What Percent of People Respond to Your Initial Emails on Match.com?

As you may know, before I became a dating coach, I was a prolific online dater.

I tried every site around, starting in the late 90’s. Matchmaker.com. Nerve.com. JDate.com. Match.com. eHarmony.com. Chemistry.com. And probably a few others that are escaping my memory right now. These days, PlentyOfFish.com and OkCupid.com are the two free online dating players worthy of your consideration.

But from both my personal experience and my coaching experience, I’ve learned that most people tend to fail in online dating and then blame the website.

This is like blaming the gym because you didn’t lose weight.

Site are just big boxes of single people who are trying to meet each other. Nobody shows them how to come up with clever usernames. Nobody teaches them what photos to post. Nobody illustrates how to create a unique, compelling online dating profile. Nobody teaches effective email techniques based on actual research.

This is the way normal people talk when they go to parties. They don’t tap you on the shoulder and say, “You look cute. I think we have a lot in common. Let’s go out.”

The closest anybody gets is OkCupid – and all they do is give you test results – approximately 27% of people respond to first emails, overall – they don’t show you HOW to write great first emails.

So if you’ve been frustrated with your results in online dating (and one look at the comments below indicates that you ARE), there are a number of things you can do differently to get different results. One of the most powerful ones has to do with writing first emails. Consider what most people say:

Subject: Hi

Text: Hey Pat102. I read your profile and you seem really cool. I liked your photos. You have a great smile and I think we have a lot in common, too. I noticed that you have a dog. I also have a dog. What kind do you have? Where do you like to walk your dog? Maybe we can get together sometime. So, check out my profile and if you like what I have to say, I really hope to hear from you soon.

Sincerely, Chris.

If you’ve ever received an email like this, you know it sucks. But then why do you also WRITE emails like this as well? My theory is because it’s easiest – it’s what comes naturally to you. So you don’t put much thought into it, and, not surprisingly, it doesn’t get very good results. Why would it? There’s nothing funny, interesting, compelling, or different about such an email. Plus, it compliments the recipient too much – as if Chris is just praying that he/she is good enough for Pat102. No wonder Pat doesn’t respond to this display of weakness.

First emails are best when you offer your opinion of something specific in the person’s profile – but instead of doing what you normally do: “I agree. I like popcorn, too!”, you actually say something disagreeable, controversial, silly, or playful. Make an observation. Be sarcastic. Come up with a joke. Anything other than, “I like you. I like what you said. Please, please, please consider going out with me.”

For example, if someone says in his profile that he likes Costa Rica, you think about all the things you know about Costa Rica and search your brain for a humorous angle. Something other than, “I’ve heard it’s beautiful there! Tell me more!” Personally, I don’t know ANYTHING about Costa Rica, but I do know that all of my left-wing, liberal, neo-hippie friends go on yoga retreats there. Literally, the only reason I’ve even heard of Costa Rica is because of yoga.

So I use this in my email:

Subject: Yoga-Retreat Island

Hey, Pat. I have to be honest with you. I don’t know anything about Costa Rica; I think it’s in the Caribbean or Central America or something like that. All I know is that all of my left-wing yoga friends go on week-long retreats there every year. Which makes me wonder: what does it look like when you fly in at the airport? As the plane is descending, do you see 25,000 people doing down dog at the same exact time? Are there 25,000 more people who are ziplining from tree to tree? Inquiring minds want to know.

Talk soon, Chris.

You didn’t talk about yourself. You didn’t talk about the person you were writing to. You didn’t compliment the other person. You didn’t brag about yourself or sell yourself or ask anyone on any dates. You just made a silly observation about Costa Rica.

This is the way normal people talk when they go to parties. They don’t tap you on the shoulder and say, “You look cute. I think we have a lot in common. Let’s go out.”

It all starts with a little bit of witty banter.This technique is known as the Opinion Opener technique and it’s worked like a charm for thousands of women and men who’ve bought my Finding the One Online audio series.

