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Have you been afraid to add in-app purchases because of bad app store reviews?

Do you obsess over what app store reviewers will say about your changes and ways to try monetizing your app?

We’re going to talk about why it’s sometimes okay to ignore those overly vocal few who post negative reviews. We’re going to talk about whose reviews you should be focusing on, rather than those you shouldn’t.

I could feel a deep fear about the update to our Apple Best of 2015 app. It’s a fear that many fellow developers have felt. The reason behind it? Version 2.0 of our app FitMenCook included a $5.99 per year subscription for a new feature.

The moment a developer charges a little extra for a feature, all sanity leaves the room.

$5.99 a year – you must be mad! What makes you think I’d ever spend that kind of money on.. an app… AN APP! Thanks, but no thanks, I’m off to grab a $5.99 smoothie from Whole Foods.

The users’ dissatisfaction is often followed by a number of negative reviews.

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We’re not the only app to have felt this, by any means. One of the biggest stories to reach the developer community in 2014 was an update to Monument Valley, which included an in-app purchase for new levels.

The negative reviews came flooding in and the news even reached mainstream media.

Should Monument Valley have decided not to release their in-app purchase update for fear of negative reviews?

Absolutely not.

Should we have ignored all our requests for a crucial new feature to FitMenCook for fear of negative reviews?

Absolutely not.

You are never going to please all your users. Amongst your thousands of downloads, you’ll have people that just don’t believe in paying for apps.

That’s fine, but these users are not the ones that should be driving your release schedule and having a major impact on your next features.

You should wake up each morning aiming to please the 20 percent of your users who love the app and get the most value out of it.

App Store reviews are never going to provide a deep insight into the problems your users are facing. For that, you should be regularly surveying your users.

This is exactly what we’ve done with FitMenCook and it’s helping us shape our app road map.

In a survey we sent out recently via our newsletter and from a popup inside the app, we asked questions such as:

  1. What is your current fitness goal?
  2. What obstacles stand in your way to achieving your goal?
  3. Will you be buying an AppleTV?
  4. Do you track your calories?
  5. How did you discover the FitMenCook app?

We had more than 1,300 responses to our survey. The valuable insights we received would never have been found by reading our App Store reviews.

Feedback doesn’t need to take the form of a survey. Through our in-app contact form, we’ve received 415 messages so far from users. We tally our most popular requests (add a meal planner) and act on those.

In summary:

  1. Don’t avoid effectively monetizing your app and creating a sustainable business because you are afraid of what a vocal minority will say.
  2. Read your reviews, but use more effective feedback loops such as surveys to help shape the future direction of your app.
Andreas Kambanis

Andreas Kambanis is the founder of Nibble Apps. You can find him on Twitter and his blog.

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