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8/23/2021 9:48:26 AM
How to get app reviews the right way
App Developer Magazine
How to get app reviews the right way


How to get app reviews the right way

Monday, August 23, 2021

Justin Welter Justin Welter

Knowing how to get app reviews from mobile users for your app can make or break the growth of your product. Justin Welter, VP of Business Development at AdColony explains how to ask for honest app reviews and why they are important.

You’re playing a game on your phone and just finished a tough level. Or maybe you’re not into mobile games, but you are repeatedly swiping left if you know what I mean. Then a pop-up appears. “Like using our App? Rate us!” It stops your experience in its track to wait for a decision. What is driving these rating prompts, and why?

As Apple has increased the importance of App Store listing and curation as a means to secure downloads, especially in the wake of reduced postback information through SKAdNetwork campaigns, publishers are finding that “clincher” is important, but securing it isn’t as straightforward as asking nicely.

How to get app reviews the right way

Back to that prompt: Do you take the time to navigate to the App Store to leave a review (not likely) or do you dismiss the notification with a “Not now” and move on?

Why You Need (Positive) App Reviews

The benefits of app reviews can’t be overstated. First, they are the ultimate “social proof” that your app is worth downloading. There’s a very discerning group of users who read app reviews before deciding to download an app. They look for details a user might put that a developer or publisher wouldn’t.

They want answers to important questions: Do I really need to make an-app purchases to progress? Does the app hammer me with ads at every opportunity? Does it work on my device? Is it fun? Useful? All those answers (and more!) can be found in in-app reviews.

How To Ask For a Review

There’s a reason why users get all those pop-ups, it’s because the fastest, easiest way to get a review from a user is to simply ask. And there are a number of turnkey solutions available for iOS and Android that make it incredibly simple to ask users to rate your app.

But as users get more and more notifications and modal prompts, including ones from your app asking for data sharing permissions under AppTracking Transparency, and start to tune out, there’s not just a risk of annoying users. You also may not get the volume of responses to make it worth that risk.

Of course, there are smart ways to increase your chances of a good review, like finding the exact right moment, such as when they are happiest and most satisfied with the experience.

This could be after completing a level, a transaction, or at some other clear stopping point when they feel successful. You can also use advanced segmentation tools to only ask users who have had a significant number of app sessions or time per session. Time of day can matter, too.

What About Incentives?

App developers are all about incentives, it’s how to drive behavior, right? Reward your users for doing what you want them to do. “Give us 5 Stars and get 100 gold!” might seem innocuous, but incentivizing reviews can backfire for even the most beloved developers. The rules for iOS incentives to get opt-ins for tracking are extremely clear: Don’t do it. Granting permission must not be associated in any way, shape, or form with rewards to the user, at any time.

For reviews, the intent is similar: “Developers who attempt to manipulate or cheat the user reviews or chart ranking in the App Store with fake or paid reviews, or any other inappropriate methods will be removed from the iOS Developer Program.” There is comparable wording in Google’s developer agreements.

Here’s the catch: You cannot reward a user for a positive review, but you can provide in-app rewards simply for the effort. Developers cannot connect the dots on who leaves a positive vs. negative anyway, so it’s not possible to only reward users who give your app five stars. But in the messaging, you cannot imply that.

What We Learned from iOS 14 Privacy Prompts

In the weeks (sigh) months, leading up to Apple’s release of iOS 14.5 many developers experimented with pop-up messages asking for permission to track that user. If the user tapped “yes,” nothing would happen.

But they were asked to think about it and decide, and that set them up psychologically to say yes when the real one was surfaced by Apple. In other words, they were conditioned to give a positive response.

The same approach can work for app reviews. Using a pop-up, ask how users are feeling about their experience within your app. For example, “Like our app? How would you rate us?” Then provide a way to take action or vote using the traditional five-star rating scale.

If a user selects five stars, ask them to give that score (and reasons why) in Google Play or the App Store. If it’s less than five stars, you prompt: “Tell us how to improve!” and give a text field for feedback, then send the comments via an email to the developer/publisher. This method allows dissatisfied users to feel like they’ve had their say, but keeps the official rating high. It also gives direct, valuable insight on why their rating was low.

Don’t Stop Believing In-App Reviews

It’s easy to feel like app reviews are out of your control, but like many things in our mobile app world, it’s all about user relationships and communication. If you invest the time and energy (and learnings!) into the best ways to talk your users into good reviews at the right time the results are worth it. For many user acquisition campaigns, app reviews are the difference between okay results and great ones for that final conversion step.

This content is made possible by a guest author, or sponsor; it is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of App Developer Magazine's editorial staff.

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