Do strong ratings lead to more App Installs?
Although ratings don’t have a strong influence on chart rankings, strengthening them will help you catch more eyes. In this article, I share why this is important for you to consider now, the benefits of improving them, and the strategy I use to do this, improving the organic conversion rate of a mobile app.
"Surely there's an app for that!"
Fortnite is a very popular game these days, and over time I've run into people that love to brag about how 'great' they are. I've taken them up on that challenge a couple of times, by testing their general knowledge with a quiz app from the App Store.
These were the top-six results.
I wasn't going to download them all, only the app that looked the best and didn't seem dodgy.
The first thing I was drawn to was the App Icon and Title, to check if the name was relevant to Fortnite and whether it was a Quiz app.
I then compared the screenshots, which essentially confirmed all were a Fortnite quiz app.
"Which app should I download..?"
Since the icon, title, and screenshots all spoke the same message, the only other comparison I could make from the list was the rating of each app. The process of elimination then became super easy.
This usually takes around 15 seconds, where most people quickly scrolling through the list and download based on impression, and possibly tap on the Icon/Title to read more.
I always go with the apps that have higher star ratings, and a good balance of total ratings. This meant "Quiz For Fortnite Skins" was the app I picked first as it had a 5-star rating and a total of 125 individual ratings.
And yes, my friend was able to guess most questions correctly, unsurprisingly.
The average rating of an app influences app installs.
And having a low average rating kills conversion.
Over the years, conversion statistics from the App Store and Play Store have shown;
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ app ratings have a ~98% chance of converting
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ratings have a 90% chance
⭐️⭐️⭐️ ratings fall to a 50% chance
⭐️⭐️ fall even further to a 20% chance
⭐️ a 15% chance
Boost Installs → Improved Perceived Quality → Strong App Ratings?
A lot of people tend to think you should focus on obtaining more installs to grow your app and then expect people to rate it after. While that may be an okay strategy to temporarily increase your apps chart ranking, try to stand in the shoes of the person who's trying to find that awesome Fortnite Quiz app.
How do you focus on strengthening the perception of your app to be the first picked, when it comes down to the wire?
Strong App Ratings → Improved Perceived Quality → More Installs?
Assuming people will leave a rating is naive.
There is always a small group of people that’ll go out of their way and leave a review through the App Store/Google Play, but it won't give you that consistent push required to take on apps with a 5-10 times stronger rating. You want to seamlessly invite the masses to rate your app.
To achieve this requires consideration of four key areas;
🤔 1. Intent
What type of people do you want to rate your app?
Are you looking to attract ratings from people who casually use your app or people that frequently use it all the time?
When would you prefer they'd rate your app?
Is it after they've opened your app a few times, or after completing a number of primary goals?
👊 2. Goals
Which goals are important to track?
A general goal would be: "How many times your app has been launched?"
A primary goal may be;
"Number of taps on an item in a particular list"
"Number of times a specific screen has been displayed"
"Number of searches"
"Number of times an action has been completed"
💥 3. Triggers
When should you trigger the popup to request a rating?
Half the work is finding a good balance of 'people doing enough of the right things in your app’, before you ask them to rate.
If your timing is off, it may result in 2-3 star ratings if people haven't yet reached the stage of really enjoying your app. Or, you don't receive any ratings at all because you've waited too long to ask them, and they've now stopped using your app.
📝 4. Quality
What would you prefer be referenced in the review?
Are you looking reviews that say "Cool app!", or reviews that say "If it wasn't for this app, I would never have done *that thing*”?
The former isn't necessarily considered a bad review, but a review is a written testimonial. Having more of the latter will help increase conversion opportunities. (more on that later)
Listen to the 'negatives'
Asking for a review after a person has completed a primary goal is a good idea to consider, as they may be inclined to talk about what they just did.
Sometimes the experience might not be a smooth process. If this happens I'd want people to get in touch with me straight away - regardless if it's a legitimate issue.
I'd prefer to have the opportunity to be proactive and hopefully sway the overall experience into a positive one, rather than deal with a negative rating and limited conversation on the App Store or Google Play review page, and then potentially have that review appear as a “featured review”.
“How do I make this work on iOS?”
Integrate StoreKit into your iOS app - but what is StoreKit?
In the context of this article, it helps manage submission of ratings and app reviews for your iOS app. The best part about using it, is that it helps gather ratings and reviews without leaving the current screen. All you need to do is request the rating popup to appear!
