Why Ratings & Reviews are crucial to your ASO strategy
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Right now, there are more mobile applications available to download than we could probably count — each of them built by innumerable developers, serving similar functions and appealing to similar demographics. Users are browsing through a myriad of options, trying to decide which is the best fit for them.
If you’re releasing an application, you must get as early an edge as possible over the next one vying for the same user’s attention.
But in heavily-saturated and highly-competitive environments like the Apple or Google Play stores, why would the user choose to download your app over your direct competitor’s equivalent? How do you utilize features like ratings & reviews to optimize your app, as part of your ASO & growth strategy?
What is ASO?
To understand where ratings & reviews fit into app store optimization and your ASO strategy as a whole, let’s turn to App Store Optimization (ASO) itself. ASO is the process of optimizing mobile apps to rank higher in an app store's search results. The higher your app ranks in an app store's search results, the more visible it is to potential customers. Simple, right? Implementing a carefully considered ASO strategy will increase search visibility — translating into more traffic, and more downloads.
Your application’s ranking versus its contemporaries can be affected by several different factors. The first things an inquisitive user will encounter are the app icon, its name, and a ‘five-star’ rating. As your first point of contact with your user, you must get these right from a customer marketing perspective. However, ratings & reviews are equally critical elements you must factor in — considering they affect both search visibility and user acquisition.
Our own AppFollow ASO Academy will guide you through the crucial steps on your way to achieving successful app store optimization (ASO).
How do the different app stores present ratings & reviews?
When you’re looking to optimize your app, properly understanding how each of the major app stores presents their ratings & reviews is going to be worth your time.
Ratings and reviews on the App Store
Notably, the Apple Store displays ratings within search results and the app’s page itself. Alongside the aforementioned visual and textual elements, user feedback is made prominent, with a five-star rating and number of reviews visible at an early stage — also located close to the download button. Apple will select a cluster of featured reviews to display on the app page, but the user can easily go and read all available feedback.
Ratings and reviews on the Play Store
An interesting point of difference versus the Apple Store is how the five-star rating is displayed — Google opts for a shaded five-star image over Apple’s accumulative five-star rating. Google Play reviews & ratings aren’t nearly as prominent but appear far more frequently. The average difference between two reviews (side by side) is quite subtle.
Even when considering these differences, ratings & reviews on both marketplaces directly impact search performance — highlighting their importance for metrics like search visibility, user acquisition, and user engagement.
User acquisition depends on good review management
So why is all of this so important? Well, utilizing ratings & reviews to optimize your app will ultimately help you drive up your user acquisition rate. The better the ratings & reviews, the more trusted your app will be, and the more users will download it.
Most users will look at the average five-star rating, overall score and written reviews before downloading an app — whether that be free or paid for. Combined, these metrics form a good reference point for users deciding whether or not to hit the download button. According to Apptentive (via The Tool), 80% of users check ratings and reviews to determine whether they download an app, and view them as more important than verbal feedback.
User feedback has a direct link to new user acquisition, as it indicates whether an app works and the general pain points the current users are experiencing. Users are more likely to write a review about something that hasn't worked as expected, so be mindful of taking their criticism onboard! Assume all future visitors landing on your app will see all visible feedback, so use it to turn negative ratings into positive ones, and increase your user acquisition.
The impact of app store rating on search visibility
The average rating of your app will determine where it will appear and what rank it will be assigned on search results pages. Naturally, if there are few or low-scoring ratings against your app, then this will inevitably affect search visibility — given that major app stores reward more visibility to apps that are highly rated.
Keywords also play a significant role in improving your app’s visibility and user acquisition. If more keywords appear in user reviews - particularly within the Google Play store - the easier it is to rank for those keywords in search traffic. Reviews can increase the exposure of your app to new users and boost the chances of your app being downloaded. It’s advisable to consider keywords when conducting your ASO audit, as the results can be far more significant for your app’s ranking.
In Google Play, including your keywords in your responses to user reviews is an opportunity to increase your app’s exposure. ASO has more of an impact on the Play Store than the App Store, so it can help your search visibility, whilst also benefiting your customer engagement in the long term. Just make sure you’re not overloading your responses with keywords — remember to be subtle.
A well-rated app with plenty of positive reviews will be more visible, and increasingly likely to be downloaded.
How to get better at managing your app's reputation
Now we know how vital managing app store ratings & reviews are in contributing to your app’s success (or demise), how do we generate better ones… and more of them!?
Garnering more positive feedback about your app should begin with knowing how users interact with it. You should understand the rationale behind the ratings too. Work out what needs your attention so you can improve user experience, boost your ratings and see your download numbers climb.
There are some key points you can be particularly mindful of when doing so:
- Ensure your app is bug-free and fully-functional.
- Prompt the user to offer feedback at the right time — ideally waiting for a significant enough time of usage beforehand.
- Calculate when your users are most likely to leave positive feedback, whilst being prepared to deal with negative reviews as well
You can also go back and address some of the key elements of your app that users will be first acquainted with:
- Name: The title should be memorable at first sight, and highlight what the core feature of your app is.
- Description: Especially important for the Google Play Store as mentioned. Just like your title, focus your description on what users want from your app.
- Imagery: The icon and visual elements further separate your app from the competition, and accentuate its best features.
- User experience: Replying to reviews, deploying fixes and keeping your app up to date are quick wins for improving user engagement
Tools to achieve a balanced ASO audit
There are a host of effective tools that you can use as part of your ASO strategy or ASO audit. Here are some that you may find useful:
Appstark provides developers with a sophisticated communication tool in which they can engage with the app and its users directly. Users are able to open conversations within the app and send direct messages to developers to initiate a direct response.
Storemaven tackles organic user acquisition from a technical perspective. Their intuitive App Store Testing Platform makes creating A/B tests a simple process. They help you direct you through creating strategic plans, producing different variants, increasing test accuracy, and analyzing the results.
AppFollow provides these tools in a bundle of services designed with optimisation in mind. They offer developers all the tools needed for organic user acquisition through ASO & ratings & reviews. It will help you to significantly improve the number of organic downloads, the customer lifetime value, and conversion rates.
Mopinion is the ‘All-in-one User Feedback Software for Digital Channels’. The software they offer, allows you to accumulate user feedback from multiple sources — websites and mobile apps. You can see it and review it all in real-time, whilst working on most devices, as Mopinion is compatible with iOS, Android and Windows.
Whilst there is no golden method for implementing app store optimization, consider your overall ASO strategy and utilize tools for specific stages of on-page optimization, A/B testing, and keyword research among other methods.
In summary, never ignore user ratings and reviews, because they are the direct link to your users and the key to marketing your app to new users. Your app’s lifecycle will benefit dramatically through the increased visibility it has. Ratings and reviews are a crucial consideration if you want a successful App Store page, a high rating, and a long-life app!