7 Ways to Ask for App Store Reviews…

…without selling your soul or selling out your customers

As Picturelife has focused on growing our user-base, we’ve looked toward Apple’s App Store as a fantastic way to find new customers.

For iOS apps, App Store reviews (5 star reviews in particular) are incredibly important for this discovery process. This imperative leads many developers to turn to spammy in-your-face prompts to get reviews — you’ve all seen them before — but as customers ourselves, we hate those pop-ups and think there’s no excuse for them.

In marketing Picturelife, we pledged to never use any of those techniques.

Over the past month, we’ve developed our own App Store review strategy and grown our App Store reviews by over 400%. We’ve stuck to a series of non-spammy approaches, and are very happy with our results. Along the way, we’ve also found other apps using non-spammy approaches, and we’re going to try those out as well.

Ultimately, if we collectively pledge to not bow to the lowest common denominator in app store reviews, all of our apps and our customers would be a lot better off.

Let’s get started.

First rule: Be honest about what you want. Be real.

One of the worst parts of getting an in-app prompt is the Big Lie. The Big Lie is them asking you something like, “Like our app?” or “Give us feedback?”, only to find out that they’re really asking you to be jolted to the app store to leave a review.

We believe in honesty and we know that many of our customers really do want to help us succeed. Therefore, when we want them to do something for us, we are earnest. Our wording of choice is transparent about what we want and where they’ll go:

If you love Picturelife and have our iPhone or iPad app, you can help us by going into the iTunes App Store and rating us 5 Stars. Thanks!

Zero trickery.

Ask in the upbeat emails you need to send anyway

If you’re not going to spam your customers inside of your app don’t substitute that with spamming them outside of the app.

Instead, take a few emails you’re going to send anyway, and put your “ask” in them. In addition, make sure these emails are around upbeat and positive experiences so the customer is receptive to doing you a favor.

At Picturelife, we’ve started randomly asking in our daily “Memories” emails (people feel awesome after getting these), and then also in the upgrade confirmation email. In both instances, we are asking our customers at a time that they are truly thankful for our service.

Near the footer of our Memories emails.
In our “Thanks for upgrading” emails

Make the ask part of customer support (and have great customer support!)

When people interact with our customer support team, they inevitably love Picturelife more than ever. We call our support Picture Perfect Support℠ because we will go to almost any length to make our customers happy. It’s an asset, not a liability.

Therefore, we’ve added an ask in two key places: on our support site, and and in our customer support team’s email footers.

On our support home page.
Amy’s email footer. Added to emails with happy customers.

Don’t forget your team, friends, and family

Getting app store reviews is an important part of the company’s mission.

When we have a new app store build, everyone on the team is asked to take the time to submit a fresh review. We also ask our family and loved ones to update theirs.

Your company’s network can add up to a lot of reviews, and we feel like by getting these people to review the app we don’t have to be as aggressive with our customers. Meanwhile, reading the reviews of your coworkers and family will tell you a lot about your app’s branding and positioning.

Ask in the app’s settings

Runkeeper’s ask, in the settings

Here’s one we haven’t done yet but really like:

Find a place in the app settings and make the ask. On the left is a great example from our friends at Runkeeper.

If I were them, and there was more horizontal space, I’d also add “… in the App Store” just so the customer knows where they are about to be taken. I would also be more clear that this helps Runkeeper.

Either way, asking for app store reviews is all about being earnest about your needs and transparent about the experience.

Ask in the Release Notes


This tweet was made famous by John Gruber, who has appropriately campaigned against spammy app rating prompts.

We love this approach, and will use it in future update release notes.

This approach has a perfect combination of earnestness and transparency.


Spread the gospel

On a final note, don’t be afraid to help spread the gospel. If you make your customers and their experience first priority, they will notice. If you take the time to tell the world about it, even more people will notice.

If you love Picturelife the fact we’ve taken this approach, you can help us by going into the iTunes App Store and rating us 5 Stars. Thanks!

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