Good practices to influence your app revenues using App Store reviews

According to researches by CRN, about 69% of all apps on the App Store generate less than $1000 revenue per month. This means that the majority of app developers will never be able to make their living from their app income. With more than 1.6m apps on the App Store, Online Marketing and App Store Optimization is nowadays more important than ever in order to be successful as a developer. One aspect of App Store Optimization that increasingly affects App Store rankings and our work as developers are App Store reviews.

Why App Store reviews matter

As a matter of fact, according to a research by MOZ, the number of App Store reviews and ratings is nowadays the most important factor in Apple’s App Store ranking algorithm. Top 100 apps, for instance, are rated about 5 to 10 times more often than apps which rank between #401 and #500. What’s more, the higher an app is rated (4- or 5-star), the less volatile is an app’s ranking.

The high importance of ratings in the download charts indicate that also search ranks are strongly influenced by App Store reviews. Moreover, a recent survey among users of my apps shows that more than 90% of the users found the apps via the App Store search. Therefore, developers need to find a way to receive better and especially more reviews to rank higher.

UPDATE: There has been a change in the App Store search algorithm in mid November. The influence of these changes with regard to app store reviews have still to be assessed.

Good practices for more App Store reviews

Traditionally, developers used to ask their users for App Store reviews with prompts (e.g. UIAlerts like Appirater). However, these prompts are quite invasive and aren’t good with respect to user experience. What’s more, prompts simply do no longer deliver the desired results. Therefore, new approaches need to be considered.

Inline block in your app’s settings

A better and more discrete way to ask users for user feedback is via a simple inline block, e.g. in your app’s settings. In the example shown in the picture below, a user is asked to rate if he likes the app. In case the user does, the view will be replaced with a request for review. If the user doesn’t like the app, he or she can contact the developer and provide feedback.

AppReviewKit

This method kills two birds with one stone: Firstly, you will gain valuable feedback from users that are dissatisfied. This will help you build a better product. Secondly, the probability that users select “Ok, sure” in the second screen is higher than asking them right away for feedback or for a review. There’s even a psychological aspect behind that pattern. (Wanna learn more — check out this research from Stanford University.)

Let’s do the math: I tried this solution in a rather small scale app. Before implementing this feature, I received around one app review per week (using Appirater). After the implementation, I received an average of 3–4 reviews per week. Considering the fact that within the 2 weeks observation period, 76 users agreed to review the app, this is still a low figure. Yet, it is a significant increase in comparison to my experiences with prompts. (Make sure to optimise review rates by linking directly to the review page in the App Store)

If you’re interested in the concept, the source code is available for free on Github. Don’t forget to star it ;)

Make sure, that your support employees ask for reviews

If customers ask you for help on how to use your apps or if users report bugs, make sure to ask them for reviewing your app on the App Store after the issue is solved. In my experience, the likelihood that a user rates an app is significantly higher after they have communicated with support teams. In fact, I would reckon that the review rate is somewhere in between 10% and 25%. Don’t miss out on this chance!

Ask for reviews after product updates

App updates set the number of visible App Store ratings back to zero. Therefore, many developers ask their users to review after releasing an update. Many developers now ask their users for a review within the update description, however, with mixed results (while I did not experience more reviews — even a decrease in comparison to traditional tools like prompts, a befriended developer said that this method would indeed increase reviews). Other developers like Readdle ask their users within the onboarding process for a review.

Conclusion

In order to succeed in the App Store, it is necessary to optimize the quantity and the quality of App Store reviews. I hope that the practices in this article are helpful for you. Make sure to subscribe to my publications or follow me on Twitter if you want stay updated about UX and Marketing for iOS developers.

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