numbers a month for the past two years. You don't really run out of women to email and to meet.
Obviously when moving to new cities all the time, it is nice to have a fresh database and just build and go crazy in it, and not have to pay attention to, "Who's new? Who have I already emailed?" that kind of thing, but at the same time, it's not a gamechanger for me, versus another guy who's staying more permanently in a specific city.
[Angel Donovan]: Well, just put a rough number on it? 100? 200? 500? 1,000?
[Scott Valdez]: We're talking two and a half years. I don't do more than probably ten to fifteen dates a month. I've had months where I've been on a date almost every single day with a different girl, but the thing is, that's not sustainable, because I don't like to just constantly play around. I like to have a stable girl, and at some point, that ends. That's the reason it's hard to predict. In a good month, I would go on almost around 30 dates a month. Some days I'd stack.
[Angel Donovan]: Right, when you're single.
[Scott Valdez]: Yes, when I'm single, but other months , but yes, in the last two and a half years, we're talking hundreds.
[Angel Donovan]: How many dates do you go on typically before you find a girl that you're like, "I like this girl enough to have a relationship," or is that really random? Or it depends on your mood?
[Scott Valdez]: It depends on my mood, it depends on how long I'm planning on staying that city. It depends. It just depends if I was just in a relationship or not, but I really like at least one out of two of the girls that I meet, and maybe but one out of four of them, I would really want.
[Angel Donovan]: That's really interesting. That's something I want to get into a little bit later, about how you map the virtual world to the real world, and if you make any mistakes when you're selecting women to meet and stuff, but we'll get into that in a bit. How many relationships have you had in your life so far?
[Scott Valdez]: What would be a relationship, exactly? Like a steady -
[Angel Donovan]: Yes, tell me how you would define a relationship, and let's just go with your definition. For me, if you're seeing a girl and you're hanging out a few times a week, and it goes on for three months, that's definitely a relationship.
[Scott Valdez]: Okay, so a three month rule? If we're talking three months, I would probably say , is this exclusive for three months, or is this three months while still seeing other people? I think that makes a big difference. I would say -
[Angel Donovan]: I think, some people have multiple long-term relationships, and they're still in relationships. That's why we call them relationships. I think you can include those, yes.
[Scott Valdez]: I would probably say somewhere around 30, probably.
[Angel Donovan]: That's a lot of relationships.
[Scott Valdez]: I tend to have a stable girl, even if I'm continuing to online date. I have at least one girl over the duration of when I'm staying somewhere that I do see constantly. For example, right now, I do have a girl that I've been seeing for the past almost three months, but she knows.
I try to be as honest as possible, and she actually knows. She doesn't want to know any details, but she was just making jokes last night about me being really easy and basically always checking out girls in front of her and all this stuff. She doesn't really like it, but she accepts it, and if you're dating around like I am, it's pretty hard to cover it up.
[Angel Donovan]: Well, also if you're traveling, like you are all the time, they're not expecting a really serious relationship.
[Scott Valdez]: That's part of the appeal of what I'm doing right now for me, is that when relationships have a natural expiration date, then the women tend to basically protect themselves a little bit more from becoming too emotionally attached, which is nice, because if you're not looking for anything long-term at the moment, it is nice for both parties involved.
[Angel Donovan]: Yes, it's like a mutual decision there. That's good. How many women have you slept with, roughly?
[Scott Valdez]: Oh god, I do not want to answer this question, because my mom could hear this, but online dating, when you meet women online, it makes it so much easier for you to get sexual quickly, because the reality is that they feel a higher level of trust, I think, than a girl that you just met at a bar.
Obviously the girl at the bar may be intoxicated at the moment, but a lot of times she's there with a group of friends, and she's not going to go home with you because she's going to look like a slut. You meet a girl online, you meet her out one on one, she already feels like she knows you.
If she's had you on Facebook, which is part of my own personal strategy, usually I do get girls on Facebook and I have a really strong Facebook presence, because it's something that I pay a lot of attention to, then the amount of social credibility it gives me and just the amount of trust that it builds, her being able to see pictures of me with all of my friends, my family, everything.
It adds another dimension of trust where she knows, or at least she feels like she's known who she's dealing with, and there's also a bit of time distortion that occurs in terms of her feeling like she's known you impossibly for longer than she has, if you exchange several messages over the course of a week.
It's not like a girl that you just met the night before at a bar, so the reality is that I found it's much easier to get sexual with women that you meet online quickly than women that you meet other places, unless you're dealing with a very ideal scenario at bars, where a girl is alone or she's with a friend who's also with another guy or she just doesn't give a shit.
[Angel Donovan]: Right, so it's a combination of logistics and trust there. As you say, she's on her own and she's not worried about what other people, and also, she knows all this stuff about you from your profile and from your Facebook, as well, as you're using there. I could actually see that's healthier in a way, right?
[Scott Valdez]: Yes, it works out well for us guys, that's for sure. And for her, she feels like she knows who she's dealing with. If something happens, it's not like she only has my cellphone number, she has my Facebook account.
Even with her coming back to my place, I think she feels more comfortable that she could, for example, send a link , and some girls do this , they'll tell their friend who they're going out with, in case anything happens, whereas if you just met her at a bar, she doesn't even have you on Facebook or whatever.
Obviously at a bar you can get her on Facebook, too, but in a lot of cases we don't actually go through that step as well, and online, it's just a lot more natural, since you're already online. It definitely adds a level of security to the whole situation, to the whole idea of her coming back with you that you don't necessarily always get offline as easily as you do online.
[Angel Donovan]: Excellent. Let's talk a bit about your company and who its clientele are and stuff like that. It's interesting. Your company is basically outsource dating, so you take it from creating a profile on an online dating site to messaging, to getting the date, and then you hand it off to a client. Is that how it works?
[Scott Valdez]: Yes, that is essentially how it works. Basically, the easiest way to look at it is imagine you wanted to meet women online, but you either just weren't doing it already, you weren't having success, or maybe you didn't have just the time to make it successful.
What you do is you pay someone to come in, you can think of us as consultants, whatever. We see what you're doing, we fix it, we make it all work, and then we do it for you. Everything that you would have to do, if you wanted to meet women online, we'd do it. We even do the back and forth messaging, and we book the dates or get the phone numbers and then all our clients have to do is simply show up and enjoy.
[Angel Donovan]: Alright, cool. What's the typical profile of people who are using this? You said they're busy. Who's your typical client?
[Scott Valdez]: Our typical client is pretty busy. It's a mix between people who just are not having success with online dating, and then guys who are having some success, but just realize that it takes a lot of time, like my scenario that led me to end up starting it myself. It's a mix. I'd say we get more guys that are on the busy side of things.
Probably 65 percent of the guys are the busy ones, and 35 percent are the guys that just aren't having any luck. They tend to be between the ages of 28 to 43, in that range, although we do get younger and we do get older, but they tend to be in that sweet spot for single guys. Overall, they're guys that are making some money at work.
It's not a super expensive service, but any time you're forking out in the hundreds of dollars a month, on top of your rent, it can get expensive quickly, and our clients tend to make upward of five figures and above.
They're fairly successful guys that like women, want to meet more women, and either don't have the time to do it themselves or don't necessarily want to learn the skills to meet them online that it takes to do it successfully. Most of our clients are either time-strapped or don't have the skills to make it successful.
[Angel Donovan]: Excellent. I read in the Huffington Post, I think it was August 2011 that you had around 30 clients. How many do you have today?
