Did you know that 75% of the top 1000 apps have 4+ star ratings? Better ratings lead to better search ranking and in turn to higher number of downloads. So, app developers resort to all sorts of tricks to increase ratings. Here’s a brief write up on what has worked for us.
Who are we to tell you?
CloudMagic for Android which is only 3 months old has more than 10K ratings and reviews, averaging at 4.4 Stars. For an app that has been downloaded 200K times on the Google Play Store, this is quite an accomplishment.
CloudMagic iOS app has an average of 4.6 Stars in the US App Store. The total number of iOS ratings are little tricky to calculate as iTunes divides ratings by countries. And, App Store has its own issues which lead to lesser ratings as compared to Play Store.
Tip 1: Build a Great App
I know this is an obvious one, but this is the key. Without this, the rest of the post won’t help you much, as it discusses tactics to optimize your ratings. I’d even ask you to stop reading this further if you don’t have a decent app. Build an app that solves a real pain point and then come back.
Tip 2: Non-Intrusive Rate App Notification
It’s common sense that if a user likes the app, (s)he will rate it himself. But, not all do. And, as an app developer there’s no harm in making it easy for the user to rate. Subtly remind him to rate. I’ve seen most of the apps slapping a modal dialogue box asking for a review. Stop doing that. Users hate it. John Gruber of Daring Fireball went to the extent of asking his readers to rate all that ask for review with 1 star. After all, you asked for it with those on-the-face-dialogue-boxes.
This is how we do it. We gently nudge the user. We don’t block him from what he is doing.
Tip 3: Measure Engagement
The next question is when to ask for a user to rate. There is no one-right-time to ask for ratings. However, as a rule of thumb you should give the user enough time to experience the app before you ask. You can also tie the notification trigger point to the users’ behaviour. For eg, if you are the developer behind Flappy Bird, dare not ask the user to rate, unless (s)he has managed to wade through 10 pipes.
We control the rate app notification from our servers, so that we can fine tune it till the ratings maximize. We ask the user to rate us 2 days after the app installation. We then remind those who didn’t rate, after 10 days. Again, this works for us, you should measure what works for you.
Also, test the language that asks for review. Try a shorter one, a longer one, a humble one, a witty one. One of our review copy read – An ancient Swahili legend says that rating an app does a world of good to your Karma Tap to rate now. Although we cannot track who rated using the app rate notification, we can know who tapped on our message or closed it. Be relentless, test and measure everything.
Tip 4: Minimize Poor Reviews
While you are trying to increase ratings, don’t forget to minimize poor reviews. Users don’t necessarily want to leave you a bad review. They’re trying to communicate with you, the developer of the app. So, make it easy for the user to reach you out. I must say that 80% of the tickets we receive are attributed to the contact us button within the app. If there is no easy way for the user to reach you, he will vent it out in the app store.
Also, be extra cautious of Quality Assurance. Never before in the history of software has anything empowered users as much as the App Stores. Bugs could land a serious dent on your ratings. It happens to best of us. One of the Instagram releases was buggy and it cost them 1.5 stars.
The Play Store allows developers to reply to a review. So, if you are an Android developer use that to your advantage. Many users have the habit of holding-onto a star or two for a missing feature. Reach out to them when the requested feature becomes available and see your ratings shoot.
Tip 5: Get happy users to review
We interact with our users through various channels – Emails, Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus. A user will reach us out mostly if he is in trouble. There are happy shout outs, but more users reach out to seek help. Help them out and they would be happy to give you a good review. We conclude most of our tickets asking our users to rate, with a direct link to the respective app store. This is a sure shot way of getting a 5 Star rating.
We read each review of CloudMagic. It not only gives us a great sense of pride, but also helps us decide the roadmap of the product. We have created a leaderboard of requested features and enhancements, and app store reviews drive the charts. It’s a no brainer that once the features requested by a majority of the users get out of the door, the ratings increase further.