If you’re sick of online dating – all the wrong people writing to you and the right people not writing back, here are four simple things I will teach you to do:

* You can come up with a new username/headline.
* You can post different online dating photos
* You can write a better online dating profile.
* You can improve your email technique.

All of this is explained in fascinating detail in Finding the One Online – with 7 hours of audio, a 180 page transcript and a 35 page workbook.

Click here to see for yourself how to make more people respond to your initial emails on Match.com.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Karl R

    After I learned what I was doing, about 20%. Maybe a little bit higher. My response rate kept improving, so the percentage changed according to how long of a time period I look at.

    1. 1.1
      Gary Snyder

      You should try to be humorous, that’s a good tip. However, man or women, if they are low maintenance and find your picture attractive, a wink, or simply, “Hi, how are you ;)” works just fine. Haven’t you ever heard the phrase, “You had me at hello”?!  In fact, sometimes the more average message can help weed out the non-desirable, such as high maintenance people. Don’t over-think things. After all, you are only looking for one good one.

  2. 2
    Slim Pickens

    I don’t do mass mailings, I read profiles very carefully and compose my emails with the same amount of care. Not only do I make sure they have what I’m looking for, but also the other way around as well. My sample size is small, only 10 at the moment, but all but the very first one has responded. I still chat with 7 of the 9, and have met 4 of them in person.

    I’m sure my rate would go down if I was more active, and I’m sure I may end up overlooking something good too. But I’ll take that chance, this online stuff isn’t the only place I’m looking.

  3. 3
    Jane

    I’d say 8 out of 10 men respond when I make the first contact, which is not often. My strategy is much like Slim Pickens so my contacts are few and spread out over time.

    I will always respond to a thoughtful, carefully composed email even if just to say thank you for the time and attention but I don’t see us as a match. I do not feel compelled to respond to careless one liners or men who are so far outside of my criteria that I am not at all sure why they wrote to me.

    1. 3.1
      Ampresandman

      I tried being thoughtful and reading through every profile and spent more time tayloring a message specifically for them than I did actually reading profiles. Back then I was only 24 and that is just 1 year out of most ladies age range for some reason. So eventually I started carpet bombing all of them with the same message that was basic as far as saying “if age is not a deal breaker then I would like to get to know you more”. It was pretty much the only way that I got responses, yes maybe I would get 1 positive response out of 100 and maybe 1 response period for every 40 emails, but it was better than getting a slap in the face every time I took time to read through someone who seemed like they would be a perfect match. Despite the age difference I did end up going on 2 dates for the whole year I was on Match. Now I am 25 and that carpet bomb message just does not work as I am now in the age range for most women in their late 20’s and even early 30’s. 8 out of 10 is good though. It seems like women have it a lot easier on dating sites than men but the fact is most of you are getting played by the same smooth talker who carpet bombs but actually gets a higher response rate. Serial daters is what they are called. I don’t really like the nerves behind first dates but I carpet bombed to get a response period. 

  4. 4
    xpuff

    I rarely wrote to guys but the response rate was nearly 100% if I did.

    I responded to roughly 10% of the men that wrote me.

  5. 5
    Evan Marc Katz

    That’s a great point, XPuff. Not just what percent write you back, but what percent do you write back TO?

  6. 6
    Rich

    less than 5%

  7. 7
    Honey

    I would say 90% or more of men I wrote to, wrote back. I probably responded to about 15-20% of e-mails once I knew what I was doing…I responded to more in the beginning but quickly learned that was way too much. I won’t say that I never responded to a wink (it has been about 3 years since I was on Match regularly so hard to say) but very, very few. I sent lots of winks and probably got a 20-30% response rate from them (I was a 23 year old 8+ then, rather than a 28 year old 7 :-)

  8. 8
    Dr. Jenn

    Hmmm…I met my husband on match.com. Before him, I’d say 40-50 percent wrote back. I was very proactive and wrote personalized emails to anyone I thought could possibly be a good match. I do think the more you put out there- the more you have to expect not to here from. And not to take it personally. And heck, you may need to exchange emails with 10 people before you even want to meet one! I think it’s partly a numbers game and you just have to keep at it till you find your diamond in the haystack!

