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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.

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app ratings for YoshirtYour app ratings and reviews are a very important indicator of whether your app is awesome or not to potential customers. Also, app store ranking are influenced by ratings. Even Google shows Google Play ratings in search results. And ratings reflect on the brand of your company. So great ratings are important for the success of your application. In order to get great ratings it is vital that you understand why and how users rate your app. Let’s see what influences their rating.

Motivation drives app ratings

Based on experience with your app, your user will have a specific motivation, a goal in mind that she wants to achieve. For instance, she feels like you as a developer did a great job and wants to reward you for that. Or she wants to tell other people that your app sucks. She wants to blow off steam. She really likes the app but wants to tell you about a certain feature she thinks is missing. She wants to write a smartass review to come across as an expert.

Context has influence

Context is everything around the use of the app and the user that has influence on the way she perceives your app and will rate your app.  Like their emotional state: your user really needed to get home soon, and your taxi app helped out tremendously. Or she had a bad day, is grumpy and impatient and not willing to wait for your long list of messages to download. And ratings are not absolute but relative. For instance, the previous version of your app was really buggy and this new version fixes that. You have a competing app that is just much easier to use. And big expectations set the bar high: apps published by a big company will be rated harsher when quality is mediocre. Paying for your app will result in higher expectations and if not met, result in stronger disappointments. Are there other options for the user to send feedback? In particular if a user wants to send suggestions to improve but cannot find any ways of communicating with the developers, she might get even more frustrated and give a very negative review. Are there competing apps or are you one of a kind? If your app is bad, they might just leave you when there are alternatives and leave no review at all. If you are one of a kind, for instance the only official app to a popular service, switching over will not be possible so users will get frustrated and leave a negative review. Good thing that that negative review will have not much of an effect, as users are basically forced to use your app.

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Android Facebook errorFor months your team have been slaving away on your iOS or Android app. Burned the midnight oil to find the last bugs and fix them, polished the interface. Made sure you followed the Apple iOS Human Interface Guidelines or Android Core App Quality Guidelines. Now you ask yourself, is our app mature enough to launch? Will your hard work pay off or will it be a botched launch?

But first, why is the launch of an app an important moment?

  1. You may up in the Best New Apps list (Apple iTunes Store) or New Releases (Google Play), if you are new
  2. Apple or Google may feature you. They only do this with new apps.
  3. News sites and blogs are only interested in new apps. Your PR campaign should be concentrated around your app launch. When you reach out to authors they will only write about your app if it is of high quality.
  4. For iOS, posting bug fixes will take a week at least which is enough time to tank your users’ experiences and therefore ratings.

As an industry, we are pretty bad in engaging new users. We lose 22 % of users after just one time using an app, and beyond 11 times we have lost 66 %. As user acquisition costs are rising, it is easier and cheaper to convert a one time user to an engaged user.

So what matters should you look at?

  1. Does your app icon entice the user to open the app? Make sure your icon appeals and stands out, and gets the user interested to open up your app for the first time Your app name should explain what the app does.
  2. Do you have a smooth onboarding process? Your first screens should explain already what problem the app solves or what needs it fulfills. Make sure a user can understand or learn in 30 seconds what the main use case is and how it works. If needed, a good walkthrough may help, but first try with the app itself.
  3. Does your app provide value in a few minutes? So make sure your app helps solve that problem, or fulfill that need. That first time should already provide value or make it clear how it will provide value.
  4. Does the app provide a pleasant and engaging experience? Create an interface that is clear and responds snappy, test the app for bugs that may crash it. Beef up your backend to be able to handle massive download spikes because of raving posts on major sites
  5. Will the user come back? Create a reason for the user to return to the app, either because he/she remembers or you trigger this with a subtle and valuable push notification (don’t spam your users!). Try to have something habit forming built in that will get the user to come back on a daily basis.

Well, to make sure you meet these requirements, test well before launch. With the right testing, experimenting and of course PR and marketing it is definitely possible to create an engaging app that will attract *and* capture users.

What other issues do you think are important to look at?

Last week Amazon announced the availability of app engament metrics for Android apps published in their app store. Finally, I thought! The mobile industry has been focused solely on app downloads and personally I think that is the wrong metric. It is quite easy to get somebody to download an app. Great marketing, news/blog posts and incentivised downloads in combination with easy installs make it simple to get lots of downloads. However this study by Localytics show 24 % of users try out a downloaded app only once. That is a massive churn, which is a pity. You can’t provide value to users that have your app installed but don’t use it. For that you need engagement. So now Android developers with apps in the Amazon store can see daily user sessions, app retention and daily active devices. This gives app developers a much better idea how much value they provide.

The next step would be to use app engagement for top 25’s ranking. One reason why everybody has been focused so much on downloads is that they have a big impact on ranking for various stores, in particular Apple’s iTunes App Store. As app downloads are too easy to fake a lot of companies resorted to playing the system in various ways, instead of focusing on a great product for a great market with a huge need.

I liked the announcement a few weeks back from Google about referral tracking for Google Play Store, letting you know where your installs come from. Combined with Amazon’s announcement about engagement metrics I see two long awaited functionalities made available for app stores. Hopefully the two main app stores, Apple’s iTunes and Google Play will start adopting both soon and compete more for the hearths, minds and wallets of developers.