App Store Optimization: How to Increase Store Ratings

App Store Optimization is the art of getting your app visible in the app store. Much like SEO, it is about getting your app ranking high for certain search terms, and there are various factors which impact your ranking. I’m not going to attempt to cover all of these factors, but I wanted to share one element which I recently had some success with – store ratings and reviews.

65% of all downloads follow an app store search, so the importance of getting your app ranking high is very clear.

Beyond the fact that apps with higher ratings rank higher for competitive keywords, it is clearly good for raising your profile and could potentially help drive your download conversion rate.

App Store Optimization Campaign –  ask your users to leave you a review

As consumers we are most likely to leave a review or give feedback for a service or product thats been really bad. When we are mad and/or frustrated we often take to the internet to voice our frustration — it can be therapeutic! On the flip side we might also feel inclined to leave a review when we’ve had an amazing experience. However, its true that the majority of positive experiences go unmentioned.

Not every single user is going to love your app (shocking I know). If you have a decent amount of repeat traffic, it’s safe to assume you have a pool of users who are getting value out of your app and therefore might be willing to spare you a couple of minutes of their time to leave you a review. For the sake of this exercise, these are the people you want to identify and target.

App Store Optimization Campaign – ask them with a push notification.

1. Push Notification Tools

Firstly, you need a dedicated tool installed in your app to deliver your push notification campaign. You might choose to build your own solution in-house, but otherwise, 3rd party tools to consider are Appboy, Localytics, Kahuna, Urban Airship. For an overview of these tools and others, Segment have done a good job in their post Which Push Notification Tool Should You Use?

2. Triggers

The triggers you use to target your user is vital to the success of your app store optimization campaign. The above tools enable you to set custom events which you can then use as triggers to target your campaign. For example, if your app is a content aggregator, you might identify a happy user as some one who views 4 articles in a single session and shares content on social media. In this instance you would implement a custom event when a user successfully shares a piece of content. You can then create a rule in ypur push notification UI to target users who demonstrate this behaviour.

3. Messaging

Its fair to assume you’re not always going to target a ‘happy’ user, even with carefully picked triggers. Therefore you should further safeguard your app by only sending users into the app store that explicitly tell you that they are indeed happy. You can control this by asking the right questions and controlling the path you send the user down.

For example

app store optimization campaign messaging

If a user answer no, send them down a different path. For example:

app store optimization campaign messaging

In this example, you avoid sending an unhappy customer to the app store, and instead encourage them to send you some private feedback, so you can gather additional insights about why your customer isn’t enjoying the app, and then fix it.

4. Tracking

Decide where you are going to track the results of your campaign. In most cases it makes sense to use the reporting in your push notification UI. You will need to implement a conversion event thats passed when a user performs the action that says ‘yes’ they like using the app. This will be your success metric.

So you will have a metric for the number of recipients of the push notification, a metric for conversions and then a calculated conversion rate. Something like this:

app store optimization campaign data table

You might also find it really useful to do some ab testing of a few triggers, to see which generates the highest conversion rate. To do this you will need to create traffic groups so that users only fall into one trigger and the data doesn’t get contaminated. Each tool will have their own way of accomplishing this.

I strongly recommend that you also add custom events to your web analytics tool, so you can track the funnel for additional insights.

Finally

Running an app store optimization campaign like this you will be amazed at the results, as well as the insights you can gather. I ran a similar campaign and the app went from 1–2 reviews per day to 12+, and the star rating shifted from 2.5 to 4.5 within a few weeks. However, it is important to stress that store ratings is just one piece of the puzzle and that a successful campaign like this alone won’t necessarily increase your search ranking. You need to have a more comprehensive ASO strategy that looks at all the pieces.

Apple’s app store now provides  paid search. Like traditional Search Engine Marketing you can bid on keywords to generate targeted exposure for your app; testament to the amount of apps that now exist in the App Store. This is a smart move by Apple and well worth exploring.

Good luck!

Growth Lead at Dailymotion, Richard has a passion for improving user experience and ROI through data and experimentation.

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