  9. 9
    Elle

    I agree with Rich — less than 5%.

  10. 10
    happy girl

    I would say 20 %

  11. 11
    JuJu

    Will there be a recording of the class? I have school on Tuesdays until 9:30 pm.

  12. 13
    Zann

    I’m not currently using Match.com, but I have in the past and I’m currently on a similar dating site. When I make the first contact by writing to a man, I almost always get a response — I’d estimate 95% of the time. I don’t do winks or “flirts.” I generally answer all thoughtfully written messages I receive, thanking the sender, even if I’m not interested in further contact. I rarely respond to the one-liner, “You’re hot” messages. They’ve gotta come up with something better than that if they want a response from me.

    1. 13.1
      Bryan

      Zann, I want to thank you for having the unselfishness and appreciation to make the effort to write back to the majority of men who write you. Being ignored and made to feel invisible is rude and insensitive. As a man I get very few first contacts and when I do, frankly the women are often unattractive and do so out of desperation. I answer every single one and if I have no attraction to then at all I offer a neutral response with a cheerful attitude and wish them good luck. We’re all looking for love and no matter how unappealing a person may be, by filling out a profile and writing people they are at least trying. 

      1. 13.1.1
        Matt

        I agree. I wish more people would have the respect to at least answer thank you but no thank you so you can just move on instead of leaving them hanging. The ones I really don’t understand are the ones that initiate contact then don’t respond when you write them.

        1. Ampresandman

          I’m glad to know that I am not the only guy seeing this same problem. Thank you for being one of the “good ones”. I just want some honest feed back. I mean we are online for Gods sake it is already impersonal. If I am rude in any way tell me. If I am not attractive, tell me. At least put me in my place so I do not continue sending messages to women that have the self worth of a super model. Matt I am having the same problem. I had someone initiate a conversation with me and when I reply I don’t hear anything back yet they remain online. The best part is when someone like that does finally reply when you send a second message days later and say “oh it’s been a busy week”. Maybe I should start playing those games and see how quick I get away with them.

  13. 14
    A-L

    Though I’m not sure why, my batting average has varied widely. At certain points it’s about 75% or so, and during one miserable spell it was about 10%. I’d say it averages out to around 40%.

    In terms of who I respond to, I have no idea. So much of the garbage that gets sent to me I don’t really think of as e-mails. But if someone actually writes me a nice personalized message, I will almost always write them back.

  14. 15
    JuJu

    I don’t remember the last time I initiated a correspondence, so my answer to that would be statistically immaterial.

    As for how many e-mails from men I reply to: as some other women already said, if the e-mail is well-written and well thought-out, I will usually respond, even if I am not interested romantically. If the man is too short (and my last profile did specify a minimum height requirement), I could say something like, “Sorry, I just can’t imagine myself with someone who is 5’6″, but I certainly wouldn’t mind being friends” (not sure anyone appreciates this sort of a response, though, so maybe I should just quit being what I perceive as nice). If I don’t find the face particularly attractive (for me this would mean, kissable), then my further activity will depend on whether I think there is any chance at all that in person this man will turn out to be acceptable. If I think there is, I will agree to meet with him once – not a big expenditure of my time or effort, after all, and I could potentially gain an interesting friend as a result. If, otoh, I DON’T allow for the possibility, then that is probably the only instance when I will not reply to an intelligent e-mail. I just don’t see what I could possibly say that would sound more pleasant to him than my silence.

    Oh, I absolutely do not dignify form letters with a response. I’ve seen other people’s profiles, I know exactly how much mine stands out, and I am confident it deserves nothing less than a personalized answer.

    1. 15.1
      Ronn

      yup. that would be like me saying to you “sorry i just cant imagine myself with 3 out of 10 woman like you” but i certainly wouldn’t mind being friends. lol

    2. 15.2
      Sulla

      Whew. Good thing you’re not shallow.

