How to increase user loyalty with review responses

In the article we will cover varieties of response strategies for app store reviews depending on your goals: increasing app install conversion rates or user retention rate.These goals will be different at each stage of an app or game development. You will find out who to answer first, when to respond, and how to prepare working with reviews without the headache. We’ll share recommendations that have already helped AppFollow users.

Most mobile apps and games have few reviews. They remain unanswered because the developers do not see a direct connection between the feedback and the number of app installs and user retention. But that is not the case. The consequences of unanswered mobile app reviews can be different: fewer installs or low app rating, which does not let the app to get featured, or users delete the app, which affects the revenue.

Responses to reviews do not bring instant results; their contribution to the app development will be noticeable over the months. As a result, communication with users through reviews will pay off by increasing the average rating, mobile app conversion rate, and user retention rate.

We show, through examples, how to set up this communication in order to get the maximum benefit.

1. Pre-launch (beta-testing)

Even before the official launch of the game or app, developers can get the first feedback from users. For that purpose there are beta reviews on Google Play (for example, in the Beta feedback section in Google Play Console). Of these, a developer learns what users do not like in the app or the new version, which functions are difficult to find, or what is still missing.

Although these reviews are not publicly visible, it is important to answer them all: communication with real users allows you to make a product that meets their needs. If beta testers cannot understand the functions and capabilities of the app, their feedback will help improve it and release a quality product.

Beta-reviews: how to improve user retention without ruining your app conversion rate
User complains about bugs in a mobile game. This will help a developer to find and fix the problem before the release. Source: https://appfollow.io/

How to set up workflow

There are two ways to keep track of alpha- and beta-reviews: go to Google Play Console every time and connect the AppFollow to the Console. The second way allows you to follow the new beta reviews in the usual messengers and services (Slack, Discord, Zendesk, Helpshift, email, etc.) and reply to them in AppFollow.

The advantage of Android beta reviews is that they do not affect the conversion rate and average rating, no matter how low a user rating is. iOS apps have no beta review support on App Store Connect, so all reviews will affect app ranking and conversion.

Tip: Beta-reviews on Google Play do not only work for new apps. If your apps have many users, try to release major updates via beta to work out beta reviews before the actual release. So users will have time to get used to the changes without harming the rating.

2. Early Stage

So, you have released a new app or version of the product. What do the first users think of it? How to gain their trust and support? No worries, they will tell you about it in their reviews. Inconvenient filter, incomprehensible icons, or problems with registration — unlike beta reviews, this negative feedback is visible to everyone and affects the average rating and app install conversion rates.

New or unknown apps have few reviews, so it will not be so expensive to respond to each review. This will create a good impression of the product and increase the conversion from the page views to installs. In addition, users change their rating if a developer reacts to their opinion and helps solve their problems.

Tip: If a user does not understand the functionality, do not tell them to describe the problem through email. Most will not, and you will not know what exactly is wrong. Therefore, ask questions right in the reviews.
Replying to customer reviews is a simple way to get free app installs
User complains about the inconvenience — it has become harder to switch buttons while breastfeeding. In the review, the developer immediately reacts and promised to notify her as soon as they fix this issue. Source: https://appfollow.io/

How to set up workflow

While there are few reviews, a developer, QA-engineer, product manager, or app owner most likely replies to them. You can optimize and automate this work:

  1. Receive daily or weekly reports with app store reviews to Slack, email, or Discord;
  2. Tag reviews, so that it will be easier to group and transfer them to the right specialist for a response;
  3. Reply to reviews on Slack, via email, or in AppFollow. If you work with reviews through AppFollow, prepare several templates for answering popular questions in order to reply faster;
  4. After the release, update the responses to fixed complaints. You can thank the users who were paying attention to app’s imperfections in the "What's New" section; they will be satisfied, and may even show it to friends;
  5. Share positive feedback. From AppFollow, you can send a review directly to a corporate Twitter account or embed a link to a review on the site. The main thing is to do it while there are only a few reviews, so as not to annoy the subscribers;
  6. Send feedback from 1* and 2* to a special email or Trello, where developers will see it faster. You can even send links to such reviews in Jira.

3. Growth Stage

At this stage it is important to attract as many users as possible, and app reviews is the surest way to increase conversion rate and increase app downloads. Attracted by advertising, ASO, or featured apps lists, users look primarily at the opinions of others. The same way we buy products on Amazon.

During this stage no one has the time to answer. The team begins to ignore users feedback, trying to quickly fix bugs that users are complaining about. This is a mistake, since sometimes a simple excuse is enough for a user to change their rating. No fixes will help if you have not told users that you have solved their problems.

Tip: Make it a rule: when you have fixed a bug, write about it in the “What's New” section and update the responses to users who complained. To quickly find the right reviews, tag them in AppFollow. Then you can update the response to the desired review in 3 clicks.