[Scott Valdez]: Right now, it varies from month to month, but we have around 100 clients a month.
[Angel Donovan]: That's a fair number. How many dates has your company set up for people, do you know? Is this something , that would be an interesting statistic.
[Scott Valdez]: I don't know the exact number. It's an in system, and I could extract it, but we've got to b in the tens of thousands by now. We've been doing this since 2009, setting up a lot of dates per month, and a lot of what we deliver is phone numbers, too, so it's sometimes hard to know exactly what a client does with a phone number, once we give it to them. But including phone numbers, yes, we're getting up there. We've got to be in the tens of thousands.
[Angel Donovan]: Cool. When I was doing research about your company, I saw in the media, in terms of response and reaction to it, which I guess you can see , I saw a bit of bad press from Jezebel.com, and I saw some more positive stuff from Huffington Post and some others. What other kinds of different types of reactions do you get from this service?
[Scott Valdez]: Well, I think a lot of , there are two big misconceptions about the service that we have. One of them is that the guys are just lazy. A lot of our clients are men, and it's pretty obvious when you look at our website that we're mainly targeting men. That's the reason Jezebel was so negative, is women think it's just a bunch of lazy guys that just don't want to lift a finger and do anything themselves, but really it's about making the best use of your time.
These aren't guys that are lazy, these are guys that prefer to be doing other, more productive stuff than sitting around on online dating sites all day. The other big misconception is in terms of , it comes from a lot of people that don't really know online dating, and they assume that we're sending a lot of long love letter-type, long emails, drawn out messages, and we're sending lots of messages online.
In their mind, we're building false relationships, which is really, really untrue. Anyone that's done a lot of online dating knows that it's pretty surface level. You're just exchanging basic information, sending a few messages, and things happen pretty fast.
If you know what you're doing, there's a lot of guys that are afraid to pull the trigger, and maybe they just send a lot of back and forth messages and don't get anywhere with the women, but really, the most effective strategy is really quick and short messages, not too many of them, and pulling the trigger.
That's what we do, so that misconception is also false. We're simply facilitating in person introductions and we're doing it as efficiently and effectively as possible, and any guy could take what we do, and they could do it themselves.
I've got a product that teaches guys how to do it themselves, and they could, but it just depends on how you want to spend your time, and I think a lot of our clients are smart to be making that decision about what their time's worth and where they want to be spending it. I think the misconceptions largely come from people that don't really know what theyíre talking about. It tends to happen.
[Angel Donovan]: That, of course, what you were just talking about was Click Magnet Dating System, which we just recently reviewed, and we thought it was pretty damn cool, which is why I got you on here.
[Scott Valdez]: Yes, that's the one.
[Angel Donovan]: What kind of positive press do you get?
[Scott Valdez]: We've gotten a lot, right up from reporters that came in. For example, we had a guy from a publication called Urban Daddy. They do , basically it's an email magazine type thing, and they came in and tried out the service. He loved it. The reporters that tend to write the best stuff are the ones that actually get to know us, and talk to us. The ones like Jezebel , and we never talked to them, they never asked us about how things work, they just wrote a scathing article.
[Angel Donovan]: Right. Just to get something straight, do you do this for women as well, or is it just guys?
[Scott Valdez]: We do this for women as well. Initially, we targeted men and then we decided we're leaving so much money on the table and we've got to basically change our marketing and make it gender neutral.
Then we realized that, over time, even when it was gender neutral, about 80 percent of our clients were men anyways, and so you have the whole 80-20 rule. Why focus so much energy on that market that's only giving you 20 percent of revenue anyway? We refocused our marketing back on men. We have a "women's site," that you can click on, but most of what we do now is with men. A; Well, I guess mostly it's men who do the messaging, so that makes more sense for a business model, just because of the natural way things are. Okay, let's talk a little bit about the online dating services world, because I'm sure you know this really, really well. Which are the best sites to use, and why?
[Scott Valdez]: Well, it depends on what you're looking for, and obviously I hate to give a vague question, but in general, I do tend to stick with the mainstream sites for myself and all of our clients, and it depends obviously on what country you're in, but two of the ones that are really big, no matter where you are, are Plenty of Fish , it's the biggest dating property in the world, that's strictly a dating site , and the other one is OKCupid.
It's pretty big in a lot of international countries as well. Those are two really great sites. Match.com is also a good one for guys in the US. If you're in , I don't use these sites myself, but I've got a lot of clients that use them.
If you're open to the idea of meeting girls that are interested in you for your money, that you either have or you don't have , you don't really have to have it, because nobody's checking your income statements, but MillionaireMatch.com can be a good site, SugarDaddy.com can be a good site, if you want to have some fun with some girls that are looking to be spoiled, but you definitely don't have to spoil them before you get sexual. I've heard of guys doing that as well.
If you're a religious guy, ChristianMingle can be a great site, or if you're Jewish, Jdate can be a great site. But Plenty of Fish is actually full of a lot of women who aren't that attractive, but the ones that are do tend to respond at a pretty high rate. Weíve found that we get an extremely high response rate on Plenty of Fish, and then OKCupid is the second mainstream. We like to focus on those two, and the great thing about those two sites is they're both free. You can get great results on them without spending a dime.
[Angel Donovan]: Okay, just a few you mentioned there, that I know are also big is Badoo, Zoosk, and eHarmony. What's your opinion on those?
[Scott Valdez]: Sure. Badoo is a site that I spend a lot of time on, and the reason I spend a lot of time on it is because it's technically not a dating site. I said Plenty of Fish is the biggest dating site in the world. Technically, it's not, but in all intents and practices, it actually is. They don't market it as a dating site, they market it as a social network, or they call it "social discovery."
[Angel Donovan]: Oh, that's interesting. I actually thought it was a dating site. I don't know, in the marketing, I got mixed up somewhere.
[Scott Valdez]: Yes, they keep it a lot more neutral, and there's a good reason for that, because they tended to do really well in markets where online dating still carried a pretty big stigma, and so you find that Badoo is really popular in basically Latin American countries, in Eastern European countries. It's even popular in a lot of European countries, like France, Italy, Germany.
It's pretty popular, but the reality is it's not that big in the US. The US is one of the places where online dating caught on the fastest, and is the biggest , probably is still the biggest online dating market in the world, and right now, it just never really became that popular. It can work well, if you're in a big city like New York or San Francisco, Chicago, maybe Miami.
Miami could be good, because there's a lot of Latin women, but even in those cities, it tends to attract the women that are from countries where it's more popular. Even if you're in New York, if you want to meet some Latin chicks that recently moved to New York, or maybe some Russian women or whatever, Badoo could be attracting some of those women that's worth checking out.
[Angel Donovan]: Because they've been using it in their home country, you mean?
[Scott Valdez]: Yes, they've been using it in their home country, they're just familiar with the site, but Americans in general don't really know Badoo that well, but it is a huge site on a world scale.
[Angel Donovan]: Yes, I heard it's a huge number. I can't remember what it was now, but they have a lot of people on that site. Maybe they're not all active. It's like a Facebook, right?
[Scott Valdez]: Yes, it's like Facebook. It's chat-based, so it's becoming more and more popular as a mobile app. People are using it as a chat site. The communications happen fast, unlike more traditional dating sites where there can be delays between messages of a day, two days, whatever.
