During RiskConnect we had the pleasure of meeting Jenny Gonzalez from Dating Factory, who walked us through the life of an online dating merchant.
Ms. Gonzalez is an expert in affiliate marketing, online marketing, and branding. She was more than happy to share her industry experience and to tell us how to avoid love scams.
For our readers who have not been introduced to it yet, what is Dating Factory?
Dating Factory is a large international company, providing white label software. We are the backend for over 100,000 websites. Our sites have the capacity to be totally global and diverse – they’re available in 22 languages and cover more than 50 unique niches. The idea behind the service is to make it possible for anyone to start an online dating site, without hiring a big team of developers to code the platform. Startups can keep their focus on marketing their dating business, rather than the tech-heavy process of making a site that is tailored for dating and social interaction.
Most of us know what online dating is, but from a business perspective, what are the main opportunities and challenges you encounter when working in this industry?
This is an industry that has been around for well over a decade. What started as a kind of crazy new idea has turned into a legit way to meet other people. Sometimes that is someone to have fun with and sometimes it is to find the love of your life. This is now an established industry and consumers rely on our services to fill a variety of needs.
The biggest opportunity we have is to continue building our business – in concept and profit. Now that online dating is so popular worldwide, we have a ton of opportunity for growth. One of the biggest challenges is staying competitive, and that is true in almost every business, whether online or not. With the big demand comes big competition. Fortunately, we have a diverse team that works together well to bring brand new technologies, marketing know-how, and customer relations together in a way that is effective and fun.
There are many different strategies for any online dating company to drive traffic (potential users) to their websites: TV, Radio, Search Engine Optimization are just a few. One lesser known source is through Affiliate Marketing, where someone else does marketing for a company in exchange for a commission. This is a great source of both traffic and revenue. Our team specializes in Affiliate Marketing, and it’s one of our biggest strengths.
Getting a website seen and encouraging users to register is the main goal of every online dating business, and that is how the marketing budget is usually spent. That means that a lot of the time the information available for users is most likely sponsored. In the same way brands pay influencers to post on Instagram, dating sites pay affiliates, newspapers, magazines, and the like for advertorials.
Focusing on the challenging part, can you present some types of fraud happening in the dating industry? How and where are fraudsters choosing to exploit their victims?
There are many types of fraud that can happen online. From the perspective of someone in the dating business, credit card fraud will always be a big concern. It leads to chargebacks and unwanted processing fees and big headaches for us and for users of our sites. Fortunately, processing companies have implemented a lot of new tech and there are many tools and safeguards available to prevent this kind of fraud and catch the fraudsters when it does happen.
The most dangerous type of fraud is Love Fraud. Many people online refer to these fraudulent users as Trolls. These are people who create fake user profiles on dating sites to gain the trust and affection of other members of the site. Once they earn their trust, they ask for money, gifts, and the like to help with a fake emergency or for another made up cause or event, then take the money and run.
One way we have found to combat this kind of fraud is to provide tools in the framework of our white label dating sites so that the people setting up their new dating businesses have these user safeguards already integrated into their sites. Things like identity verification, blocking and reporting features, and responsive customer support all play big roles in keeping users safe in their online dating experiences.
How much do you think your users are prepared for fighting fraud, and what methods are the choice of those that actually fight it?
When it comes to credit card fraud, users should always call their banks to dispute charges or to cancel cards if they suspect their information has been stolen. This is the best way to make sure that the thieves are unable to use those accounts again. The first line of defence is always a well-built site with a security certificate and reputable payment options. If a site looks like a scam or is poorly put together, users should be wary of sharing their info!
Love Fraud is more complicated to combat, as the targets are often lonely or vulnerable people. The best ways to combat these types of fraud are to continue educating the public about online safety, and to use clever software to detect fake profiles.
What advice would you give to online dating merchants to prevent and combat fraud?
Statistics are your best friend! Having a good handle on KPIs allows you to you identify anything out of the ordinary. If something looks too good to be true, always investigate it! More often than not, fraud can be managed with vigilance, great software, a team that knows what to watch out for, and more vigilance!
About Jenny Gonzalez
Jenny Gonzalez is the Chief Revenue Officer for Dating Factory. As a veteran of the online dating industry, she has developed a deep passion for affiliate marketing, online marketing, and branding. Gonzalez embraced that passion, and used it as fuel to successfully grow market share and achieve various milestones for different online dating operations that she has associated with.