The proprieters of the (apparently no-fee) online dating site OKCupid have an interesting blog in which they analyze their copious data in interesting ways. A recent entry analyzes the business plans of their bigger competitors: Why You Should Never Pay For Online Dating
They argue that the number of members advertised by eHarmony and Match.com is very much larger than the number of their paying subscribers, with the result that most messages are sent to non-subscribers (who they hope will be enticed to subscribe in order to answer). This contributes, they argue, to a death spiral in which men (who send the most messages) find that most go unanswered, so they increase the number of people they message to, which makes the messages more formulaic, which decreases the response rate (because women are inundated with many impersonal messages from less than likely matches), etc.
Makes you think some kind of scarce-resource signaling would be useful, doesn't it? http://bit.ly/cVpPOR