How to handle reviews and improve the app rating?
Let’s see how good work on reviews can increase your app’s appeal. A high rating pushes the app closer to the top of search results and it may influence the conversion from views to installs. Two-thirds of users look at the average rating before they install an app. If your app has a low rating, you will most likely lose users. An app with a 3-star rating may lose a half of potential installs while an app with 1-star or 2-star rating may lose them all. Let’s talk straight about how to handle reviews and improve your rating.
Deal with the cause, not consequences
Dealing with low ratings and bad reviews is definitely important, but it’s better to start with the source of the negative feedback. That’s why at first we should collect information about bugs, fix them and come back with good news.
When the app gets really popular, it can be problematic to create unique dialogues with users.
Dealing with reviews is an essential part of the app promotion campaign because:
- Rating and reviews affect not only the number of app installs, but also the loyalty of users, when they are about to make an in-app purchase.
- According to Apptentive data, changing the rating from 3 to 5 stars can add up to 97% traffic to your app.
- Speaking of Google Play, where the store listings are also indexed, you can use keywords in your responses to improve your app store visibility.
For this reason, it’s better to prioritize the feedback you can interact with in favor of technical bugs and functionality issues.
Checkaso has an app reviews tracker, with which you can track unanswered comments.
What drives users to leave negative comments?
There is little you can do with the first reason, but perhaps it is a signal to test other monetization schemes.
Bugs, crashes and UX mistakes are bad for all metrics that app stores monitor. The App Store and Google Play can clearly see that something is wrong with your app if it has a high churn rate or conversion issues. App stores don’t want to feature such apps and cut you off from a powerful traffic source.
The most common UX mistakes in e-commerce apps
- Difficult mobile navigation and problems with product categorization;
- You can’t do anything in the app without registration;
- There is no filter system in the search;
- Non-intuitive buttons;
- You can’t skip onboarding;
- The shopping cart clears automatically.
Fixing UX mistakes allows you to use paid traffic more efficiently, because users driven this way find what they were looking for and app store algorithms understand that it is beneficial to cooperate with such an app. Though, it can be applicable mostly for Google Play.
Anyway, you can proceed to the next ‘ground rule’ only after this step.
Why are negative app store reviews useful?
The desire to leave a negative review is always stronger. People are more willing to share what doesn’t suit them. That’s true – when people have positive experiences, they take them for granted. But a negative app store review is not the end of the world. Let us explain why.
- It is your window of opportunities. You understand now what needs to be improved in your app. If negative feedback lacks precision, ask some clarifying questions.
- Negative feedback can be fixed. Solve the problem and tell the user about it. Then ask them to change the rating. Haters and critics are often the most involved users.
- You can look at negative reviews of your competitors to avoid their mistakes. Negative app store reviews are the most informative and useful. They have a lot of insights.
- When a user writes about the lack of a feature, maybe he was disoriented by the poor UX, so you can explain in the messages how to use the required feature.
Google Play Store policy changes
Great changes are coming to Google Play:
- From November 2021, smartphone users will only see ratings based on the region where their device is registered.
- In early 2022 users of smartwatches, tablets and smartTV will only see ratings specific to the device they’re using.
This company policy is driven by the fact that a bug found in only one region can cost the app too much. It also reflects the policy of an individual approach to ASO for each region. In other words, Google Play reduces the cost of a mistake, if, for example, your graphic ASO or UX mistakes are common for the same region.
This approach to the formation of the average rating is controversial. On the one hand, in countries with problems the app gets a better rating due to higher ratings in other countries. On the other hand, with the change in the method of calculation, the average rating may plummet in some countries.
All this will massively affect both the conversion of the app home page and the ranking, since the algorithms consider these parameters. Anticipating this, Google will analyze possible negative changes for the app 10 weeks before any adjustments to the counting algorithms. It will allow you to build your ranking optimization strategy in advance and avoid a conversion rate drop and pessimization in search results.
Still, the app store rating is low. What should I do?
A negative app store review is believed to be worth 5 to 10 positive ones. Thus, while you ask users to change their negative ratings, you may want to increase positive ones. But how?
Most users are too lazy to leave positive reviews even if they love the app. Just remind them about it. It’s crucial to consider various triggers to influence users and make them rate your app. The right time, for example.
Some negative app store reviews may be related to inappropriate time. If you ask to rate the app at the most interesting moment of a game, it will cause a bad response. But if you ask for a rating when the user has achieved something in the game, it’s much more appropriate. For apps with in-app purchase functionality, asking to rate the app once the user has successfully placed an order, may be the best option.
A certain number of times the user opens the app may be another trigger. Say, they open your app at least ten times in three days. This means that you’ll limit your audience but those who remain will most likely leave positive ratings.
The bottom line is to ask for an app rating once the user completes the target action or is in waiting mode. There are various trigger options depending on the kind of app you have. Rate My App is a feature available to everyone that’s easy to introduce and configure.
Analyze the indicators to track how your app rating is changing and if your users are becoming more active. With an idea of the current rating trend (whether it’s growing or sinking) and its reasons, it will be easier for you to build a promotion strategy and make forecasts.
