Boosting Your App's Ratings: Proven Strategies and Tips

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Olivia Doboaca
Boosting Your App's Ratings: Proven Strategies and Tips

Table of Content:

  1. Are app ratings and reviews important?
  2. Are low app ratings really that bad?
  3. How can you improve your app store ratings?
    • See what the others are doing
    • Try more channels
    • Establish a close feedback loop
  4. Automate responding to reviews to tackle them all
    • Auto-tags
    • Auto-replies
    • Use AI Replies
  5. Afterword
  6. FAQ
    • Can a few bad ratings really tank my app’s success?
    • How do I improve my app’s ratings and reviews?

App stores live and die by ratings and reviews. Some ratings are just that—ratings of 1 to 5, no extra commentary. Why it’s bad or good, you’ll never know, unless you ask. But then, there are reviews where users really let loose with their opinions. That’s the area you can work with, and improve a lot easier.

The best (and worst) thing about is that these ratings and vents are out there for everyone to see, right on the app's store page. Your app’s star ratings are plastered all over the place—in search hits, recommendations, ads (if you do them), you name it, anywhere the app's face shows up. As we know, apps with a rating of 4-4.5 and higher get 80% of all downloads and revenue.

So what does that mean for you? You must fight to get to that rating level and maintain it. This guide will share a whole bunch of strategies instrumental in doing that. Let’s go!

Also, don’t forget to check out our industry report—spice up your review strategy with data-based insights we gathered over the last year.

Are app ratings and reviews important?

Of course they are. If you ignore ratings and reviews in the app store game, you're basically shooting yourself in the foot. Without good ratings and reviews, forget about your app climbing any ranks or getting spotted in searches.

Ratings and reviews boost your app's search traffic.

Users can stumble upon your app by direct search, mindlessly scrolling through categories, clicking on an ad, or being directed from some other website. The bulk of downloads come from direct searches in the app store, though. Your app's rating is like a neon sign next to your app’s name and icon, screaming "trustworthy" or "trash" to potential downloaders. High ratings = more eyeballs.

Browse traffic works well.

This is when people are just browsing through app store categories like a kid in a candy store. Being featured in sections like "Games" or "Top Charts" is a big deal, but you won't even get a look in without a stack of positive ratings. While being discovered through searches is the main way apps get downloaded, a featured spot can make your download stats go big.

Ratings and reviews improve your conversion rates.

People can quickly see how your app stacks up against others just by glancing at the ratings. When they dive deeper into your app's page, a bunch of glowing reviews can be the tipping point for hitting that download button. That kind of social proof is great. It tells potential users that your app is worth their time and device space, both of which are in rather short supply.

Regular ratings and reviews signal to Google and Apple that your app is relevant.

That can help with your search visibility. Google Play even takes it a step further by indexing the keywords in your reviews, giving you a leg up in search results. Apple might not index keywords in reviews, but it sure pays attention to apps with a healthy rating and review count.

Are low app ratings really that bad?

If your app's ratings are in the gutter, you're pretty much kneecapping its chances in the app stores. Apps that barely scrape together a couple of stars are invisible—they get crummy conversion rates and downloads that you could probably count on one hand. Let's not even start on the vicious cycle of low downloads leading to even fewer ratings and reviews.

This whole mess tanks your app's visibility in searches and browsing. Dreaming of your app getting featured? Forget it. Low ratings turn that dream into a pipe dream, choking off any Browse (or Explore) traffic you were hoping for.


To stop this downward spiral, you’ve got to tackle the reasons behind those bad reviews head-on and lift your app out of the ratings pit. Users don't just wake up and decide to trash an app in reviews for fun. They're ticked off. An app's screw-ups, from crashing mid-task to moving at a snail's pace, are prime reasons for a bad review. Here's the rundown on why users go nuclear in the review section:

  • Navigating the app feels like a maze without an exit or it's missing key stuff
  • Apps that crash, freeze, or crawl can drive anyone up the wall
  • Hyped-up ads or descriptions that promise the moon but deliver a rock
  • Even small bugs or glitches can push a user over the edge
  • Useless customer service that leaves users hanging when they've got a problem

While many users might just ditch the app and move on, the really cheesed-off ones will want to leave a mark with a bad review. Ironically, these rants are gold for developers—if they're smart, they'll use the feedback to fix the mess, make peace with the users, and cut down on future digital torch-and-pitchfork mobs.

How can you improve your app store ratings?

