Many developers try desperately to get more reviews when they first publish their app (hey, as we did when we first published TimeTune!). But let’s be honest, we don’t just want more reviews, what we really want is good reviews. If we told you we can give you 100 one-star ratings in a row, what would be your answer?
In the end, reviews are tied to app downloads. It will take a certain amount of downloads until statistically a user decides to leave a review. At the time of writing this post, TimeTune has around 138,000 downloads, 4,210 ratings and 1,480 written reviews. This means only 3% of the people who downloaded the app decided to leave a rating, and only 1% decided to leave a comment.
The ratio may vary depending on the type of app (gaming, learning, communication…), the quality of the app (if it’s buggy you can expect a lot of ratings.. and not precisely good) and the strategy you follow when asking for reviews and answering them. But the percentage will usually be very low and constant for a specific app.
There’s even a rule explaining this kind of behavior: the 1% rule (you can read about it on Wikipedia). Basically, the rule states that on any Internet community, only 1% of the people will actively participate, while the remaining 99% will take a more passive role. In this case your ‘community’ is the people who are interested in your app and the ones who ‘participate’ are the ones who leave a review. While this might be a generic rule of thumb, you’ll find it can be applied to many situations.
Make no mistake, the best and most important way of getting better reviews is making a really good app. This should always be your main goal and that’s what in the end will tip the scales in your favor. None of the other strategies explained here will work if your app is buggy, inconsistent or has a poor interface.
The topic of quality in a mobile app is extensive, maybe we can write about it in a different post. But remember to always pay attention to detail, follow the standard guidelines and analyze how other developers implement their apps. And of course listen to your users, they make the best quality control team you could ever find.
EVERY USER COUNTS
One of the things we do in TimeTune and people really love is that we answer each and every single user review. It doesn’t take much effort on your part and it’s a simple and easy way to reach out to your users and make them happy. Besides, when other potential users see this on Google Play, they’ll feel they’ve reached a special place and they will be naturally inclined to leave a better rating if they decide to.
When we look at reviews for other apps on Google Play, we see a lot of missed oportunities by developers. Ratings that could be improved by a simple answer that would take 30 seconds to write. One-star reviews left without answer. Developers losing their temper in their answers (no, never, never do that!).
In our opinion it’s a no-brainer. Answer each and every one of your reviews. If it’s a bad review, establish a dialog and try to recover it. If it’s a good review, the least you can do is say ‘Thanks!’ to the person who took the time to write a nice comment for you. Many people will give you one more star just for receiving an answer.
Now you could ask “What if I have a lot of reviews? What if I don’t have enough time to answer them all?”. In that case all we can say is… that’s a really nice problem to have. It would mean you alredy have tens of thousands of downloads per day. But even so, you can try different alternatives: answering reviews in batch, prioritizing urgent reviews first, or -if you’re in a team- letting someone else take care exclusively of that task. You should always find a way to make your users feel special. Even a simple answer with a smiley face can work.
Always Be Polite. Always. No matter what. Diplomacy will take you further in the long run. Ok, we know some reviews can get on your nerves. But you don’t have to take them personally. Remember we’re talking about your app, we’re talking about your business. If you answer a review with a rude comment, you can be sure the rating is lost forever. If you answer politely, the rating is recoverable. We’ve turned a lot of 1-star ratings into 5-star ratings this way.
When your dialog with the user is excellent, you’ll find unexpected surprises. We’ve seen people apologize for a bad review and then upgrading their rating just because they received a nice answer from us. And we’ve seen people delete their one-star rating because they received a polite answer too.
And remember, when other potential ‘ranting’ users see your professional behavior, they’ll think twice before making a rant or leaving a bad review. They will enter into professional mode too. And that’s what we all want for our apps, fair comments and constructive criticism.
HARVEST GOOD RATINGS
When a user sends a suggestion for your app, don’t tell them you’re going to do it just to get a better review. Don’t promise anything you don’t know you’re going to do. That’s a recipe for a bad review in the future. Instead, tell them you’ll take their suggestion into consideration and let them know their message has been heard (again, remember to answer everyone). But of course, really hear them. Take all their ideas into consideration.
In TimeTune all ideas and suggestions are welcome. Not a single one is discarded. Sometimes you’ll find that a user suggestion received months ago is exactly what your app needs now. Our advice is to keep them all in a spreadsheet, along with the name of the person who gave the idea. When the time comes to implement that feature into your app, contact again with the user and tell them their suggestion has finally been implemented. A better rating is almost guaranteed.
But don’t do this just for lower reviews. For us, a suggestion made in a 5-star rating is as important (or more!) as a suggestion made in a lower rating. All users are extremely valuable and all users deserve the same attention. After all, they are the main reason for your app to exist.
‘SEAL THE DEAL’
When someone leaves a 5-star review, it’s important to ‘seal the deal’ with them. Thank that user in a very affectionate way and use their name to make the answer more personal (be really careful to write their name correctly! always pay attention to detail). Be truly grateful and show them their support is really helping.
When people receive an answer like that, they’ll know they did a good thing. They’ll feel great and this will make it almost impossible for them to ‘break the deal’, i.e. to lower the rating if a problem appears later in the app.
STAND OUT AND BE QUICK
Take a look at this common situation: you send an email to a company to let them know about a problem or suggestion you have. You think you’ll get an answer and your problem will be solved. But then you wait… and wait… and wait. Weeks or even months later you just receive a laconic response. Or no response at all. How do you feel? Exactly. You feel your message went into a generic bucket and nobody will really care.
Personal and quick service is not the norm… but it should be. Stand out from the crowd and answer your channels quickly (reviews, email, social media). Don’t send generic responses. Talk directly to your users and let them know you are grateful for their message. And you’ll find a lot of people giving you a full 5-star rating just for being quick and professional.
Well, you know who they are: “I’ll give you one star unless you do what I say”. Of course, that’s not the way of asking for features, but don’t take it out on them, it might not be their fault. We know there are many app developers who only pay attention to one-star reviews, but sadly that strategy only generates… more one-star reviews.
If every user is answered properly, nobody will feel compelled to leave a low rating to draw your attention. Answer these reviews politely and let them know their suggestions will be taken into account, as everyone else. Soon enough they will understand you work out of love and not out of fear. And yes, this kind of reviews happened in TimeTune and we turned 1-stars into 5-stars only with politeness and diplomacy.
ASK FOR REVIEWS
One of the simplest ways to get better reviews is just asking for them. But many developers fail to do it properly: some of them show a dialog interrupting the flow of the app, others ask for a review before the user has been able to use the app, and others end up annoying their users by asking too many times.
In TimeTune we ask for people’s support right from the start, but in a non-intrusive way. We show a heart icon in the action bar and when a user taps on it they can see our message. We tell them to use the app for a while and leave a good rating if they like it. The icon stays there until they connect to Google Play. In any case, always make sure they know their help is very important to you.
Ask for reviews from your app and your Google Play description. Treat your users with respect and don’t annoy them by being too insistent. When you care about them, they care about you.
Wow, a long post this time! But we hope you might benefit from the strategies detailed here. We follow them in TimeTune and they really work.
Would you like to know more details about how things work in TimeTune? Did we miss anything in the post? Let us know in the comments and remember to share this article if you found it useful. Thanks!