    3. 15.3
      Ampresandman

      Yea I don’t think a guy can fake a friend ship with a woman after said woman already knows that he is attracted yet you pretty much tell him that he is not attractive. Don’t get me wrong, by all means tell a dude if he is not attractive to you, and be specific, every guy needs to learn his place if nothing else. 

  15. 16
    moonsical

    I respond to all, except winks, though if they just write one sentence, and it’s lame, I tend to use the auto reply feature, “Thanks but we’re just not a match.”

    A few men I have, “rejected,” (hard to call it that when they very barely try) are obnoxious back, and those I block. No need to leave a space for abuse.

    When I write men they almost always respond. However, I unfortunately seem to find men of interest that are, “geographically undesirable,” as Click n’ Clack would say, and they write back, but turn me down based on this fact alone. Some of them say they are flattered, some are just matter-of-fact. One man, “rejected,” me because he said he was, “hard wired,” for a petite woman. That made me laugh out loud, and then shudder at the thought of how skinny he must need a woman to be. Yeek. Scary.

    moon

  16. 17
    Elaine

    I’d say about 10% to 20% of the time.

    I respond about 50% of the time to the guys who write me first and 100% to those who write thoughtful personalised messages to me.

    I think I might just have met ‘the One’ online recently. Time will tell.. i

  17. 18
    JB

    On Match(which I hate) I was on for a month and got about 2 responses to about 30 or 40 emails. On Yahoo which I’ve been on for years I get about 2 for every 15 to 20 I email. I like Yahoo better than Match …Obviously…LOL

  18. 19
    male54divorced

    I’m currently active on Match and OKCupid. Over the last 16 months…
    I’ve contacted 2 woman, had responses from both, went on one date with one. 100% on a tiny sample.
    I’ve gotten incoming messages from seven women, met three, dated one, emailed the other four, currently in contact with three of them.
    I’ve gotten around six winks, said thanks but no thanks to all.
    I also date in the real world.
    BTW, I’m bald, average looking, 5’10”, fit, active, employed and can dance.

  19. 20
    Kenley

    Juju wrote something I’ve been curious about — she said that she mentioned to someone that they could be friends. When people say that after going on 1 or 2 date, are they really serious? I personally have said that to a couple of guys that I dated where there wasn’t any chemistry. I quickly discovered that from a practical standpoint, trying being friends with a date that didn’t work out, is weird and not especially productive. I already have enough friends to keep me busy and engaged. Then add to that the search for a SO and I just couldn’t fit those other guys in. Finally, it really is awkward if one person still has romantic feelings. You worry that they guy is trying to use you or you are trying to use the guy. So, while I think in theory it is nice to tell someone let’s be friends, in practice it’s much more difficult.

    Unlike some of the women on this blog, I didn’t receive lots of emails or winks. So as they saying goes beggars can’t be chosers. So, as long as the guy hasn’t written anything inappropriate and I like his profile, then I am satisfied and will reply back. I will respond to winks, short emails, mass emails, and long emails alike. Old and average ladies just get very little love. Now, I won’t go out with just any man, but if I like the profile, I really have nothing to lose by replying back.

  20. 21
    happygirl

    I am currently taking myself of 3 dating sites I was on. It was not easy in the beginning to get decent responses. But I am getting a great number of them now.Some of them I have met for coffee, but it did not go any further. Some I have gone out with for more then one date if I thought I should see if something would be there so that it can develop into something. I can honestly say that over time it is progressively getting better. However right now I feel I just need a bit of a break. Even internetdating is time consuming and can burn you out.
    There are men out who will keep sending you flirts, yet will not after my response, have further communication. I try as much as I can to respond to emails. Sometimes I will respond to flirts, depending on what I read in their profile, pictures etc I do try to be polite and feel that I should at least acknowledge that someone took the time to email me.

