Your app's core functionality and UX as well as your entire business model should be shaped by your users. In our article on building a mobile startup that makes money, we talked about why listening to your users could mean the life or death of your product. In this article, we’ll talk about gathering user feedback and app reviews properly and in a timely manner.
What you need to know about users
By asking users for feedback and reviews, app developers are actually pursuing two goals — getting insights on what can be improved and trying to boost their app’s rating. But neither of these goals is within reach unless you know how to communicate with your users. Here’s what you need to know to get user feedback and, eventually, get a successful mobile app:
Users rely heavily on reviews when choosing an app, and one negative review on the App Store or Google Play Store can scare away 30 users. So if you’re looking to improve your app and not its rating, consider getting feedback from your customers in your software instead of redirecting them straight to the App Store or Google Play Store.
If you have a feedback form that’s embedded in your app, it has to be easy and quick to reach. Otherwise, you’ll get 80% more negative reviews on your public app page.
Users don’t want to spend more than 7 minutes on a feedback form. If a form takes longer to fill out, you risk not discovering what people think about your app at all.
42% of users state that pop-ups annoy them terribly. Therefore, you need to be careful with pop-up strategies when trying to get more app reviews and sending users to an app store. Users may even get angry and leave a poor rating simply because you’ve annoyed them by asking for reviews too often and too insistently.
[App Store rating]
Now we’ll reveal when and how to get app feedback from your users at the post-release phase.
When and how to collect user feedback to improve your app
As we’ve mentioned, there are two main reasons to collect user feedback: to get insights into how you can improve your app and to raise your app’s rating. When you’ve only published your app on one platform, you’re probably looking to improve your software and get rid of any issues.
That’s why it’s better not to force users to leave a feedback on the App Store or Google Play Store, but to connect with you outside these platforms.
To have 80% fewer negative reviews on the app stores, let users leave a feedback inside your mobile app using feedback forms. And to ensure that your forms do their job, follow these simple tips:
Questions in forms should provide a few possible answers to simplify the user experience. These questions may relate to new features as well as existing functionality. Use multiple-choice questions and dropdown menus to help your users.
Vague questions lead to vague responses. When you need to know if your users found the new music category in your audio streaming app, ask them about it directly.
Use short feedback forms of up to two or three questions right after the app screens that you want quality feedback on. This process won’t bore your users, and you’ll obtain information that’s relevant to a particular screen and feature.
Encourage users to fill out your feedback forms by providing an incentive. This can be either an explanation of how their feedback can improve your app, or, what’s better, some kind of money equivalent, like a discount on products or services in your app. But mind the experience of UrthBox, which provided discounts only for positive reviews (that’s illegal).
According to Matt Galligan, a co-founder of the Circa News app, you should ask for feedback as natively as possible. This means that all components for gathering reviews should be custom built. Integrated forms give users a choice — they can either skip them or interact with them. What’s more, integrated forms look native and don’t irritate users. This method is perfect for any app that contains feeds — social, news, dating — but can also be used with other types of apps. In a shopping app, for instance, an integrated form can be placed after a successfully completed purchase.
Circa places an integrated rating form in the middle of a user’s news feed. The form contains a simple question: Are you enjoying Circa? If the answer is yes, the user is asked Would you like to rate us? Tapping Not really presents the user with a request to leave feedback.
[Circa’s feedback user journey]
However, you don’t have to create your own custom feedback form if you don’t want to. In this case, you can integrate a third-party service like Apptentive, which provides an SDK and suggests industry-specific templates for different scenarios.
Apptentive allows developers to show feedback forms right in the app when users trigger a certain event (for example, after a person has used some feature for the first time). All of the data collected from forms goes straight to the Apptentive server, and you can access it at any time from your Apptentive account to view visual reports and understand what improvements should be your top priority.
Users are already familiar with instant messaging forms on websites, and you can also embed a real-time messaging window into your mobile app. Letting users reach out to developers in real time can lead to fewer one-star reviews. You can either develop this feature yourself or integrate an SDK. For example, Helpshift lets app developers communicate directly with users. The company argues that embedding its service into existing apps can help reduce churn by about 40%.
Surveys are a structured and informative way to collect information on how you can better your app’s functionality and gain user loyalty outside your app and outside the app stores.