That's normal. Badoo, it's almost like you're live chatting. Everything happens fast, it can be time consuming, but the key is for Badoo is to try to get women to check you out and to rate you and whatever, without doing much first, or just focus only on women that are online now. There's no point in messaging women that aren't online now, because just the nature of it being a chat site.
What I tend to do on Badoo, which is cool, and I recommend doing it for any site, at least testing it for any site where it's possible, and even on OKCupid this is possible now , you can pay a little bit of money, a couple dollars, and there's three different ways you can use it right now. This could change over time, but you can pay for them to put you at the very top of the site in something they call Spotlight.
You can also pay for them to push you up in the search results, and you can also pay for them , I know a lot of guys are getting more and more familiar with Tinder, which is a really popular mobile app right now, where you just swipe women to the left if you don't like them, swipe them to the right if you do like them. If there's a match, then you're notified and you can message each other.
Badoo and even OKCupid, they're adopting this concept into their site, and so on Badoo, you can pay for increased exposure. Lately, I've been getting lots of matches that way, where basically they're showing my picture to more women and then, by having something called superpowers, which costs a little money, too , Badoo is a free site, but I do recommend testing out some of this stuff.
I've found that boosting yourself in the search engine doesn't do much, but some of the other stuff is really, really cool, and can boost your results. You just focus on women that are online now, you have a couple copy and paste templates. Ideally, test a few, see what works, and then you'll end up with a couple that work really well. You can get great results on it. It is a good site, but for our American guys that are in the US, it's maybe something worth looking into, but there are probably better sites.
[Angel Donovan]: Zoosk was another one.
[Scott Valdez]: Zoosk is terrible. I recommend staying away from Zoosk. I haven't used it in a while. Maybe they've made improvements to their site, but if you look at just , for example, there's a site called AppAnnie.com, and what AppAnnie does, it's a site where you can see how much, approximately how popular different mobile apps are and different scoring.
You'll see that it's a popular app. A lot of people are downloading it, but if you look at the score, it's getting a 2 out of 5. None of the other apps that I know of are getting such low scores on their app, and I think it's two reasons. First, probably their app sucks, and from what I've seen, it does.
Second of all, it's because their site in general sucks. I don't know if they've changed it, but for a long time, you couldn't even sort the users by last login date. That's a recipe for online dating failure. I don't recommend Zoosk. I think they've not provided a good platform for the users, historically, and I don't trust that that's going to change. It's not a site that I recommend.
[Angel Donovan]: Alright, so you'd be talking a lot about mobile apps. You're using mobile apps with all of these sites, and that's what you recommend doing? Talk a little bit about that, versus using the web.
[Scott Valdez]: Well, either one's fine, really. We mainly use web for our customers, but things are becoming more and more mobile, and it's going to continue to happen. Recently, I was at a conference for the internet dating industry, and the founder of Plenty of Fish said that about 82 percent of their users right now are accessing their database via mobile apps. It's huge.
It's a huge, huge shift, and what that means for us as guys that want to meet women online is that things are going to continue to get more and more quick, because when people are dealing with their mobile phones, they tend to be more responsive. They treat it a little more like text messaging. Messages get shorter, and response times get quicker. We're seeing that with the online dating sites now, and it's something that's important, that we and all the users of dating sites, they adjust for quickly.
[Angel Donovan]: Do you think, if you're not responding quickly , just out of out interest, at this point, if you're not responding quickly, because you're not going with the times, is that going to hurt you?
[Scott Valdez]: Yes. Yes, it is. The biggest thing, just the easiest way to conceptualize this is online dating is very momentum-based. Basically, women are just getting blasted by so many guys on the dating sites. Some of them, they're finding attractive. They like some of them. You've just got a lot of competition at all times.
Her attention span's short, so if her level of interest goes up and then she responds quickly and then you don't respond until the next day, so much can happen between that last message she sent and whatever. Another guy that looks really interesting could have captured her interest in that time. She could have met someone.
Online dating happens fast, so you have to be pretty quick, or it really does hurt your chances, especially as things become quicker and quicker, like on Tinder, for example. You've got to move fast and you've got to get numbers super fast. You can't have one day delays between messages like you can on dating sites. You can still do it on dating sites now, but maybe a year from now, it's going to be more like Tinder, where people are real quick.
[Angel Donovan]: You said Tinder? That's a new social networking site for the younger crowd, is that correct?
[Scott Valdez]: Yes. I wouldn't necessarily call it a social network. It's a dating app, but it's a very basic dating app in the sense that all you're doing , it's a very simple structure. You swipe to the right or you swipe to the left. If you like a girl's photo, you swipe to the right. If you don't, you swipe to the left. It means, as guys, our photos and especially our main photo, are extremely important.
There are ways to take more attractive photos, and you've got to make sure you've got really solid photos and you're going to get results on it. But it's a new direction, where we're being extremely superficial, but in a way that makes sense. Just because a girl swipes you right doesn't mean she actually likes you and wants to meet you and hook up with you, it just means that you're relatively attractive enough that she would consider talking to you.
At that point, if she swipes you to the right and you swipe her to the right, then you get matched, and then you're able to message her. It's a closed database where you can't message someone unless you've been matched, based on a mutual right swipe.
[Angel Donovan]: I guess that saves a lot of time, right? There's a lot of wasted effort from a guy's perspective.
[Scott Valdez]: It does. Tinder is by far the best mobile dating app that's ever hit the market, and especially for us younger guys, it makes a lot of sense, because it is pretty time-efficient. You don't waste time sending messages to lots of women that aren't going to respond. You simply swipe right real fast, and sometimes I'll do it extremely fast. Once you get it down, you're just like swipe, swipe, swipe.
It does make for pretty quick screening process, but again, like I said, if you don't have strong photos then it doesn't matter so so much what you look like. I do a lot of photo scoring. I've got photos that if I use them, they would make me look 50 percent less attractive or more.
Maybe regularly, I'm a 6 and a half or a 7. I'm not really rating myself, but these apps would make me believe that, and so I could be below a five with a bad photo, 4.75 or something, because it's just a poorly taken photo. A lot of guys are making that same mistake and just not , they think, "Oh, I am what I am, I can't change that." Well, you can definitely change how attractive you look in photos.
[Angel Donovan]: Right, so it sounds like you're saying, on these apps, they give you scores. Do you have to let them score you, or do all of them score you and give you a rating for your photos? You can find out if your photo's not good enough?
[Scott Valdez]: Yes, you can. There are a couple apps that I can tell you about. One of them is MyBestFace. It's by OKCupid. The other one is Badoo, which is a site we were just talking about. They do photo scoring as well. My favorite one is MyBestFace, though, because I trust the results more.
The reality is that there's no perfect photo scoring out there. Even OKCupid's MyBestFace gives a certain level of variation between your scores. If you put one photo in the same report two or three times, you're going to see that the scores can be quite different.
[Angel Donovan]: Are you talking a five and a seven different, or is it six and seven?
[Scott Valdez]: In some cases, five and seven different. You can't really trust one score, but the reality is, let's say each photo, if you were to run it six times , if you're only talking five photos, it isn't going to take that long. If you're talking ten, fifteen photos, that takes a lot of time to do. You have to decide on how much time you're willing to invest into gathering the best data that you can around your photos, but in my case, recently I did MyBestFace with serious analysis.
I started with 70 photos, I ran them each twice. I had an assistant do it, and narrowed those down to 35, and then I ran those twice again, and then I narrowed that down to the top 17. I cut them out again, ran them another two times, and narrowed that down to the top ten, and then ran the top ten another two times. That's extremely hardcore, and I don't necessarily recommend that you do that.
