Getting Those Five Stars on the App Store

The apps market is huge today. Really huge. And with material design, superior features, accurate categorization and fast response time becoming the norm, users are spoilt for choice. The first thing people check before they install an app is the rating. It is highly unlikely that your app will get the downloads you want if it has two or three stars on the ratings scorecard. At the same time, good ratings get you a higher ranking, better exposure and thereby, more downloads.

Simply put, if your ratings aren’t good enough, you could be in serious trouble.

1. Thou shalt not crash!

For a developer, there is nothing- we repeat, NOTHING, worse than app crashes. Then, no matter how many features you cram into that app of yours, you’re doomed; the entire customer experience goes down the drain. Do not spare any expense to make sure that you get this out of the way before you proceed towards the other aspects. Hire professionals to QA your app before releasing it, catch hold of people who are willing to beta test your app and point out errors, make sure there are clear channels of communication between you and the user in case a crash has to be reported. This is where an app like BugClipper can prove to be critical. It not only helps beta testers report bugs but also let them capture screenshots of errors and forward them directly to the developer.

2. Ask your customers, but be clever about it

It shows that you care for their opinion and this goes a long way in building a lasting positive impression. The only problem is a majority of the apps tend to ask a user for a rating too early on. A user who’s has just started using the app will not have the time or the affinity to want to leave a rating. The trick here is to pick the right moment. Make it data driven; asking your users to share their usage statistics is an excellent way of doing it. Wait till the user tests your app and uses it for a fair number of times. Better still, wait till the user seems to be enjoying the app. Next time, try asking the player after a particularly huge win. Happy customers generate happy ratings. Tools like Apptentive, Bugclipper, Helpshift and Konotor can be really useful to learn how customers feel about your app.

3. Keep your fans close, keep your critics closer

Absolutely. If, and when, there is something not quite right with your app, make sure you are the first one to know. Make it easy for users to reach you. Set up a support address, list phone numbers, create social media links, website addresses with customer feedback forms, email IDs; basically, flash your contact details across all major customer touch points. Create a forum where the users can come and discuss about the app, report bugs and request for new features. Sites like Xda-developers are an ideal place to do so. This direct form of communication will help you divert negative feedback away from the store where it could affect ratings. Win-win!

4. Don’t just ask, respond

When you ask your customers to contact you, you also set expectations that you will be listening to them. Make sure you meet those expectations. Nothing works like prompt replies. Listen to the grievances of your users and resolve them as soon as possible. Even if you cannot solve all their issues, lending an empathetic ear (or eye, as the case may be) and reassuring them will turn an angry customer into a happy one and surely get you those golden stars.

5. Localization works

And how! Users will always appreciate it if they can get information in their own language. This is particularly important in regions where English is not as widely used as the common language. In a highly globalized world, the lesser options you provide, the lesser downloads you get. Localizing your app into the language of your users will help you tap into a large market of potential users. And while you’re at it, better to be professional about it. Do not use online translators that will do more harm than good. Third-party localization sites are your best bet when it comes to getting your app translated in local languages.

6. Do not be annoying

Yes, we understand, it is difficult. But unless you stop bombarding your users with requests to rate your app, you can go ahead and forget about getting a positive response. On the contrary, you might actually end up putting them off. Time it right, ask once, and leave it at that. Being asked for a rating is one thing, but being constantly nagged about it is another. So be patient.

7. Make them an offer they can’t refuse

What’s in it for me? That’s what everyone wants to know. And rightly so. There’s no harm in handing out incentives to people who rate your app. If you want to juice up your ratings, look beyond the conventional methods of rewarding users. To get authentic raters, choose incentives that resonate with your company’s services and products. Extra points, upgrades, special rewards, even fun contests that hand giveaways to the winners might just do the trick.

Getting 5 stars on an app is no easy feat and will definitely not happen overnight. It requires conscious planning and effort on the part of the developer.

So come up with a product people will love, do your best to keep the customers happy and watch those ratings soar.

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