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Are you wondering how to manage your app’s negative reviews?

Would you like to learn some effective ways to benefit from these bad reviews and improve your app at the same time?

It’s not breaking news: app reviews have a huge importance in the app stores and in App Store Optimization (ASO). As an app developer or marketer, nice and positive reviews are always encouraging. On the other hand, negative reviews can be hard to handle. This article will help you learn how to benefit from even the most scathing negative review.

You have probably noticed this already, but app store users who leave reviews are radical: they usually either love or hate your app, with little to no middle ground. Indeed, users who don’t have strong feelings about an app usually won’t bother to leave a review.

Why? Because the review process is far too long and painful. Therefore, only passionate users will take the time to write a review.

This leads to a major imbalance. There is usually a high majority of five- and one-star reviews. Ratings in the middle (2, 3 and 4) are often more scarce.

Users reviewing an app will either spread their love and encouragement or instead throw down their discontented glove of challenge without mincing any words.

As app reviews are extremely important in terms of ASO, because they carry a lot of weight in the app store algorithm and impact apps’ rankings, it is important to focus on gathering positive reviews while avoiding bad ones.

Building a great app that solves a problem or entertains people is often not enough to satisfy app users. It is, therefore, hard to avoid negative reviews completely, but it is crucial to try to understand the causes behind these bad reviews.

Here are four ways you can benefit from these bad reviews and improve your app at the same time.

1. App users are the best testers

Your app users are your best app testers. Indeed, they will not hesitate to notify you about recurring bugs or glitches occurring in your app. Unfortunately, most of the time, they will do so by leaving a (negative) review.

Look on the bright side here: at least you’re now aware of some issues you may not have noticed. Sometimes, bugs occur after some really specific scenarios that you most likely would have missed. Or at least would have spotted much later.

A great way to benefit from these reviews is to solve each mentioned bug or malfunction as soon as possible. That way, you will avoid getting new negative reviews mentioning the same bugs and you will improve your app performance as well.

Try to isolate all the reviews mentioning words like “bug”, “crash”, “don’t work”, “not working,” and write down all the glitches reported. Add them to your pipeline, solve them and then release a new version of your app.

Some tools, like AppTweak review analysis, can be very handy, as you are able to sort and manage your app reviews in an easy and quick way.

Source: AppTweak

Source: AppTweak

2. Stay ahead of your competitors

Mining your competitive apps’ negative reviews can actually be a great way to outrun your competition.

Indeed, these bad reviews can be a great source of inspiration,since users often point out features they would like to have but that are missing. This allows you to take the lead over your competitors and build the requested new features before them, or better than them.

Monitoring your competitors’ bad reviews can also help you prioritize your pipeline by moving ahead some features over others, according to what users ask. This is also valid for your own reviews, obviously.

3. Learn how to improve the design of your app

Along with bug reporting, app users also make user experience (UX) or design suggestions in their negative reviews. These are also very interesting and usually important to take into account.

Sometimes, when you’re too much into something, you tend to have a sort of “tunnel vision” about your software, and you forget that your users don’t know your app as well as you do.

In other words: what’s obvious to you may not be to your users. This might make it more difficult than you think to navigate through your app and use its features effectively.

Listening to your users’ feedback can thus help you improve the general feel of your app and ultimately increase your app retention.

4. Optimize your customer support


A terrific way to avoid bad reviews is to provide great support to your users. Not only it will show that you’re present, it will also provide your users with other solutions to express their complaints.

Your users will therefore be less tempted to leave a negative public review. The goal here is to keep these dissatisfied users away from the app store.

Here are few ways to do that:

  • Adding a support email address in your app description and on your various digital communications, and encouraging users to use it.
  • Including a live chat feature directly within your app.
  • Optimizing your social media presence and answering all comments.

As I said, unhappy users typically have strong feelings towards your app and are likely to be qualified targets who would use your app if it met their expectations (additional features, better UX, fewer bugs, etc.).

This makes it worthwhile to try convincing these users to use your app again, perhaps ultimately converting them into happy users.

This can be easily done on Google Play, as you’re allowed to answer your app reviews one by one. It is actually essential to take the time to respond to your reviews (even the positive ones) and let your users know about bug-fixes or feature improvements (or to thank happy users).

Unfortunately, it is still not possible to answer your app reviews on Apple, since that App Store is still based on one-way communication. Let’s hope they catch up soon with Google and allow app developers to react to their reviews.

Tip: You can try to search on Google for your users’ nicknames. People usually use the same one on multiple websites or platforms. If you’re lucky, you will find their contact details (or social media accounts) and therefore be able to contact them to try getting them back.

In summary

Negative app reviews are certainly not pleasant to receive. Not only do they affect your app store visibility and discoverability, they could also discourage users from downloading your app.

This makes it very important to avoid bad reviews as far as possible. Building a great and functional app is a great start.

Taking action on your negative ratings is a step further that can lift your retention rate. Always try to take the best out of the complaints, remarks or suggestions made by your users (or your competitors’ users).

At the same time, it is crucial to try gathering positive reviews, so don’t hesitate to ask your users to rate your app (prompt them after five to six uses of your app). For more on gathering positive reviews, be sure to check out our tips for getting great app reviews.

Don’t forget that your average rating is wiped out after each release on the app store, so take this as an opportunity to improve your app version after version and improve your reviews and ratings.

One more tip: Use the “What’s New” section or the new app version dedicated space to include catchy and converting copy with relevant keywords, rather than just “bug fixing”, as it is displayed to app users and should convince them updating your app.

What about you? How do you manage your negative reviews? Feel free to share your experience in the comments below!

Laurie Galazzo

Laurie is Inbound Marketing Manager at AppTweak. Passionate by new technologies and apps, she loves finding new ideas to spread valuable content on App Store Optimization and App Marketing. She’s in charge of the company’s blog, crafting articles helping users to increase their app downloads and rankings. She’s also at the head of the ASO University, teaching App Store Optimization basics through video tutorials, all available for free on AppTweak blog.

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