    Look forward to more questions to answer Evan

    1. 21.1
      Bryan

      We need more happygirls :)
      thanks for being kind to my fellow men

      1. 21.1.1
        Matt

        I agree. Thank you for having the respect to respond even it is it thanks but no thanks. :)

  21. 22
    JuJu

    Kenley,

    I don’t know about the others, but I personally only said it when I meant it. Interesting people are hard to come by, and if a see a combination of intellectual AND genuinely kind, I’d be more than glad to add them to my circle. Now, I’d rather they were women, as I don’t have any female friends, but I don’t go on dates with women. ;-)

    I realize, however, that if the man truly wants me, the suggestion will insult rather than flatter him, so perhaps I am going about this all wrong, anyway.

    1. 22.1
      Bryan

      JuJu,
      I understand you points. Sometimes a man will hope to change your mind or will not take the rejection well. But, since it is a numbers game, you are missing out on the exposure to new propects that a new friend can offer. If you are unselfish, genuine and smart you can offer something of value, social interesction to the person you rejected. Google “the corridor theory”.
       

      1. 22.1.1
        Bryan

        *social interaction *

  22. 23
    Karl R

    To answer Evan’s second question, I probably respond favorably to 5% to 10% of the e-mails and winks that I receive. Breaking that down further, it’s 0% favorable to the poorly written e-mails from women who didn’t bother to read my profile, and about 20% to 25% favorable to the articulate e-mails from women who read my profile.

    And to clarify my earlier answer, the 20% response rate only referred to favorable responses. “No thanks” or “I’m starting to get serious with someone else” don’t count.

  23. 24
    Evan Marc Katz

    JuJu-

    No need for constructive criticism. If you’re going to respond, respond with class and gratitude. Otherwise, just ignore.

    My two cents.

    EMK

  24. 25
    JuJu

    Sorry, Evan, not sure I am understanding you – you mean, to the men who write me?

  25. 26
    Evan Marc Katz

    Yes. He doesn’t need to hear WHY you’re not interested, unless for some insane reason he asked for your feedback in his initial email to you. My policy was always to write thoughtful, polite rejection letters to those who wrote great emails, and to ignore everyone else.

    Life is too short to be an HR department.

    1. 26.1
      Ampresandman

      How is it insane to want feedback? No one wants to make the same mistake twice with someone who might otherwise be genuinely interested. 

  26. 27
    A-L

    RE: Kenley’s #20 and the “let’s be friends” concept.

    I’ve only tried it very rarely. One guy and I managed to remain friends for a year before he admitted he still had feelings for me and had to break it off. And I’m currently optimistic about another guy with whom I’m having my first “friend” meeting tonight, as neither one of us was feeling a romantic connection but could easily have been part of my close friends in college (had we attended the same university).

    For a guy to go into the friend category things could never have gotten physical, or at least not very physical, or else I think there’s always that reminder/temptation there, which can also lead to a certain awkwardness. At the same time, you have to have gone out with the person enough times to know that you both have a lot in common, connect well, and like each other. You need to have a certain amount invested already in the relationship (Evan said this somewhere…don’t recall where).

  27. 28
    Lulubell

    I just don’t email guys – maybe it’s a generational thing (I’m 49) or that I like or need to be pursued. But, I do think it’s important to be polite and strive for a kinder/gentler online world, so I respond to all polite emails (in proportion to their email).
    I have a question – Who responds to a wink and why?

    1. 28.1
      Bryan

      Thank you lulubell. The world is a better place with you in it.

  28. 29
    JB

    Lulubell- “Who responds to a wink and why?”

    I’m sure most men will a lot more often respond to a wink than women because they get so few responses of any kind they get excited about any they get.

    Plenty of women also respond to winks if the guys photo is “hot” enough and the profile is short,safe and generic. Although they might just wink back ….it’s still a response…lol

  29. 30
    Eathan

    I’m very picky on who I email. So I would have to say it’s about 80% response. I keep my emails short and sweet. I usually get replies even if they aren’t interested.

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