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Nordstrom, TUNE & Apptentive Discuss How To Optimize Mobile Customer Feedback

As the app marketplace grows increasingly crowded, the ability to respond to customer feedback in real time is crucial to keep target audiences engaged in your mobile app rather than jumping to a competitor.

At the Application Developers Alliance Seattle App Strategy Workshop, our own Robi Ganguly moderated a “fireside chat” with Yenna Cheng from Nordstrom and Ian Sefferman from TUNE, about the mobile feedback funnel. (Full disclosure, both TUNE and Apptentive are privileged to call Nordstrom a valued customer).

In this video, they’ll share the secrets to soliciting customer feedback and provide tips on using that feedback to improve your apps after launch. They’ll also cover strategies about how to facilitate a relationship where both the developer and customer win.

In-App Surveys

Best Practices in Mobile Research

The Apptentive Guide to Mobile Research Best Practices

The following is Part 3 of our three-part guide on mobile research and in-app surveys.

Before you set out to work on creating your own mobile research instruments, we wanted to provide a few best practices that we’ve discovered with the help of our customers. These are proven tips for creating effective mobile surveys optimized for response rates, customer experience, and the collection of actionable insights.

Best Practices: Survey Design

When designing your mobile research instrument, do:

  • Design with mobile in mind
  • Keep questions brief and concise
  • Allow customers to opt out at any time
  • Aim to address your research objective with as few questions as possible
  • Limit the number of options for multiple choices
  • Break the questions up so that only one or two appear at a time
  • Provide an ‘Other’ field with a textbox for fill-in answers to your multiple choice questions if you suspect that some respondents may have answers you had not previously considered
  • Add an option for ‘Don’t Know’ or ‘Not Applicable’ for questions that some respondents may not be able to answer
  • Pre-test your survey internally to identify any weaknesses and ambiguity

And don’t:

  • Create overlap in multiple choice responses. All responses should be mutually exclusive
  • Present rating scales with large matrices of options or questions ones that require scrolling on a mobile screen
  • Create vague responses that are open to the interpretation of the respondent (i.e.: If asking about use frequency, give tangible options like ‘twice a week’ and ‘once a month’ rather than ‘often’ or ‘rarely’
  • Frame questions in a way that leads the respondent or creates bias (i.e.: “Why do you like this app?”)
  • Request personal information at the start of the survey as this may lead to lower response rates. If you need this information, make the questions optional and move them to the end of the survey

Apptentive customer communication

Best Practices: Survey Integration

For best results integrating your research instrument within your app, we recommend you:

  • Use an in-app survey rather than directing mobile customers to a web survey so as to not detract from the customer experience. If you are using a web survey, be upfront about asking customers to leave the app for an external link.
  • Use event-based targeting that isn’t intrusive. Don’t immediately ask new users to take a survey, and only ask customers to take your survey once rather than asking each time they load an event.
  • Integrate the survey with your existing customer analytics to allow you to target the responses against your audience segmentation to uncover trends based on loyalty, device, etc., without having to ask customers to fill out additional questions.

We hope this guide helped, and we wish you all the best in your mobile research endeavors! Of course, this list contains just a few of our favorite tips. Please help us grow this list by letting us know in the comments below what tips worked best for you and what you’d add to the list.

Want more best practices and help thinking about your in-app surveys? Sign up for an enterprise plan for unlimited access to our dedicated customer success and support teams. We’ll work with you to create a plan specifically for your mobile app and research needs.



Revisit the highlights of this three-part guide on Slideshare:

Mobile research best practices from Apptentive

In-App Surveys

7 Steps to Creating Effective In-App Surveys

The Apptentive Guide to Mobile Research & In-App Surveys

The following is Part 2 of our three-part guide on mobile research and in-app surveys.

In working with thousands of mobile developers on collecting mobile customer insights, we’ve learned a thing or two about what works – and what doesn’t work – when it comes to designing an effective in-app survey. We believe mobile research is an incredibly powerful tool for improving communication with your customers, and have made it our mission since day one to help brands create Customer Love.

We’ve therefore highlighted the steps of one of our favorite survey design roadmaps to help you think about what’s involved in creating surveys that will both deliver the data you need and enhance the overall customer experience.

1. Pick Your Survey Tool

We have an obvious bias here, but the very first thing you need to consider is your choice of survey tool. This includes both the decision of whether to use an in-app survey (like Apptentive) or a web survey (like SurveyMonkey) and the decision of whether to make your survey platform in-house or seek out a third-party solution.