If you want your app’s ratings to climb out of the basement, focus on what actually matters to users, mix up your strategies, and keep an eye on the scoreboard. Here’s the drill:

See what the others are doing

Check on the competition through app reviews!

The first step to pulling your ratings up by the bootstraps is knowing where you stand—and that means eyeballing both the love and hate your app is getting, and doing the same for your rivals. Digging through app reviews gives you the scoop on what’s working and what’s tanking, not just for your app but for your competitors too.

Feedback comparison in AppFollow

With AppFollow, you can analyze your competitors' apps thoroughly—check out their app store feedback for bugs, pricing, user satisfaction, feature requests, etc. Focus on the following:

  • Semantic Insights & Organic Discovery Performance. Outperform them in the market.
  • Competitive Benchmarking. Use it to gauge market visibility and average ratings.
  • Brand Influence. Figur eout how well competitors attract organic branded traffic.
  • Customer Experience Comparison. See how they handle customer support and what you can avoid or yoink.
  • Feedback Metrics & Global Expansion. Use competitor insights to identify your position in new markets worldwide.

A few actions to take with AppFollow that will help you get the binoculars out and start doing some heavy-duty competitor research:

  • Get straight to dissecting competitor strengths and weaknesses. Start with the app pages, review strategy, sentiment, and keywords.
  • Implement competitive benchmarking. Aim for the best, forget the rest.
  • Evaluate your competitors' brand pull. Maybe they’re not as hot as they seem.
  • Upgrade your customer support based on others' reviews. Your competitors offering tiny promo codes to soothe the pain in the review section and you can do the same without heavy revenue losses? That sounds like a plan.
  • Consider global expansion by analyzing market data. Competitors operating in more markets? Yoink their keywords, analyze how they respond, see what they potentially automated, and then do it better.

Try more channels

If you want more eyeballs—and fingers—on your app, leaving reviews, you’ve got to think outside the app box. Here are a few tricks:

  • Shoot out emails to everyone who’s ever given your app a whirl. Ask them nicely (or creatively) to drop a review. Don’t expect a flood of responses, but sweeten the deal with some perks, and you might see some action.
  • Got any buddies who are influencers or know someone who runs an app review site or tech blog? Use those connections. Collaborate to tap into their followers for reviews.
  • Don’t ignore the social media circus. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram—whichever playground you prefer, use it to gently nudge your followers into reviewing your app. How successful you’ll be depends on your charm offensive—make them want to leave a review.

Whatever concoction of channels you decide to go with, keep it idiot-proof. Make finding and reviewing your app so easy a toddler could do it—figuratively speaking. While you’re there, and that might be another team at your company handling it, make sure whoever is responding actually cares about user feedback. It’s important—sometimes what happens is that a user voices their concern, and the teams play hot potato with them. Not nice.

Establish a close feedback loop

Let’s switch to reviews now.

Nag users for ratings and reviews—but do it smart.

Slap a reminder into your app that nudges users to rate or review after they’ve poked around a bit. Set up some ground rules for when these reminders pop up, like after the app’s been used X times or when they’ve hit some milestone.

The whole point of these reminders is to hit users up for feedback when they’re most likely to give it. Get the timing wrong, and you might as well be talking to a wall. Don’t jump the gun; wait until they’ve had a chance to really get a feel for the app.

Maybe you set off a reminder when they complete an action, land on a certain page, or right after you’ve rolled out a shiny new update. You could even throw in a straightforward feedback button for them to hit up whenever the mood strikes. But this isn’t child’s play—you’ll need your tech team on board to make these triggers work without annoying your users.

Offer perks like discount codes or premium features as prizes, hand out badges or achievements, set up leaderboards for top reviewers, or throw in challenges that reward users for dropping a review. It might sound like you’re laying it on thick, but it works. Test out different tricks and see what sticks.

Get on with using the in-app reviews API for Google Play to poke Android users into rating and chatting about your app while they're knee-deep in it. This thing lets you unleash a review request anytime they're poking around in your app, and if they bite, that review pops up pronto on your Play Store page.

For the Apple crowd, there's something similar with the SKStoreReviewController API. It's like giving iOS users a nudge to drop a rating without bailing on your app. They get this popup, tap out some stars, and bam, you've got feedback without making them leave.

Make it a no-brainer for users to drop a review.

