Like search engine optimization (SEO) for your webpage, App store optimization (ASO) is the process by which you increase the likelihood of someone finding and downloading your app from an app store (i.e., iTunes, Google Play). As we turn to our mobile devices for work, entertainment, scheduling, travel, and practically everything else, there’s likely an app (or several) out there for anything you need. As the number of apps available for download increases, the chances of finding a specific app goes down. If you’re an app developer, it’s crucial to know the ins and outs of keeping your app visible, and this is where ASO comes into play.
App store optimization aims to improve your app’s conversion rate (called conversion rate optimization or CRO), which is a fancy way of saying that you want a high number of people to download your app after viewing its listing. Other objectives include higher rankings in app store search results, app store top charts or “featured” lists, and A/B testing. A key component to improving your ASO comes from user ratings and reviews.
Why Should You Pay More Attention to Ratings and Reviews?
User ratings and reviews have transformed how we learn, shop, book travel, share media, and much of everything else. Ratings and reviews fall under the umbrella of “social proof,” which is essentially a demonstration of how many people have downloaded your app and what they think about it. AppRadar points out that 59% of people usually or always check ratings before downloading a new app.
Think about it. When you perform a search in an app store, your results show up in a list form.
In both iTunes and Google Play, the first information you encounter is the app’s name, the app’s icon, and its rating. This rating, a component of “social proof,” is one of the first things a potential user will consider before deciding whether or not to view your listing. If you design your app store page perfectly, as a result, you will have a chance to get featured on app stores.
The iTunes app store search function displays the app’s name, icon, and overall rating.
Social proof makes your app competitive. With millions of apps available for download, there are two factors at play here. Firstly, there’s a high likelihood that someone already has (or will) create an app with a similar function. Secondly, because the market is saturated with apps, many of them do not yet have reviews, so even garnering one or two is a boost to your ASO.
Note: For iOS apps, iTunes requires at least five reviews before giving you an average rating, so that should be a landmark.
Reviews are not only for potential downloads. The great thing about a ratings and reviews system is that it caters to both the user and the developer. New users get immediate insight into what your app does, its layout, and other pros. For you as the app developer, reviews are an excellent tool for judging your app’s user-friendliness, finding and fixing bugs, and overall app streamlining.
In short, you should not put your ratings and reviews on the back burner. Potential users are more likely to give your app a try if they can see social proof. Reviews are a way for users to judge credibility and understand the benefits of your app from their peers. App stores have taken note too. Where your app shows up on search lists, category lists, and any charts will largely depend on your overall rating. The takeaway: if you want to broaden your app’s accessibility, you need to start bringing in some good feedback.
Let the Good Reviews Begin
Alright, so how do you actually go about getting favorable reviews? For starters, take a cue from your own experience. We have all been in the middle of a task on our mobile devices and had that untimely review request pop up. How often have you interrupted what you have been doing to write a review instead?
It is true that users are more likely to leave a review when upset than when things are going smoothly, so here are a few tips on getting those glowing ratings and make your mobile app viral.
One of your best friends in garnering positive reviews is timeliness. If you inundate your user with constant pop-up review prompts, not only are you likely to not receive a review, but you are also creating a frustrated pool of app users. One option is to track your app data (see below for some products that will help you do this) and avoid asking for reviews around any app crashes or just after bug fixes. Instead, prompt your users in between tasks, like after they have completed an order or are in between levels in a game.
One way to improve your review numbers is to rephrase your request. Instead of imploring your user to rate and write a review, your prompt might simply ask if a user is enjoying the app. For positive responses, you can either ask for a review then and there or redirect to the review page within their app store instead. For negative responses, redirect them to a feedback or contact form. This way, users who are unhappy are likelier to message their concerns directly to you rather than venting on your review page. Plus, it’s an indicator that you, as the developer, are reaching out to users for feedback, which users appreciate.
Make Yourself Accessible
The customer is still key, even on digital platforms. From the get-go, users should know how to get in contact with you for any reason. An ideal solution is to incorporate an easy-to-access, built-in customer support button or drop-down menu link. From here, link to a feedback form, email, or survey to allow users to directly report bugs or ask questions. If users feel like they can easily have their app issues resolved, it is improbable that their first reaction will be to run to the review boards to vent their frustration.
Dialog is a powerful indication that you stand behind your app and want your users to be satisfied. One way to do this is to monitor your reviews and directly answer questions and address critiques. Even positive reviews benefit from a simple, “Thanks for your feedback!” Showing current and potential users that you are proactively engaging with your user base not only increases your credibility, but it also gives the user some peace of mind that they can resolve issues quickly. If the unfortunate happens and someone leaves a poor review, reply back. Say you’re sorry to hear of their negative experience and ask them to contact you to see what you can do to make it right. Even if the disgruntled user doesn’t respond, review readers will take note of your efforts to make things right.
Want to hear more?
Check out this blog post to see the 7 ways of increasing app reviews.
Bonus: Useful Tools
If any of this sounds overwhelming, relax. There are some app analytics products designed to streamline all things ratings and reviews. Two of our recommendations are Apptentive, and Appfigures. These products monitor your reviews, provide easy-to-understand user analytics, allow you to read and reply directly to reviews, among other tasks. They’re great starting points for any developers looking to increase the number of reviews and improve their app’s overall rating.