Are you learning from your users’ app reviews?

By | March 24, 2015

One of the first things people look at when they’re considering downloading your app is the reviews. It’s very important to have a high rating and some positive reviews, but you can also gain real insight with the right strategy. If you aren’t reading through your user’s reviews, analyzing what they’re saying, and responding in the right way, then you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to improve your app.

Listen to what your users want

app reviews

If you have the budget then it’s a great idea to get feedback on your app from potential users before release. Crowdsourcing is a budget-friendly alternative to traditional focus groups and it can generate a lot of really useful data on where you are going right or wrong, but that process doesn’t, or shouldn’t, end with the release of your app.

User reviews are a valuable resource and a chance to engage with your customers. They’ll tell you what people are enjoying and what they dislike about your app. If you listen then you’ll find an opportunity to improve your app and turn around unhappy users.


Extracting useful data from reviews

The first challenge is to extract useful information from user reviews. There are different ways to go about this and it depends on what you’re looking to learn. You should start by creating a database, or a simple spreadsheet with user reviews in it, so that you can filter by specific keywords and ratings.

You could look for common threads in negative reviews, for example, if the majority of negative reviews have the word “crash” in them then you know there’s a technical issue to solve. You can delve deeper to see if you can find out if there’s a common device problem or a specific set of circumstances and work on a fix.

Positive reviews can also deliver useful insights. You may discover that what people like about your app is not what you expected. You may also find good descriptions or relevant keywords that you hadn’t thought of using, and you can adapt your promotion efforts to accommodate them.

Grouping reviews by themes and specific keywords allows you to get an overview of where problem areas lie and what your app’s strengths are. It can help to ensure that you focus your efforts in the right places.

It’s worth noting that you can also find interesting insights into potential problems and desirable features by going through the same process with the reviews of similar apps to yours. Make sure that you match your competitor’s highlights and avoid their shortcomings.

Responding to reviews

App review

In the real world, the customer is not always right and it’s a certainty that you’ll get some negative reviews that seem unfair to you. If you have a good app you’ll hopefully also get some heart-warming positive praise, but don’t count on it. If a review has a legitimate complaint then you need to look at doing something about it. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and assess the review from there.

The best response is to fix the complaint and update the app if necessary. If your research reveals the same problems in multiple reviews then you know exactly where to start and how to prioritize. It’s worth directly engaging to respond to the customer. In some cases it’s best to do that publicly, for example, when the problem is common and you think other users might benefit by reading your response. In some cases it will be better to respond privately, directly through email.

The one thing to remember, whichever route you take, is to stay calm and remain polite. Even in the face of unreasonable abuse, you can’t afford to respond in kind. A polite and helpful response will often elicit a climb down or even an apology when someone has overstepped the mark, but more importantly it protects your reputation. Even if you think your public retort is witty that kind of thing rarely plays well with other users.

Compiling data from user reviews and looking for insights is always valuable, even if you don’t plan on updating your app, it can help inform your next project. It’s also good to show users that you are listening and that you care about their opinions. That’s the route to loyal customers and advocates for your company who may evangelize for you and bring in more users. You can learn a lot from your user’s app reviews if you’ll only take the time to look.

Category: Mobile and video games trends Web and software development Tags: , ,

About Simon Hill

Simon is an experienced freelance technology journalist covering mobile technology, software, and videogames for a wide variety of clients in print and online. He regularly contributes to Digital Trends, Tech Radar, and Android Authority, and he ghostwrites for CEOs in the technology space. After completing a Masters in Scottish History at Edinburgh University, he began his career as a games tester, progressing to lead tester, game designer, and finally producer, before leaving the industry to write full time. He is passionate about the potential for good software and hardware to improve our lives, and strongly believes that thorough testing is a vital prerequisite for greatness.