If there is already a support team at this stage — try to answer everything. If there are no allocated specialists, sort the reviews to answer by importance:

  1. Negative reviews;
  2. Feature requests. It is the easiest way to encourage a user to improve their previous rating if you take their ideas into backlog;
  3. Featured (popular/useful) reviews and reviews with likes/dislikes. The latter often become featured, so the better their grades are, the better your conversion rate.

How to set up workflow

Whether the support team responds to the reviews or the dev team does, the process can be automated:

  1. Respond first to negative reviews. Set up a separate channel in Slack, Discord, or email, where reviews with 1-2* will come;
  2. Make sure featured reviews are answered. Check these reviews after each release. If they have changed — add or supplement your answer;
  3. Use response templates. Add several answer choices for different types of reviews: bug, crash, thanks, etc. So you will respond faster at times;
  4. Set up auto-translation for reviews to understand user problems in any language.
Replying to negative reviews helps you to improve app rating and get more app downloads
If there is a negative review or complaint among the popular reviews, be sure to answer, and when you solve a user's problem, adjust your answer. Even if this user does not change their rating, others will see that you have corrected your mistakes. Source: https://appfollow.io/

4. Expansion Stage

Millions of users and hundreds of reviews per day — you need a full-fledged support service. Users do not write reviews about how an app works, but to ask about discounts, points, delivery, or subscription. The lack of an answer will directly affect sales — the user will not be able to order or buy a subscription. In addition, reviews still affect conversion and app install rates. If a decent budget is invested in advertising, poor support work will negate these investments.

Here you just do not have the time to handle all app reviews. In addition to plainly negative reviews and spam, pay attention to feedback after releases. At this stage, users update the previous reviews, changing the essence of the review and the number of stars. Updated reviews will help to learn about users' problems just in time.

How to respond to google play reviews to make your conversion rate grow
Users will write in their reviews about all the shortcomings that the team did not find when testing. The more people will work with reviews after the update, the better for the conversion rate. Source: https://appfollow.io/

How to set up workflow

Help support agents avoid getting lost in the stream of feedback. You can automate their work in different ways:

  1. Integrate work with app reviews into already used Help Desk services. If support is responding in Zendesk, Helpshift, Help Scout, Freshdesk, or Usedesk — the review will get there in the form of a ticket, and support will not miss it;
  2. Tag reviews as: separate complaints, negatives, language, or a platform. By dividing agents into areas of responsibility, you can quickly respond to the most critical reviews;
  3. Monitor the average response time for each agent and the team as a whole in the Help Desk services or AppFollow;
  4. Analyze the topics of feedback and complaints using semantic analysis. Such an analysis at least once a month or once a release will help track the general mood of users and identify the main problems.
Tip: If you work with Zendesk or Microsoft Teams, you can reply to reviews without leaving your usual account. Install the native Review Monitor app for Microsoft Teams and App Store & Google Play Reviews for Zendesk, so agents will not waste time switching between services.

5. Market leaders

There are so many users who leave reviews that some negative reviews do not clearly affect the average rating and conversion rate. The name, texts, and screenshots at this stage are not so important because users are looking for a product directly by name, like Facebook or Snapchat.

Here, the answers and non-responses depend on the capabilities and policies of companies. Some do not answer at all and some answer questions about payment and functionality. Users often update reviews to gain attention to their problem.

How to reply to a negative review: the example of reply to a furious customer
If a user has updated a review more than five times, it means that they really care about a question or problem. And sometimes there comes an answer for such reviews. Source: https://appfollow.io/
Tip: If the rating has dropped a lot after an update, you can reset it in the App Store. However, all reviews will remain, and you will need to work with featured reviews and new negative ones.

How to set up workflow

  1. Follow the general trend, not individual reviews. For example, monitor app store reviews using the Feeling Chart (semantic analysis) and receive summary reports on ratings in Slack or via email;
  2. Get notifications about reviews with specific keywords. For example: “bug”, “problem”, or reviews with 1*-2* from different countries;
  3. Configure integration with Help Desk services on important filters;
  4. Update responses to featured reviews once a month.

How to measure the effect of responses on reviews

If you are not Uber or Facebook, do not hesitate to chat with users. Their feedback is a cry for help: something did not work, there is a bug somewhere, or they could not solve the problem for which the product was intended to resolve. A simple answer will help a user feel needed, and if they helped solve the problem, they will go the extra mile and give a high rating. Especially if the problems are associated with payment or subscription.

Answers do not provide an immediate effect. We recommend three simple ways to track performance:

1. In the "Reviews Analysis" section, the average rating for reviews in which an answer was given is increased;

The example of how to respond to app store reviews and its impact in app conversion rate

2. Downloading the Reviews & Replies report shows that more reviews were given a response and the number of stars from 1 to 5, as well as the overall rating, increases;

How to market your app without huge budget — simply talk to your customers

    3. Critical problems diminish: developers and product teams will find out about problems in time and fix them in new releases. As a result, the average rating of the app and new versions grows.

    How to get more app downloads — reply at least to critical and negative reviews

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