Don’t make them jump through hoops to tell you what they think. Slap a big, fat link right in their face that zips them straight to the Play Store review section. Whether someone’s singing your praises or tearing you a new one, show them you’re listening. It’s not just about slapping a “Thanks” or a “Sorry” on their comment. Dig in, figure out what’s got them stoked or stoked, and engage.

Address bad reviews fast.

It takes a truckload of five-star love to cancel out the stink of a one-star hate bomb. You can’t just brush off the haters. Hunt down those bad reviews like they owe you money. Every sour note in the reviews section is a customer waving goodbye. If you play it smart and keep it real, you can flip those frowns upside down and maybe keep them around.

Sort the complainers into two piles: the nitpickers and the ones with legit beefs. Figure out which fires you can put out fast and which ones need the whole fire department.

As for the trolls and troublemakers dropping spam or trash talk that breaks the rules of Google Play or the App Store, report them. Don’t waste your breath trying to reason with them. Both platforms let you flag reviews that cross the line.

Automate responding to reviews to tackle them all

To get the best results, automate!


You can slap tags on reviews automatically if you set some rules. Here’s the quick way to make an Auto-tag rule and pick the right triggers.

  • Head to the "Reply to Reviews" part on the left menu and hit "Auto-tags".
  • Hit "Add New Rule" at the top right.
  • You can name your rule if you feel like it.
  • Pick one or more conditions. Got questions? Our piece on Auto-tag Conditions has answers.
  • Choose the Tag to slap on reviews that match your conditions.
  • Click "Save Rule".

This thing updates every 5 minutes. Once you set a rule, it’ll tag new reviews and catch up with reviews from the last 48 hours automatically.


Use Reply Templates for a quick fix or automate with Auto-replies in AppFollow. Auto-replies shoot back pre-set answers to reviews that tick certain boxes—set it and forget it. If you're mingling AppFollow with Zendesk, adjust Auto-reply rules in Zendesk to filter reviews before they hit your desk.

Basics for Auto-replies to Work:

  • Activate Reply to Reviews.
  • Match a review to an Auto-reply rule.
  • Ensure the review hasn't been replied to yet.
  • Auto-replies go out every 10 minutes, catching all unresponded reviews from the last 48 hours.

Setting up Auto-replies quick guide:

  • Whip up some Reply Templates.
  • Find "Auto-replies" under "Reply to Reviews" in the sidebar. Hit "+Add New Rule".
  • Name your rule, pick conditions for activation, and decide the action (e.g., send a specific template).
  • Choose between needing approval for replies or letting them post automatically. Save it.

Here’s how you set up rules in AppFollow

Avoid robotic vibes by sending randomized replies from a set folder, making your responses seem more human and varied. Remember, each rule and its conditions must align perfectly for activation. Need to reply with a bit of variety? Set up a rule to pull random templates from a specific folder, ensuring responses remain fresh.

Use AI Replies

Not to bother you with too many details, our AI replies let you answer customer support messages fast, making your team look good. The best thing is just how much of a positive effect it makes.

Here's the deal:

  • AI replies are on for everyone. Free users get 15 a month; Premium users, you’ve got no limit.
  • To use it, go to "Reply to Reviews" in the menu, pick a review, and press "Generate AI reply."
  • Our AI checks out the review and spits out a response. You can tweak it, then send it off.
  • Available only in the new "Reply to Reviews" bit.

AppFollow AI replies in action


Let's get this straight: ratings and reviews are the lifeblood of your app's existence in the app store. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

If you want to see your app climb the ranks, you've got to hustle for those shiny star ratings and glowing reviews. And yes, flipping the bird at those negative reviews by turning them positive is part of the game.

Sure, it sounds like a ton of effort—and it is. But if you want to get anywhere, pick out the strategies that don't sound completely insane to you and get to work.


Why should I care about app ratings and reviews?

High ratings and positive reviews don’t just magically make your app better; they make it visible. Apps with better ratings attract more downloads, climb the search rankings, and get featured more prominently.

Can a few bad ratings really tank my app’s success?

Low-rated apps get buried in search results, ignored by potential users, and rarely, if ever, get featured. It’s a downward spiral: fewer downloads mean fewer chances to get good reviews, which means your app remains stuck in the cellar.

How do I improve my app’s ratings and reviews?

Start with understanding user grievances and addressing them head-on. Engage with your users, show them you value their feedback, and make necessary improvements. Implement a smart review prompting strategy within your app to encourage satisfied users to leave positive feedback. Don’t forget to monitor what your competitors are doing and learn from them.


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