You can choose when to request it, but iOS ultimately decides if it will be shown.
You should be aware that the prompt will only be displayed to a user a maximum of three times within a 365-day period. - Apple - Requesting App Store Reviews
Use your three 'requests' sparingly. If "Not Now" is tapped three times, you won't have another opportunity to request a rating (for the next year anyway).
If you track the correct goals, and include a well-timed rating request, you'll significantly boost the rating quality and quantity of your iOS app.
“How do I make this work on Android?”
We unfortunately don't have a similar luxury in Android - there is no StoreKit alternative that can display and submit ratings within your app.
We're forced to create the rating workflow and experience. On the upside, we have full control over when to show the popup, what the popup says, how often we show it, and what happens when people tap on the provided buttons.
When I first implemented this for an Android app, I tried to take a leaf out of StoreKit's book to test the waters, and break it down into three basic dialogs; an impression dialog, a positive dialog, and a negative dialog.
The Impression dialog
Once I had figured out which goals to track and when to trigger the rating request, I first show people the Impression dialog with a simple question, and two distinct actions; "I'm loving them!" or "Not really."
The Positive dialog
If "I'm loving them!" was tapped, I show a second popup - the Positive dialog, which invites people to rate the app.
If they tap on "Sure Thing", I open the Play Store app listing page where they can leave a rating or write a review.
As of the recent Google Play Store facelift (August 2019), "Rate this app" is now at the top of the page. This was a welcome surprise since it will increase the chance people will leave a rating.
The Negative dialog
If "Not really." was tapped in the Impression dialog I again show a second popup - the Negative dialog, which invites people to share feedback why they aren't happy with their experience and how it could be improved.
If they tap on "Sure Thing", I show the Feedback screen so they can immediately submit feedback. Check out the benefits of including a Feedback screen in your app.
Selecting "Maybe Later" hides the rating request, and won't show it again until the app has been killed in the background or intentionally by the person.
You don't want to pester people to rate your app. That just encourages them to leave a negative rating and/or nasty review message.
Get that feedback rolling through.
Push that first update to the store with the rating/review system. Feedback will begin to trickle through as people update your app, and it's really interesting to observe it happen.
In May 2019, Google announced that from August the Play Store rating will now be calculated based on the most recent ratings, as opposed to the overall average rating. If your Android app's rating is currently average, having a flow of positive ratings coming through will really improve it.
"How can I take this one step further?"
Gather feedback, and act on it.
Since the rating system in the Android app can be fully customised, we can connect the negative impression dialog to a feedback submission feature. This lets people reach out so you can engage in conversation with them, and build a relationship. They'll likely be appreciative of your efforts.
Note: We can't use the same trick in iOS, unfortunately. We don't have control over the StoreKit rating popup, and if we tried to wrap it inside our custom impression dialog, we have no idea if the rating dialog will be shown when requested, and it'll feel out of place.
A/B test the ‘primary’ goals, and triggers
You could hardcode the total of goals that must be met before triggering a store rating, but measuring effectiveness will be a slow process. You’ll need to publish an app update each time you want to update that total, and then wait for people to update your app.
By including Firebase Remote Config in your app, you can adjust values on-the-fly to quickly observe results and find the correct balance much faster.
Get an extra ⭐️ by replying to your reviews
Google recently announced an interesting stat where people who leave a review on Google Play, if the developer makes an effort to respond, people update their original rating by +0.7 stars on average.
Although it's only half a star, if your app is currently averaging a ~3.3 rating, by increasing it to a 4-star rating is a massive opportunity to increase conversion by a staggering 40%!
Keep in mind
Ratings and reviews are written testimonials
Sure it'd be great if every single person left a nice comment, but you want to be aiming for quality over quantity.
People that write a message highlighting why they love your app, help people sitting on the fence decide whether they should download your app.
People need to be ‘using’ your app
If you currently don’t have many people using it, try and brainstorm ways to get people to come back every day or so, otherwise you can’t really measure the effectiveness of the goals you’ve set.
You could reach out to people in your community and ask them to leave a rating and a review on your store page, to help get the numbers up early on.
By following the above steps I was able to increase I Know The Pilot’s iOS app ratings by 100x, and nearly triple the existing Android reviews count over a two month period. In a future article i’ll explore how this strategy was successful for I Know The Pilot and the long-term effect for both apps.
Try this strategy with your apps and you’ll be surprised by the positive impact over time! I’d love to hear if you have had success with a similar approach, or have any questions. Leave me a comment below! 😀