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Loyalty & Retention

Tough Love Tuesday: How Zola can Improve Mobile Customer Retention

Madeleine Wilson  //  May 25, 2021  //  4 min read

Starting today, our team will give some tough love to our favorite apps on the last Tuesday of every month. That’s right, we’ll be going through some of our most beloved mobile apps and discussing what they’ve done well and what could be improved – all done with love!

For our inaugural Tough Love Tuesday, we’ll be talking about Zola. For those of you who don’t know, Zola is an app and website that helps with all things related to weddings – from creating a wedding website to sending invites to managing your registry (and much more). It also doubles as a home goods store, so people can list and order registry items directly from them.

From their site directly: “We’re Zola, the wedding company that’ll do anything for love, and we’re reinventing the wedding planning and registry experience. Wherever love leads you—from engagement to wedding and decorating your first home—we’re there, combining compassionate customer service with modern tools and technology.”

According to Apptopia, Zola’s app DAU and downloads spiked at the start of 2021 as news about the COVID-19 vaccine started to emerge and hopeful couples felt more comfortable moving forward with weddings later in the year. So with all of this new engagement, where is their biggest opportunity for growth?

Biggest strength: Ratings and reviews

Usually, ratings and reviews are one of the first indicators that something is amiss within the mobile app experience. Zola has stellar app ratings with a 4.9 in the Apple Store and 4.4 in the Google Play Store. These are both higher than industry average.

From actually using Zola to plan my own wedding, I can tell why their ratings and reviews are so strong. I received this rating prompt within the mobile app experience after I was reviewing my registry gift tracker.

There are a few things they did right here that we see many brands struggle with.

  1. They used the word “love.” There’s a big difference between a customer’s reaction to reading the word “love” compared to “like.” It’s an emotional stop word which essentially means it stops people in their tracks and makes them feel something. It has more power to sway neutral customers or moderately happy customers over to the fan side of the pendulum, making them more likely to leave a positive review.
  2. They targeted me at the right time. I wasn’t in the middle of a task or about to check out my cart or anything like that. One of the biggest mistakes we see brands make is interrupting the customer experience with prompts like this, subsequently causing more friction and frustration.

Biggest growth opportunity: Retention

Similar to dating apps, Zola isn’t designed to stay on people’s phones indefinitely. As it’s primarily used for couples as they plan and organize their wedding, there’s not a huge need to keep it after their wedding aside from ordering thank-you cards or shipping items from their registry.

According to Brides.com, the average time it takes to plan a wedding is roughly one year. Given this logic, you’d assume most Zola customers would stick around at least for 12 months. However, that’s just not the case for them right now with Zola. In fact, the Zola app retention rate is lower than industry standard.  After 30 days, their retention rate was only 6.42 percent on iPhones and 3.93 percent on Androids in April 2021. If you look at our Annual Benchmark Report, the average shopping app ended the 2020 calendar year with 21 percent of customers retained.

How to improve mobile app retention

There seems to be a disconnect here in the Zola app between what people are saying in the app stores compared to what they’re actually experiencing. While Zola is doing a great job targeting happy customers, directing them to the app stores, and also acquiring new customers, they have to remember to focus on their existing customers.

A simple way to do this? Proactively engage with current customers.

According to our data, companies who proactively engage with customers see 90-day retention rates double the industry average. Giving customers a voice in deciding what goes on a brand’s product roadmap helps resource-stretched teams build features that both drive business goals and keep customers happy. Measuring and acting on emotion data allows brands to better understand customer sentiment and make changes accordingly.


If you’re the crew at Zola reading this – we love you and hope you found some useful, actionable advice on how to improve your app. If you want to chat more, reach out to our team today.

And if you’re in the shopping or eCommerce space, we’d love to chat with you as well!

About Madeleine Wilson

Madeleine Wilson is the Content Marketing Manager for Apptentive. No stranger to B2B tech, Madeleine enjoys translating complex concepts into easy-to-digest pieces of content.
View all posts by Madeleine Wilson >

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