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Ratings and Reviews. Part 1:

There is a common misconception, that App Store Optimization is all about keywords and graphics. In reality, it is a bunch of actions that lead to your app optimization: keywords, description, screenshots, ratings and reviews, etc. Text optimization helps users find your app against those of thousands of competitors, while graphic optimization and higher conversion rates make sure that the user will install your app.

However, users won’t just buy pretty images — they require something more convincing: the assurance that other people like the app. Here we take a closer look at how ratings and reviews affect the search visibility and conversion rate of your app.

What the conversion rate is

One of the ways to measure your ASO-strategy effectiveness is to analyze the conversion rate. With regard to app stores, we are talking about conversion of the following types:

  • App Units / Impressions: The ratio of the number of first-time app downloads to the number of times your app was viewed (in the Featured, Categories, Top Charts, and Search sections of the App Store);
  • App Units / Product Page Views : The ratio of the number of first-time app downloads to the number of times your app’s product page has been viewed;
  • Product Page Views / Impressions : The ratio of the number of times your app’s product page has been viewed to the number of times your app was viewed (in the Featured, Categories, Top Charts, and Search sections of the App Store).

So far only iTunes Connect has all these types. As for Google Play Console, it only has the second type of the conversion rate metric.

Average conversion rate by category

To analyze your app conversion rate, go to the iTunes Analytics page in your iTunes Connect developer account, or to the Traffic Sources page in Google Play.

App Units / Impressions conversion rate for Search Channel in iTunes Connect App Analytics
App Units / Product Page Views conversion rate in Google Play Console

There are two questions left:

What can I do to make it better?
And should I change or improve anything?

To answer these question, we at AppFollow created the Conversion rate benchmark — a chart with average conversion rates for App Store and Google Play.

Average conversion rate report by categories via Search channel in the App Store. April 2018.

How average rating affects the download conversion rate

79% of users check an app’s rating before downloading. This number is even bigger when it comes to paid apps. In both stores, ratings are placed in search results and on app pages, so users will see them regardless of whether they came there from the search, browse, ad, a website, or another app.

According to the Apptentive report, 40% of users interviewed said that they trust reviews more than personal recommendations.

Positive reviews work as a proof that other people are satisfied with an app, rather than just a group of friends with preconceptions. Apptentive interviewed thousands of users about the minimum acceptable rating of apps. This is what they got in response:

Apps with 3 stars and lower lose a half of possible downloads.

An app with a 3-star rating loses around half the downloads, whereas apps rated 1–2 stars lose almost every download. All your optimization efforts become useless if your app has less than 4 stars. What’s more, a rating of 3 to 1 stars is a real pain in the neck for your marketing and ASO teams.

The good news for iOS apps is that you can reset your app’s total rating when you release a new app version. This option is located at the bottom of the app’s New Version page. But, if you do not investigate negative reviews causes, your app rating will remain the same. Usually, the worst comments give you a clue about what’s wrong with the app: A level in a game doesn’t work; the server is unreachable; or it’s just a critical launch crash on the old devices.

In Google Play you don’t have the opportunity to reset your rating, so you should pay more attention to testing on all popular devices before releasing the update. If you get one negative review or star, you need at least 10 positive ones to offset its effect. Once you’ve fixed bugs, and app functions work as they are meant to, very soon you will notice how the conversion rate and download numbers both rise. The same research by Apptentive says that rating improvement from 1–2 to 4–5 stars will lead to six to seven times more downloads.

In-app native rating requests

Satisfied users are less likely to rate an app than frustrated users are. It is pure human nature, and that’s why it is so important to choose the right time to ask for feedback. The best time is when a user has successfully completed a task, and won’t see any bugs or crashes.

Important: Remember not to interrupt a user when he or she interacts with your app. Show the rating request after a task is done, or on a waiting screen.

For iOS we recommend in-app rating requests using StoreKit framework. It is available starting from iOS 10.3. This method allows users to rate your app without going to the App Store and logging in. Now it takes just 5 seconds to rate, which is why you get dramatically more ratings and reviews.

Example of an in-app rating request on the search screen: Hotellook app.

Here’s an example of how it works in practice: A Hotellook iOS embedded an in-app rating request in June 2017. During the following two months they got five times more ratings than during the whole of the previous year!

Ratings number boost after native rating request integration

According to AppFollow, starting from the middle of June the number of ratings rose. The app got 74,200 ratings just for 4 months, while during the whole previous year it got only 14,200. Their Impression / App Unit Conversion Rate rose by 15%.

Users tend to believe those apps that have more positive reviews. They are more likely to choose them rather than their competitors with worse ratings or negative reviews.

Don’t forget that by embedding in-app rating features you increase the total number of ratings, both positive and negative. That is why you should show the rating request at the very moment when user is satisfied with the app: after several wins, a completed game level, or a successful money transaction. If the outcome was negative or the app has crashed, don’t show the request, and start counting successful actions again.

Before in-app rating requests, developers used custom rating requests like this one:

Custom rating request

When a user chose smiling emojis (4–5 stars), an app would suggest to the user to rate it in the App Store. If a user chose sad emojis (1–3 stars), the app would suggest that the user give feedback rather than starring it in the store. Since the App Store ran a new rating system, intermediate dialog boxes have been prohibited by Apple guidelines. Users can switch the native rating request off, or developers exceeded the impressions limit — which means that even if a user chooses smiling emojis, he will see nothing. Customized rating requests should be used carefully: There’s still a possibility that an app can be rejected, especially when it comes to subscription models.

As for Android, there are no in-app native rating requests available. The only option here is to create a customized request, as we showed above. However, even here the Google team can warn you if you distract users from going to the app store. It is a tiny possibility, but more likely that moderators would ask you to hide the dialog if you are nominating for featuring.

Quick highlights:

  1. 79% of users check reviews before downloading. Work with reviews on regular basis is as important as work with keywords and graphics.
  2. An app with a 1–3-star rating loses a half of possible downloads, which means that all your previous ASO work was in vain.
  3. In-app rating requests drastically increase the number of rating and reviews. If your app works as needed, your conversion rates and download numbers will rise.

If you have any suggestions, feel free to drop us a line at aso@appfollow.io .

In the next part of this article we will give some insights on the importance of replying to reviews, reporting inappropriate reviews and how this work can increase your conversion rates and downloads.

>> Read Part 2

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Originally posted on AppFollow Blog

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