Let’s be honest, app ratings factor a lot into the mindset of someone downloading an app. The two worst scenarios for an app are to either have no reviews or poor reviews.
If an app has no reviews, I immediately think that the app doesn’t have a lot of downloads because it is not popular. So why should I download it? If an app has a low rating score (for me, anything 3 stars or below), I get nervous about downloading it because other people obviously didn’t like the app for some reason. Maybe it crashes all the time or it will bombard me with ads.
As an app developer, what can you do to get reviews and make sure those reviews are positive ones?
If you have ever bought something from Amazon, you probably remember getting an email a few days later asking if you liked your purchase and if you wanted to leave a review. Do you think Amazon would have the gazillion reviews on their site if they didn’t ask for them?
But, and there is a big BUT, when it comes to reviews for apps, you need to be smart about asking your users.
Asking a user for a rating during their first launch is not ideal. The user hasn’t had a chance to use the app and get a feel for it. It’s like buying a new car and before you even get the keys, the salesman asks you how the car drives. How can you know how it drives, you’ve never driven it before?
Let your users experience the app for a while. Give them time to appreciate the cool functionality that you slaved so long in developing. Let them see how the app provides them value. For a game, value is enjoyment. For a utility app, value is efficiency or money saving or gained knowledge.
Two easy ways to track that a user appreciates your app is through the number of app sessions and the session length. If a user has a high session count, there is something about your app that keeps drawing them back again and again. Long session lengths show that the user is remaining engaged while using your app.
When you show a rating prompt, make sure you target people who have spent time using your app.
If a moviegoer storms out of the latest Ben Affleck/Jennifer Lopez film in disgust, do you think they are going to recommend the movie to their friends? I sincerely doubt it. But if someone finishes watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens and then proceeds to do cartwheels in the hallway, the chances of a good recommendation just went way up.
You don’t just want ratings you want positive ratings. So you need to target people who you know enjoy using your app.
An easy way to find positive people is to ask a prequalifying question before you show your rating prompt. The question can be as simple as “Do you enjoy using the app?” If the user answers yes, then your chances for a positive review just went up and this is a good user to show your rating prompt.
If the user responds that they do not enjoy using your app, don’t show them your rating prompt, unless you want to continue to get on the user’s bad side. Instead, ask the user if they want to send you feedback. This shows the user that you care about their opinion and want to address any concerns they have. Who knows, maybe you can change your grumpy user into a cartwheeling-in-the-hall user.
One more note about in-app feedback. Often, people use app reviews as a way to expression their frustration to developers because the app doesn’t have a good in-app feedback option. Including a good feedback system in your app not only redirects these potentially negative reviews, but it also helps create a trust relationship between you and your users that can help with user retention.
I love using my DVR to watch TV shows. Why? Because I can skip the commercials. I just hate it on shows like American Idol when the winner is about to be revealed … after the commercial break. What? I have to wait! Fast forward, fast forward.
Now imaging if your rating prompt was one of those commercials that was scheduled to air in that commercial break. Do you think I would ever pay attention to it? No. I just want to get back to see who won American Idol.
When you show your rating prompt to your user is very important. Look for places in your app that are natural pauses. Maybe a user just finished a game level or they just finished reading an article. You don’t want to show your prompt when the user is actively doing some function, otherwise they will just ignore the prompt. Plus, it may even make them mad that you interrupted their flow.
You are also not confined to only asking users for reviews inside your app. You may consider sending a user a push notification thirty minutes or an hour after they closed your app. At that time, you know they are not actively using your app, but your app would still be fresh in their mind. We can also look back at our Amazon email example. If you have the user’s email address, you might send them a simple email message asking for feedback and a review.
The key to good reviews is to build a trusting relationship with your users. Your users want to feel appreciated: listen to their feedback, address bugs in a timely manner, put a good effort into making your app. If your users trust you and your app, your chances for a positive review will go up substantially.
To help developers with their rating prompts, in-app feedback and user retention needs, we created User Hook. User Hook is a suite of tools that lets developers segment and target users to send them the right messaging at the right time. Sign up for your free account, download our iOS or Android SDK, and get started reaching for those positive reviews.