[Angel Donovan]: How important is the photo on online dating? It's huge, right? What would you say is a percentage? Is it 80 percent of the thing?
[Scott Valdez]: No, I wouldn't call it 80 percent. I'd call it maybe 50 percent.
[Angel Donovan]: 50 percent?
[Scott Valdez]: I would say 50 percent photos, 30 percent messages, 20 percent profile text.
[Angel Donovan]: What are the biggest mistakes with photos that make them lower rating. You've obviously seen patterns from all your testing and everything. What would you say are the worst things to have in photos?
[Scott Valdez]: One thing that a lot of guys do is they just , the number one problem is they just don't take enough photos, and they just have four or five options and try to choose the best. If you take 100 photos, believe me, you're going to get way luckier one of the times than you do in the others. We all get lucky every once in a while, when it comes to photos.
I've got photos that I look horrendous in, I've got others that I look really good in. The reason I have that wide range is because I've taken lots of photos. The number one thing guys aren't doing is just taking enough photos. Even our iPhones now take good enough photos that it's not causing serious quality issues with pixellation or whatever. You should just be taking your phone out more and using it more, just making a conscious effort to take more photos.
The next thing that a lot of guys do is they just don't have photos , the main thing is your main photo, you're going to want to make sure you look as attractive as possible. After that, you've got to have photos that paint a picture. They've got to display who it is that you are, as an exciting alpha male. We just don't have enough variation. Our photos, we're not doing enough interesting stuff.
Maybe it's because we don't have a lot of interesting stuff going on in our live, but anyone can even frame this interesting thing. I just did a professional photoshoot at a park, and I really wanted to take a photo with a dog. The photographer, I asked him to bring his dog, because I saw a picture of it online. I said, "Bring your dog."
He showed up without his dog and I was like, "Come on, man. I asked you to bring your dog and you said you would." He's like, "Sorry, blah, blah, blah." I'm at the park, and this really, really attractive dog comes by. I'm like, "That dog's cute," so I tell the owner, "Hey, can I get him for a couple pictures, just one minute?" He's like, "Okay, sure."
This isn't necessarily an interesting thing, but I'm just showing how I've framed a specific , all the girls, and this is my main picture now, and it scored really well on the testing that I did. I got this picture with this really, really good looking dog. I'm at a park, I'm on one knee and I'm petting it and it's all happy, and it builds a lot of trust in my profile.
Guys that dogs like are more trustworthy. A lot of girls on Tinder, they told me, "Hey, I swiped right because of the dog." I'm talking to them, saying funny stuff, and they love me anyways, but the thing is, you can create scenarios. They just have to look natural. If you've got a mountain bike or whatever, you can go out and you have one of your buddies take a couple mountain bike pictures of you.
Just don't pose and look at the camera and flex your muscle while you're on your mountain bike, because that's going to look really cheesy. But if it looks natural, it looks like a real situation, just like the dog does, then it's going to create an element of interesting lifestyle to your profile, like you do fun, interesting stuff.
You want to just communicate other things besides, "Hey, I wear wifebeaters in my bathroom and take pictures in front of my mirror," which a lot of guys are doing, which is obviously one of the huge mistakes, the whole shot in front of the mirror thing. You want to get out of your house, into interesting situations, and capture them. If you're not in enough of those naturally, there are ways to just set them up. Just make them happen and make them look natural, and women will believe them.
[Angel Donovan]: Yes. Well, I suppose your point on you should be taking pictures on your phone all the time, that's the main thing. I mean, hopefully guys are building their lifestyles and they're doing more stuff in their life as well. If you have to, you can start off by setting up these pictures, but it's best if you're taking pictures all the time and you've got this cool stuff that's actually going on in your life.
If you're not having fun stuff in your life, you should be, because we only live once. Get out there and have fun and take some pictures of it, and your online dating will go better, too. I wanted to look here, just touch on the adult and the casual hookup sites, because I know that in the online dating industry, these are the moneymakers now.
These are the big growth sites, because you see them all on Facebook, the ads and everywhere. I just wanted your take on that. I know that some of the bigger ones are Be Naughty, Adult Friend Finder, and Fling. Have you got any opinions or ideas on those sites?
[Scott Valdez]: Yes, sure. My experience with those sites , and I try to keep clients away from it, actually. The reason is because they tend to attract a lot more men than women. If you look at the statistics of the traffic that's going to these sites, these sites are basically doing lots of advertising on porn sites, and places where horny guys tend to congregate. It's basically a moneymaker for them.
They bring in guys with a promise of there being lots of attractive women that just want to fuck them. Obviously the most attractive women, they donít have to go to a site to get laid. They just go to a bar and see a cute guy and wink at them and then the rest is done.
My experience with those sites has been, hey, if you've got a girl who's open to the idea of threesomes or whatever, you've got some negotiating power to bring in, another girl, maybe a bisexual girl that wants to have threesomes, you've got some kind of unique pull on these sites, of course you can get results.
But if you're just coming in as yet another single, horny guy, it's going to be hard for you to get really good results. I'm sure guys out there are, but they're probably really good looking guys that are still spending a lot of time on it.
My general take is they did a study not too long ago, and these studies are obviously up for debate, what the sample size was or whatever, but basically, the study was by the National Institute for Sexuality Research, something like that, but they did a study and found that about two-thirds of the , I don't know if it was 66, but I think it was 60 percent of online dates end in some kind of sexual intercourse, first dates.
My thing, it depends on what country you're in, for me. But when I'm in the US, for example, I hook up on at least half of the dates, probably closer to 70 percent. The reality is is that if you want sex, like I said before, why not just go to a regular dating site, get more dates, and just try to hook up more quickly with the girls from dating sites?
I mean, you take a girl out to drinks and you work on , it's not like I was always a great first date. I used to suck on first dates. I used to get drunk , not drunk, but I used to have some drinks before every firs t date, just to loosen me up.
Now I take a girl out for coffee and there's a good chance I can hook up with her in the daytime. But the reality is, you're going to get better at dating, and why not just focus on dating and trying to hook up with women from regular dating sites, rather than trying to go to these sites that are just filled with basically dudes?
[Angel Donovan]: You're saying the demographics are way more in your favor?
[Scott Valdez]: Yes, dating sites are just way easier. I just think that, in the time you spend on an adult site, trying to hook up with one girl, you could easily have five to ten in person dates, and if you can hook up with even 25 percent of those, you're still getting a better return on your investment than you are on these adult sites.
[Angel Donovan]: Right. Well, there's two things there. We haven't really talked about the whole perspective of this, because you've talked about you should pay for the sites to basically meet women more easily, get ranked and so on, and in some of those sites, whereas I think that a lot of those people go to those site and they're thinking it's free.
But your whole approach to this is very focused on time, which is the proposition behind your company, and everything. Could you talk a little bit about your mindset towards this, and so guys can tell, "Oh, this is the way I should be thinking or not?"
[Scott Valdez]: Yes. The general way that I see that you should approach this is that you should look purely from an ROI perspective, meaning your time is your investment, and you want to make sure that you get the best return on that possible. There are certain ways that I've found , and it takes a lot of trial and error , that have really increased my ROI on my time.
One of those things is the advertising approach, just getting a max number of eyeballs to your profile in the quickest amount of time possible. I've created some automation things that go through and just do things like check out women's profiles that are already rated on OKCupid as four or five star, just basically go through them real quick, so then they'll check you out back, and if they check you out back, your response rate more than doubles.