We’ve done our best to highlight the pros and cons of each of these options below:

Using an In-App Survey Tool

Pros:

  • Allows for a frictionless customer experience as customers never have to leave the app
  • Dramatically higher response rates when compared to web surveys
  • Easy to integrate into points of engagement within the app (‘mobile moments’)

Cons:

  • May require additional engineering time to integrate into your app

Using a Web Survey Tool

Pros:

  • Several very established survey and analytic tools available to choose from

Cons:

  • Lower response rates
  • Requires your customers to leave the app to take the survey
  • Branding and the customer experience are often less cohesive between the app and the externally hosted survey

Using an In-House Solution

Pros:

  • Unrivaled flexibility

Cons:

  • Very resource-intensive in terms of developer time and money
  • Necessary testing of, and updates to, the survey tool may take time away from your product roadmap

Using a Third-Party Solution

Pros:

  • Turnkey solutions available with reporting tools and dashboards
  • Access to existing documentation on best practices for customer success

Cons:

  • Requires some developer time, depending on ease of SDK integration



2. Determine Your Research Question

Before jumping into designing your survey on your chosen tool, take some time to identify a single concrete research question that you hope to answer with the results of your survey. This will provide a benchmark for your data analysis and can help to keep the survey short and concise if you constrain yourself to asking only those questions necessary for addressing your research question. (We’ll provide more on why shorter is better when it comes to in-app surveys in Part 3 of this guide.)

Research questions are generally classified as either attitudinal, behavioral, demographic, or technical. An example of a research question for each of these categories can be found below:

  • Attitudinal: How do new users like your app?
  • Behavioral: How do users interact with your app? What are the most common use cases?
  • Demographic: Which age bracket is your app most popular with?
  • Technical: How can this app be improved?

Once you have carefully selected your research question, several of the remaining steps will come naturally – including your target audience and the type of data you need to collect.

3. Identify Your Survey Audience

It’s now time to determine which customers are best suited to honestly and accurately address your research question. Once you’ve identified the customer segment, you can begin to seek out pain points within the app where the survey will provide the most value to both the customer and your team.

Common mobile research samples include:

A Sample Generated With Event-based Targeting

Our Recommendation!

Delivering your in-app survey to customers who engage in pre-specified ‘mobile moments,’ i.e.:

  • The third time a customer uses the Search function
  • The first time a customer shares content via the app
  • After a customer updates to a new version
  • After a customer uses a new/beta feature

Advantages:

  • Can be used to address narrow, feature-specific research questions
  • Can be used to refine and beta test new versions and rollouts
  • Respondents inherently have familiarity with the app event they’re providing feedback on
Disadvantages:

  • Resource-intensive, unless using third-party mobile engagement solutions since activity is a necessary condition of the sampling selection


A Random Sample
Randomly choose a percentage of your mobile customers to survey.

Advantages:

  • Diversity of responses makes the data highly representative of your overall audience
  • Surveys can be prompted even if mobile analytic capabilities do not collect information on customers and customer activity
Disadvantages:

  • Sample may be too broad to address narrow research questions that require a high level of familiarity with the app
  • Responses may be too generalized to uncover trends based on customers’ familiarity with the app, device used to access the app, etc.


A Sample of New Users
Customers prompted during their first time using the app.

Advantages:

  • Allows you to collect information, unbiased by existing loyalty, that can be used to improve the customer experience and retention
Disadvantages:

  • Requesting customer information from first-time users may create a negative initial experience with the app, and has been shown to be a leading factor in app exits


A Sample of Loyal Users
Prompted the n-th time a customer opens the app or a few months after installing and regularly using the app.

Advantages:

  • Can be used to uncover which features loyal users find the most valuable / what is bringing them back to your app
  • Can be used to gather suggestions from those already familiar with those apps – and customers can be further delighted if those suggestions are acted on
Disadvantages:

  • Responses may have an upward bias and have difficulty capturing equally important negative experiences with the app


An Opt-In Sample
Instead of identifying sampling criteria, let your customers proactively navigate your menu to find ways to voice their feedback.

Advantages:

  • Survey can be easily integrated as a link in your app’s navigation with no third
    party tools or prompts
  • Least intrusive – avoids potentially annoying notifications and prompts
Disadvantages:

  • Can lead to selection bias as those who opt-in may not share fundamentally different views/attitudes than those who do not opt-in
  • Opt-ins have the lowest response rate and the survey link can be difficult for potential respondents to find, making it hard to create open dialog with customers


4. Design Around the Research Question

When it comes to writing the actual questions for your in-app survey, start by asking yourself what sort of data best addresses your research question. Some research questions (particularly attitudinal) lend themselves to quantitative questions and rating scales. Others (particularly technical) are best addressed with qualitative, open-ended questions.

Survey questions can be classified as open-ended, closed-ended, or mixed. We’ve done our best below to address the use cases of each classification and their ability to address your anticipated needs:

Open-ended (i.e.: Providing a textbox for the respondent to type his or her answer)

  • Exploratory in nature
  • Less likely to result in bias from leading questions/response choices
  • Provides qualitative responses similar to a focus group
  • Can be time-consuming to answer, particularly when using a mobile device, leading to lower response rates

Closed-ended (i.e.: Multiple choice questions and rating scales with pre-defined response choices)

  • Can provide both qualitative and quantitative responses
  • Questions typically take less time to answer and experience higher response rates
  • Questions and response construction requires more care remove bias

Mixed (i.e.: A multiple choice question with a fill-in ‘Other’ option)

  • Allows room to write in answers that were not considered when the survey was designed – may uncover new customer needs/sentiments

For more on quantitative vs. qualitative questions, and their use cases, check out this post by our friends at SurveyMonkey.

