CEO Sundays: Make Your App Soar Over 700,000 Competitors

By November 18, 2012

How often do you voluntarily see a movie that only earned one or two stars? Would you ever buy a new vacuum cleaner or coffeemaker that received a barrage of negative consumer comments? Customer reviews highly influence which products we choose to spend our hard-earned money and precious time on, and though apps may not be quite as big a purchase as a new vacuum cleaner, good ratings will help your app find its place on the hard drives of thousands of smartphones and computers. 

Getting strong reviews during an app’s initial launch is crucial to its success. The positive reviews and multiple-star ratings an app gets shortly after being released builds its credibility among consumers. The more credibility an app has, the more likely people will be to buy and download it – even on impulse.

Earning Your Stars

Though there are dozens of ways to get reviews, the tried-and-true methods often work best. There are two techniques you can employ for your app:

Have your game developer include a line of code that will prompt a message to appear upon the fifth opening of the app. In this message, ask users for a review of the app, and to support continued updates, as well as the development of related apps in the future.  Prompting this message after the fifth opening is important because it will ensure reviews that are both genuine and positive. If a person has installed your app and opened it five times for use, he or she qualifies as a regular user. A regular user has had plenty of time to explore it and apparently likes it since he or she has returned multiple times. The likelihood that the user will grant your app a positive review and a five-star rating is much higher.

Asking for a review too early can result in lower overall star ratings and more negative comments because users have not yet had time to discover all the app has to offer – or how to overcome their own difficulties with using it.

Remember how you could always count on Aunt Martha to buy a subscription to another magazine? You knew Grandpa John would buy your first – and last! candy bar during school fundraisers. Use the same technique for your app.

Employ your family and friends to download the app and provide the first dozen five-star ratings and glowing reviews to boost your app’s credibility. They’ll be more than willing to support your endeavor, and Facebook, Twitter, and email make it easy to recruit them. Best of all, getting your nearest and dearest involved improves your chances of constructive, useful feedback.

Managing Your Star Power

Once your app’s credibility starts to rise and more people begin to download and review it, you can easily become bogged down by checking every new customer’s review on Apple’s iStore, or any other app store, on a daily basis. The best way to manage new ratings and reviews is to receive weekly reports from services such as

Such services will email you weekly reports with all the reviews written about your app throughout the week. You then have the flexibility to choose a day each week when you’ll have time to sit down for an hour or two to read through the reviews.

During this process, take notes on what people said they liked and disliked. Also note recommendations users made that you may not have considered. Spending time with each of the reviews, especially when you’ve set yourself up to receive genuine feedback, provides you the opportunity to find out what your app is doing well – and what it could be doing better.

Following up on those requests and updating your app will continue the cycle of customer satisfaction and keep the five-star ratings streaming in, boosting the success of your app sky high. If you want to be on lots of people’s smartphones, you need to listen to what the people want – they are listening to what others say about you.