Our Online Dating Message Tips To Get (and Keep) the Conversation Going
So you’ve set up the perfect online dating profile with your best online profile pic. Now how do you start using this profile to start messaging people so you can meet them? It’s going to be awfully hard to meet them if you never communicate with them. While it’s true that there are plenty of fish in the sea …you’re never going to meet one unless you hook them with your fabulous online dating messaging skills. We’re here to suggest 7 messaging strategies and tips to take it to the next level so you can get the very most out of your online dating experience.
The first step is to get out there and start contacting people that you think you may be interested in. Make that first contact. But what good is sending a message if you can’t even get an initial response? You could send message after message trying to start up that first conversation with people you’re interested in. But, if you’re not getting any responses, there may be something wrong with your strategy.
After all, if the message you send never gets a response, what’s the point. If you want a reply, read on. We’re sharing 7 online dating message tips that will actually get you somewhere. All of the major dating sites like eHarmony and Match.com have done countless studies on what seems to drive the most responses on their individual platforms. We’ve distilled these down and added a few of our own to make it easy for you to get the ball rolling with whoever catches your eye.
7 Online Dating Message Tips:
1. Get Going With An Unusual Greeting in Your First Message
Start strong with your salutation.
You’ll want your first impression to do just that—make an impression. So, use an unusual greeting. If someone is getting dozens of messages a day, you need to find a way to stand out from the others. It’s too easy to pass by you if you say the exact same thing that twenty other people say in their first message.
Statistics show that the 3 most popular ways to greet someone in an online dating message were actually bad beginnings.
These top 3 intros to avoid include “hi,” “hey,” and “hello.” “Hi” is the most common first message, used by about 23% of men. So, if you think you’re standing out, you’re actually standing in a group of probably ten or so people.
Sorry if these have been your go-to’s, but it’s time to switch things up. These may be fine in real life where the person can see you and read your body language, but over an online message, that’s not much to start a conversation on.
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Instead, opt for options such as the next three most popular greetings, which perform better with response ratings.
These include “how’s it going,” “what’s up,” and even “yo.” All were shown to get more replies than the more standard “hellos.”
When you start with a question, like “how’s it going,” you give the recipient a chance to send a reply with a little more substance. They may tell you about their day, their work, their weekend plans, etc. Then you can respond to those details and, boom, you’ve started a conversation.
Overall, it’s better to use no traditional salutation at all than one of the top 3 introductions listed initially.
No traditional greeting at least earns the reply rate of 27%.
Overall, more informal standard greetings did very well. So rather than a simple “hey,” or “hi,” go for a “howdy,” which received almost a 45% response rating!
It may seem a little silly, but at least you won’t be one of the twenty “hey” messages in their inbox. You’ll show that you have at least a little bit of creativity.
2. Start Your First Message with A Question (One That Won’t Get You Stuck)
Out of all the online dating message tips, this one is simple. Lead with a question to get your online dating conversation started.
If you’re still not able to start conversations with the greetings mentioned above, maybe try something a little bit more personalized and to the point.
Browse through the profile of the person that you want to contact and see if there is anything that jumps out at you. Then, make that your conversation opener.
First, find common ground with your girl or guy. For example, maybe you both like hiking.
Then, begin a conversation about it by asking a question. With our example, you could ask them “Where do you like to hike around here?” or “What’s the best hiking trail you’ve ever been on?” Immediately, you’ll show the recipient that you’re interested in their opinion and that you share a common interest with them. This automatically establishes some foundation of compatibility in their mind.
People normally like talking about themselves, so opening with a question about him or her to get the ball rolling is a good way to improve your response rate. If you jump in by talking about yourself or your own likes, you may unintentionally come across as self-absorbed. Rather than ask about them, you’d rather talk to them about yourself.
About 14% of men start the conversation by talking about themselves. The three most common topics are their personality, career, and interests. These are definitely important topics to cover, but maybe start the conversation by asking about them and wait for your information to come up organically.
On a side note, if you ask about them but they never turn the question around to ask about you, that’s a good sign that they aren’t particularly interested. Even if they are interested, that’s a relationship red flag.
The goal is to start a conversation, not ask a one-sided or super general question such as, “what’s up?” This may still leave you hanging.