5. Integrate Into the Mobile Experience

In-app survey event targeting

Now that you’ve determined your audience, the next step is to identify where and how to reach them within your app. If you’re using event-based targeting, seek out mobile moments in the customer journey – points of engagement where customers may feel happy, frustrated, or lost. Concentrating on these moments allows you to hone into a single part of the customer experience and can lead to more actionable results if the feedback directly relates to the point of engagement.

When prompting your in-app survey, be careful to not interrupt or annoy customers in the middle of a task. For example, if you want to ask about the in-app shopping experience, prompt your survey after checkout instead of after a customer adds an item to his or her cart. Remember, your survey should be designed to add value to both you and your customer.

If you’re targeting new customers, give them time to try out the app before prompting your survey. A ratings or feedback request upon first log-in is a sure way to create a negative first impression.

And finally, if you’re using an opt-in sample without any sort of prompt, insert a link to your survey into a logical place in your app’s navigation menu – such as the Help or Contact section.

6. Pre-Test Your In-App Survey

Before making your survey live, it’s important to pilot the survey internally or with a small sample of customers. This allows you to ensure that your survey is working as intended and identify any weaknesses or ambiguity.

While testing your survey, check that the following items are in order:

  • Questions proceed in the intended order, and responses are mapped to the appropriate next question or prompt if conditional branching and skip logic are in place
  • Questions are easily understood by those unfamiliar with the survey
  • Response options are clear and do not contain unintentional overlap
  • Optional and required fields are appropriately coded
  • Responses are accurately collected upon completion

After you’ve tested your survey and are satisfied with the results, we’d recommend resetting the response count so that the test data does not interfere with your actual results. You’re ready to push the survey out to your intended audience.

7. Analyze the Results

By this point, you’ve launched your survey and have collected a statistically significant number of responses. Now it’s time to dig into the results of your labor.

Data analysis should be a straightforward process for those quantitative questions directly mapped to your research question. We recommend going through each question individually and asking yourself whether each result confirms or rejects your hypothesized answer to your own research question: Are the result of customer rating scales consistent with what you’re seeing in app store ratings? Has your latest version update improved customer sentiment? Do customers feel comfortable navigating your interface and new features?

In the case of qualitative questions, you may need to do a little more work to get meaningful and generalizable data. For open response questions, we recommend categorizing the responses into themes – such as feature requests, usage or interface questions, customer testimonials, and customer complaints. You can then search through your results for the most common trends and begin to incorporate these insights into your product roadmap and QA efforts.

As a last step, decide whether you want to keep the survey running or close it. This is often a matter of saturation (if you already have the sample size you need and additional responses provide little value) and relevancy (is your research question still a priority, or is there a new question worth asking in a separate survey?).

We hope these seven steps will help kickstart your in-app survey design. Let us know if there’s anything we can do to help you create your next survey and keep us updated on how customer insights shape your app.

Continue on to Part 3 of our guide on in-app surveys and mobile research, or preview our section on best practices on Slideshare:

Mobile research best practices from Apptentive

CustomerEngagement

The Importance of Mobile Feedback

Through conversations with thousands of mobile developers, we’ve found that evaluation of the customer experience publishers hope to build into their apps often comes down to simple guesswork without any tested and true ways to gauge satisfaction. You have a steady stream of new installs and fantastic ratings in the app stores. And yet, your mobile customers come and go, with only a small portion continuing to use your app after the first month or even past those crucial first 30 seconds.

Fortunately, it no longer has to be guesswork. Many publishers are taking the first steps when it comes to better evaluating their in-app customer experience. Every day, we work with new CX-centric developers to integrate in-app surveys and customer communication tools into their apps. These tools, seen commonly all over the internet but rarely inside mobile apps, empower businesses to survey their customers. They unlock a wealth of insights in a much greater volume, and of a far more representative nature, than what the limited information in app store ratings seems to convey.

Urbanspoon Mobile Feedback PromptOne such customer – Urbanspoon – used the mobile feedback prompt seen to the right to proactively ask customers for feedback with an in-app prompt. After implementing this feedback forum, Urbanspoon received over 7,000 pieces of feedback. These insights uncovered critical components that helped Urbanspoon in its strive to constantly create a better app for its customers with each new update.

Using in-app surveys to open up a channel for customer communication and gather mobile feedback has allowed Urbanspoon and countless others to save money, prioritize features, learn more about their customer base, receive structured feedback, and engage customers.

Save Money

Mobile apps aren’t cheap. Every new update requires time and money, and lots of it. Mobile app developers have an inherent vision of what they want their app to be, but don’t always consider how the needs of their customers may differ from this vision. As a result, publishers are wasting valuable resources on new features and rollouts that don’t necessarily provide customer value.

However, if you can directly ask your customers what they’d like in an app using in-app surveys, you can be sure that your development time and money is being put to good use and that each new feature will enhance the customer experience. Or better yet, create a minimal viable product and test it in a mobile focus group environment to see if you’re on the right path.

