Gabriel Machuret, the Founder of ASOProfessional.com, is spot on about the importance of reviews for App Store Optimization. Reviews offer the much-needed social proof that users look for before downloading your app.
‘App reviews are the fuel of the ASO’ – Gabriel Machuret
They can’t be influenced by promotion from the app developer and provide unbiased information about the value a real user got out of your app.
That’s why both Google and Apple pay enormous importance to reviews for deciding your app’s ranking on app store.
What did you do before you downloaded your last app from the store?
Take a moment and think about it. And don’t consider apps which have the marketing muscle behind them like Uber, Amazon or Airbnb.
Personally, I first look at the rating of the app. I don’t even consider if it’s below 3.5.
After that I scroll down and look at 3-4 reviews to see what was the user experience. Only then I would consider downloading that app.
This infographic from Kahuna highlights the importance of app store reviews beautifully. There are 2 critical metrics mentioned here.
- 67% of the top 100 free iPhone apps have a 4-star rating or better.
- When your app rating goes from 3 to 4-star the percentage of consumers downloading your app goes up from around 50% to a phenomenal 95%.
But what is the secret behind increasing your app reviews?
The following 6 strategies will help you master the art of getting more positive reviews and in turn increase your downloads.
6 Killer Strategies to Increase App Reviews
1. Use a Rating Prompt at the Right Moment
This is the most effective strategy.
Pick a moment that’s least disruptive for the user. If you interrupt the user’s flow they will take out their frustration on the app store.
The best moment is when something positive or rewarding has happened.
Clear, a to-do list app, has cracked this perfectly. They follow 2 conditions
- User should have used the app for a few weeks
- Time it just when they finished the last item on their to-do list
At that moment, the user is feeling good and is about to exit the app. So, it causes no disruption in the natural flow of the user and he/she is willing to repay you for the value you have offered.
DICE, a ticketing and live music discovery app, prompts the user after they have successfully made their second purchase on the app.
This strategy coupled with the ‘update-notes’ strategy, discussed in the fifth point below, enabled them to 12X their app reviews – from 6 per week in first half of 2016 to 70 per week in the second half.
2. Use an Intelligent Rating Prompt
There are multiple SDKs available to embed a rating prompt in your app to ask for more reviews. In most cases, you would end up with something looking like this.
Can you guess what’s the problem here?
You don’t know how the user feels about your app.
If the user is frustrated or has had a bad experience, he will click on ‘Rate Your App’ and then go ahead and give you a negative review on app store. Fortunately, there is a hack around it.
Welcome to Intelligent Rating Prompts!
This is just a fancy name for Rating Prompts where you first check how the user feels about your app and then take a suitable action.
It first checks the perception of the user about the app.
- If you answer ‘No’, it provides a toast-window to state your problem. This is a great way to collect valuable information to improve your app.
- If you answer ‘Yes’, then and only then, you are taken to the window that asks for a review.
3. Embed Integrated Rating Request to Boost your App Reviews
Rating prompts are great to get more reviews but you still have to interrupt the user. And it spoils the experience to some extent.
Is there a way to not interrupt user at all and still increase app views?
This was the problem that developers at Circa News were thinking about when they came up with Integrated Rating Request.
Don’t be scared by the name! It simply means embedding a rating request in the natural flow of your app.
For the news-app Circa, the developers placed it in the middle of the list of stories. That allowed the user to scroll right past it without any interruption in comparison to a pop-up which requires interaction.
But they didn’t only stop there. They made it intelligent using the same approach used in Intelligent Rating Prompt.
The result is an Intelligent Integrated Request that enabled them to get 1000+ reviews on app store with 90% 5-star reviews.
— Niv Dror (@Nivo0o0) November 28, 2014
4. Delight your Customers to get More Reviews
This is a difficult one, as it requires more effort. But if you get it right, it can pretty much go viral and skyrocket your reviews and downloads through word-of-mouth.
Remember the last time when you received a flight upgrade from economy to first-class or your hotel room got promoted from deluxe to suite because you were on your honeymoon.
How did that make you feel?
Customer delight is the ‘Wow’ moment that a user gets while using your app. If you delight your user more than once you are guaranteed to get a positive review.
Let’s look at some examples of how other apps do it without burning a hole in your pocket.
- Uber does it by upgrading your ride from hatchback to sedan or from sedan to luxury
- Amazon does it using the old school technique ‘under commit and over deliver.’ They promise a delivery in 4 days but deliver it on the 2nd
- Facebook does it by creating kickass videos using your photos on your birthday or new year
- Gaming apps do it beautifully by offering level ups, bonus rounds or extra coins for in-app purchase
The trick is to be aware of your customer lifecycle and all the touchpoints where you can interact with a user and see where you can offer unexpected value.
Even a simple thing like sending a ‘Thank You’ card can sometimes give you awesome customer feedback like it happened in case of Zomato.
Zomato, a food ordering app, used this strategy to turn a customer with a bad experience into a raving fan.
— Saurabh Kanwar (@kanwarsation) February 16, 2016
5. Use App Update as an Opportunity to Ask for Reviews
If a user updates your app, it means they have seen value in it. They would have used the app for sometime and took the pain to migrate to an updated version.
So, ‘update notes’ is a great section where you can ask the user for ratings.
Pro tip: What language you use to ask for reviews in ‘update notes’ is crucial in getting more reviews.
The trick is to show care for the user and then subtly ask for review if they are overjoyed.
Have a look at how Threes, a puzzle app and DICE have done it below.
Threes App uses release notes subtly to increase app reviews
DICE App uses a funny release note to ask for more app reviews
Many times, users don’t go into detail about the updates offered, hence it is not as effective as the above methods. But you need to capitalize on every opportunity.
6. Offer Excellent Service on In-app Support to Increase App Reviews
When your app is rated well, a 1-star review does more damage than the benefit from a 5-star review. This is a great way to curtail that.
If a customer is irritated and unable to convey the frustration to the app developer, they go the play store route and rate your app badly.
The trick is to provide them a medium where you can listen to and solve their query. And that medium is in-app support.
Once you have solved their problem and provided awesome customer service, you can take that moment to ask a little favour and get a good review.
You don’t need to build in-app support from scratch. Use tools like Helpshift, Hotline or Helpstack (open-source) to embed it into your app.
See how Zomato used this strategy to turn an order cancellation request to an opportunity for getting a great review and retained a customer for lifetime.
Other companies delivering Food offer huge discount. Zomato offers brilliant post order service. I opt for later. pic.twitter.com/jcYxc9k20X
— abhishek tripathi (@abhishek_tri) March 25, 2016
When you start to focus on your app store reviews you quickly notice the fact that bad reviews hurt more than the benefit you get from good reviews.
When your rating is in the 4-ish range, you would need four 5-star reviews to compensate for one 1-star review. Thus, apart from getting more positive reviews it’s even more important to curtail the negative ones.
But that is an entire topic in itself and deserves another post. For now, just focus on how to increase app reviews and improve your rating.
Now you know the importance of app reviews and have some killer tips in your arsenal to get your app rated well. So, what are you waiting for?
As an App Disciple, you have got to apply what you learnt. So, go ahead and implement these strategies in your app.
Observe what works for you and let me know the results in the comments below.
I can’t wait to hear your app review success story!