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Some of the same information that enables EHarmony, the online dating service, to connect romantic partners is exactly the same sort of detail that enables EHarmony, the marketer, to communicate most effectively with its clients and prospective customers.

Teenage boy kissed by a girlEHarmony is upfront in revealing that it collects a lot of data about users. Indeed, that collection is one of its selling points. The company claims that by gathering so much insightful information about users, it can better match them with their perfect mate. As a result, it possesses massive amounts of information—approximately 125 terrabytes of data, according to one estimate.

To leverage those data for its own benefit, EHarmony switched from an external data analysis service and brought the process in-house. Its sophisticated data analytics enable the firm’s seven-person team to determine which communications media sparked responses from which users and when. It carefully calculates the return on its investment in each media buy, according to the lifetime value of each customer, classified according to the route this customer used to access the service, as well as where and when she or he did so. Thus, it can optimize its marketing spending.

These data also inform the personalized service the company provides. For example, EHarmony has learned that users who click onto the website through a display ad are more flexible in terms of their requirements in a potential mate. In contrast, if they purchase the service after seeing a televised advertisement, they are much more particular and specific with regard to the range of ages they will consider in a partner. They also prefer dates who live in closer proximity to their own homes. For users who rely on the EHarmony app, the company offers a shorter questionnaire but a wider range of potential dates, because these users tend to be younger and more open minded when it comes to dating.

Its confidence in its data analytics capabilities is pushing EHarmony’s future moves as well. In addition to adding a Spanish-language service, it plans to grow internationally. With a commitment to add one new country each quarter for the next several years, EHarmony is also learning all sorts of new things about its clients. Did you know, for example, that people outside the United States are more willing to date a smoker than are members of the U.S. dating population? EHarmony does.

Discussion Question:

Why did EHarmony move its data analytics in house, instead of outsourcing the task?

 SOURCE: Kate Kaye, “EHarmony’s Love for Data Goes Beyond Dating: It’s Good for Marketing Too,” Advertising Age, February 18, 2015, http://adage.com