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A letter just sent by to competitor Plentyoffish reveals just how seriously these companies take the numbers.
The letter isn't long -- not long, that is, aside from a bullet-pointed list of 18 stats from Plentyoffish's marketing materials, which challenges its competitor to substantiate.
For their part, the major dating sites have ignored Facebook.
That's a mistake, though -- the social factor is important, as well as the casual dynamic on Facebook.
For companies that sell dating services, it's a competitive world where each major company has to one-up the other in their claims -- how many users get messages, how many of those messages lead to dates, and how many marriages emerge from those unions.
A few weeks back OKCupid, another free site, posted its own lengthy, stats-heavy attack on Match and e Harmony: Yes, only 1/30th of the "20 million users" they [e Harmony] advertise is someone you can actually talk to.
That's the paradox: the more they pump up their membership totals to convince you to sign up, the worse they look...
But at the end of the day, Match isn't at serious risk of being overcome in the near future by Plentyoffish, or any other free site.
Match has existed for well over a decade, and even its competitors admit that it continues to attract subscribers.