While “How are you?” or “How’s your weekend?” are indeed both questions, these don’t actually start a substantial conversation. Within a couple of messages, the conversation may peter out.
More specific questions are the gas that keeps a convo going, so think of something more interesting or specific to ask than a “what’s up?”
3. Don’t Compromise The Convo With Physical Comments & Compliments
Data shows that avoiding physical compliments will benefit you in the end.
While this advice holds true for both sexes, it is mostly directed at men, considering they are more likely to mention looks in the first contact. In fact, 31% of men compliment women’s appearances. Of those, 51% sent a general message like “you’re hot” and only 22% of them sent something specific like complimenting their eyes or their smile.
It might sound strange, but no one wants to hear these physical compliments from someone that they don’t know. Data shows words like “sexy,” “beautiful,” “hot,” and “cutie,” do not receive many responses. It can come across as creepy.
Also, if the person that you are messaging is looking for a long-term relationship, a message about their looks may send the signal that you’re just looking for something casual and physical. Because you may not be sure what this person is looking for in a partner, it’s better to save these kinds of compliments until you’ve established some sort of foundation for the relationship.
Although, as we all know, people normally enjoy compliments, they’re not as big on pick-up lines. This especially holds true in situations when you have not met in person. Pick-up lines are usually seen as cheesy and impersonal. The same pick-up line could be used on the person after person.
If you aren’t taking the time to learn something about the person that you are messaging, they will be able to tell.
So, instead of messaging someone that they are “gorgeous,” mention the words “awesome,” “fascinating,” or “cool,” if you want to give a compliment. These words show much higher response rates.
Tell them that an attribute on their profile is interesting to you. To go with our earlier example, maybe the recipient has been hiking somewhere cool, like the Rocky Mountains. You could say, “It’s awesome that you’ve hiked in the Rocky Mountains. I’ve always wanted to go there.”
This will give them an opportunity to talk about their experience. It will also show them that you’re interested in getting to know who they are as a person instead of just being interested in their appearance.
4. Specifics = Success
If you’re hopelessly messaging and not really looking for a response (which likely isn’t you if you’re reading this post), then go ahead and continue holding vague and general conversations.
But if you want to hear back, bring up specifics.
Specific interests and precise reference words for those—such as “zombie,” “band,” “tattoo,” “literature,” to name a few popular ones—show to be successful.
These keywords are a little bit random and all of them will not work on every person. The main idea behind the success of these keywords is that you’re sharing more information. Instead of just saying “I like to watch TV,” maybe you can say “I love zombie shows.”
These kinds of messages are especially helpful if you notice a common interest in the other person’s profile. Maybe they show an interest in a specific band or video game that you like.
Bring this up in the first message, but make sure that you’re not just focusing on yourself. For example, you could say, “I saw on your profile that you’re a big fan of The Walking Dead. I love zombie shows! Do you watch Fear of the Walking Dead too?”
This establishes common ground and shows the recipient that you want to hear more about them.
The bottom line is: Leave the basics behind.
Research shows that most “niche” words have a positive effect on messaging.
Try talking about particular things that interest you or details that you might have in common with your message receiver.
5. “Don’t” Do “Dis”
You can consider all of the online dating message tips in the world, but if you aren’t literate when you put them into practice, it won’t do you much good. You need to be able to write well. How you say something is just as important as what you’re saying.
What do netspeak, bad grammar, and bad spelling say about you? Well, it’s not good, as these are all huge turn-offs and tend to make a terrible first impression.
Having poor language skills is a strong deal-breaker.
“Ur,” “u,” “wat,” and “wont” likely won’t get you any replies. These messages can look like scams or make you appear unintelligent. Both of which the recipient of your message probably is not interested in.
Instead, put your elementary education into play by using correctly spelled, fully written out words, with apostrophes where appropriate.
Correctly written but otherwise everyday words such as “don’t” and “won’t” (notice they include the appropriate apostrophe) have nicely above average response rates of 36% and 37%.
Not using proper grammar and spelling can also tell the person that you’re messaging that you’re lazy. They may think that you don’t really care about making a good first impression, which can cause them to believe that you don’t really care about being with them either.
There are exceptions to every rule, however.
In this case, the “no netspeak” rule isn’t set in stone since expressions of amusement are in fact accepted.
Go ahead and use “haha” and “lol” as you please, because both turned out in the sender’s favor with 45% and 41% reply rates.