Prioritize Features

As a developer, you have dozens of features on your roadmap that you’re excited to one day get to. But don’t fall into the trap of trying to do too much, too quickly. Collecting mobile feedback and giving your customers with a voice allows you to determine which of your proposed features are most important to them in the context of your app.

Once you’re armed with this knowledge, you can begin to prioritize your roadmap based on what will add the most customer delight. You’ll also be able to determine which of your current features needs a little touch-up to meet or exceed customer expectations.

Customer Love

Better Understand Your Customers

If we’re adamant about one thing, it’s our philosophy of Customer Love — seeing mobile customers as people, not users. Each of your customers has their own likes and dislikes, their own use cases for the app, and that one thing that will really make them love your app.

Using in-app surveys, you can begin to collect valuable demographic and psychographic information to segment your customer base. This research allows your in-app communications to speak directly to a segment’s unique interests. You can also use it segmentation to target your out-of-app marketing to potential customer groups that match one of your current customer personas and likely have common needs and interests that will draw them to your app.

Make Product-Specific Inquiries

You’ve rolled out a new update, only to find that retention is falling. Or you see customers abandoning their purchases half-way through checkout. Do you know what’s causing this behavior?

Once again, collecting mobile feedback can provide you an answer. By proactively surveying customers at key moments throughout their experience with your app (e.g., after they’ve used a new feature for the first time, or after they close out of the shopping cart platform), you can evaluate their experience with, and attitude toward, your product on-the-spot. This allows you to identify and fix any customer pain points early on and intercept negative app store reviews.

Engage Your Audience

The reviews you see on the app store ratings page represent only a small minority of your customer base. This minority tends to be skewed toward either extreme when it comes to their evaluation of your app. These are people who either love or hate your app, with a lesser proportion of those in-between making the leap to the ratings page. You’re getting only the feedback of the vocal few and not feedback particularly representative of your greater audience.

Providing your customers with the tools needed to share their thoughts – without requiring them to leave the app to take a web survey or visit the app store – allows you to unlock a much more precise perspective of customer opinion. Mobile surveys (particularly when done right) let you to quickly poll a much larger portion of your customers and have response rates dramatically higher than their web counterparts and competing market research instruments.


For more on opening up customer communication, check out MobileDevHQ’s Complete Guide to App Marketing, in collaboration with Apptentive’s Ezra Siegel and a panel of industry experts.

Enterprise App Marketing eBook

The Retention Problem

Cutting Costs with Retention Marketing

What Continued Increases in Mobile Acquisition Costs Mean for Developers

Customer acquisition may seem like an easy task. After all, the growth of the mobile market is only accelerating and the mobile internet is predicted to be in the hands of half the world’s population by 2020.

If you build it, they will come… Right?

Not anymore. An increased number of smartphone holders worldwide and an increased demand for apps have created an extremely competitive marketplace where customers almost always have several strong options when it comes to finding that perfect app.

As customers increasingly shop around in the app stores and evaluate their options, mobile publishers are hit with dwindling customer retention rates. According to our own research, only 40 percent of customers continue to use an app they downloaded a month ago – and this number plummets to 4 percent over the course of the first year in the customer journey.

The Retention Problem

The cost of acquiring a loyal mobile customer (defined here as someone who opens your mobile app at least 3 times) is therefore at an all-time high. According to Fiksu’s Cost Per Loyal User (CPLU) Index, the average CPLU increased 34 percent from September 2013 to September 2014.

Between August 2014 and September 2014 alone, the base CPLU rose from $1.86 to $2.25. This 21 percent spike corresponds directly with the unveiling of the Apple iPhone 6 and iOS8. Both of these events led to an increase in demand for mobile devices and apps and a subsequent increase in competition among mobile app publishers vying for attention in an increasingly crowded market place.

Cost Per Loyal User, 2012-2014

As acquisition costs continue to rise, mobile customer retention becomes more important than ever. If done right, mobile retention campaigns can lessen the burden of the much-costlier new customer acquisitions while still allowing you to hit those monthly revenue and active customer goals.

We’ve put together a few, low-cost strategies to boost customer retention and loyalty – in turn, fueling sales, higher ratings, and organic growth through word-of-mouth and customer delight.

Give Your Customers a Voice

Before you can hope to delight, or even retain, your mobile customers, you must open up a two-way conversation where their voices can be heard. App developers constantly strive to create that perfect customer experience, but many lack the tools to evaluate whether or not their assumptions of customer opinion are really on mark.

Sure, there are the ratings on the app stores that can be used to guide future updates, but these are indicative of only a small fraction of your mobile customers – namely, the vocal minorities who either love or hate your app.

But what about the less vocal majority, those with opinions somewhere between those two extremes? This is a group that likely won’t make the journey to the app store ratings page unless they’re truly delighted or peeved. They constitute the bulk of your audience, yet their voices remain largely unheard across the much of today’s app market place.

To fill this void, developers are bringing customer service to the mobile channel – incorporating two-way chat capabilities between customers and publishers and prompting in-app surveys to gauge opinion throughout every step of the customer journey. In addition to allowing them to preemptively address customer issues before they surface publicly as a negative rating, these interactions provide developers with a wealth of data that they can use to shape future updates and delight their audiences.

