This guest-post is courtesy of our partners at Codal.
Trying to score a higher keyword rankings on the App Store can sometimes feel like playing a game where you don’t know the rules. Without the right app store optimization know-how, you may not know where your traffic is coming from, and where to get more. The better of an understanding you have of Apple’s algorithm, the better equipped you’ll be to start growing your app.
There are a number of factors that affect your rankings, from metadata, to conversion, to paid UA. One factor includes the app’s ratings and reviews. In fact, it’s pretty intuitive: the more (and better) ratings and reviews you have, the higher your app can potentially rank for.
But obtaining user feedback is much easier said than done. As I’m sure you’ve seen, most apps prompt the user with a simple dialog box, asking for a brief rating or review. This method has remained the industry standard, despite the fact most apps completely botch the execution.
Instagram was able to boost ratings by simplifying its ask.
Nothing throws a wrench in an otherwise seamless user experience quite like an untimely pop-up. Ask the user at an inopportune time, and you’ll almost certainly be met with a ‘maybe later’ response. And if you ask too many times, or ask when the user is frustrated with the app, you’ll get a review. It just won’t be the one you’re looking for.
Plus, both ratings and reviews don’t just serve ASO purposes—they’re indispensable feedback mechanisms that can help improve your app. They’re the foremost, most direct line of communication between you and your users.
So with the help of the app designers and devs at the UX design agency I work for, I’ve put together a guide to the art of popping this crucial question for your app’s ASO—without sacrificing the user experience in the process.
When Not To Ask
Never prompt the user to leave feedback immediately after they open app. This rule holds for all prompts and pop-ups, not just feedback-related ones. Don’t ask the user to review the app when they first open it, don’t ask them to enable notifications when they first open it, don’t ask them for access to the camera when they first open it.
All of these prompts, feedback ones especially, come off as presumptuous. Before you ask the user to enable notifications, you need to demonstrate the value of doing that. Before you ask them for access to their camera, you must demonstrate why you need it. The same holds true for ratings and reviews. Prompting the user for feedback before they’ve finished whatever task they opened the app for is simply nonsensical.
And If we agree that asking a user for feedback before they’ve started a process is a UX faux pas, it’s easy to see that interrupting them mid-process isn’t advisable either. Again, this rule applies to essentially every mobile app out there, but it’s especially important if your app’s primary use case is for quick, on-the-go tasks, like ordering food or mobile banking.
By interrupting the user’s workflow you’ll not almost certainly get a firm ‘no’ for your request, but you’ll also have upset their user experience.
Ask Upon (Regular) Task Completion
As you might have guessed, the appropriate time for a feedback prompt is after the user has completed a task. Ideally, the goals they set out to complete have left them satisfied with their experience, and thus more willing to leave positive feedback.
But what if they aren’t satisfied? What if they’ve managed to complete their task successfully, despite difficulties and a poor user experience? If you ask this particular subset of users, your app’s going to start garnering negative reviews, which could impact your App Store ranking.
That’s why it’s not enough to just ask anyone and everyone at the end of their workflow. Your prompt should target users that regularly complete key tasks in your app.
This specific demo is comprised of your app’s frequent users, and by focusing your feedback mechanisms on them, you’re likely to earn a generally positive and more nuanced, meaningful review.
A great demonstration of this technique’s effectiveness is Circa News’ ratings case study. A former digital news platform, Circa only prompted users that had opened their app at least ten times over three distinct days, and saw the quantity and overall quality of their feedback skyrocket.
To configure when your prompt triggers and to whom it appears for, you can use Apple’s SKStoreReviewController, or enlist the services of an app development agency.
Alternatively, Ditch The Pop-Up
If you’ve tried best-practice placement and targeting for your ratings and review prompts, and still aren’t seeing results, you might want to consider scrapping the pop-up approach altogether. Yes, it’s an industry standard that most users are familiar with, but some still find it intrusive and annoying, even if it’s well-timed.
One of the reasons the pop-up method is so maddening is that it forces the user to take action if they want to resume their workflow. It doesn’t matter if they say yes or no—their experience has already been disrupted.
That’s why some companies choose to forgo pop-ups entirely, instead opting for an integrated ratings. This can take many different forms, depending on the particular app, but the gist is that in lieu of a demanding pop-up, the user sees the option to review/rate the app somewhere during their experience, and can choose to initiate it or not.
Let’s return to the Circa case study. As a digital news app, most of its interface is dedicated to short- and long-form content, so Circa embedded an option to review their app into the article.
The difference between this method and a pop-up is that the user doesn’t have to interact with it all. They can simply ignore it, and keep on reading.
An integrated ratings/review prompt can take many forms—some apps just include as a menu option—so as long as it doesn’t force the user to take action, you’re in the clear.
Give Them A Reason To Review
The best way to garner positive reviews and quality ratings? Deliver an in-app experience that completely satisfies the user. By investing in the UX of your app, combined with ASO from companies like Gummicube, the path to the top of the App Store rankings becomes much, much more efficient.