The Importance of Ratings and ReviewsThe app marketplace is crowded, and it’s only going to get worse.

With over 1.3 million apps in the Google Play Store, 1.2 million in the Apple Play Store, app discoverability has become increasingly difficult for today’s marketers.

But there is help…

Ratings and reviews are some of the most important triggers in app discoverability and installs, and are still core metrics app marketers use to gauge success.

Apptentive conducted a consumer study on ratings and reviews back in May 2015 focused solely on ratings and reviews, and what makes them an ever-important factor in boosting adoption, driving installs, and earning customer love.

pic_1In today’s post, we discuss how ratings and reviews affect discoverability and installs, along with some tips to help you understand how your app stacks up to its competition.

Let’s dive in!

How Ratings Drive Behavior

App store ratings are crucial to driving rankings, discovery, downloads, updates, and in-app purchases. Ratings are an integral part of the ranking algorithm for app searches in both the App Store and the Play Store.

In mid 2013, Apple changed its app store search algorithm to place a greater level of importance on ratings and reviews, rewarding higher rated apps and penalizing lower rated apps.

After this update, apps with an average rating under three stars ranked significantly lower while apps with ratings of at least four stars experienced a bump in ranking.

While neither Apple nor Google have revealed specifics about how they calculate search rankings, it is generally accepted that both app stores factor in:

  • Rating/review quantity
  • Rating/review quality
  • Download count
  • App usage statistics (How engaged are the people using your app? How frequently do they use your app?)
  • Uninstalls (How much customer churn does your app experience?)
  • Growth (How have daily download counts changed over time?)
  • Keyword density of the app’s landing page

At this time, no comprehensive study has been conducted on the importance of app store rankings in driving traffic, but there are a few lessons we can learn from App Store Optimization’s (ASO) older brother, Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

It might not seem like much, but outranking your competitor—even by a single rank—can make all the difference.

How Much Do Ratings Really Matter?

Interested in seeing what effect a change in your average star rating will have on your app store conversion? Using our survey data, we’ve estimated the difference in app store conversion resulting from incremental changes to the average star rating.

These numbers have been validated with our historical data of working with thousands of mobile apps, and we’ve seen that they hold true regardless of both platform and the brand power of the app.

Based on the chart below, how would a change in your average star rating impact your app store conversion?

pic_2App Reviews Matter Too!

Ratings and reviews are often lumped together to the point where the only meaningful metric seems to be those coveted stars. Nevertheless, reviews serve an important role that goes beyond the rating they’re associated with.

First, Reviews Qualify Your Ratings

A four-star average rating is an indicator that your app is a good fit for most people but a compatible review indicates that your app is a good fit for a specific person.

It’s necessary to have both the social proof only achieved through a high volume of positive ratings and the more personal recommendation that speaks to the few points someone evaluating your app for the first time might be interested in.

Second, Reviews Provide Valuable Feedback for Improving Your App

Mobile marketers can stress over ratings all they want; but at the end of the day, ratings don’t provide actionable insights. A poor rating gives no indication of what you can do to improve future ratings, nor does a good rating tell you what you’re doing right and what areas your limited engineering resources are seeing the most return on their investment.

Lastly, Reviews are Different

They provide a channel (all too often the only channel) for customers to tell you exactly what they want in an app: to leave feedback, report crashes, and make feature requests. Mobile marketers and developers alike should keep a close eye on their reviews to identify customer pain points, which can then be used to design a product roadmap and experience your customers actually want.

The Challenge of App Reviews

Reviews are deeply intertwined into the app discovery and evaluation process. In fact, 70% of people read at least one review before downloading an app. Not only this, but 75% of our survey respondents identified reviews as a key driver for downloading an app, and 42% view app store reviews as equally or more trustworthy than personal recommendations.

Even more astonishing, 13% of people read at least seven reviews when considering a free app. This number jumps to 33% for people evaluating a paid app. Beyond boosting your download count, reviews can be used to move the needle on a number of key metrics:

pic_3Considering that reviews are, by default, shown in chronological order (latest first), it’s important to have not only positive reviews but also a high volume of recent good reviews. In other words, if 33% of your app store traffic reads at least seven reviews, it’s important to do everything you can to ensure that your latest seven reviews are all positive.

Wrapping It Up

Driving ratings and reviews are imperative to discoverability and installs, and most apps can still drive their ratings and reviews to a better place than they currently stand.

With a few easy-to-integrate improvements, in the form of rating prompts and in-app customer communication tools, you can make your ratings and reviews work for you rather than against you.