Use smart, well-timed push messaging and in-app surveys

Opening up customer communication is just the first step in improving retention. Next, it’s time to actively ask for and respond to that communication.

We recommend our customers look for ways to reach out and solicit feedback during key events throughout the customer journey – such as the third time a customer logs in, or the first time someone shares content via the app. Once these events have been triggered, don’t wait for the customer to search through your menu navigation to tell you what they think. Instead, prompt a brief, non-disruptive conversation to gauge customer opinion at the broadest sense before diving into more specific sentiments in the event that the customer wishes to continue the conversation. (For more tips on asking for customer feedback, check out our 5 Tips for Writing Effective Mobile Surveys.)

Let your customers know they’re valued

The surest way to delight customers is to let them know that they are valued – and that means giving thanks and showing appreciation. If customers commonly make a similar request, consider shifting your development schedule to prioritize that need. Likewise, on releasing your next update, give a shoutout to your customers for contributing to a new feature release and remind them that you’re building a customer-first experience where their voices are not only listened to, but highly valued.

Regularly refresh your app with rich content updates

It’s no mystery that creating valuable is key to delighting mobile customers. If customers see new and interesting content each time they open the app, they are likelier to spend more time in your app consuming that content and return to your app frequently to see what’s new.

To really wow your mobile customers, align your content strategy with your customer data provides additional opportunities. For example, use your in-app prompts to suggest relevant content based on your customer communications or reward your returning customers by offering them exclusive discounts or deals out of appreciation for their loyalty.

Understand your app’s customer retention rates

And finally, it’s important to know your numbers – how to calculate retention rates and the revenue generated by each loyal customer. Of course, each app will have different retention and average revenue per user goals and benchmarks, but being able to calculate these metrics will allow you to internally compare both your marketing effectiveness over time and the ROIs of your retention and acquisition strategies to determine what makes the most sense for your business.

Calculating Your App Revenue

We’ve released a few guides to dive further into this concept and help demonstrate the importance of mobile customer retention:

Have a favorite retention marketing tip we missed? Pass on the knowledge by sharing it in the comments section or tweeting us @Apptentive!

2

Release Day: Overview of New Dashboard and Conversations Features

Today is another exciting release day at Worldwide Apptentive HQ, and we’re pleased to announce two new features which have been requested by customers with increasing regularity. These features are being pushed live across all instances of our platform at every customer price tier – so enjoy the new flexibility that these offer you, if you are a customer!

1) Dynamic Date Ranges for App Health Reporting Dashboard

We often heard that our frequent Dashboard-using customers wanted the ability to modify applicable date ranges for their core App Health Dashboard, thereby refreshing the data powering all of the insight modules on the Dashboard. We recently pushed this live and invite our customers to try it out. You will be able to increase or decrease the applicable date range (from the previous 1-month, un-modifiable default) in the upper right header where the Dashboard Report dates are displayed. In so doing, the date range on Love Score chart module below updates to cover the entire date range selected… or at least back to the start of activation of our SDK and service in your relevant app(s).

1

New Dashboard view, with new dynamic date range feature highlighted. With a Giant Red Arrow. Because we love Giant Red Arrows!

 

2) Conversation Search

For those customers with active customer conversations enabled by our Message Center platform module, we frequently heard feedback that our customers wanted the ability to query against their customer message submissions. We are pleased to share that this feature is now complete and live across all customer instances of the platform on the “Conversations” tab of our customer service management application.

2

Conversation Search enables Apptentive customers to query the application user Conversation submissions and responses handled by our Message Center platform module.

As our platform improvements release schedule settles in to a regular rhythm here, we will always strive to use our blog as the ‘first / best’ location to learn about these new version releases and feature enhancements. Look for the “Product Release News” post Category as our way of identifying platform release updates in the future.

Warm regards from all of us at Apptentive – and as always, we welcome our customers’ feedback (and ideas) on product enhancements here in the Comments, via our GitHub page or StackOverflow, and of course via our direct feedback channels.

How-to-increase-app-success

How To Increase The Chances Of Your App’s Success

(This is a guest blog post by Tope Abayomi)

If there is one thing that all app developers should know now, it is that obtaining user feedback from your current customers is much more helpful than reading their negative comments in the app store reviews.

No one enjoys seeing his or her hard work be lambasted by people who cannot grasp the scope of its existence. Although it is disheartening, and ego deflating, it also turns the app into something of little service to others. Before someone downloads an app, there is a good chance that they are going to read the reviews first. If they download the app without bothering with another’s opinion and find it hard to use, they may even leave their own negative feedback. Countering this negativity is possible with the next version or damage control marketing measures, but ideally, the creator should want to avoid them to begin with. After all, this ominous circle of negativity can send an app into the black hole of App Stores everywhere, never to be seen again.

Get better ratings by avoiding negative reviews

Get better ratings by avoiding negative reviews

Instead of envisioning an app world of mayhem, developers everywhere are realizing that with a simple testing period of a minimum viable product, consumer test groups can provide feedback before the app launches. But why stop there? You should keep gathering feedback even while your app is live.

