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Why App Store Ratings Matter For Your Brand Reputation

Ashley Sefferman  //  July 6, 2016  //  9 min read

App ratings and reviews are more than vanity metric, and people are 8x’s more likely to download a highly rated app of an unknown brand than a poorly rated app of a known brand. To further explore why mobile is the most significant extension to your brand and reputation, we recently hosted a webinar titled Why App Store Ratings Matter For Your Brand Reputation.

We received so many amazing questions during the Q&A section of the webinar, we want to follow up with a post for those of you who couldn’t attend, and for attendees who want additional discussion around the topics we covered. This post highlights some of the most popular questions we covered in the Q&A section of the webinar, along with a few questions we weren’t able to get to.

Let’s dive in!

Webinar Q&A

Q: (From Charlie) You said most companies don’t make asking for feedback a priority; mine definitely doesn’t. How do I start this conversation internally?

Start small in order to be able to digest the feedback you’re getting. We recommend starting with a short survey and gearing the questions toward some negative feedback you’ve heard in the app stores; with that data, you’ll see the effects the negative comments are having on your audience as a whole.

Also, you can start by surveying a small group of customers rather than opening up the floor to everyone. Easier to parse the data you’ll collect and to get used to responding to and implementing feedback, as well as communicating when feedback has been implemented.

Q: (From Howie) Do you have app stats? Number of apps a person uses, number of apps dedicated to retail, retention rate, length of time in-app, engagement by category, etc.?

We sure do! We just launched our newest consumer report, The State of Mobile App Engagement: 2016 Benchmark Report, that covers all of your questions and more. The data included in the report serves as a benchmark for companies seeking to understand how their apps’ engagement stacks up against their competition, along the entire mobile landscape.

Specifically, the report covers:

  • What apps should expect from survey response rate
  • Key metrics around app categories
  • Average in-app survey response rate
  • Average volume of app store ratings and reviews
  • The distribution of star ratings in the app stores
  • The total number of in-app messages sent and received by consumers
  • Average app interaction and engagement rates

Best of all, the report is free for anyone to download. Grab your free copy now!

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Q: (From Sam) Can you offer some sort of reward for people who provide a rating or review?

In general, we discourage giving rewards for ratings and reviews. Asking customers for ratings and reviews should only be done at the right place and time within the app, rather than at random. When you find the right events to trigger a prompt after, the rating/review is less about gaining something for your brand and more about giving the customer an opportunity to express their opinion and/or experience. If you focus on asking for ratings and reviews at the right place and time, it simply opens up a door for increased communication between your brand and customers, which should be the ultimate goal.

Additionally, the biggest benefit is prompting for ratings and reviews is putting a two-way communication channel within your app in place (i.e. prompting for a rating and review, but giving customers an outlet to speak directly to you if they wish). People want to talk to you, and providing a channel for people to express their experiences is reward enough for most customers.

Q: (From Manny) What is the unique feature of Apptentive vs. other customer engagement in the market?

We’re glad you asked! The key to what makes Apptentive different is our focus on giving every customer a voice. We work deeply with our customers to communicate with their consumers at the right time, and at the right place. We’ve all had a negative experience with interacting with a brand in-app at the wrong time, and it’s incredibly easy to click away because the task you came to accomplish in the app was disrupted. This causes consumer irritation and does not empower them to share their experiences, which is something we help our customers learn about based on their brands’ individual needs.

Also, Apptentive is built for scale, and we power millions of customer conversations every month. Whether your app has a few hundred MAU or a few million (or more!), our product will support it.

Q: (From Samantha) If I have a highly rated app in the app store, do I continue to want to prompt people, and how should my strategy change?

First off, congratulations! Having a highly rated app is critical to driving acquisition. However, regardless of your app’s current rating status, it’s absolutely critical to continue to encourage reviews. Your app is always changing (whether you’re releasing new versions to the app stores or making slight updates within the app), and new reviews are always applicable because people look to them for new updates, what’s going well, etc.

As mentioned in the presentation, reviews are a crucial part of the download decision for all apps, regardless of high ratings. In our latest research, we found 77% of consumers will read at least one review before downloading a free app, and 80% of consumers will read at least one review before downloading a paid app. In this case, it’s important to continue asking for ratings reviews throughout your app’s lifetime, regardless of how positive they are.

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Q: (From Steve) When asking for feedback, how can you tell someone is having a positive experience? What metrics can I look at?

The first thing you need to do is determine who a happy customer is by looking at the actions they take within your app. In our experience, determining happiness is less about looking at how frequently customers open your app, and more about the high-value actions they take once they’re in the app, which you must identify based on what you know about your mobile customers’ journey.

For instance, you may determine that someone who has completed three purchases within the app is considered a happy customer, or someone who has completed five searches for a particular item of clothing. These metrics can give you a lot more insight into customer sentiment than looking at standard metrics (opens, return visits, etc.), and they look different for every app. In short, it’s crucial to determine what a “happy” experience means for your app’s customers in order to select the right metrics to track over time.

Q: (From Corey) We utilize the ability to respond to user reviews in Google Play to encourage them to write in with feedback, especially those who leave negative reviews. This is not possible in iTunes. Has there been an exploration between the differences between Google Play and iTunes? And do you have any recommendations in how to treat each platform differently?