We push response rates up to almost 70 to 80 percent with women that check out our profiles. There are certain things you can do just to pull the women out of the woodwork that are most likely to respond to you, so you can get a much higher response rate in less time. This is one of those strategies I'm talking about.
With Badoo, if you can pay a couple bucks, and basically it gives you priority views of your picture for the Tinder-type left or right swipe to 100 women , let's say twenty of those swipe you right, and you're actually interested in seven of them, you just paid two dollars to get seven women delivered in your inbox that are interested in you. You're going to get a way higher response rate on those women than if you go out on your own and just start blasting random women with messages in general.
I get a higher response rate on Badoo with cold messages, too, but for me, it's worth that two dollars to save thirty minutes of time, because my time's worth more than four dollars an hour, obviously. I'm sure everybody listening to this, your time is worth more than four dollars an hour.
If you can increase the amount of returns , the other approach that we do, the other main application of this is a lot of guys are sending customized messages to women on dating sites, and it's a bad idea. The reason is because you can send out messages so much faster if they're not customized, and there's certain tricks you can use to make them even seem customized. If she has a short profile, write a message for that.
You can do advanced searches on different sites for words like skiing, and you can just identify all the profiles in one search that either, by selecting skiing, like Match.com has an interest list , you can check a box that shows skiing in it , or you can just do an advanced search and put in a keyword.
OKCupid doesn't have that box, but you can just do a keyword search. The results are going to show all the women with skiing in their profile, so you create one message for that about skiing, and you can make some kind of joke about whether they're basically, I don't know, the ones that are tumbling down the bunny slopes, if they're zooming down Black Diamond, something like that.
Just send a playful, teasing email, just challenging her a little bit, see where her skill level's at. You create a template like that, and you can just see 100 women with that skiing in their profile. Then it's copy-paste, copy-paste, copy-paste. Do you really think that going and reading each of those profiles and trying to find something else that's unique in it, besides the word skiing is going to double your response rate? I guarantee it's not going to double your response rate.
It might even, in a lot of cases, lower your response rate because, by sending different emails to every woman, you can't test. You can't see what's most effective and what's not. One of the most beautiful things about a template-based approach is testing is simple. How many times did you send it? You sent it 30 times. How many responses did you get? You got three responses.
You've got a ten percent response on that template. How did you do on the other template? You compare your response rates, and then you prioritize your templates. You get rid of the ones that aren't working, and if you are doing this type of approach, you can send out a message every couple of minutes.
The couple of minutes you're going to spend is the searching, but usually if you're reading profiles, you're going to be lucky to send out a message every twenty minutes, if you're actually reading profiles and customizing messages. All of a sudden, you're doing things ten times faster and your response rate isn't changing much.
It might even be improving, because you're being more systematic and really paying attention to what's working and what's not. That's the general approach we take. We used to send customized messages.
It was a huge waste of time, but as we got better and better, we started to realize that we'd started doing semi-customized emails and we realized, "Hey, we're getting just as good a response rate on these. We're just customizing small parts of emails," and we were like, "Hell, why can't we just have fully pre-written emails, fully templated, and see how that does?"
We started testing and we saw that the most important metric, which I haven't really explained this way. Let's talk about ROI, but the most important metric when it comes to the initial icebreaker email, when you're breaking the ice, is something I call time per positive response. How many minutes does it take you to generate a response from a woman that's interested enough to write you back?
On a dating site, a mere response is a large indicator of interest. If you can monitor that to some extent, if that's your focus, you will get much better response rates, much better results on dating sites if you take that approach rather than most guys are taking a very response rate-centric approach, where their main concern is what percentage of women are responding, when that really doesn't matter that much, as long as you've got a big database.
[Angel Donovan]: Right, I'm glad we're talking about the data, because this is one of the really interesting things I thought we'd get you on for, because we love data. It gets us closer to the truth. It makes it a bit more scientific, and I know that's what you've been focused on, so that's really cool.
Could you give us some kind of benchmarks from your company? What are your main metrics? You've brought up one. One is time per response, the first response from a girl that you've messaged. Is that the main one?
[Scott Valdez]: Yes, that's the most important metric that we track. A good time per positive response for us would be about seven to eight minutes per response.
[Angel Donovan]: Okay, so roughly, because of the way you do it efficiently, how many messages have you written to get that?
[Scott Valdez]: Our response rates, it depends on the template, but right now, we're averaging around 26 percent response rate, so a little bit higher than one out of four women will respond. Remember, these are all copy and paste messages. We're doing zero customization, and we're still getting responses from one out of four women that actually interest our client. They tend to be as attractive or more attractive than the client is.
[Angel Donovan]: This is interesting to discuss, because if there's guys out there right now and they're online dating, and they can start to track some of their responses, then if you're saying you get 26 percent response rate and they're getting five percent, they can think, "Okay, I'm probably not doing something right here." Is that a fair comment?
[Scott Valdez]: Yes, if you're getting anything below a ten percent response rate, I don't care who you are. We have really, really difficult clients, and if they get below a ten percent response rate, it's a big red flag for us. If you're below ten percent, most likely it starts with the photos. Basically, if you're doing below ten percent, you're probably doing everything wrong, but the biggest thing that we see starts with photos, and we work with clients to fix those.
[Angel Donovan]: Okay, so you're doing the time to response. What about actual dates? How many messages do you send? How long does it take, and how many dates do you get for each message or time or whatever metric you're looking at?
[Scott Valdez]: We're getting a 25 percent response rate on the initial email. It's somewhere between 33 to 50 percent of those should turn into an offline interaction, meaning a phone number or a date.
[Angel Donovan]: You're saying maybe ten percent?
[Scott Valdez]: Yes, ten to twelve percent.
[Angel Donovan]: That gives guys a pretty good idea there.
[Scott Valdez]: Yes, it's a good benchmark. The average guy is performing much lower than that. Personally, I actually can do a little bit higher than that myself, but it's harder to do back and forth emailing, frankly, when you're not doing it for yourself. If you really do know what you're doing, we can perform better than most of our clients, even though we're doing it for them.
[Angel Donovan]: I don't think anyone wants to spend , how many years have you been doing this? Your experience is definitely ahead of the curve, and most guys aren't going to be able to do that. You're going to perform ahead of the curve, no matter what. But we're looking at reasonable benchmarks here. This is different for each platform, or is this pretty much across the board, very similar? If you go on Plenty of Fish or OKCupid or Match, is it different?
[Scott Valdez]: Yes, it is different. It's different. For example, I think on Plenty of Fish, we were averaging a little bit higher than that, like 27 percent. OKCupid was our second better of the three, and I think we were at 24 percent or something. On Match, we were 19 percent. I think sometimes the quality could be a little bit better on Match. We still are using it, we still like Match a lot, but the results do vary from site to site.
One thing that's actually a very big recommendation of mine, I'm super into testing and tracking, and one of the things that I teach that guys should keep track of is the response rate across different sites. The easiest thing is just the response rate. You could track it to the date and you could basically do an email to date conversation, but that's getting nitty gritty.
The initial response rate is really the easiest high level thing to track, and what you can do is simply track what I was saying for the messages, where I sent X messages and I've gotten X responses. Just keep track of that for the different dating site. Use Roman numerals, if you want, whatever is easier.