What is a Minimum Viable Product?

A minimum viable product does not mean that it is less of a product than it will be in its finalized form. In the app world, it simply means that it has enough functionality to deploy its capabilities, but is not coded to complete operation.

Keep your v1.0 simple and iterate with feedback from the people using your app

Keep your v1.0 simple and iterate with feedback from the people using your app

This means you can open it, review its contents and show it off to others as a prototype, without spending an exhausting amount of time or money insuring its overall functionality through coding and programming. It allows you to gauge interest, excitement, feedback, and the overall need for your app, before you take it to the completion stage.

A minimum viable product is tested on a controlled group of people, whose comments and conclusions on its testing can be accounted for. This means you can let people know they are responsible for helping you create a better product together. That is the important word “together.” People love to be included in the creation of things. The idea is to find a forgiving audience, one who knows that this is only a beginning but could benefit from the final product’s existence.

Get Your Users To Help You Create The Best Product Possible

Think of it this way: If you give someone an app and say, “This app is going to do this in v1.0. Here it is in its most minimal functionality. Play with it.” When that introduction and testing period is followed up with surveys for the consumer to address, they can provide honest and accurate feedback.

Iterate with your app customers to build a better product

Iterate with your app customers to build a better product

This will deliver information regarding what they were expecting, and how the app lived up to those expectations. It can also tell the developer how great or how poor its performance ranked overall, which means they can take that information back to the drawing board and fine tune the application for v2.0.

How Surveys Insure a Better Minimum Viable Product

It is practically impossible to fund every idea that your genius mind creates, which means when it comes to getting app creation right the first time, surveys can be a key financial component to its success. Creating a minimum viable product allows you to display the app’s genius, without developing it completely. This means no more ill-advised turns in the wrong direction, which have to be fixed with a costly 2.0 programming option that may or not be entertained by the masses.

Better communication helps to create a better product

Better communication helps to create a better product


Surveys will provide you with all of the feedback you could possibly need to hone the app’s capabilities and smarten its aptitude. Certainly there will be answers like, “I wish it were blue” that have no bearing on its functionality, but you have to take the good information with the unrelated comments. It is all part of the process. Once the survey’s feedback has been adapted to the app, it becomes a better version of its previous existence. You are still at minimal financial output and can test it again on another audience, gathering their feedback as well.

What Intelligence can you get from Surveys and Feedback Forms?

There are a number of things you can determine with surveys and feedback forms. At the core of the forms’ content should be finding out exactly what features the people are interacting with during the test. What do they like about the app? What do they love about it? All of these things should definitely end up in the final version. What do they dislike or find confusing? Remove it, or fine tune it.

Knowing what the customers enjoy, and what they do not, can help you reduce negative feedback when the app goes to market. Once customers air their grievances, others will read it, and some of it is not transferable back to the developer, so all hope is lost for a solution.

Beat reviewers to the punch by providing them with what they are asking for through the use of surveys and feedback forms. If they happen to list items that simply are not available at the time, make notes from their requests, and adopt them to version 2.0 of the app. It is the least you can do to appease your fans.

Editors Note: This is a guest post from Tope Abayomi, Founder of App Design Vault. Some people may still prefer to come to your website to get in touch with you. If you need a landing page for your app, download a free one here.

Image sources: Sam Newsome, Ash Maurya








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Customer Love in App Store Reviews: An adjunct to Net Promoter® Score

There are many reasons an app developer would want to use metrics. But at their core, metrics are about answering simple questions:

  • Are we doing a good job?
  • Do people love our app?
  • How do we get better?

One of the premiere metrics of customer satisfaction is the Net Promoter® Score, that is, How likely is it that you would recommend X to a friend or colleague? on an scale from zero to ten. By subtracting the “detractors” who answer zero to six, from the promoters who answer nine or ten (the “positive passives” answering seven or eight are discarded), you get an effective measure of customer delight. It seems like a simple question, but there are reams of research to support the idea that this simple question is goldmine.

If you are able to implement such a metric, fantastic. Even if your business is selling and supporting mobile apps — where you don’t have a steady stream of walk-in or call-in customers of whom you can ask how likely they are to recommend your app — we can gather this information with in-app surveys, or by sending out an e-mail blast to paid subscribers. But in the app marketplace, we have moved beyond passive likelihood to recommend: people are actively recommending (or criticizing) apps in a public forum. What metrics, then, can you use to make day-to-day decisions about your app and your customers? For the mobile app business, I would suggest an adjunct to Net Promoter® Score. A question that can be crucial to an app’s long term success, and a metric you might be able to measure with data you already have: do people love our app?

In our work delivering customer insights and targeted messaging on mobile apps, Apptentive has found customer love to be a key indicator of a few things:

  • Customers who love your app are more likely to rate or review it in the app store.
  • Customers who love your app tend to give it higher ratings in the app store.
  • Customers who love your app are more likely to use the word “love” when they write a review in the app store.

Why are these things important? Because customers who love your app will be more engaged customers. Engaged customers use your app more frequently, and are more likely to purchase it across multiple platforms. And because research shows ratings and reviews are particularly important for things that are difficult for customers to evaluate prior to purchase. Higher ratings and better reviews mean more downloads.

