Zoosk grows mobile platform, shares some of its insights

Zoosk has evolved from a dating application on Facebook in early 2007 to a romantic social network ranging from its destination website to multiple mobile products on iPhone, iPad, Android and HTML5. We chatted with Zoosk co-founder and co-CEO Shayan Zadeh to get some deeper insight into the company’s recent success and experiences on mobile.

Recently, Zoosk reported traffic across its mobile apps and HTML5 products had increased by 148 percent in the last year. Although all Zoosk’s products are seeing growth, mobile has shown the fastest increase, Zadeh tells Inside Mobile Apps. However, in order to create a product that could grow, a significant amount of work was needed to create a truly mobile experience.

The San Francisco-based company’s first version of its mobile app was originally just an add-on to its desktop experience. Zadeh says after analyzing early mobile data, they saw a large portion of users accessing Zoosk from their handset, some of which never logged into the destination site. The data completely transformed the way Zoosk approached product development, and influenced what features and functionalities it would make available on each of its properties.

“It resulted in us building first-class applications, not an add-on, not an extension, but first-class applications where you can run through the life cycle of [a] user from acquiring somebody, from getting them engaged with the product, from keeping them engaged over time, from converting them into monetizers end-to-end on each of these platforms independently,” says Zadeh.

Mobile users have twice as many engangments on average compared to web user, says Zadeh. He noted that the people in the romantic social network keep mobile engagement high since Zoosk is a facilitator for those people to communicate and meet each other. For singles, the act of communication between users in the network helps bring them back to Zoosk, explains Zadeh. For couples, content contribution such as posting romantic moments drives engagement. On top of features for singles and couples, gamification techniques implemented into Zoosk aids engagement such as incentivizing a popularity system where a user can acquire virtual currency for rising in popularity, which can be spent to promote the user’s page in Zoosk.

Zadeh also pointed out that mobile sessions were shorter but more frequent. Zadeh added that a handset resonates more naturally with users because romantic moments usually happen away from a computer.

Although Zadeh declined to reveal how many mobile monthly active users (MAUs) and daily active users (DAUs) his application has, but he reveal that there is an interesting relationship between the Zoosk mobile app and HTML5 product.

“We saw very early, even though we had a very strong iOS native application offering, that a lot of our users were opting in to use our feature-flown product on the browser, un-divisive like iPhone and Android, which was very perplexing for us,” he says.

Zoosk was prompting users on their mobile browser to download the mobile app, but a large portion of users opted to remain using the browser and not download the app, Zadeh noted. This lead to the company to build an HTML5 version of its website.

Zoosk’s native apps account for 61 percent of its mobile traffic. The company also sees 55 percent of its traffic coming from a mobile browser, meaning 16 percent of users access Zoosk from both.

Zadeh believes that a lot of companies have to cover both bases — mobile app and browser product — for the foreseeable future.

“You can’t cover the iOS devices just by having an application, you actually need to have a browser solution as well, it doesn’t matter how good your native application is,” he says.

Zadeh didn’t disclose specific average revenue per daily active user (ARPDAU) figures on mobile, but Zadeh says Zoosk gets conversions through the iTunes App Store and Google Play from subscriptions and virtual currency. He added that grossing numbers are comparable on both iOS and Android.

“We are able to monetize these users as well, if not better, than what we do on the web,” explains Zadeh. “They find a lot of value in our products and they continue to purchase our virtual currency or purchase our subscription and use it. It has been very exciting for us to watch that progression in the rankings, in the app stores, especially because we have the public data about everybody else.”

According to our AppData metrics tracking service, Zoosk is currently ranked as the No. 1 (top chart) grossing app for both iPhone and iPad in the social networking genre and lands at the No. 15 (bottom chart) spot in the social category for Android.