“You’ve built an amazing application that boasts of several unique selling points. Your app is live now and has become quite popular!” Sounds great! However, your job doesn’t end here. You need to keep the ball rolling! After deploying your app, you need to maintain it and roll out periodic updates as per the latest trends. Well, we know that app maintenance involves fixing bugs, solving performance issues, and adding features to stay relevant. Another crucial aspect of app maintenance, that is often underestimated, is app store reviews and their proper management.
Customer reviews, whether positive or negative, are highly beneficial. The consumer feedback received through reviews can help you considerably in discovering performance issues & deciding the roadmap ahead. And, if managed correctly, it can bring a lot to the table. So, let’s explore the best practices of app store review management and learn how to benefit from these practices.
Why are App Store Reviews Important?
Your ASO (App Store Optimization) greatly depends on customer reviews & ratings; ASO affects the app store ranking. The more positive reviews, the higher you rank on the app stores. Needless to say, app store visitors select from the first few applications that appear in their search results. Therefore, if your app doesn’t rank among the top ten positions, customers are least likely to discover the app.
Moreover, a huge chunk of your target audience will read your app reviews and compare those to the reviews of other apps before making a download decision. Customers will also notice how you are responding to user reviews. This is more so if your app involves paid downloads.
Best practices to manage & improve App Store Reviews
Collect In-app User Feedback
Collecting in-app user feedback is an effective way of minimizing the chances of negative app store reviews on public platforms. This can be done with the help of chat widgets, feedback forms, in-app surveys, “contact us” forms, and “shake-to-send feedback forms.” This practice gives users the opportunity to directly vent out their dissatisfaction and promptly reach out to you if they come across app-related issues. Also, you get a chance to address the issue immediately and prevent users from exploding negative comments about your app publicly. However, utilize this strategy wisely; do not disturb users constantly with endless form requests.
Think of Innovative ways to collect Reviews
It’s important to devise and employ innovative techniques for collecting app store reviews. Here are some of the tried and tested methods.
You can hold a contest for users. For instance, users can be asked to share reviews or recommend your app to friends and receive a raffle entry or an iTunes gift card in return. Ask the reviewers participating in the contest to leave their Google Play or iTunes usernames within the comment thread; so that you can select the winners & give away rewards.
Another approach is finding a popular website or an influencer who will feature your app on their platform. Being featured on another brand’s website is a great way to boost your brand image and be noticed by your target audiences.
Adopting an omnichannel strategy is also an effective approach in this regard. Deploy review campaigns across multiple channels asking your customers for reviews. Utilize options like SMS, push notifications, & email communications for this purpose.
Employ an App Review Plugin & Pick the Correct Timing
An app review plugin makes it easy for users to provide a review for your application. There are several turn-key plugin solutions available for iOS & Android apps; Appirater, WP Review, & WP Product Review Lite, are the most notable ones.
Thanks to these plugins, users can easily provide ratings & reviews without much ado. Users just need to tap the number of stars within a pop-up. Thereafter they are asked whether they’re interested in proceeding to the next step, i.e., writing a detailed review. Well, a majority of users who have rated your app and are happy with the app’s offerings are likely to go for this step.
These plugins allow you to request reviews from users after they have used your application for a certain period. The app owner sets a time period after which the plugins will drop into the application in the form of pop-ups & prompt users to provide in-app reviews about your product or service. Here, you need to choose the right timing. Remember not to make the mistake of asking for reviews too early. Users would be in a position to provide reviews only after they use your app for a certain time. And, the practice of asking for reviews too soon will irritate users and may result in bad reviews even if your app is outstanding.
Respond to User Reviews Constructively & Proactively
Constructive and proactive responses to user reviews are another effective strategy for managing app store reviews. This way, you can reach out to users, understand their concerns, and show that you care for your customers.
Avoid providing automated responses; as such a practice doesn’t add any value. Instead, take out some time to reply to customer reviews; the positive as well as the negative ones. Try to respond to all reviews; this can be done by monitoring reviews regularly. Here’s how to reply to positive reviews and deal with negative reviews. For positive reviews, acknowledge users’ efforts by posting a “thank you” note and assuring them that you’ll continue to live up to their expectations. Coming to negative reviews, ensure that you’ll resolve the issue faced by the user at the earliest. And, for reviews that contain recommendations or suggestions; promise to work on the feedback received.
Your response plays a crucial role in generating customer satisfaction and loyalty as this shows that you value your customer. Nevertheless, this is one of the under-utilized strategies for managing app store reviews. If it’s not possible for you to reply to all reviews, make sure to pick the ones that are important.
Promptly Address Problems highlighted through Reviews
Responding to negative reviews is not enough! You must prioritize the serious problems highlighted by the negative reviews & and also promptly address them. This is because negative reviews are a great way of identifying the missing features and figuring out which aspects are adversely affecting the UX. Negative reviews often help app owners to detect bug-related issues and areas that are hampering the app’s performance. This way, app developers can understand the context of bugs and app crashes beyond the confines of automated crash reporting. So, convey to your technical team the issues identified by customers via email, Slack, or automated dashboards. Also, ensure that the issues are resolved at the earliest.
Convince Users to reverse Negative Reviews
This is out how you can convince users to reverse negative reviews. If you use the “App Store Connect” page for responding to users, the relevant users will be notified each time you respond to their comments. Therefore, if you are able to resolve users’ concerns; notify them & ask them to change their comments. In most cases, users will be happy enough to reverse their negative comments into positive ones and may even provide positive reviews. The “App Store Connect” page updates users’ responses, replacing the old comments with the latest ones.
Avoid Faking or Buying Public-facing Reviews
Several brands are tempted to put fake public-facing reviews of their products & services for promotional benefits. This strategy is not a good practice and often leads to defamation instead of popularity. Modern-era users are quite observant and tech-savvy as well. They are quick to identify fully-blown fake reviews. Furthermore, they can identify patterns like recurring cadence. And, if you are exposed to adopting falsified means, you lose your goodwill and trust amongst consumers.
Some brands even go to the extent of buying app store reviews. Well, this practice is called the blackhat ASO (App Store Optimization) strategy and involves huge risks. If your misdoings are discovered, you have to pay hefty penalty charges and also, can be banned by the app stores.
So, avoid buying or faking reviews and choose the natural path instead. You can offer perks and discounts to users for completing review forms.
Do not entertain Trolls
Trolls are omnipresent on the web to spread hatred and defame brands. You’ll get a few comments that will unnecessarily put you down; they’ll speak about how awful and worthless your app is. So, how do you handle such trolls? Reply to them politely and offer to extend help. And, for spam app store reviews containing offensive material, simply report those users. Mobile app stores provide such a facility. For example, Apple allows app owners to report users for providing spam reviews or violating any of the terms & conditions of Apple. The App Store Connect provides the option of “Report a concern,” you can utilize the option instead of replying to the spam comment.
App store reviews, if handled properly, work wonders in validating your app’s performance, identifying bugs, building trust amongst users, and enhancing customer loyalty. Moreover, you can easily identify the areas of improvement and figure out what would be the most suitable feature set to add for your next update. It is a key factor that can be leveraged for making your app all the more usable and performant. So, besides hiring professional assistance for creating your app, you may also consider allocating resources for managing app store reviews.