Online reviews play a major role in shaping the purchase decisions of today’s consumers. Regardless of whether they’re choosing a new restaurant, a hotel, a car dealership, an insurance provider, or even a company to work for, people rely more than ever on the opinions of others — such as those voiced in online reviews.
Same goes for apps.
But app reviews aren’t merely a crucial source of information for smartphone- and tablet-brandishing users looking to download their next productivity tool, game, image editor, recipe book, multimedia companion, what-have-you; they’re also one of the main factors influencing where a developer’s app ranks in app store search results.
Are you a developer hoping to supercharge the performance of your shiny new app?
To help you get started, we talked to a panel of developers about their strategies and best practices for collecting and encouraging app reviews and user feedback.
How to Get App Reviews and User Feedback
Build an integrated feedback system
Michael Asare, CEO and founder of Feebelly: “Feebelly has an integrated feedback system on our website and app which goes directly to us. Also, users can go to app stores and write us a review. Currently, we need to write a script to do email campaigns, and that is the next step for engaging our users. We also utilize social media and public relations to engage with customers and gain feedback.”
Send review request emails
Michelle Mondonedo, Easyship: “I work for Easyship, a platform that makes shipping worldwide easier for e-commerce sellers of any size. Our app was recently listed on the Shopify app store, so we’ve been engaging with our Shopify clients to leave a review for us.
“We don’t request for reviews within the app, but we do have review request email campaigns for users who’ve completed a few shipments with us already. Our approach for getting reviews is to make it less about us and more about them. We tell them that any feedback, good or bad, is helpful for us because it motivates us to improve our product so it works even better for them.”
Deliver stellar support, and ask for feedback after a case resolution
Diane Hamilton, managing partner, Binary Formations: “We’ve been building and bringing to market consumer desktop and mobile apps for 12 years. We are the makers of the Mac App Store Editors’ Choice, Home Inventory.
“Our most successful strategy for encouraging and collecting genuine reviews and user feedback is by providing an exceptional customer service experience when someone contacts us through our Helpdesk. After a case is resolved, we share how important reviews are to our small company and ask if they’d consider taking a minute or two to leave a rating or review on the App Store. Any contact we receive is an opportunity for us to engage the user to build a relationship for continued dialog and feedback.
“We have also found that offering short polls that we create on our blog page is a great way to get user feedback to help drive product direction.”
Try in-app messaging
Vivian Luo, Badger Maps: “We do request for reviews and feedback within the app. We have a button to tap in settings and we’ve tried in-app messaging before to prompt users to review us. This is a good option to make your users aware that your company reads their reviews and wants their input.
“We’ve also tried different email campaigns to engage with users and prompt them to review us. This takes the next step to show your dedication to improving your app with the suggestions of your users. We encourage our users to review us so we can get feedback on their experience and improve the app, as well as how we communicate with users.
“We can learn a lot from user reviews on how to improve our processes, so that future users will have even better experiences. This creates building blocks for us to keep track of improvement progress. We also have tried doing giveaways to encourage reviews; we don’t tell users how to review us but appreciate any reviews they give us.”
Todd Millecam, CEO of SWYM Systems, Inc.: “I build (feedback collection) into my monitoring software. I understand which features get the most use and determine those to be the most popular. Simply by being on the app store, I get the perception from the users.
“I think the best way to collect feedback is to build it into the code of the app itself. I could (also use email campaigns), but there’s a communication system built into the app.
“And when someone takes their time to talk to me, I listen. There’s a risk of bowing to a vocal majority, rather than the actual majority, but tempering that with proper analytic usually keeps me and my clients from making any large errors. The best thing to do to improve your app rating is to consider it not to be just a piece of software, but a virtual community. If you grow and cultivate a good community that people want to be in, then you’ll consistently get good ratings.”
Send a welcome email after conversion
Benjamin D. Silbert, founder of Bar and Club Stats: “For the users that convert to paying users we send them a welcome email. In that email, we ask them to give us a review with a direct link to our app. It has worked out really well for us.”
Stay responsive to user feedback
Alexandra Bohigian, Enola Labs: “Our team regularly advises clients on the importance of securing app store reviews as a regular business practice. Your app will not get reviews if you aren’t asking for them! Requesting reviews within the app is advised in order to instantly target users whom you know are interacting with your app.
“Email marketing campaigns are also important. In these, developers and marketers should include direct links to the review site to make the review process easy for the user. And it’s just as important to have someone monitoring the reviews and make real progress at addressing issues users are having with the app. This is also important to incorporate into your app’s social media strategy. Being responsive via review sites and emails are a great way to keep engagement high and encourage more reviews among users.”