There also is a rather unethical way to handle reviews on Google Play. We can’t help but tell you about it since the topic often pops up. It works as follows: If the user leaves a low app rating, it opens a support ticket; if the rating is high, it goes to the store. It’s against the rules, but some people take the risk. Ban is the price. Most likely, not forever, but for a while for sure, until everything is fixed. Typically, this can be found out during app updates when checking the assembly. You also can check an already uploaded update selectively; this happens less often, but it happens.
Keep in mind that app stores measure the weight of negative comments differently. To cover one negative comment, you will need about 8-10 positive ones.
The App Store is less likely to change rankings if the app gets bad ratings and reviews. The situation on Google Play is more acute. When the app store notices a negativity, it can pessimize your app not only in search results, but also in search for similar apps and exclude it from recommendations for a long period of time, so you will notice the traffic loss.
Do I have to deal with positive feedback? These users seem to be okay
Yes, you also need to deal with users who gave 5 stars to your app. One-to-one interactions with users are particularly good in helping small companies grow and show they can compete with larger businesses.
A good example is Games of Sultans here, they even developed a system of appeals to users and call them “sultans”.
It is important to support users at every stage, because this kind of communication raises the possibility that a person with a positive experience will recommend the app to friends or come back on their own if the Tinder-match doesn’t meet expectations, as in this case.
Here we can see the results of the work done, and hence positive feedback.
Should I buy rating reviews?
It’s better not to resort to illegal actions. Stores, as a rule, delete 90% of those reviews. A boost in positive app ratings at a time may raise suspicion. What’s more, purchased reviews often have the same type. They can be tracked easily and may cause a greater negative response on the part of real users.
App stores are constantly tightening their control over such reviews, so even if you have had some positive experience in the past, it’s now very unlikely that this method will work. Try to find a free way to get feedback from real users.
When may I not respond to app store reviews?
A response is always better. Even if the user wrote you a word or two of praise, responding will be worth it. By doing so, you maintain a level of engagement. Show that real people are behind your app and you value feedback. Stay in touch with your audience to influence their loyalty. You can create your own style. Respond with humor and irony if this suits you. Your response may become part of the game. The user may think like ‘hey, I want them to write something funny to me too, so I’ll leave them some feedback.’
On the App Store, you can easily reply to your users in the App Store Connect developer console. Every time you answer users, they get a notification. When you solve the problem, the user can see the alterations and change their mind about your product.
It’s a brilliant opportunity to turn angry users to loyal ones.
You can also update your response in App Store Connect. The latest version of your reply will be displayed in place of the old one.
What can I do if my competitors are leaving negative rating reviews?
In this case, the temptation is great to make it personal and act rude. Please resist it. Even if there is not a word of truth in the review, stay reasonable and polite. Other users will see your response. The way you work out the negative may influence their loyalty. If the rating review is misleading, your answer should be rational. Provide some evidence or examples and ask not to mislead other users.
You can always complain about a review that contains insults, swearing, or does not relate to the functionality of the app. If you notice the markup of negative reviews, you can also ask the moderators for help. Proving a markup and removing a review is the hardest thing from this list, but it’s doable. Seeing such a turn of events, competitors are unlikely to repeat their act of generosity.
Should I set up an automatic response?
No, you shouldn’t. Automatic response won’t replace live communication. Develop a real-time dialogue with your audience. Furthermore, awkward situations can occur if you happen to set up your automatic response wrong. Say, a user leaves a plain judgment without reasoning. And then he or she gets your response: “We’ll fix everything, please email us.” Or they may leave an app store review in English and get a response in Russian. It may turn out quite awkward. It would be best if you respond later, but your response is your own. This may increase user loyalty.
Should I reset my app ratings in App Store?
This makes sense if you’ve fixed all shortcomings. Then, with the next update, you can reset the app rating. Such a new start may be beneficial. You cannot reset your rating on Google Play, so you should test the app carefully prior to the official release. The only thing you can do is report a review if it is completely irrelevant or offensive. If a store (both App Store and Google Play) considers it unacceptable, it may delete it.
Remember that resetting your App Store rating doesn’t cancel your negative reviews. The bad news that you need to gain ratings from scratch, and here the following nuances appear:
- If the app does not get many ratings every day, then it will take quite a long time to collect them again. Users pay attention not only to the average rating, but also to the total number of reviews, so with such a reset you risk causing more damage.
- If the app receives a lot of negative feedback, then it makes no sense to reset the rating, because, if the trend continues, the rating will become even lower, since it will be formed only from new negative ones without taking into account old positive reviews. So before you reset the rating, you need to fix all the bugs and reasons for the negative feedback and reset only after that, so that the new rating becomes better than before. Take another look at the UX of your app and run a series of tests across multiple devices.
A lifehack: Google app reviews are indexed, including beta versions. Use this while finalizing your app – motivate users to leave feedback. Expand the semantic core.
A review checklist
- Work on reviews consistently;
- Act quickly;
- Don’t ignore negative rating reviews, respond constructively and politely;
- Ask clarifying questions if negative feedback lacks precision;
- Analyze negative feedback your competitors receive;
- Avoid canned response;
- Ask for feedback at an appropriate time (waiting mode or action completed).