Usually it's an Excel spreadsheet, and just keep track of how many times you've sent each email and how many responses that you're getting, and for each of the sites. We find that it's actually hard to predict some times what sites are going to work better for a client. We have a client that can kick ass on Plenty of Fish and suck on Match, for whatever reason.
[Angel Donovan]: You haven't seen a pattern there yet?
[Scott Valdez]: It's hard. I mean, of course there are some patterns that are somewhat predictable, but there are always surprises. I mean, OKCupid tends to, if we have a younger, more hipster style client, a morelaid back, artsy type, OKCupid in general does tend to work better, but we've had surprises along the way. A lot of times, it is harder to predict.
I recommend just trying a few different sites, keeping track of your response rate on each site, and then once you have enough data, let's say you've sent 70 emails on each site and you are getting a ten percent response rate on one site, a 15 percent rate on another, and a 25 percent on another, you might just want to focus on the 25 percent site until you run out of women to email, if that ever happens, and then switch to the 15 percent.
[Angel Donovan]: Is there an age skew to the platforms? I don't know, is OKCupid younger?
[Scott Valdez]: OKCupid's younger, Match is a little bit older, and more of the professional crowd. Plenty of Fish is a little bit of everything. I don't know that I would put it as a younger and older thing, but yes, it depends. There are obviously a lot of other sites out there, and Tinder, like I mentioned before, is super young. It's the closest thing , and we were talking actually about hookups, and I should mention this, but Tinder is like a hookup app. It's known as being very hook up centric.
[Angel Donovan]: I know this from the gay world, I've got a couple of gay friends, and they have things like Gaydar. There's actually a whole bunch of apps, and the stories, if you don't know those apps, they're pretty crazy.
It's just got this GPS on it, and you'll be in a bar somewhere and you check out photos and stuff and you say, "I want to hook up with someone who's within ten meters distance from you, or maybe across the road," and they pretty much just get together. It sounds like Tinder is following in the footsteps of those apps, which appeared maybe three years ago. I don't know if you know more about this than me.
[Scott Valdez]: The main one is Grindr. That's the main gay dating app, and Tinder is very similar in some ways to Grindr. Tinder is your GPS-based, highly superficial, tends to lead to hookups more than anything, and if you just saw the messages that I sent on Tinder versus OKCupid, you would immediately see the difference in my strategy.
Tinder is a lot more , I have messages on Tinder that talk about grabbing a bottle of whiskey and basically going halfsies on a bottle of whiskey and a bastard child before next weekend. I use really over the top, crazy stuff, that could easily offend people that's very sexual, a lot of very sexual stuff, and I use that. On online dating sites, you would never -
[Angel Donovan]: Right. It's like people with different motivations and also different levels of openness are on these different things, and different seriousness. If someone's looking for a serious relationship versus hookups , it sounds like Tinder's more the hookup side. Is OKCupid somewhere in the middle, and what's on the more serious side? If you want to get married or you just want a serious girlfriend?
[Scott Valdez]: You're right about where you've placed everything so far. Match.com's going to be a little bit further on the serious side, and then the extreme is your eHarmony and maybe Chemistry, neither of which are favorite sites of ours.
But when we have a really serious client, if a guy tells us he's really looking to settle down and get married soon, then that's where we're like, "Okay, maybe it makes sense to use eHarmony for this guy," because that is where the serious people congregate. Yes, that's the main thing. All these different dating sites, I like to think of them as like cultures.
There's certain things that are cultural normals, like in terms of profile length and message length. There's just certain things that would be considered weird on those sites and unacceptable. You do have to understand where you're playing, and a big part of that is just how serious or casual the users are. Yes, that's the spectrum, which is great for the guys looking to hook up. The first place you're going to want to go now is Tinder, and that's just really, really an easy place to hook up.
[Angel Donovan]: You kind of go where your objectives are leading you. It's going to make more sense for you, what are you looking for? Your whole approach here is really to get women that are suited to you, because they've got the same motivations.
You were talking about return on investment, but then when you're talking about that, you're like, "Well, they were looking at the girls who match us." A lot of the basis of you're getting a better return on investment is actually making sure you get a better match, quickly. Am I right with that?
[Scott Valdez]: Yes, that's true. I think a lot of times, when you are on more casual dating sites, you go into it knowing what you're going to get out of it. I think the biggest benefit is not necessarily ease of hookup, and a lot of times it's the ability to be more authentic in your intentions. It's not to say my experience with women on more serious sites, like eHarmony , when a girl tells me she wants to get married, sometimes I think it makes it easier for her to be seduced in some ways.
I think women that are really, when they say things like they want something serious, I think a lot of times , my experience has been they're no harder than the next girl that's a little bit more hookup minded and open.
I don't know, but I think in these cases, it allows us, as men, to be more authentic about what we're looking for, and not have to feel like we need to mislead her and pretend like we're looking for something serious too, just so that we can hook up with her and then not call her.
I think it's different for different guys. I think it probably depends maybe a little bit on skill level too, with offline stuff, but I think it doesn't matter what site you are on. Women from dating sites do hook up, and I've definitely experienced a lot of that myself, and with clients just reporting back. But it is nice to just be straightforward about it. It's a little more fun, too.
On Tinder, like I mentioned, you get some really over the top messages. The banner and the roleplaying and just , it's a little more technical in some ways. I think it's a little bit harder to pull off, frankly, but you have to have more practice with it, because it's hard to teach somebody, for example, text game. There are all these text game products. It's so much easier to teach somebody how to use OKCupid and send messages.
[Angel Donovan]: Because it's slower.
[Scott Valdez]: Yes, exactly. It's slower and you don't have to , the messages are more serious, so you don't have to be hilarious, you don't have to be as witty. These Tinder-type applications, they make things harder, but it is really, really good practice for guys that are wanting to learn how to have a little more game, so to say.
But on the dating sites, in a lot of cases, especially the more serious it is, the more you want to tone down the game a little bit and the over the top humor and teasing and trying to push her into roleplay about your future marriage and divorce, that kind of stuff.
But yes, I think if you can get it down, and Tinder, which again is a little more technical, but if you can figure out how to do it by getting more experience on dating sites and maybe even using, playing around with Badoo, which is a similar format, happens pretty quick , the more experience you get with that, the more you'll be able to feel like you can hook up when you want to, without ever having to feel like you're being misleading to women. You're being a player.
[Angel Donovan]: You can be authentic.
[Scott Valdez]: Yes, exactly. It's great to be a player with women that want to be played, and that, to me, is the beauty of these more hookup-minded applications.
[Angel Donovan]: You just touched on something , I want to go back over this, because this was one of the questions I had. How seriously should you take what is said on profiles? You said sometimes women are looking for long-term relationships.
This is the thing they're stating, or maybe marriage in their profiles, but oftentimes you find that it doesn't really work out like that, and women obviously also have age criteria and things like that. How seriously should guys take what is said on profiles and selecting the people they're going to message?
[Scott Valdez]: Not too seriously. The biggest thing, and as guys, the number one thing that we're most concerned about is is she as attractive as she looks in her photos? The number one thing, my recommendation for that is just be vary with women that don't have at least two photos, and least one of those photos shows a very clear shot of what her body looks like, at least butt-up level, because the reality is that a lot of women are quite deceiving with their photos.
They take it from just the perfect angle, and I've had a lot of situations where I've showed up and the girl looked nothing like I thought she was going to look. The more I get better with online dating, I tend to just not take risks with that, and I rarely take risks unless she looks stunning in a couple of her pictures, and I think, "Okay, even in the worst case scenario here, she's still going to be pretty attractive."
