The newest March iOS release (iOS 10.3) was, in a way, a dream come true for many developers. Apple has finally given the developers the possibility to react to their user’s reviews with App Store review responding. A feature, which Google integrated back in 2013.
The absence of the interaction, not only, was a headache for the developers, the users wouldn’t benefit either. Not being able to reach the app support or report a crash, the users were often left with no other choice than to leave a bad review. Even though it could point the developer’s attention to the bug, the developer would often have no means to let the users know that they have resolved the issue and/or implemented their suggestions.
Reviews and ratings are of vital importance to any app’s App Store Optimization (ASO). The impact they have is twofold. First of all, apps with higher ratings and a greater amount of reviews inherently lead to higher app store ranking and thus more organic downloads. Secondly, users are heavily influenced by other people’s opinions. The more positive and satisfied reviews an app has, the more likely will someone be to download it!
The latest release emphasizes the importance of encouraging users to post good reviews even more. Your whole strategy should be as engagement centric as possible.
Ask for it!
A solid review strategy should, in the first place, start with incentivizing your users to leave a positive feedback. This is yet another thing that has changed with the March release. Before, when a user wanted to leave a review in reaction to the pop-up, they would need to leave the app and do so in the App Store. That is now no longer the case. Thanks to the SKStoreReviewController, users can now leave their feedback without leaving the app whatsoever. At the same time, the amount of review prompts you can send to your users is now limited to three per year. Once the app is reviewed, the prompts can no longer appear.
Ask for it at the right time!
Given that now you will only dispose of three scarce prompts, it is crucial to use them wisely. We encourage you to ask your users to leave feedback at the right moment. This can either be at the time when they’ve earned a bonus or an accomplishment, or simply after a certain amount of time they’ve spent using the app. Generally, users will have already formed an idea about your app after the first few days.
Don’t forget that, other than fishing for reviews inside the app, it is also important to get your app reviewed (and deep-linked) by experts on different industry forums or app review websites. This strategy can be especially useful if you are a smaller app, whose user pool is still limited. By getting people speak about your app, you will increase your chances of getting more people to download it. To make the things quicker for you, we have already prepared a list of 200+ app review websites!
Dealing with the reviews
Once you have accumulated a certain number of reviews, you’ll notice that not all of them will be entirely positive. Although having some negative reviews is completely normal, even for the best and largest apps, it is important that you try to minimize them. With the most recent Apple’s release, you’ll now have yet another way of doing so.
In its review-reply guide, Apple states that your answers shall be concise and shall clearly address the customer’s concern. Furthermore, they recommend to communicate in the tone of your brand using jargon, which your target audience will appreciate and understand.
Such a level of engagement can be invaluable for fostering strong relationships with your users and letting them know that their feedback is valuable to you. Making your users feel appreciated and heard is of even bigger importance now that they have the possibility to edit their reviews once you’ve replied.
No one likes to feel left behind. The App Store, just as the real life, is not an exception. How do you feel when someone doesn’t get back to you in two weeks? And how about an immediate answer? You see the point! Addressing the feedback quickly will allow you to develop a direct dialogue with your users. Apple also encourages you to answer to your customer’s feedback as fast as possible. A quick reaction will better attract the users’ attention at the time when they are the most interested in your app. If they feel considered and taken care of, they will be much more likely to improve their feedback once you’ve solved their issues. What’s best, the new iOS will also allow you to set up email alerts, so that you know when you’ve been successful and an user edits a review, which you have previously answered.
Don’t get overwhelmed! Prioritize!
Although you may naturally have the tendency to reply to negative reviews more as to minimize their impact, make sure to find a balance and reply to all the reviews on an equal basis. No matter the size of your app, you will soon realize that it is virtually impossible to reply to all of the reviews. That is when you will need to start prioritizing. It is up to you which reply strategy to pursue – you can either reply to the bad reviews first, or you can target a particular country or a specific rating. You can also leverage your release notes and get back to the users which were previously dissatisfied with your app or requested new features. Whichever approach you choose, make sure you stay in line with the topic and the respect the App Store Review Guidelines.
As you can see, both Apple and Google are constantly trying to make the app store experience as much user-centric as possible. We encourage you to follow their lead! First, by create an app which will address your users’ needs, and second, make sure to thoroughly analyze your reviews. Tools such as AppTweak can help you deal with the App Store Reviews & Ratings section by enabling you to monitor and track your reviews over time and per country. Many new interesting features are coming in the future! Most importantly, however, make sure to connect with your users by replying to their reviews! 🙂 Good luck!