Although less popular than “haha” and “lol,” another success was “hehe,” which received a 33% chance of response.
There really isn’t a lot of other ways to express that you think something is funny is a message. “Haha”s and “lol”s will convey that you are friendly and easy-going. If you never use those in your messages, you may come across as very serious and maybe even upset or rude.
The specific rules regarding netspeak are fluid. Play around with it a little bit. If you notice that you aren’t getting many replies, try writing them in a more formal or more polished way.
6. Keep It Short & Simple
Your first message should be sweetly simple and stay short. The average message is about 20 words. In my opinion, this is still too long. Try to keep it short, but definitely keep it under twenty.
Express your interest in their profile, and add in a question or two about things that you share in common.
A long message with many lines or paragraphs is too much and can overwhelm and turn the receiver (if they even finish reading it all).
The more you over-write, the more likely you are to come on too strong. The person receiving this message does not know you, and you don’t really know them. Sending a long message at first contact is odd. That pretty much means that you’re either assuming things about them or you’re only talking about yourself. Both of those are unattractive.
Since the goal of your first message is to continue the convo and get to know each other, leave the receiver wanting more (as opposed to already knowing too much)!
Don’t be an over-sharer. Wait for the appropriate time to give information about yourself. Make sure that the person you’re messaging is interested in you before you go on and on about yourself.
Also, maintain a message that is simple to start. What do you think of these online dating message tips so far?
While some people make the mistake of leading with a long list of questions on a range of topics, it’s best to just pick one detail you think is cool or something you’re curious about and stick with it to start.
The person receiving the message doesn’t want to feel like they’re filling out a questionnaire or taking a test. If you ask a lot of questions, you won’t really be able to fully talk about any of the answers. If you ask about just one thing at a time, you show that you really care about the answers and it gives you an opportunity to build a conversation around it.
7. Don’t Let Your Message Ratio Get Out Of Whack
In general, aim to maintain a 1:1 message ratio.
Multiple messages will overwhelm the receiver.
Unless you want to be classified as a crazy person or annoyingly needy, keep your messages to this plain ratio. You don’t want to be known as a “double texter.”
Messaging someone more than once without getting a reply is the quickest turn-off you can try. There are screenshots after screenshots online of conversations where one person keeps messaging without ever getting a response. It’s completely against messaging etiquette.
So then what do you do once you’ve messaged someone?
It’s simple—you wait.
Either has the patience or set your sights on something new, such as the thousands of other single people who could reciprocate interest.
Whether you realize it or not, repeat messages send even another message on top of what you’ve explicitly typed—“I am a needy creep with boundary issues.” If you send message after message, it can come across like you want to know what that person is doing every second of the day. That can be really overwhelming if you don’t actually have a relationship with the person sending the messages.
So, resist the urge! Do not send multiple messages.
All of these rules are just tips to help you get the conversation going. Some may work for you and some may not. Sometimes, no matter what you do, the recipient just isn’t interested for some reason. So, test out some different techniques and remember that sometimes you just have to move on to another person who may be more interested.
What online dating message tips do you have for us? Let us know in the comments how you make online dating work for you and/or which approaches you’ve tried have left you without a reply!
About the Author:
Claire Bahn has over 15 years of working as a personal branding expert helping clients build authority and influence through their online profiles and social media accounts.
Her background includes branding, public relations, Social Media and marketing, as well as, entrepreneurship. She has a passion to help executives, entrepreneurs and influencers strategize and create their best personal brand.
She is currently the CEO and Co-founder of Online Profile Pros and Stratus Branding. Ms. Bahn recognizes that first impressions are made online and the fastest way to achieving your goals is by taking command of your personal brand through your online profiles and social media. She started Online Profile Pros and Stratus Branding to help individuals create, maintain and protect their personal brands so that they achieve the authority, influence and trust the need to succeed at online dating or their job search.
She’s been featured in numerous publications and news outlets including Forbes and Entrepreneur magazines.
Ms. Bahn is a former model and actress, appearing in national ad campaigns for major retailers. An avid fashion/lifestyle blogger she’s a recognized influencer. Ms. Bahn holds a BA from the University of Texas at Austin and currently lives in the Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles, CA with her 2 red miniature pinchers, Beau and Trixie.