Your ASO guide for app ratings and reviews

Dave Bell, Co-founder and CEO of Gummicube, offers guidance on practical steps app developers and marketers can take to improve their app store ratings and reviews.

 With the holiday season fast approaching, we wanted to explore some of the sides of App Store Optimization you might not immediately consider when refining your approach for 2023. When looking at the underbelly of App Store Optimization (ASO), nearly all factors and fields on your store listing are wholly owned by the developer. However, earned media could potentially influence how your app is being pushed on the app stores – for better or for worse. 

Ratings and reviews carry massive influence over a user’s purchase decision. Not to mention, the app store algorithms are less likely to recommend an app to a user if it has a low average star rating. The unique challenge of reputation management in ASO is that these product page assets are unowned and can’t necessarily be influenced, yet their power is undeniable in the funneling process.

Let’s explore the importance of app ratings and reviews in ASO, and let’s also go over some ASO best practices to help improve your store presence even if bad reviews and ratings may be plaguing your product page. Remember, there are always ways to improve!

App ratings and reviews – ASO 101
Across the Apple and Google app stores, ratings and reviews both have the same effect. Both stores consider star reviews and affect your ability to be discoverable. The effects of star ratings also work through word-of-mouth influence, one of the strongest unearned marketing principles spearheaded by user sentiment and experiences.

Combined, ratings and reviews have a massive influence over the user’s “purchase” decision. 59 per cent of users check app ratings before they initiate a download or purchase. If a user sees either negative or positive reviews, this asset can influence their decision to download an app or not. It’s also important to note that earned media when running paid campaigns on external platforms like social media – TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, etc. – also has influence over purchase decisions. These, however, work a bit differently than how a product page review section works. 

Product Page vs. Paid Ad sentiments
For one, app ratings and reviews on a product page are largely composed of users who have already tried and used the app after a certain amount of time if app functionality allows for it. As for external channels, any sort of messaging is mixed – initial reactions to an ad, questions, comments, trolls, and even users who may attest to or detest what’s being shown. However, sentiment is the strongest influencing factor across both product pages and external channel user/potential user interactions. 

Negative and positive reviews – what to look out for
Emotions and sentiments are strong drivers of consideration. A negatively-positioned comment on a social media ad may dissuade another person who was curious about the app. Positive reviews are also a heavy influence, but studies show that a negative review on either a product page or an external channel leaves, on average, a 3x more influencing effect on a user than a positive one.

Addressing some dos and don’ts of App Store ratings and reviews
Word-of-mouth influence and earned media/marketing can be difficult to control and it’s reported that 80 per cent of users don’t trust apps with an app rating below 4 stars. And with so much on the line, developers may want to resort to quick or unethical fixes to try and influence their effects. We’ll discuss and explore some of the bad practices associated with reputation management in ASO and offer alternatives that help both in the long and short term.

When done correctly, reputation management can have many positive effects such as:

  • Showing that you are paying attention and working to provide a positive experience
  • It shows you are continuously and  actively listening to what your users have to say
  • When appropriately addressing bad reviews, you can convince users to adjust their ratings
  • Knowing what bugs or issues users are encountering so you can fix them
  • Boosting conversion and organic rankings through better user interactions and indexation
  • Improving your chances of getting featured (lower than 4-star rated apps aren’t likely to get featured)

App Ratings and Reviews can impact success in many ways Check out these 4 ASO best practices for improving your app ratings and reviews:

1. Respond to both negative reviews and positive reviews
While it may seem counterintuitive, responding to positive reviews in conjunction with negative reviews both have their benefits. For one, responding to positive reviews shows that you’re a proactive developer and that the users’ needs and sentiments feel heard. If a new user were to see a positive interaction, they’re more likely to be convinced that if they had a negative response, their issues will be addressed sincerely and proactively. 

2. Don’t fake it ‘till you make it – stay far away from fake reviews and ratings
Fake ratings and reviews can get you in more deep trouble than any sort of positive short-term reward. Fake reviews and ratings could potentially cost you your product page and place within the app stores. While it may seem tempting to artificially boost these fields, the app stores have processes in place that can detect false reviews, and subsequently, can ban your app from the app stores entirely. It’s never worth it and it’s something your users can detect from a mile away.

3. Sympathize, address and solve when possible
Users want to feel that their concerns have been heard and addressed. If there are bugs and other hurdles in presenting your app in its best light, reviews are a great avenue to learn about them and address them head-on. When approaching a negative review, ensure that you sympathize with the user, address their concerns, and resolve their issue if possible. If certain bugs or kinks aren’t able to be resolved at the moment, make sure to use this information and fix the issue as soon as possible and let the user know that you’re working to resolve it.

4. Got a great review? Show it off for better conversion!
The conversion effects of rave reviews cannot be understated! If you receive a stellar review from a user, including it in your app store screenshot design can be a high conversion driver! Even if you have a negative review, it’s also important to remember that if they’re addressed well, you can ask your users to change the star rating!

With the holiday season fast approaching, don’t let reviews and ratings bog down a stellar product page! Remembering the conversion effects of these user-generated elements of your product page cannot be understated. Avoiding bad practices and being aware of better and more lucrative and beneficial ASO best practices for ratings and reviews will let you shine above the competition, increase organic traffic, and boost conversion rates.

About the Author
Dave Bell is Co-founder and CEO of Gummicube. Gummicube is a global leader in App Store Optimization with more than 12 years of experience optimizing and marketing apps. We offer the leading enterprise ASO technology and agency services, providing support to clients around the world. Our company is trusted by thousands of enterprise brands and leading startups including Microsoft, LinkedIn, Bethesda, SWEAT, GrubHub, McAfee and many others.