9 Tips for App Store Optimization: How to Improve Your App’s Reviews?

Launching your app in App Store and Google Play Store is a long-awaited moment for most founders. As the days go by, you probably check your app’s page regularly to see if there are any new ratings and reviews. 

What if, instead of testimonials posted by happy users, you start to see more and more negative opinions about your mobile app?  

This scenario may also happen when your mobile app has been available for a while and has, so far, received mostly positive reviews. Suddenly or gradually, user feedback changed for the worse. 

Upon seeing negative voices and one-star app store reviews, your first instinct may be to ignore them. After all, you’ve built a product you’re proud of, and these people don’t know what they’re talking about. 

The only thing is… they do. There’s something about your mobile app that makes people express their dissatisfaction. And, as the owner of that app, you should get to the bottom of it. Once you understand what it is that annoys users so much, you can work on improving your app’s ratings. 

Now, why would you even bother with putting in the work to make your app store reviews better? There are at least two major reasons for that. 

Topics covered in this post:

Why should you try to improve your app’s ratings? 

  • Your app’s rating and reviews are ranking factors in both App Store and Google Play Store. You might have done your homework when it comes to other App Store Optimization (ASO) elements: keywords, your app’s name, and description. Still, negative rankings can nullify all of your hard work.

    On the other hand, if your rating is good, app marketplaces consider your app as relevant and worth displaying to users. This can translate directly to the number of organic downloads.

  • Bad reviews can discourage people from downloading your app. According to AppRadar, 80% of users read at least one review before downloading an app. Again, unfavorable ratings can negatively affect your conversion rate. 

Hopefully, you see the point in managing app store ratings and reviews. Fortunately, several strategies can help you to improve your app’s ranking and contribute to your app store optimization efforts. 

What can you do about negative reviews for your app?

1. Improve your product

Well, that one is straightforward. If you’re receiving unfavorable opinions about particular bugs in your mobile app, the best thing you can do is to fix them. You have probably already known that these areas require improvement, so perhaps you have even allocated your development team to do the job.

Fix the bugs users are complaining about and see whether you stop receiving negative ratings and reviews—it should be the case. You can even make things right for people who have already criticized your app on an app store. How? See tip #5

2. Ask for feedback before you receive (more) negative reviews

It might be too late for you to prevent all of the negative opinions, but you can stop new ones from appearing in App Store or Google Play Store. How? The chances are that your users just don’t have another outlet to speak their minds about your product. If you allowed them to provide feedback via a contact form or an online survey, they would share their thoughts. 

Gathering users’ feedback will be extremely beneficial for identifying weak spots of your product, and any processes surrounding your brand. Say you’re running an eCommerce app, and you’re struggling with multiple 1-star reviews. Naturally, you and your team test the app in order to find the bug. It turns out, however, that your mobile app is functioning just fine. At this point, all you can do is wait for more elaborate reviews to understand the nature of the problem.

But what if you gathered user feedback regularly within your app? You might have found out early that there are problems with, for example, product delivery times. You might not be directly to blame about that, but your users will complain via app store reviews if they don’t have another opportunity to voice their concerns. 

Once you give your audience an option to send you feedback, they may no longer feel the need to complain about your app in an app store. 

3. Improve your onboarding process and add a knowledge base/FAQ to your app

Let’s analyze a different scenario. Again, your app’s users are not badmouthing specific features of your product. They’re just generally dissatisfied. It’s possible that they just weren’t able to find their way around your app. 

Make sure that there’s an onboarding path in your mobile app that teaches people how to get the most of it. It’s also helpful to add a knowledge base/FAQ section to your app, especially when you receive specific questions repeatedly. Finally, if some aspects of your mobile app prove to be too confusing to the users, you might want to rethink the UX foundations of your product. 

4. Improve your customer support

Negative app store reviews show that you probably don’t have a very effective way of dealing with customers’ problems. Focus on improving your brand’s customer support process. See, when users see that someone is actually interacting with them and genuinely trying to help them, they’ll likely be less inclined to post very negative opinions about your app. 

5. Reply to negative reviews 

As a publisher of an app, you can reply to users’ reviews on app marketplaces. It’s a really effective strategy to improve your app’s ratings in the long haul. Addressing people’s concerns shows that you listen to their feedback. You should be similarly responsive to people who have posted so-so reviews, not just the ones who were 100% negative about your mobile app. 

Having said that, there definitely is the right and the wrong way of responding to negative opinions. Remember that this is not a private conversation: your reply may be seen by many potential users of your app—it’s best if you don’t get into arguments. Here’s a couple of pointers to keep in mind:

  • Try to reply soon after the review was posted.
  • Acknowledge users’ concerns and apologize.
  • Offer a workaround to their problem, if possible.
  • Show that you’re actively working on solving this issue…
  • …and prove that you kept your promise – always notify users when the bug they reported is fixed.

It is not unheard of that 1-star reviewers change their ratings after receiving thoughtful and relevant replies. Now, that’s successful App Store Optimization!

6. Notify users about fixed issues and new features

Just as you need to follow up with reviewers about newly fixed or released features, you should be similarly transparent towards your whole userbase. Find ways to inform your users about the development of your mobile app – publish release notes, leverage social media, and your newsletter.

Every time you release new features or fix the existing ones, you should communicate the updates. It’s a good idea to use the same phrases that your reviewers utilized in their opinions: this way, they will be able to spot that it is their particular problem that was solved.  

7. Report inappropriate reviews

It might be the case that you receive reviews that violate app stores’ policies. If that happens, you have every right to report these opinions: if they’re deemed inappropriate, they will be removed. 

Obviously, it doesn’t mean that you should report every unfavorable rating. The following things, however, may prompt you to report a review:

  • offensive language, profanities,
  • content that threatens or harasses other people,
  • content that includes private/confidential information (e.g., physical address),
  • affiliate codes or links, 
  • reviews describing non-existent features.

8. Ask users for reviews strategically

When you have already collected a significant number of negative opinions, your best bet for app store optimization is to balance them out with some love from your users. 

The question is: how to get positive, yet genuine reviews from your customers? The best solution for that will be to ask people who are using your app to leave a review, but you need to be strategic about it.

First, identify the right time to ask for a review. Analyze your app’s flow and pinpoint moments during which your users are happy or proud, perhaps after achieving a particular milestone? Their good mood might make them more willing to leave a positive review. 

There are also other circumstances in which you can ask people to review your app: after a successful customer support intervention or when someone provides positive feedback in your in-app survey. 

9. Monitor & analyze your reviews

In order to improve your app’s ratings and reviews, you need to know what they are. If you’re able to monitor the App Store and Google Play Store for new opinions, do that. If, however, you have too many new reviews to follow them manually, you can utilize dedicated app analytics software to group reviews by topic or analyze their sentiment. 

App Store Optimization checklist for improving your app’s ratings

Let’s recap the key strategies for managing app store ratings and reviews:

  1. Take care of your product and your customer-facing processes:
    • Fix bugs pointed out by unhappy users
    • Teach new users how to use your app correctly (via tutorials and onboarding)
    • Upgrade your customer service
    • Ask for feedback regularly
  2. React to the reviews:
    • Reply to reviews regularly
    • Notify users about fixed bugs and new releases
    • Report policy-violating reviews
  3. Increase the number of positive reviews on app stores:
    • Ask for reviews at the right time
  4. Stay on top of your app’s ratings by monitoring and analyzing user reviews.

We understand how to design, develop, and launch an app that makes a significant impact. Want to partner with us in bringing your mobile app idea to life? Reach out at hello@new-gravity.com to schedule a 1on1 with our custom mobile development specialist.