It’s well known that negative reviews, accompanied by a single-star rating of your app, can significantly lower your placement in search results as well as on-page download conversions. But there are literally no popular apps out there with no negative reviews.
It happens to all app publishers at some point. Someone doesn’t like your app, and they’re expressing their dissatisfaction in your app reviews in the app store. How should you approach these bad reviews?
Based on our experience optimizing the app store discoverability and user retention for hundreds of client apps, we’ve come up with five tips for turning that bad review frown upside down.
- Don’t Panic! Prepare Workflows
Even if you’re a seasoned app publisher with thousands of positive reviews for your app on Google Play and Apple’s iTunes App Store, it’s natural to feel hurt (or just worried) by a particularly critical or even somewhat offensive comment. After all, this is your mobile baby we’re talking about here. Anyone would be hurt by extreme criticism of their precious work.
This should not, however, cause you to respond emotionally or hastily. Instead, prepare a workflow for dealing with negative comments. Such workflows should help you respond much more effectively to every bad review your app receives.
For example, bad reviews caused by technical issues need to be escalated to the support team, while customer service issues (such as in-app purchases) should be forwarded to customer service.
- Respond Fast, Reply More
The workflows mentioned in the first tips should make it much easier to respond quickly to comments and reviews, as well as prepare templates for replies. It’s important to note, however, that you don’t want to copy and paste canned and monotonous replies that will look artificial and boring on your app page. Be sure to include a personal touch in each reply, and use your brand voice and tone in this direct interaction with your users.
As of the latest version of iOS, Apple has joined Google in making it possible for app publishers and developers to reply to user reviews in the app store. This is a significant change in how disgruntled iPhone and iPad users interact with app publishers. It is also an opportunity for iOS app publishers to improve app ratings by resolving user issues, the way publishers of apps on Google Play have been doing for a while.
To ensure you never miss a single review or comment, you can use notification services offered by app analytics platforms, or combine IFTTT with your preferred method of notification.
- Appreciate the Effort
Writing an app review is not something most users bother to do. It’s much easier to just rate it with 1 star and uninstall. The users who take the time to type in their complaint on the tiny keyboard on their mobile are those that can potentially turn into the most loyal ones. But only if you can respond to their negative review and resolve it.
- Turn Negative Reviews into User Feedback
While users are quick to complain, and even a small server glitch can birth dozens of low ratings and negative reviews on your app page, even loyal app users are less likely to take the time and write a positive review when they are happy with an app. This is also true when it comes to raising their rating of an app, or editing a negative review once the issue they had with the app has been resolved. So how can you prevent this negative feedback from appearing publicly on your app page, while encouraging users to leave positive ratings and reviews? With the careful use of an in-app ranking mechanism.
Integrating an app store ranking mechanism in your app is obvious, and can greatly reduce the number of negative reviews while increasing app ratings. However, when planning the use of this feature, it’s important to consider not only what message to use, and when to prompt the user to rate the app, but also how to prevent negative reviews from appearing in the app store, while still getting important feedback from disgruntled users. This can be achieved by redirecting low-rating users to a non-public feedback page which send it as email to the publisher. This way you can avoid public negative reviews, and simply turn them into user feedback.
- Improve Your Product
This may sound obvious, but consistently bad reviews can be an important wake-up call for app publishers, and not only because of their impact on app ranking and downloads. The information included in relevant reviews can be invaluable and give you a unique insight into why users abandon your app when they do. Use this information to refine your overall product strategy from all aspects.
For example, if users are giving your app negative reviews that mention the lack of a feature, or tendency to crash on specific devices, then you should seriously consider bumping those up your list of priorities for development and QA.