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Ratings and Reviews. Part 2

In the previous part, we talked about the association between ratings, reviews, and conversion rate. We also shared a way to get 30k+ ratings every month using in-app native rating requests.

Now we’re going further. Remember the Hotellook iOS app? After they implemented in-app native rating requests, they started to get thousands of ratings and reviews — far more than they had expected.

The ratings & reviews amount increased from 14K yearly to 20K monthly. Source: appfollow.io

At AppFollow, we’ve come up with a four-step formula:

  1. Monitoring
  2. Replying to reviews
  3. Working with featured reviews
  4. Reporting offending and spam reviews.

1. Monitoring

Reviews monitoring is the best way to detect users’ opinions in response to your app updates. Bugs that your QA team may not have noticed, new design or features — if something goes wrong with your app, users will be the first to tell you about this. That’s why it is important to respond them before they uninstall the app.

Collecting reviews

You can track reviews via iTunes Connect and Google Play Console. To do this, you have to open it every time you want to check your reviews. If you have several apps, be ready to collect data for each of them separately. If you have a support or a dev team, each team member will need to track everything by themselves. The bigger the team is, the more likely you are to miss a new or updated review. The whole process just becomes too long and inconvenient.

In the case of Hotellook, it was obvious that they had to change the way they worked with reviews. The team integrated AppFollow and its monitoring service in their Slack channel. They chose Slack because they had already used it. Alternatively, you can monitor reviews via Zendesk, HelpDesk, email — any desk service you like. Couple clicks and integration is done, every review now is appearing in a special Slack channel: #hotellook_reviews:

Get reviews straight to your Slack channel in real time

Sorting reviews

To simplify the whole process, the support team divides all reviews into groups using tags. For example, there is a “negative” tag for reviews about bugs, and another one, “request”, is for feature requests from users. The first ones go to the QA team, the second ones to the dev team to make them real in future releases.

Each review has a tag. Thus the responsible team (QA or dev) will get it faster.

Ratings tracking

Despite the average number of stars increasing once in-app rating request was integrated, the team soon noticed that the percentage of text reviews decreased. This is a predictable reaction: an in-app request asks a user to rate an app, and only after that asks them to submit a review. Most users won’t go that far, and as a consequence, the average stars and review ratings will differ. To track those occasions and find the reasons, the team set up Slack Summary Report. It shows everything that happened during the week.

During the week 21st — 27th of May the app got 346 stars and 9 reviews.

The report shows that the average review rating was 0.5 points lower than the average star rating. This can be a sign of a hidden problem: If users have left negative reviews, something in the app must seriously concern them.

Thanks to AppFollow monitor integration Hotellook team catches up with all users’ reactions and can respond appropriately.

2. Replying to reviews

When a user leaves a review describing a problem, they are eager to get some help. It’s important to reply to all reviews, starting with the negative ones. It sends users a message that you do care about their opinion and are ready to help them out. A plain reading of reviews won’t bring you loyal users, even if you do everything they ask.

Replying from your usual channels

Soon after implementing Slack monitor, Hotellook switched to the Reply to Reviews option to be able to reply to reviews directly from Slack.

When you reply to a review from Slack, it will appear in the selected app store right away.

If you use Zendesk or another service, you can reply to reviews there as well.

Here’s how to reply to review from Zendesk.

Helping a user to update his rating

Sometimes it happens that a user writes a negative review because he couldn’t figure out how your app is working. They’d unlikely go to support — it’s far easier to type “It doesn’t work”, and close the app. At the first glance, this review is not all that valuable. However, it can be a potential issue that other users didn’t bother to share.

Replying to reviews helps you increase your app conversion rate. Current users are assured that you’re here and ready to help. Potential users see your interaction with current users, which makes them more likely to download it. We know that users often change their negative ratings to positive if they see a quick reaction and help from a developer.

Here a user was complaining about Indonesian currency missing in the app. Developers added IDR currency and the user changed the review to 5 stars.

All notifications about reviews updates appear in the same Slack channel — so the team will never miss any of changes. In Google Play Console, the developer’s reply remains the same even if a review is changed, so it’s easy to skip an update if you use Console to reply to reviews.

Using reply templates

To automate the reply process, Hotellook uses reply templates. They have templates to reply to a bug report, a Thanks reply, and a Feature Request one. The templates allow the team to answer such reviews literally in two clicks:

Set up templates in your AppFollow settings. After that, the service will advise you a proper template to use.

If you’d like to give the templates a try and see how they speed up your Reply to Review routine, drop us a line at help@appfollow.io.

Do not ignore your users

If you don’t reply to reviews, your rating will slide down, as users will change their 3–4* reviews to 1* ones. There was a case in December 2017 with a popular app (we won’t name it here). The app got 22,580 reviews, and users got replies on 5,864 reviews. By the end of the month, the average rating of reviews with replies slightly increased (0.3 points), but the rating of reviews without replies fell by 0.9 points. Users didn’t get a reaction from a developer, and so they updated their reviews with a lower rating.

A user changed his 5* review to 3* and then to 2*, because nobody helped him with the iOS 11 issue.

Always strive to communicate with your users, especially when they have given negative feedback. It won’t guarantee you an instantaneous result, but users will gradually change their review stars, or at least they won’t make them worse.

3. Working with featured reviews

The first reviews on an app page have the strongest effect on your app conversion rate. App Store displays only one featured review. (To see the rest of them you need to scroll right.) In Google Play there are four featured reviews displayed, and it is crucial that those reviews are positive ones.

Make sure that you reply to featured reviews even if users just say that they are satisfied. By doing this, visitors who are just passing by your app page will see your cooperation with users.

We’ve done some magic with featured reviews — and as a result, you see only users’ happiness there.

Before and After changing a featured review.

As a result of that change the App Units / Product Page Views conversion rate grew by 8% for Search, and by 4% for Browse channel.

4. Reporting offensive and spam reviews

Often reviews don’t correspond to an app itself. For example, a user recommends a competitor and rates your app with 1* review. Regardless of whether this review is paid or not, it affects your conversion in a most negative way. There’s a way to deal with such issues, though — by reporting a concern in App Store or Google Play.

Cleaning up offensive and spam reviews from your app page increase the conversion rate. By doing so, you help new visitors concentrate on positive reviews, and on those that describe your product, and not your competitor.

Hotellook “cleans up the mess” in App Store twice a month. They report all reviews that look like ads, spam, and with strong language. 80% of them are usually deleted afterward. You can apply this approach to your app page — just follow our report a concern guideline. Once a store gets several reports, the review will be removed.

Note that it takes up to two weeks for your concern to be considered. As well as these reports, App Store and Google Play have their own algorithms that detect and remove spam. According to our research, Google Play removes up to 90% of paid reviews. However, you can’t remove every negative review from your page in this way — both stores have teams that check all reported reviews before removing them.

Summary of 8 months of work

All results should be measurable and make a profit. Here is how AppFollow and replying to reviews on regular basis made helped the company:

  • The average rate of 4.8 remained the same for almost a year despite the decreasing rating trend in general for the Travel category.
  • Every single review has a reply.
  • 60% of users changed their reviews from negative to positive after a developer’s fast reaction.

Always keep in touch with your users. Replying to reviews is a low-cost but efficient way to bring up loyal users and grow your conversion rate. If you wish to increase your app visibility, even more, give our ASO team a shout at aso@appfollow.io.

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