How to Ask for an App Store Review

Where your app sits in the App Store search rankings is heavily influenced by your reviews and ratings. Your App Store optimization keyword strategy defines the search terms, your ratings are one of the factors in the algorithm that boost you higher for those terms.

As I wrote last week, negative App Store reviews are painful. They’re also uncontrollable. Users are going to leave negative reviews. Users are also going to leave positive reviews. The difference is you’ll never ask someone to leave you a negative review. That’s why asking for a positive one can help.

Just like my opposition to the opt-into-push nag as soon as you launch an app, you have to find the most opportune time to ask someone to complete an action. For push, it shouldn’t be when the user first launches the app; the user doesn’t know anything about the app yet and if they say no, getting them back isn’t easy. You have to ask a user to opt into push when they are completing an action in the app that could be made even more beneficial through push.

The same could be said for reviews. Most popular apps these days find a way to ask a user for a review on the App Store. But many are asking at a time that impacts the user experience or when I wouldn’t have any interest in rating them. They’ve yet to understand the “Happiness Principal.”

Happiness Principal

The “Happiness Principal” is what I refer to as the most opportune time to ask one of your loyal users for a review. Let me break that down:

Opportune Time: What is the action in your app a user can take that they feel really good about just completing and, if interrupted, would not impact their experience? For Winery Passport, it is someone who just added a third winery to their wish list. If you thought it would be after someone stamped their passport, think about when this action happens: when a user is at a tasting — are they going to rate Winery Passport then? The wish list action takes place in a more casual setting when the user doesn’t have something else on their mind, like tasting their wine.

Loyal User: Another mistake many apps make is they ask everybody for a review. But if a user is in their first session, don’t know anything about the app or are having a tough time, they’ll turn that ask into a negative review — so maybe you can ask for a negative review after all. A loyal user to a popular news app could be a subscriber who has engaged with the app five times in the seven days for more than an hour. This is all about asking the right user with the highest propensity for a positive review for their feedback.

App Store Review Ask

The best way to “interrupt” a user for a review is to not interrupt at all. Just as native advertising is becoming more popular, so should your review ask. In the examples above, the wish list ask would be ideal on the wish list saved confirmation modal. The Times example would work best as a user is scrolling through their news feed. It’s a delicate balance of who (loyal user), when (opportune time) and how (native vs. prompt).

When you figure all of that out, the what you ask is the final piece of the puzzle. Don’t simply ask a user to leave you a review and ship them off to the App Store. Manage the experience closely to filter out those who might fit your “positive” profile, but aren’t happy at all.


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App Store Review Path

1. Initial Ask: “Great job adding another winery to your wish list. Do you love Winery Passport?” Tie in the action the user just completed to the initial ask — it connects the two for the user. Another option is to include a five-star selection option because it is similar to the App Store rating system. Leaving five stars in your app will likely lead to five stars there. One more thing, I’m not a fan of Remind Me Later — Evernote is the one that comes to mind who uses this.

2a. Yes or 4+ Stars: If the user has selected the positive reaction to your initial ask, thank them and ask if they’d mind leaving you a positive review on the App Store. Include the “Yes” and “No” buttons in any variety of wording, including “Sure,” “Let’s Do It, “Happily,” etc. Remember, positive wording can lead to positive reaction. If they select No, don’t bother them again.

2b. No or 3 or Less Stars: If the user selects No, do not send them to the App Store. Instead ask if they’d like to send you feedback to help improve the experience. An embedded form is recommended, but you can also initiate a new email message. Remember that not every user uses Apple’s native mail software though. I’ve seen great feedback come from this audience, since the users sending it are loyal and engaged.

One company that seems to be helping developers easily manage the review process is Apptentive. I’ve only played around with the tool a little bit and recently implemented it into Winery Passport and Brewery Passport to test further. From what I’ve seen though, Apptentive follows the mapping outlined above. They use a prompt and don’t offer a native embed solution, as far as I’m aware. I’ll let you know how the tool works out.

You can also use your in-app messaging solution to make the ask, but again, then that is not native.

All I know is that reviews matter, especially the positive ones. All you have to do is ask.

How do you ask for App Store reviews? Let us know in the comments below.

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