One of the ways we measure customer love is with in-app feedback. In the app itself, ask the user, “Do you love [insert app name here]?” and measure the yes and no responses over time. And there is another way, using data you already have available: download the reviews from your iTunes Connect, Google Play, or other app store account, and count the percentage of reviews that use the word “love” in them. You might be surprised how many people are willing to say, I love this app, and what a powerful message that sends to other potential customers.

At Apptentive we are strong believers in empowering developers to listen and respond to users. If you are using an in-app feedback model, customer love is a great metric to see how well you are doing over time. And if you have not yet started to engage your customers directly, it is still a great time to start measuring customer love. It is one way to answer that question, “Are we doing a good job?” And once you start to listen to people and respond, you’ll also be able to answer the other question, “How do we get better.”

Ratings

Better ratings for your applications

[Editor’s Note: Due to the popularity of this post and the ever-changing nature of the app stores, we’ve released a free 55-page eBook full of actionable steps to improve your App Store ratings, rankings, and reviews. Enjoy!]

Better Ratings

Begging for ratings is lame

It’s a commonly held belief that more good ratings and reviews will lead to more success for your app.  As a result, we see a lot of developers experimenting with ways to get ratings.

Ratings solicitation tactics
If you’ve ever engaged in one of the following, you know what we’re talking about:

  • Asked all of your friends to download and rate your app
  • Used your Twitter account to remind every follower that they should check out your app and rate it
  • Told every friend you have on Facebook to download your app and like the Facebook fan page you’ve made
  • Installed code in your app that prompts a user to rate based upon how many days the app has been installed

If you’ve been doing this, it’s not the worst thing in the world. After all, you’re trying to grow your business. We understand why you’re doing it and we think you’re ahead of many developers who aren’t even thinking about how to help themselves out.

There is, however, a better way. Asking for ratings needs to be about YOUR APP CUSTOMER.

Stop yourself and think about the rating process in this way:

How can you make your customers’ lives better by asking them to rate you?

This is a challenging question for some developers. Fortunately, we’re learning about this every day with our customers and we’ve discovered a few principles you might find helpful in thinking about ratings, reviews and the overall customer experience:

Ask a simple question: how many people love my app?

Remember: the surest way to better ratings is to have a better app FOR YOUR CUSTOMERS. It’s that simple.

Apple share of PC market trend chart - Apple's 11%

“Only” 1 in 10 PC buyers is getting an Apple device. Seemed to work out fine for them

Your app doesn’t have to make the entire world like it. It just has to have a rabid and loyal fan base.

Like Apple.

Got it?

Start with that goal in mind and work backwards from it.

You have limited time. Learn FAST.

A lot of our customers have fewer than 10 people working on an app.  Not a lot of resources. Which features do you prioritize? Which bugs are the most important?

One of the reasons we’re big believers in the Lean Startup movement is that it’s designed for organizations with resource constraints. A major benefit of the approach is to reduce waste by reducing the number of useless features you build as you discover your market’s needs. The more your product benefits from what you learn on a daily basis, the more likely you are to be efficient in its creation.

Ratings and reviews are prime opportunities for you to learn. Here are ways in which you can utilize ratings/reviews and customer feedback as learning tools:

  • The comments from ratings and reviews can inform your view of what users care about
  • The velocity of your ratings, that is, the number of ratings you get per day or per week can inform you about changes in customer perception. Are you suddenly seeing a lot more ratings and reviews? Did you make a change to your app that creates a reason for people to be more active in giving feedback?
  • The score – the actual values that people are giving you. This is an obvious one isn’t it? Most people just focus on the overall rating, however, instead of analyzing how it changes over time and monitoring significant shifts in the trends.
  • What is it that makes people unhappy when using your app? What can you learn from the critiques and complaints you receive? Are there customers who just don’t make sense for you?
  • What is it that people LOVE about your app? This is the most important thing you can learn from your ratings – what is it that delights people and what kind of people are delighted by your app?

When you look at ratings and reviews, think about what they’re truly about: giving customers a voice. Your goal should be to build upon that, giving them a voice so that you can learn from their feedback and make your app better.

So, how do you do that?

Ask simply…

App Ratings Done Right: Asking Your Users' Opinions

Who loves you? Find out how you’re REALLY doing.

People often overlook the importance of asking nicely. Pay attention to when and how you ask for information. Pay attention to what you’re really asking for as well. What are you trying to discern from your app customers?

We think it’s fundamentally about love. If you can earn a customer’s love, you’re on to something. You’re probably on their home screen, they use you daily, and they actively recommend you to their friends (usually by demoing your app in-person).

It turns out that asking a simple question gets honest feedback, constructive criticism and yes, more customers who truly love you. (We’re happy to share our app ratings component with all of you for free, by the way)

When you ask this simple question you inform your customers that you care about their feelings and needs, while respecting their time. By giving your customers permission to answer no, you communicate that the question is really about THEM, not about you. This is a huge departure from the traditional tactics we’ve highlighted above, which are really not about your customer’s needs. Consumers are smart and they can tell when they’re being asked to do something just for you.

