On the future of app reputation management—Apptica Podcast recap
Table of Content:
We’ve recently held a fantastic podcast with Apptica, where our CEO and co-founder of AppFollow, Anatoliy Sharifulin, talked about mastering review management and turning user feedback into app store success. Discover his insights into overcoming difficulties of shaping a product to the target audience as the market changes.
The journey into the App Market
My journey with the app markets began in 2015.
Prior to that, I was a product manager at a startup comparable to Booking.com for the Russian and CIS markets. That’s when I understood the need to differentiate from competitors and cater to users’ needs.
For instance, users requested a filter by bathroom for the app, which was then implemented, giving us an edge over competitors. It’s really that simple sometimes.
This experience led to the idea of AppFollow. The first prototype was made within 24 hours at a hackathon. Initially, it was an early-stage startup with angel investors and a lot of customer development. Now, AppFollow has a niche where it’s a leader—focusing on app reputation, including aspects like reviews, ratings, and acquisition.
Transforming reviews into app store success
Regarding app reputation, we provide simple services or tools including rating and reviews analysis. Our company is about three things:
First, we consider ratings, as they are visible to everyone.
Second, we delve into sentiment analysis, determining user sentiment based on reviews, and identifying feature requests, bugs, or positive feedback.
Lastly, we look at App Store optimization to improve organic visibility and ranking in top charts, search results, and more.
Of course, there’s more as we grow, but more on that below.
App Store Optimization itself is about maintaining a high average rating and featuring positive reviews. If your app has a rating below 4.0, it's nearly impossible to boost organic growth.
Conversely, if your app has more than 4.5, it's elevated in the stores, improving visibility and helping you capitalize as much as possible on your position there.
We've launched benchmarks by categories and markets, which consistently show a minimum 4.0 rating as a benchmark for developers.
However, some developers neglect reviews. This is an issue, as they may invest significantly in App Store optimization, A/B testing, but ignore reviews anyway. Sometimes, this neglect might stem from a knowledge gap or the challenge of tackling too many negative reviews. It takes twice as many positive reviews to alter a negative rating—a tough long-term exercise.
Some market segments, like hyper-casual gaming companies, might not care about reviews altogether because they can find more users and don't need to alter their ratings much. They might focus on increasing their user base and not pay much attention to individual reviews. This approach works for them but might not be suitable for other companies like banks or daily-use apps like Gmail or Netflix.
For these apps, user reviews are important as they provide immediate feedback on changes, for instance, a banking app altering its design or menu. Quick user feedback is absolutely essential since it can be seen within hours of making a change. If a change is not good, more and more users will come, and before you know it—all your efforts to boost rankings are wiped out.
App Reputation across diverse platforms
The majority of revenue for app developers originates from the App Store and Google Play.
Over the last few years, alternative Android stores like Huawei's App Gallery or Samsung's Galaxy Store have become more prevalent, especially in China and other Asian markets. We have not established strong connections with customers using these alternative stores yet.
Developers from Europe and America with different apps also use Huawei, Galaxy, and others, prompting us to feature tens of different sources.
For instance, e-commerce apps can use almost all sources, including social media like YouTube or TikTok. Banking apps find B2B review platforms like Trustpilot useful because their users leave comments and reviews there. I
It's important for a developer to know where to find product insights, as it helps understand potential improvements for the product, monetization, and marketing strategies. This is what we now call app reputation, and it allows integration with any source or platform.
Our top segment, gaming companies, is interested in community management. Regardless of the source of feedback, whether it's from store reviews, community groups like Facebook or Discord, or standard email tickets, it's all valuable.
To understand product insights or communicate with all users, especially those providing negative feedback, it's important to engage and show that you're attentive to their problems. Many successful companies maintain a 100% response rate to comments and reviews, across platforms such as Twitter, App Store, or email.
Negative reviews can provide valuable information and are, in some ways, more important than positive ones. People tend to leave negative comments more readily, and potential customers often read these before making purchasing decisions.
However, the standard response template often falls short, especially when addressing negative feedback. It's essential to transform these interactions into positive ones.
Addressing negative feedback should be a top priority. The absence of responses to such reviews can make it seem like developers don't care about their users, damaging their brand reputation.
The best practice is to categorize feedback by topics or problems and prepare a large set of properly curated and informative response templates. After acknowledging users for their feedback, update them when the issue is resolved. This is feasible in platforms like App Stores and Google Play, and it greatly enhances customer communication.
The future of user feedback management
We see from our top customers who use automation that several approaches could be viable in the long term.
If you have a support team, community, or marketing department managing feedback or reviews, they could manually review automated replies from meta templates. This is one approach, although it's still manual or semi-automated.
What's interesting is setting roughly 100 different rules on how to manage feedback. For instance, if a review has five stars and a 'thank you' text, we can send this type of template from a folder where we have 10 different templates. We're now in the ChatGPT era, so creating templates is easier.
Our next release aims to launch AI automation, where one rule could be increasing the average rating after a reply. The goal should be to have a reply rate not at 100%, but for negative reviews, it should be 100%. The template responses should not be the same but different with some changes.
Imagine the sheer number of reviews for a platform like WhatsApp, which is a global standard for communication. It could reach up to 500k reviews on both platforms. This extensive analysis and segmentation are only possible with AI, as manual tagging has its limitations. For about four years, we've been developing models to harness the potential of AI, which is proving useful in different spaces like customer experience and product development. We can apply these AI approaches to app reputation management.
Also, data sources must be properly assessed in your strategy as well. Tesla clients write reviews on Twitter, knowing Elon Musk reads them.
Thus, Twitter has become a crucial channel for such an app. Other social media platforms and community platforms like Discord have also become significant sources of user feedback. We should manage all these various sources similarly to how we handle app reviews.
Even custom feedback, such as Net Promoter Score (NPS) from users or feedback collected after interviews, can be challenging to analyze but so useful for product insights. A platform should be agnostic of the source and provide a comprehensive picture to help product managers or customer success managers build a better user experience.
The potential of your app doesn't mean anything if you're not leveraging user feedback well. Even if it's easier to brush off negative comments, they're actually your goldmine—provided you're responding right, not just with some canned templates.
Feedback can come from anywhere—alternative app stores, social media, and community groups. Don’t be stuck in a single-platform mindset. No matter the platform, you should listen, respond, and integrate feedback to refine your strategies.
Invest in AI, too—manual responses aren't going to scale with the overwhelming volume of reviews. You will need a smart, automated system that customizes responses and manages feedback for you. Otherwise, you'll fall behind.
Managing app reputation isn't a one-time thing. It's a constant, diligent process that demands your attention if you're serious about success. Otherwise, someone else will—and bite off a chunk of your apple.