What To Say (and NOT Say) in That First Online Dating Email

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Most of you are familiar with the online dating site OkCupid. It’s big, it’s free, and, best of all, they employ people with statistical training to analyze their (massive cache of) data and entertain us all with the results. And when I say “analyze” the data, I’m not talking about the “baby stats” I discussed in the last blog, where they offer up some basic percentages and pie charts and never reveal how they came up with the figures. No – I’m talking real stats, the results of which are presented in a way that’s easy to understand.

This OkCupid article focuses on the initial email people write when dating online. They analyzed 500,000 of them and broke down what words or phrases were better (or worse) at generating a response. And here’s what they found:

 

Netspeak and Bad Grammar/Spelling are a Bad Idea

The 6 biggest fails were: ur, r, u, ya, cant, hit (followed by realy, luv, wat)

Exceptions to this were netspeak words like haha and LOL, which generated significantly greater than average reply rates.

 

Complimenting Physical Traits is a Bad Idea

I’ve said this before in previous blogs: guys, never tell a woman she’s hot or pretty online. As they put it, “people normally like compliments, but when they’re used as pick-up lines, before you’ve even met in person, they inevitably feel…ew. Besides, when you tell a woman she’s beautiful, chances are you’re not.”

Here are the words to avoid, in order of bad to worst: cutie, hot, beautiful, sexy.

However, more general compliments DO work. Words such as cool, fascinating, and awesome did well in the study.

 

Greetings and Salutations Matter

You don’t have to be clever, but you should avoid the three most common greetings: Hi, hello, and hey. Even “holla” and “yo” did better than these three, although they didn’t do well. Instead, “hola,” “howdy”, “what’s up,” and especially “how’s it going” did well.

 

Mentioning SPECIFIC Interests and Areas of Commonality is Good

Words such as metal, band, vegetarian, zombie, tattoo, and physics did well. But if you really want to increase your odds of response, show that you’ve read the person’s profile. The phrases “curious what,” “noticed that,” and “you mention” had FAR greater response rates than average. And if you’ve read Changing Your Game or Find The Love of Your Life Online, you will find that my suggested email template includes both of these. Just sayin’…

 

Anytime you send out an email online, your goal is to get a response. A good profile is a great way to begin, but your initial email matters just as much.

 

Helpful links:

Online dating archive

Christie’s books