Imagine you’re a user browsing through either the App Store or Google Play Store and an app catches your attention. While some users instantly tap ‘Get’ without reading the description or even looking at the screenshots, you want to dive deeper into this app and understand what other users are saying about it. You start reading reviews only to realize that the app’s star rating is low and many users are upset because of various bugs or crashes. Thanks to these user reviews, you move onto the next best app you can find. Bad reviews tend to have a negative effect on the decision-making process of users. If they see an app that is riddled with negative reviews, they are less likely to convert. User reviews can be a major deciding factor, so what can developers do to make sure their reviews don’t negatively affect their conversion rate? Developers can focus on monitoring and responding to user reviews, which is an important facet of ASO best practices. Before we get into responding to users, let’s first break down why reviews are important.
The Importance of User Reviews
Having lots of reviews help to make your app stand out. It means that your app has higher visibility and is more likely to be found and downloaded than ones with fewer reviews. Reviews even help an app rank better for keywords that appear often within them. While it may seem like user reviews only benefit other potential users who want to understand the type of experience they’ll have, they are also extremely important to developers. They can use reviews to tackle any questions or concerns that might arise and help users understand how to navigate the app simply by responding. This gives developers the opportunity to engage with users and create an important user-developer relationship. Because the user-developer relationship is so important, Apple and Google both allow developers the ability to respond to user reviews. While Apple didn’t start this capability until February 2017, developers have been able to reply to users on the Google Play Store since May 2013. Google has even made major changes to their search algorithm in August 2017 to hide low-quality and glitchy apps based on their reviews. Ultimately, user reviews are incredibly important to how users perceive an app and can detrimentally damage conversion if not monitored. Developers looking to improve their conversion rates can adopt the concept of Reputation Management to monitor their reviews on a daily basis.
Responding to Reviews
While every user review is important, not all of them necessarily require a response. Developers need to understand that user reviews are a way to engage with their audience and show their users that they care about the current experience. However, some reviews are more important to respond to than others. Developers should respond to:
- Most negative reviews (3 stars and below): Negative reviews that should be responded to can range from a user accidentally hitting a low star rating or users that have a serious problem. Timing is everything, so it’s important to respond to lower star/negative reviews first to make sure the issue is handled in a timely manner. Negative reviews that are obviously meant to cause problems or don’t make sense at all can usually be ignored.
- Select positive reviews (4-5 stars): Just because a review is positive doesn’t mean it can be ignored. Positive reviews deserve just as much attention as negative reviews but can be selected sparingly. Engaging with users that left positive feedback shows that you care about their experience and want to help if an issue ever does arise. When deciding which positive reviews to respond to, concentrate on ones that call out specific features, include feature requests, or you can tell they really put thought into what they wrote.
By engaging with reviews, both negative and positive, it encourages users to take the time to think about their experience and later update their review/star rating. A good example of this would be an app with a well-known crashing issue. If a developer were to respond to users affected by the issue, those users would be more likely to continue checking the app and later update their review once the issue has been resolved, all because the developer took the time to respond. When users update their reviews/star ratings, it helps the app’s overall rating improve and show potential users that the developer cares about the current experience. In turn, users are more likely to convert when they see positive updated reviews. It isn’t just new users who are affected by responding to reviews. When a current user has an issue and sees that others are also having the same problem without any response from the developer they are more likely to leave a negative review. However, seeing a developer respond will make them continue to have confidence in the app and keep using it, or come back to the app once the issue is fixed.
Maintaining the Review Funnel
Just like any good ASO strategy, it’s important to stay on top of user reviews and make sure that they are being responded to every day, or at least whenever new ones come in. It’s good practice to start dedicating some time each day to respond to reviews so you understand the current user experience, as well as learn about any problems the app may have. If you start slacking off and stop responding to reviews altogether, you’ll become unaware of what users are saying, breaking that user-developer relationship. Start responding to reviews, both positive and negative, and take control of your conversion rate today to see improved success in your app’s performance.