[Angel Donovan]: You're saying some of the pictures, you can be tricked by the pictures, and we're also in the age of photoshopping, professional photos, and as you say, angles and everyone's choosing their best pictures. How do you get past that? How do you screen the photos and what are you looking for as red flags that it may not look like what you're going to meet?
[Scott Valdez]: Well, I think a lot of guys would have heard of the fat girl overhead shot. When she's using angles, especially an angle that's shot from above, that tends to make her look slimmer, those photos with black clothes on. You get used to it, and then you can look at photos that maybe look like they could be outdated, especially if you're dating. I tend to date in the 19 to 22 range, is my sweet spot.
I don't deal with a lot of that, but my clients do, where women are using outdated photos. That's another thing, if photos look really grainy, pixellated, there's a good chance it was taken four or five years ago. You want to be aware of that as well, and one good strategy that I use, especially for young guys, where this make sense, I think for a lot of my older clients, this doesn't seem like such a natural thing to do, but I will try to push girls to Facebook.
Either I'll say , I'll make excuses, stupid stuff like, "Hey, I just joined this site and I don't know how much longer I'm going to be on it. Here, add me on Facebook so we can keep chatting." I'll do that, whereas I know I could probably even get her phone number at that point, but I do that because I don't even want her phone number until I know more of what she looks like.
I take a small risk with that, but a lot of the girls that are going to drop off right there are the ones that are trying to deceive you with their photos. If I send her that message and she stops responding, I usually consider it a saved time. When you get her on Facebook, a lot of times you're going to have access to hundreds of photos. You're going to have a very good idea of what she looks like.
[Angel Donovan]: Yes, and as you were saying before, that works out better for her, as well. She knows what she's getting.
[Scott Valdez]: Yes, exactly. Assuming that she's confident enough about what she looks like in her photos, and assuming she's on Facebook, depending on what country, but most of them are on it, then there's really not much of a reason, unless she's just one of those girls that's weird about it and says, "Hey, I don't add guys that I don't know on person on Facebook," which will happen sometimes. That's fine.
In that case, you can try to move her to email, say, "Okay, that's fine. I'm still probably going to close my account, so what's your email address?" She gives you her email, and then the first email you send her, you send a couple photos of yourself in the email and say, "Here are a couple photos of me that aren't on my profile. Send me a couple of yours, too," and try to basically get her to reciprocate.
There are other ways to do it, but my general rule is maybe in the beginning, try to get some experience with dating, take a little bit of risk. If you can't tell quite what she's looking like, don't take her anywhere where you're going to have spend money on her. Meet her for tea or whatever.
At max, you're going to have to spend five bucks on her, and then, once you start getting better and your time with dating and first dates becomes more valuable because you're in higher demand, basically, with women on different dating sites, then you're going to want to take less and less risks.
If you can't get more photos of a girl, just next her. Say, "Okay, it's not worth it. I'm not sure what she looks like, and I don't want to waste an hour or two hours of my time with her." Either that, or wear your running shoes to the date, and just be ready to get the hell out of there.
[Angel Donovan]: Okay, sounds good. Coming back to your traveling, one of the things I believe you said you mentioned this in your book, is before you go to a country , and you were talking about it earlier , you're contacting a bunch of girls, and sometimes you invite them to meet at the same time, or am I getting that wrong?
[Scott Valdez]: Yes, I do. I don't tend to do that so much with girls from dating sites. The more casual the site, the more natural that's going to be. You can pull that off, for example, on Tinder. You can invite girls, especially if you get them on Facebook first and then you're chatting with them on there and you can say, "Hey, I'm having some people over tonight, why don't you come by?"
The key is, when you invite multiple people to the same place at the same time, there are a couple of factors that play here. First, if it's a more serious site and you invite five girls from Tinder, for example, even that's a little too dating-centric or hookup-centric, it would be weird if you invited four girls from Tinder to the same bar at the same time as you and four girls. That would be really weird.
However, if you're already having a house party and you invited four girls to the house party and four of them showed up, that would be perfectly awesome. You're going around and meeting dozens of people, you've got attractive girls there. That's only going to help you. Those girls are going to fight for you. But if you invite them all to a bar, they're going to be like, "Who's this weird skeezeball?"
They're going to start talking and they're going to realize they're all from Tinder and they're going to be like, "This guy's a creepo. I can't believe he did this." But if you use , there are other sites that aren't as necessarily dating sites. One of them, I use couchsurfing sometimes, which is a site for travelers. I'll message, when I go to a new city, I've got a template message.
Again, I don't customize it. I have an assistant actually do it for me. She goes through, she finds all the attractive girls and send them messages. I'm not just trying to hook up, I do take a very social approach. My message does have a subtle amount of flirtation in it, so that the girls with boyfriends do get screened out by the message.
They do feel it a little bit, but it's not basically overtly flirtatious in the sense that it feels like a dating message. I don't want it to feel like a dating message. I want it to feel like a social message from a flirtatious guy. Basically, I have that approach and I do, when I take that, I will invite multiple girls to the same place at the same time.
I've also experimented. I've ran Facebook ads about myself to drive them to a landing page that's all about me and they add me as a friend and then I invite them. I had a party with about 40 or 50 girls that came in Budapest, and I invited most of them from Facebook, some of them from couchsurfing, and a couple from dating sites.
[Angel Donovan]: How much did you spend on that campaign, just out of interest?
[Scott Valdez]: I spent , well, that full campaign, which didn't just involve that party, I think I spent around $120. But I had well over 100 girls add me on Facebook. My ROI on that was incredible, actually.
[Angel Donovan]: Right. Well, what I like about this is obviously there's many guys out there, especially if they're new. They're more anxious to do things like cold approaching, which is walking up to strangers, to women they don't know. I remember my first steps, back in 2000. I used a couple of dating sites and I started flirting on them, because I wasn't sure about the stuff I was learning, about attraction and stuff.
It was just easier that way. All the stuff you're talking about shows that, especially as online dating has developed so much as well now, and it's very common now , it's just a great way for someone who's new to all of this to try and get his feet wet first and get his first dates and get a bit of experience. It doesn't necessarily have to jump into the tough end of it and start cold approaching girls in bars or other situations where he feels a bit anxious. I guess is that your take on it?
[Scott Valdez]: Yes, and I think this is one of the best ways to practice your interactions with women. I mean, my skills now, I don't do a lot of cold approaching. I do have approaching strategies, just like any other guy, but when I go out and I'm with some friends or whatever, it's really rare that I'll go and approach a few women and get at least a phone number or two.
Back before I really started getting online dating, I wouldn't have nearly the success with cold approaches that I have now, because I wasn't as confident and I wasn't as well-versed as I am now, because it's not only , the online interactions, some of this stuff from online does translate into offline.
There's certain jokes that I make online, and I've realized when they work really effectively online, a lot of times, as long as the delivery's right, they work just as well offline. When I was just in Vegas, I said some of the most ridiculous shit to a girl, because I'd been Tindering all day, and she loved it. I mean, I was talking about stuff that I would never have -
[Angel Donovan]: You were in Vegas.
[Scott Valdez]: Oh yes, part of it was Vegas, but I'm just saying -
[Angel Donovan]: But if you were Tindering in, I don't know, some small country town, then you walked up to a girl and said the same thing, it might not go down so well.
