Encourage Positive App Store Reviews

59% of people check App Store ratings before downloading an app, according to the State of Mobile App Engagement. Therefore you should encourage users to leave positive App Store reviews for your app. When positive App Store reviews outnumber negative, the majority of potential users will become more likely to install your product.

In recent posts, I've covered how to prevent negative App Store reviews and how to best manage reviews and customer feedback. This article will focus on the last piece of the App Store promotion puzzle: driving happy users to leave positive App Store reviews.

Make It Easy to Leave Positive App Store Reviews

You should encourage users to leave positive App Store reviews. People are less likely to leave a positive review than a negative one. However, if you ask for a review you will be more likely to receive one. Users will at least consider writing a quick review or adding a five-star rating if you present them with the opportunity.

Make this user experience as simple as possible for your users. Prompt the user to leave a positive App Store review when you identify they are positively engaging with your app. Require at most two taps to reach the App Store review screen. Ideally, you are identifying happy users and targeting them with a simple prompt asking them for a review. The simpler this experience, the more likely users will be to write a positive App Store review for your app.

Ask for Reviews at Appropriate Times

A prompt asking for a review should not be the first thing users see. Give people time to actually use your app before asking for a review. Additionally, analyze whether or not you believe they are likely to rate you positively or negatively. If a user is only using your app for a few seconds at a time, or not tapping around or interacting with your app very much, they may not enjoy the experience. Instead of prompting those users to leave a review, look for indicators of positive app experiences and focus on users who are happy to be using your product.

Ensure you ask for a review at a time when the user is feeling great about their app experience. For example, in games you should ask for a rating after a user wins a level or attains a new high score. In social apps, wait for N number of likes or shares before prompting for a review. By targeting these moments of joy, you will increase the likelihood of users leaving positive App Store reviews.

Send Detractors to In-App Feedback

Similarly, you should ask for feedback when you detect users having a negative experience. Of course, you do not want to ask unhappy users to submit an App Store review. Instead, ask them for feedback within your app. Users can describe the problems or frustrations they're having via Critic. Critic's in-app feedback screen collects actionable customer feedback while keeping your user within your app. This prevents the likelihood of users going outside of your app to leave a negative App Store review.

An emerging practice is to ask users if they love your app. Display a yes/no dialog asking this simple question after a user interacts with your app. Show an App Store review prompt—Apple now requires that you use the SKStoreReviewController API in iOS apps—if the user taps "Yes". If the user taps "No," display the Critic feedback screen or your own custom feedback screen. This will nudge happy users toward writing a positive App Store review, while soliciting valuable feedback from unhappy users. Eventually, if you manage feedback well, you can return to those unhappy users and hopefully turn them into promoters.

Ask Social Media Followers for Reviews

Your social media followers are most likely promoters. These people have already expressed interest in your product and the success of your brand. They are fans and they want you to succeed. Therefore, you should feel fine asking them to help you out. An occasional ask for a positive App Store review or five-star rating is perfectly reasonable.

Disallowed Tactics You Should Avoid

Section 3 of the Apple App Store Review Guidelines state unequivocally that you should not manipulate App Store ratings and reviews. This includes paying for reviews, incentivizing users, or using third-party services to improve your ratings. Failure to abide by guidelines can lead to your app being removed from the App Store and termination of your developer account. Generally, you should avoid anyone who is proposing a quick and easy way to get promoted in the App Store. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Don't Buy App Installs

There are many companies offering to sell you thousands of app installs to artificially inflate your app's popularity. While this may work for a while, this practice is discouraged by all popular app stores. If you are caught using one of these services, Apple will definitely consider this a violation of their App Store Guidelines. Instead, you should focus on growing a real user base. Promote your app anywhere you can—popular subreddits, developer forums, Product Hunt, etc.—to attract legitimate app installs.

Don't Buy App Store Reviews and Ratings

Similarly, if you buy reviews, Apple will ban your app. Apple, Google, and other store owners diligently remove spam and fake reviews from App Store listings. Instead of buying reviews and ratings, adopt the practices mentioned earlier in this post to legitimately improve your ratings.

Don't Incentivize Users to Leave Reviews

Incentivizing users to leave reviews is another tactic Apple explicitly disallows. While this used to be an effective practice, Apple now rejects apps that use this practice. Other stores or marketplaces may allow it, but it's still a bad idea. Directly influencing people to leave positive App Store reviews may result in more reviews. However, it will also result in lower-quality reviews. Five-star ratings are great, but people will see right through them if one-word reviews back up every positive rating.

As outlined earlier, the best way to encourage positive App Store reviews is to engage with people while they are having a positive experience. If people love your product, they will gladly leave positive App Store reviews when asked.

Don't Ask for Reviews Too Frequently

Apple's Ratings and Reviews Guidelines describe how frequently you can ask for reviews within your app. As of this writing, they limit review prompts to three times within a 365-day period. This is a good guideline you should follow regardless of the platform. If a user does not wish to leave a review—even if they love your app—overzealous prompting may lead them to write a negative review. No one likes being nagged.

Encourage Positive App Store Reviews with Critic

Critic gives you a simple way to add in-app bug reporting and customer feedback into your app. By giving users a way to submit feedback within your app, you are decreasing the likelihood of them leaving a negative review in the App Store. Encourage positive App Store reviews and respond to problems more quickly by signing up for Critic today.

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