10 ways to get the most out of App Store Ratings and Reviews
Mobile Growth

10 ways to get the most out of App Store Ratings and Reviews

author

Buse Kanal

Introduction

Once you have developed your app with cutting-edge “must-have” technology, the next massive challenge is getting noticed and downloaded. On the App Store (iOS) and Google Play (Android), a high-up appearance in the searches is vital to achieving an effective ranking. Although it’s unclear how much each moving part contributes to your app’s ultimate success, ratings are undoubtedly in the mix.

With your marketing hat on, doing everything you can to generate glowing ratings should be a priority. Why? Because human beings (i.e., your customers) refer to others’ opinions in forming their own and as a guide to buying something untried. When ratings are attractive and reviews complimentary, it motivates users to commit. Conversely, if they are derogatory and lackluster, it may severely damage your brand image.

So how can I improve app ratings for my brand?

You will notice that one-star is the lowest rating and five-star the highest. Users can register their satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) on the rating scale at or between these extremes. Here’s the thing: On the app store page, and when the search results emerge, they include a summary rating specific to each territory on the App Store. In other words, they’re significantly visible to your audience.

How do App Store Reviews tie into this?

Reviews and ratings initiate simultaneously, but they differ from one another:

  • Definitive star allocations measure ratings.
  • Reviews are more expansive. After using the app, they’re written feedback, expressing feelings, and relaying customer experiences.
  • The best review for an app is one that syncs in with a five-star rating. The two go hand in hand, allowing users to expand on why they left the rating they did.

When you boil it down, the two constructs together are a crucial part of your data bank. They keep you informed about the positives and negatives of connecting to your app in the marketplace. The following is an integrative perspective that should help you appreciate their value:

  • Trust in reviews and ratings if you believe in brand visualization as a revenue driver (you should).
  • They provide impetus to your marketing activities, contributing significantly to the way users perceive your product.
  • Five-star ratings are a green light to many prospects coming across your app, and even more so if supported by customer sentiments that align.
  • Conversely, numerous poor ratings can kill sales before they even get off the ground.

It seems logical that the App Store and Google Play back the apps with the least customer resistance because they’re the ones ringing the tills. So, as a general rule, they pump the apps featuring top-class ratings and reviews and conceal the ones on the opposite end of the spectrum.

Ratings

Ratings increase store traffic.

The bottom line is that you can be fastidious in your keyword strategy, but if users don’t like the app, it will negatively impact downloads and monetization. Conversely, the more traction you get in the marketplace with feedback and ratings streaming through signifying satisfaction, the more you can expect successful results.

Everyone knows that users are notoriously impatient, navigating websites and app search results almost as fast as you can blink. Therefore, the search must display something genuinely eye-catching to engage them:

  • Sub-par rating summaries are traditionally a user turn-off.
  • In contrast, the five-star ones have the power to engage and may well do the trick.
  • Thus, the quality and quantity of your ratings are an integral part of your overview.
  • They require constant monitoring to ensure that negative comments/ratings don’t hang around your brand too long.

To a large degree, ASO and keyword rankings depend on customer feedback via ratings and reviews. As these gain traction, things should start happening in your favor.

The chicken and the egg

For centuries, ordinary people and philosophers alike pondered which came first, the chicken or the egg? Similarly, what comes first – ratings/comments or conversions:

  • It’s challenging to get started with momentum on your side.
  • You scramble to get a few downloads here or there, urging friends and family to say how great the experience was.
  • In this way, you lay the first “eggs.” As the general public sees kudos coming in, they try your app.

Of course, your app must measure up to expectations. Faulty or problematic user interfaces can take you back to square one. In short, downloads beget customer feedback with thumbs up (hopefully), and the latter, if happy, creates more installations.

Build trust and rapport with your users.

It’s a vital consideration to improve App Store ranking for your app. Also, to improve play store rating in parallel. What better opportunity can anyone have than connecting with a user who has left a rating and a review? You can thank them, encourage dialogue, and address items raised in their content. Even if someone pans your app, it provides the perfect platform to engage with them to rectify matters. Also, customers who leave reviews consider that their experience and intellect give them the right to adjudicate usage. If they see you implementing their recommendations, you’ll likely gain a loyal customer. Not only that, they’ll probably send through complementary feedback.

The everyday things you can do to improve your rating and reviews

1. Make sure you’re meaningfully different and ahead of the curve.

Think functions and features, easy user interface, exceptional technical backup, and regular updates. If or when users tell you of disruptive touchpoints in their customer journey, fix them fast. Reaction time is vital because users have a low tolerance for rough patches. Another thing, don’t let your regular users get bored. Heap excitement onto your app by using seasonality, relaunches, and anything new you can add to them.

It all starts and ends with the product, and it’ll pay dividends to remember that. Once they discover a few of your unique features, the floodgates should open up. On the other hand, bug-ridden apps that crash intermittently or those with “iffy” functionality will not get past the finishing line.

2. Buying reviews is a no-no.

In this world-village we live in, things move fast, including secrets. Rumor has it that if you think two people know about something, eleven actually do. If you believe three are privy to confidentiality, a hundred and eleven are in on it. So, if you’re buying reviews, keeping it a close-held secret is almost impossible.

Apple regards it as a blackhat action. You’re taking advantage of a loophole to break the spirit of the rules. The marketplaces (Google and iOS) intend feedback to be unsolicited, objective, and powered by genuine market sentiment. So, buying reviews is full-on flying in the face of this standpoint. We advise you not to take the risk. Culprits caught in the act suffer heavy penalties, saying goodbye to ASO success. The marketplaces may ban you from the app stores, even impacting those apps in your portfolio not involved in the missteps. It’s best to stay on the straight and narrow and secure reviews the old-fashioned way – by earning them.