[Scott Valdez]: Well, it wouldn't have translated as well if it were outside of the US, but in the US, it depends. Obviously one of the things you learn from online dating is you learn how to adjust your approach, depending on the recipient of the message. One of the things I talked about is simple girls , if you realize a girl's simple , I don't mean stupid, by simple.
I mean she has a simple sense of humor, or maybe her English is limited. There are a lot of girls in the US that are from other countries, living there, and when you realize they're simple, you want to tone it down. You want to keep it simple. You don't want to go over the top. You basically size up your market, and another thing I teach is, depending on the age of the woman, like we've found on online dating sites.
We've done a lot of testing, depending on how old she is, that really impacts your approach. With younger girls, you want to be more cocky, over the top, take more risks, and with older women, they don't seem to appreciate that very much. They like a more sincere confidence.
It's not like a beta approach, but it's less alpha and less cocky and it's more down to earth, it's more sincere but also confident. You start to see the subtleties from online dating in who it is that you're approaching. With this particular girl, she was a young girl. She was 20 and she was clearly in party mode, and that's why the Tinder thing worked. Tinder's like the party of online dating.
People are sending , I told you I send messages that talk about bastard children in them on the first message I send, and I get a 70 percent response rate on this particular message. You can do stuff like that. It helps you. You start to see what is effective and what's not, and the other thing, like I mentioned before, I didn't used to be that confident on first dates, but now my first dates , and it sounds arrogant and I'm going to risk sounding like a blowhard saying this, but my first dates go extremely, extremely well, almost every single time. I've been on so many first dates.
[Angel Donovan]: We didn't get an exact number, but it could be 300 or something, right?
[Scott Valdez]: Yes. I mean, it's hard to get an exact number. I don't really count. I don't count any kind of metrics.
[Angel Donovan]: What I love about that is some guys worry that they'll never going to be able to learn this stuff, especially if they've been trying for a while, and it really all is just all down to experience, mostly. It's learning some skills and it's some experience.
[Scott Valdez]: Yes, you can get the foundations by reading different materials out there, and I do recommend that you do it to get some good foundations and get a little bit ahead of the curve more quickly, but there's nothing that's nearly as effective as real experience.
[Angel Donovan]: Yes, you need both. You need some good advice, make sure you get the quality advice and we're always talking about that one here, so you're going in the right direction. Then you do need the practical part, because there's many guys who don't put enough into the practical part, because that's the more scary part. But it is essential, that's what we're saying here.
[Scott Valdez]: Yes, exactly, and the online approach takes the scary stuff out of it. Obviously you've got to meet the girls in person, but at that point, you're already -
[Angel Donovan]: Yes, you already kind of know them a little bit, so it's easier.
[Scott Valdez]: You're already in. I mean, you're basically in and your job is -
[Angel Donovan]: It's a warm approach.
[Scott Valdez]: Exactly. You're already in and your job is not to fuck it up, basically, whereas it's the other way around when you do cold approaches.
[Angel Donovan]: Man, I've got to close this up, but we always finish with the same question for everyone, so I'm going to hit you up with that. What would be your top three recommendations to men who are the completely start from zero, they haven't done anything yet, they haven't learned anything, and they want to get results as fast as possible? What would you recommend, the top three things that they should do?
[Scott Valdez]: Yes, the first thing would be , it's something I've talked about a bunch, is just to take a step back and really look at the photos that you've got, and basically you've got to take a very systematic approach on that. You've got to get a lot of photos, and you've got to weed them down.
You want to start with a lot and narrow them down and then eventually use a very systematic approach to your photos, which is running them through MyBestFace multiple times each. I would recommend that you at least do it two times, ideally three to four times per photo. You average the scores.
Each photo's going to get scores. I've rarely seen photo scores below 40 or 50s, so it's going to be a score somewhere between 40 and maybe 80, 85, and you're going to take the scores, you're going to average them for each photo, and then you're going to have a really good idea of how attractive each photo is, and you're going to be systematic about that. Again, as things move more mobile, a lot of the mobile apps are putting a lot of emphasis on that photo.
Actually, I've seen an evolution in the space of meeting women online has become that photos are becoming more and more important. I think a lot of guys, when they hear that, they think, "Oh, I'm not good looking, so I won't do well online."
The number one thing guys are doing wrong right now is they're doing their photos wrong. That just means that there can be a guy that's a lot better looking than you are, and he's doing his photos wrong. If you do your photos right, all of a sudden you can be better looking than the better looking guy.
[Angel Donovan]: Yes. Well, you get a better score just by doing it smarter. I've heard the complaints from girls, because there's all these chest shots and stuff on the sites. It appears like nearly all the guys are doing the same thing, basically. If you just do it smarter, you should be easily able to top them.
[Scott Valdez]: Yes, exactly. The next thing is just make sure that you're fishing in the right pond. We've talked about the different dating sites today, and it's just something that I see a lot of guys doing wrong, is they just go to the wrong sites. Just make sure that, before you sign up for a site, if it's one that we haven't talked today and I haven't already recommended, get in there, take a look around before you invest time, and make sure that there are a lot of active users, because another thing , and I'm going to mix these into two tips.
One here, a lot of guys, they're going into crappy sites and they're sending a lot of messages to people that aren't active. I mentioned Zoosk was a terrible site for a long time, and I have a feeling it may still be for the same reason, because they weren't showing you when people were last active. If you message people that haven't been online within the last week, your response rate plummets.
If somebody hasn't been online in three weeks, you're going to get a zero percent response rate. I don't care how good your message is. Those are inactive users, they're not coming back to the site any time soon, and if they do, you're probably going to be at the bottom of a pile of a bunch of other idiots that sent messages when women weren't using the site, either.
[Angel Donovan]: Even if she does come back, your message will be buried under a hundred messages, right?
[Scott Valdez]: Yes, exactly. I mean, a lot of guys just don't realize the importance of this, and I've collected a lot of data that shows that it's extremely, extremely important. That's the other thing, is just make sure you're using the right site, that you're focusing on active users on those sites. The third thing is, just like your photos, be very systematic in the sense that you don't want to waste time by sending the same ineffective message over and over again.
Be systematic in terms of coming up with a few different ideas, like I mentioned, based on specific situations. Figure out how to do the keyword searches I talked about. Come up with messages that fit into those key words, and then be just systematic about the way you test them.
Like I said, it's super simple to do. All you're going to do is keep a running tally of how many times you've sent each message, and how many responses you've gotten. Your profile text is obviously important, too, and that could be a fourth one, but I think these are the main three things.
Start with the right photos, make sure you get them on the right sites, and then be very systematic about what messages are working. If you're doing a copy and paste strategy, which is way more time-efficient, it's not the tracking itself.
It doesn't take much time, so you're going to keep track of what's working and what's not, get rid of the stuff that's not, focus on the stuff that's working, and then you're taking this all from a systematic marketing optimization approach that I've found to be very, very effective and time-efficient.
[Angel Donovan]: Scott, this has been a real blast of an interview. Thank you very much. I'm sure it's going to be one of our most popular, because you have just so much experience and you've just been pouring out all over the interview. I just want to say thank you for your time, because it's been a real doozy of an interview here.
[Scott Valdez]: I appreciate it. I enjoyed it, and thanks for having me on the show.
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DSR Podcast is a weekly podcast where Angel Donovan seeks out and interviews the best experts he can find from bestselling authors, to the most experienced people with extreme dating lifestyles. The interviews were created by Angel Donovan to help you improve yourself as men - by mastering dating, sex and relationships skills and get the dating life you aspire to.
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