SurveyMonkey helps you create customized and branded surveys to collect feedback for your app. It also suggests templates with multiple-choice questions, checkboxes, dropdown menus, rankings, images, intro and outro pages, fields for extended answers, and more.
[Building a survey in SurveyMonkey]
Once you’ve created a survey, you can share a link to it over social networks or by email, or you can send a link to users via in-app direct messaging. The surveys themselves and the answers to them are stored on SurveyMonkey’s servers (and users will actually be redirected to the SurveyMonkey website to complete the survey). To see the reports, go your SurveyMonkey account.
Read also: How to Create a Survey App
Social networks can do you a lot of good when you’re working to enhance your software:
Create buyer personas. Social media can help you strengthen the portrait of your ideal client, letting you tailor your product to your client’s needs.
Build focus groups. You can segment your social media subscribers for future research and development. For instance, you can create threads for business people only to see if they need a new reminder feature in your productivity app.
Monitor your brand mentions (also called social listening). Brand mentions are especially important when compared to mentions of competitors. Tools like Mention and Buzzsumo can help you with social listening.
Survey members of your community. You could simply create a Google Form and ask for reviews all the people on social media groups about your app, including your potential users, to get a fresher look at your app.
Invite influencers and industry experts to give feedback on your product. Alexandr Laryanovsky, a managing partner at SkyEng (one of the biggest online ESL schools in the CIS region), often invites C-level managers from different industries to say what they think about his company. Aside from getting feedback, this is also a great promotional tool, boosting users’ interest in your app.
Yes, emails are slow. And yes, emails are often ignored. But every bit of feedback matters, so why waste such a communication channel? If you’re planning to collect feedback via email, stick to these recommendations:
Create a clear and engaging subject line. “Feedback required” isn’t so great, but if you write “Leave feedback and get a 5% discount!” users will be more likely to open the email.
Address users by name.
Tell users why they’re receiving this message.
Explain how their feedback can help your app.
Include the time required for leaving feedback.
Thank them for their help.
Add a human touch to the email copy and don’t make people feel like they’re reading a machine-generated text.
Check out an example of a great feedback email from Unsplash.
[Feedback email from Unsplash]
When and how to collect user feedback to raise your app’s rating
Once you’ve fixed your app issues and added some cool new features, you’re probably feeling more confident about your app. This means it’s time to attract more users so you can start asking them to leave reviews on the Google Play Store and App Store. Of course, you can use feedback forms, surveys, social media, direct messages in your app, and emails to get more people to rate your app. But below, we talk about the most efficient communication channel that we haven’t mentioned yet.
Pop-ups are most commonly used to boost an app’s rating. However, there’s a huge drawback to this method: instead of giving users a choice, pop-ups require interaction and interrupt the user experience. This may result in negative reviews and a poor rating, even if you don’t show pop-ups to every single user.
Pop-ups irritate people, especially when they appear on the screen every time a user opens the app. However, if placed on the right screen and at the right time, pop-ups can do you a lot of good. It’s best if you ask for a review after a user has successfully accomplished a task in your app or has become somewhat loyal, judging by the number of sessions over a certain period of time.
For example, Uber asks users to rate UberPool after they complete a few rides. If the rating users select is four or fewer starts, they can choose a reason for giving this rating.
[A pop-up requesting feedback in Uber]
The HotelTonight app follows the same strategy. It shows a pop-up asking for a review only after a user has successfully booked a room.
What do you do with the feedback you receive?
Okay, you’ve got the feedback you needed. What’s next? Respond! Depending on the info you got, you can do the following:
When you get any feedback, respond to it, no matter if it’s good or bad.
If there are issues or bugs, connect users to tech support.
If users are asking for new features, suggest early access to the next version of the app (and request feedback on it).
If you don’t understand what the user’s problem is, ask for more details.
If you have to deal with a lot of messages, assign someone to respond to them.
Once you have a stable feedback flow, you might get a little overwhelmed with all the feature and bug fix requests. Don’t worry. You don’t have to fix or implement all of them every time (actually, you won’t even have the time and resources to do so). Simply filter the feedback and then prioritize the problems and features with your team to make sure you only update or redesign your app for a good reason.
At Yalantis, handling user feedback is the main part of our work during the post-release stage. This is when we discover the issues an app has, check what users like and dislike about it, and see what changes we can implement. With this information, we can suggest vital improvements and updates to our clients. If you need help collecting and processing feedback to enhance your app, feel free to contact us!