How to Get Great App Ratings and Reviews

June 24, 2015

AMC iPhone app ratings and reviews

Great app ratings are vital for your app. Our last blog post was about the psychology of app ratings. In this post we point out how you can use this knowledge to get great app ratings and great app reviews.

  1. Build an awesome app. Fix a massive problem in an excellent way. Make sure your messaging in the app store and on the first screens is clear so that you set the right expectations. Test the app quality, on lots of devices. Have awesome and intuitive interface that is easy to understand. Do mobile user testing to validate this. Be better than your competition and previous version.
  2. Have top-notch customer support. Not only have knowledgeable staff handling customer support via any channel, but also make sure they respond fast and in an empathic way, valuing the feedback from each and every user. Make sure users can give feedback from inside your app, so they can vent any frustration directly via sending you feedback when they have a subpar experience. Disappointed users will never give great app ratings but might instead give bad ratings if they become frustrated.
  3. Make it personal. Leverage the fact that you are a small company. Identify the people that built the app with blood, sweat and tears, for instance on your web site. That way your users can identify and sympathize with your team and will be more inclined to give you great app ratings. There is a reason why politicians tell so much about themselves, it helps that voters can feel like the politicians are similar and will take care of their issues.
  4. Ask for reviews, the right way. Yes you need to create a trigger to have the user rate and review your app, but do it the right way.

So what is the right way to ask for an app review?

  1. Pick the right moment. When you ask somebody about their opinion, they should be able to have one. So make sure your users have had enough experience with your app to form an opinion and be knowledgable. Ask at the end of a logical unit of usage. For instance, if you were running a restaurant, what would be a great time to ask for a review? Not just after the appetizer but after the complete dinner is finished would be the perfect moment. Make sure your user is done with their task, so he/she will be context switching anyway and their acceptance of being distracted will be high. Lyft does it very well, by asking you to rate a driver once you are dropped off at your destination. Try to figure out if it is a happy moment, for instance after successfully finishing a game level. Again for Lyft, I would suggest figuring out if the trip was average length or faster. Certainly a crash is not a great moment to ask for a rating.
  2. Limit interruption by asking in an integrated, native way. Your user didn’t open your app to give a review, but for another purpose. Average session length on mobile is less than 5 minutes with 34 % less than a minute, so your 1-minute review will interfere anyway. A nasty modal rating popup that a user has to close will interfere and annoy. Better have a more subtle way of integrating your prompt in your app, and leave it up to the user to choose. Circa did this nicely inside their news feed.
  3. Don’t ask directly to review, first ask their opinion about the app. By making it a two-step procedure, you can first check if he/she would give a great app rating or rather would have recommendations for improvement. For instance like Ember for iOS as shown below is doing. In case of a no, you can first redirect the user to a screen to send feedback to the developers.

    Ember for iOS rating prompt system ensures great app ratings

    Sally Shepard presentation at Altconf 2015

  4. Ask nicely to review, don’t over-ask. I once had a Thumbtack photographer asking me for a review. Not just a review, but a 5 star review. She was good but not excellent. Her over-asking caused me to give no review at all. So don’t push it, and don’t nag. You have to earn a 5 star review; you can’t force users to give you great app ratings.

Conclusion on how to get great app ratings

Build a great app and offer awesome support. And be smart and empathetic about you implement your app ratings prompt. The more seamless and native your asking is incorporated it, the more you will get great app ratings.

Dirk de Kok