When you’re asking customers to share their opinion, you’re also setting the expectation that you’ll be listening. That’s a huge gap in the current behaviors we see by developers who are asking for ratings. In today’s incredibly connected environment, customers expect to be heard and responded to. So, give yourself that capability (or use us to be able to respond to consumers quickly and directly).

…and respond nicely!

Responding to consumers who are expressing frustration is often all that’s required to soothe the frustration. Instead of being incapable of following up with the person having the problem, you can actually get in touch with them and possibly debug your code together.

While many developers think that people just want to vent and complain, we find that most people appreciate the knowledge that something is actually being done about their problem. Negative ratings and reviews are not about publicly badmouthing an app so much as achieving consumer catharsis. By establishing a direct line of communication with your app customers and reducing the friction required to speak up,  the person with a problem is far more likely to talk WITH YOU.

While being willing to listen is great, true consumer happiness comes when you respond. Just the act of responding nicely provides catharsis to your customers, delighting them at a time when most consumers are left alone.

You don’t have to tell customers that you’ll solve their problems (sometimes you just can’t) but by being honest, polite and apologetic you’ll ensure that they realize you are a real person who actually cares about the time they’ve invested in your product. That is not an impression most of those consumers will ever forget.

Plan for the long-term & respect your customers

Ultimately, we’re here to help you build a business that lasts. We understand that many of you feel similarly to Arash Payan, who created Appirater due to his frustrations around the behavior exhibited by consumers in the existing ratings and review model. As he wrote on his blog:

“In comparison to the unhappy user, the satisfied user rarely takes the time to review your app. Which leaves you with crummy reviews from uninformed users hurting sales of your app.

If Apple would allow developers to respond to reviews, or more easily challenge the validity of a review, this would be no big deal. But I don’t have any hopes of Apple wising up and fixing anything, so I’m left trying to get more positive reviews of my apps to drown out the negatives ones.”

Those frustrations are very real, but it doesn’t mean that you should settle for solutions that don’t get to the heart of your customers’ needs.

The app world is more competitive every day and the only way to consistently win is to have a core base of users who absolutely love you. Those folks will keep you on their home screen, applaud your updates and eagerly give you feedback, if you make it easy. They will tell their friends about you, they will pay attention when you release new apps and some of them will help you build the best apps you can possibly make. So, aim for winning more of those customers and keep their needs in mind.

Remember: if you’re trying to get ratings just to get more ratings, you’re doing it wrong.

The Mobile Marketer's Guide To App Store Ratings & Reviews

Your app, your code

You spend a lot of time working on your applications and making something that you think is good enough to share don’t you? Don’t you deserve services that embrace and support all of your hard work and attention to detail?

At Apptentive, we think that supporting you in this way is really important and we try to focus on some key principles. One of them is, “Your App, Your Code”.

This principle is really important to us because it focuses us on the fact that we consider ourselves lucky to be included in your app. You’re focused on making the best app possible. We want to get out of your way and are focused on building services that ensure that you have more time for your app while being in touch with your consumers. At the heart of this principle are a few hypotheses:

  1. User experience and design are table stakes for consumer software
  2. How we build tools shouldn’t limit your ability to make every piece of your app reflect your core vision and design.
  3. Your ability to understand our feedback API and reference modules greatly increases your ability to customize them & adhere to your vision.

We’re not the only ones who need to remember this

With the new distribution models for applications, every developer has a potential audience of millions. This is exciting isn’t it?

It also means a new level of responsibility for the application developer. The days of building a product to specifications, releasing it and saying derisively, “that’s a feature, not a bug” are OVER. Today, consumers can try your application in 2 minutes, decide that they don’t like it and be gone, forever.

The most important thing about “Your App, Your Code” is that you believe it and take it to heart. As an app developer, being very serious about owning every aspect of the customer experience is the kind of devotion that makes the difference between a hobby and a career. The developers we talk to who are running their own app businesses are absolutely obsessed with quality consumer experiences. If you’re not constantly thinking about how to make your app better, you’re falling behind: you can be sure that your competitors are pushing themselves.

Your app is yours and your code is yours, but once you release the app into the wild, it belongs to you and your consumers. 

Fortunately, involving your consumers has never been easier

In today’s world, consumers increasingly expect to be involved. Some of the larger companies out there have found this out the hard way. In our hyper-connected digital world, consumers can talk about problems they’re having on their blog, to their Twitter followers, to their Facebook friends, over IM, via text, email, and any other way that they choose.

If a consumer’s upset or frustrated and has no good outlet for their frustration, you can be sure that they’re going to find an outlet somewhere else. Wouldn’t you rather be able to be the person they can vent to? It’s your app. It’s your code. Why don’t you make that code work for you AND the consumer in order to make apps that get better with time?

We’ve built a feedback system for your apps because we want to help you get closer to the consumer experience by talking with the people using your apps and to ensure that you’re giving them an outlet for their opinions. Instead of ignoring them and hoping that they like what you’ve built and will say positive things, we suggest that you actively seek them out for feedback and conversations.