3. Asking is not buying.

There’s no problem asking customers for their reviews. But unfortunately, users skip over the feedback step in many cases even though they’re loyal and long-term customers. Don’t let that happen:

  • The risk you take, of course, is that you may get comments you never bargained for. However, if you have confidence in your brand, don’t be backward in coming forward.
  • You’ll be surprised at how many positives are waiting dominantly in the wings, ready to fly onto your app page.

Asking is simple enough, and it promises to reap significant rewards. However, it’s vital to pick your spots and get your timing right. For example, asking for reviews and ratings soon after a user engages with the app is not the right moment. Neither is interrupting a game or engagement in-app activity. Instead, solicit comments at defined junctures when you know the user has reached a milestone or completed the entire process. Also, judge moods (if possible), catching them at happy times, not in the middle of a workday when they may be under severe stress. Finally, nagging can count against you, so use your opportunities with sound judgment.

4. Deploy the SKStoreReviewController API

We highly recommend The SKStoreReviewController API as a tool to canvas for app store ratings and reviews by applying designated codes (i.e., each with a defined purpose). Many code configurations are at your disposal. For example, you can inform the App Store of the times to ask for reviews. Also, this technology allows users to submit reviews without missing a beat as they use it. Did you know it’s Apple’s mechanism of choice in accumulating pertinent ratings for the App store? Indeed, it should be great for anybody if it’s good enough for this iconic company. One limitation you should appreciate is that, per user, it only allows you three review prompts over a year.

5. Reviewers need contact details.

Making it challenging to deliver feedback is an obstacle that’s easy to avoid. It’s amazing how many developers omit their contact details, so watch out for that error. Take it further by encouraging users, telling them that you genuinely want their impressions and descriptions of the customer experience. The latter action has a double purpose:

  1. It heads off any negative comments before they spoil your ratings, giving you a chance to resolve glitches.
  2. It makes it easy to deliver positive commentary when deserved.

TIPS: Display your information where the audience can easily see it. The links provided should make it a cinch to communicate.

6. Respond to Reviewers

As stated above, customers feel recognized if you adopt their suggestions. Use every review as an opportunity to engage with users, either to turn things around (when they’ve gone wrong) or build on established goodwill (when things go right). Sometimes a simple acknowledgment of good customer communication is enough. In other cases, more extended dialogue does the trick.

Communication resolves many ills and reinforces better relationships. It’s most effective when you want to reverse negative comments. Accordingly, we advise the following process when dealing with an adverse situation:

  • Use the App Store Connect page because it leaves users with notifications.
  • It also enables the user to help you turn a lemon into lemonade by converting initial criticisms into accolades.
  • Most crucially, you turn customer churn into retention and brand loyalty.
  • Finally, the App Store Connect allows you to update your responses – replacing older ones.

7. Respond appropriately

It’s one thing to respond promptly and cover everyone in the review arena, but it’s another to send the right message.

  • It should never look like a templated communication sent to all recipients.
  • Creating a personal touch is crucial so that the receiver feels essential – part of your brand family.
  • Don’t evade the issues (if there are those) – get to the crux of the matter.
  • Proofread your grammar, and make your message clear to your audience.
  • Attempt in all cases of complaint to deliver a viable solution.
  • Don’t be “salesy” or use too many cliches. Instead, build on the key terms in your user’ reviews.
  • Stay patient and courteous in every case, never argumentative.

Review

8. Urgent reviews first

It’s a good sign when there are more reviews than you can handle. Generally, it means business is brisk unless the overall user reaction is on the complaint side of things. Good or bad, when time is of the essence, you need to prioritize. Damage control comes first, but don’t forget your loyal users in the rush.

When the emerging issue is endemic, it probably requires an app update, which jumps to the front of the queue:

  • Ensure you tell all users you’ve resolved the glitch.
  • Emphasize that their needs come first, and you’ve reacted fast and decisively.
  • Thank the client base for their transparency and encourage similar reactions in the future, should it arise.
  • Prompt users to submit reviews once they’ve tested the changes.
  • As a rule, don’t let too much time lapse between receiving reviews and responding to them.
  • App Store Connect includes alerts as reviews hit your page so that you don’t let them grow stale.

9. Reviews with offensive content

Don’t bother responding. Report it without delay to Apple as it likely violates the platform’s terms and conditions. Let them deal with it, and without a doubt, Apple will remove the unwanted messages.

10. Create excitement and use seasonality to your advantage

Positive ratings and reviews follow any strategy that adds excitement and creates different customer experiences. For example, if you know your audience is passionate about an event (e.g., Halloween), leverage it around your app. Introduce contests and offer special discounts that meaningfully impact audience sentiment. As a result, your users will see much more in your brand than meets the eye.

Conclusion

High ratings on the Google and Apple app stores with supporting reviews are vital to ASO’s success. We have outlined a comprehensive approach that should serve you well. It goes to the crux of the matter, nurturing your customers and creating an enjoyable user experience.

To fill in gaps, talk to ShyftUp – a leading global User Acquisition Agency. They’ll help you decide on the best rating and review strategy for your app portfolio. ShyftUp focuses on two primary services:

  1.  App Store Optimization (ASO) – unleashing the power of organic user growth by creating boosted visibility on the app stores
  2.  Paid User Acquisition – to help you grow your user base by converting your paid marketing budget into real users, thus revenue. ShyftUp specializes in Apple Search Ads and Google UAC channels.

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