Here at Apptentive, our focus is on intercepting feedback before it gets to the app stores, rather than gathering feedback out of both Google Play and iTunes. When your brand has the ability to respond to feedback privately, it allows for more 1:1 communication with your customers, along with encouraging the app stores to be used for their intended purpose: To serve as a general explanation for what your app is, how it can help customers, and general customer sentiment around experience with the app.

Additionally, it’s crucial to intercept negative comments before they get to the app store. Many people use the app stores to air frustrations with the brand in general, or with very specific experiences within the app. Ratings and reviews based off of these experiences are generally unhelpful to other potential customers, and are better handled with the brand 1:1 so they can be addressed and fixed quickly. We’ve found it more advantageous to provide a two-way communication channel within the app to talk with customers immediately, rather than to pull feedback out of the app stores in an attempt to respond.

Q: (From Jordan) For the intelligent ratings prompts, what are your thoughts about asking if the user loves the app or not vs. asking the user for what they would rate the app from 1-5 before sending them to the app store to actually rate the app? We’ve seen some apps that seem to do the latter and only send you to the app store if the user says they would rate the app a 4 or 5.

You’re spot on when you say it is important to understand how your customers feel about your app prior to asking for a review. In our experience, it helps gauge customer sentiment for your app by using an emotional stop word: love. Asking “Do you love our app?” falls in the same vein as asking “What would you rate our app?” before sending a customer to the app store to leave a rating and review, but it speaks to an additional emotional component that the latter option does not include, which is why we’ve found it successful.

Below is an example of what our standard ratings prompt language and flow looks like:

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 2.03.06 PM

If customers don’t love your app, you have an opportunity to gain valuable feedback on how to turn the in-app experience into something they do love. The people who select “Yes” are perfect candidates to ask to leave a review in the app store. “Love” is a strong word people may not associate with most products or experiences. Therefore, you can be confident that the individuals who respond “yes” to your prompt will most likely leave a positive review.

Q: (From Jeff) I’m afraid to wait too long to ask if they like the free app, but want to wait long enough. Thoughts?

You’re not alone! The perfect time to prompt is different for every app and requires quite a bit of brainstorming before implementation. Here are some key questions to help you figure out the best time to display a ratings prompt:

  • How many visits does it take for a customer to feel the value of your app?
  • What is a high-value accomplishment or achievement in your app?
  • When you think about the lifecycle of your customer, at what point do they become an evangelist?
  • Should you reset the ratings prompt after every update?

Using these questions as a guideline, select thoughtful thresholds that will ensure your customers have had a chance to fully engage with your app before they are prompted for feedback. The more time someone has had to engage with different features of your app, the more robust their feedback will be. If you aren’t receiving many responses, you may need to experiment by being less conservative in your prompt targeting. As always, make sure you are thoughtful in how often the prompt appears to your mobile app customers.

Q: (From Justin) We work in the mobile dating business. Have you worked with any companies on the best times to get users to positively rate the app?

First, it’s important to note that every app is different, and that all customers follow diverse in-app journeys. That said, it’s really up to your team (or whichever third-party company you partner with) to understand which in-app events are the most valuable when it comes to receiving positive ratings from prompts.

Apptentive’s Ratings Prompts are inherently intelligent through the use of custom triggers (i.e. Events). Events define to whom you want to display the prompt and when the prompt is displayed. For example, you can set a prompt to target people who have completed two or more in-app purchases, and only show the prompt when the customer has clicked on the “Home” screen of your mobile app. This allows you to target exactly who you want to see the prompt, and also select the least intrusive time within your app to display the prompt.

Again, every app is different, and as a result, the parameters and custom triggers based on customer behavior may vary. We highly encourage testing different settings, such as different locations and frequency of prompting, to achieve the best results for using ratings prompts in your particular app. But no matter where you prompt, be sure to minimize disruption and be thoughtful; nobody likes to be prompted at the wrong time!

Q: (From Alex) We’re always unsure whether to ask our users for a review on the app store or on our Facebook page. Should app store reviews be prioritized over other types of reviews? Also, at what number of reviews do the 4 or 5-star ratings start to matter? 10 reviews? 50 reviews?

Ratings and review goals can be different for every brand, especially if you’re in a local industry. For example, if you’re a restaurant who has an app as well as a Yelp page, you may want to focus on boosting your Yelp reviews along with your app’s reviews as both provide customers with different pieces of relevant, important information that can sway their purchasing decisions. Start by thinking about what role app store reviews play in your customer feedback process, and you’ll get a good sense of how to prioritize.

To answer your second question, positive ratings and reviews matter at every stage, from 0 to thousands and beyond. The more positive ratings and reviews you have, the more well-known your app will likely become. Large volumes of positive ratings and reviews help with app store optimization (ASO), and also can play a factor in getting your app featured in the app stores. For more information around how ratings and reviews play a factor in ASO, check out our guide The Digital Marketer’s Guide to App Store Optimization.

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Wrapping it up

And there you have it! If you attended our webinar, hopefully these Q&As will help you to continue driving brand reputation management through your mobile app’s ratings and reviews. If you were unable to attend, we hope you learned a few things and are interested in joining us at the next one!

Do you have additional questions about managing your ratings, reviews, and mobile brand reputation? Leave your thoughts in the comments below and let’s get the conversation started!

About Ashley Sefferman

Ashley Sefferman is Director of Marketing at Apptentive. A digital communication and content strategy enthusiast, she writes about multichannel engagement strategies, customer communication, and making the digital world a better place for people. Follow Ashley on Twitter at @ashseff.
View all posts by Ashley Sefferman >

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