The above image shows the Play Store ratings of our two apps (CashBoss and CouponDunia flagship app).

The CashBoss app has received close to 970K downloads till now and is on its way to reach a million by the end of this month. While the CouponDunia app has 2.35 Million downloads and a rating of 4.4 on Play Store.

Why am I mentioning these stats?

Because Play Store ratings matter. A lot.

A study by Apptentive done recently shows that the difference between two and four stars rating could be the difference between 50,000 and 270,000 installs. It makes sense when you consider the fact that an user has a far higher chance of installing your app if it has a good rating(4+) and most of the top apps on Play Store are rated 4+.

Ratings play an important factor in Play Store search rankings too. Research show that Google Play’s search algorithm seems to take a more meritocratic approach to app discovery and visibility (compared to App Store), letting higher quality apps rise to the top.

So what should you do as an app publisher to make sure your app is rated high on the PlayStore?

Here are a few strategies which might help:

  1. Instead of asking users to rate your app every time they open the app or having an option in the menu (which everyone ignores), ask them to rate your app based on completion of some successful event. I had mentioned the same in one of my previous posts : How We Scaled CashBoss To 500K downloads in 5 months

There are a lot of events in our app after which we can ask the user to rate us.

a) An user spinning the wheel to earn bonus recharge points. b) The first time an user installs a partner app. c) Once the user gets the promised talk time.

But we know that the primary motivation for our users is to recharge their phone number with the talk time earned through CashBoss.

So we only prompt our users to rate the app after they complete their first recharge. This increases the probability of them rating us higher.

If you are a grocery app the correct time to ask would be on completion of delivery. Same as any other e commerce app.

2) We don’t take our users directly to the Play Store to rate us. If they rate us 4/5 Stars on the Rating Prompt (which appears once they complete their first recharge) then only we take them to our Play Store page. Else we ask them for feedback using Apptentive which is an amazing tool.

3) In App chat is the best way of taking feedback (getting support queries). The old way was asking the user to send a mail to your Customer support. Then the query would be processed and replied over multiple mails in the next few days. The new way is to not let the user leave the App itself.

One example is how we do this in CashBoss. We don’t want people to get mad and start complaining on the Play Store (and affect our ratings). So instead of the standard Contact Usoption to send mail we give an option to chat with our Customer Support reps on the app itself. It has led to a massive improvement in how we handle support queries and we have been consistently rated high ever since. All the conversations remain in the same chat window and the user ( or your Customer Support) need not go through multiple emails for follow up.

There are still a few users who will complain no matter what. But having a better Customer Support helps. Once you help and solve the query don’t forget to prompt the user to rate you on the Play Store if he is completely satisfied. People are far more prone to rate you negatively once you screw up than rate you favorably when you are providing a good experience.

4) **Don’t bombard your users with requests to rate your app. **Once users decline to rate CashBoss we don’t ask them again any time soon. Normally we wait for them to open the app a few more times before gently prompting them to rate us again. Have a selected waiting period (maybe 3 more re opens) for this based on the frequency of usage.

5)** Before releasing your build to production always go for a semi private beta first.** We have close to 50 beta users for CouponDunia flagship app and we try to find and solve maximum bugs before we go for a release. Nothing will make your users more angry than releasing a buggy build.

6) Never go for a major UI/UX revamp without knowing how your users might feel about it. Freecharge recently went with a new design and faced major backlash from their users. I almost wanted to uninstall their app but gave them a chance to revert the changes and get a fresh build out soon. They did that. But you can still see the impact of this change on their Play Store rating for the month of Oct. It was 3.1.

7) In case of a major mishap make amends. Remember the mail the Flipkart founders sent after the Big Billion Day of last year? You have to learn to say Sorry. Also say Thank you when people leave a positive review on your Play Store page. Encourage them to refer the app to their friends.

Always try to build a connection with your loyal users.

Reviews and ratings can have a major impact on the success/failure of your app. Try to make them work for your company.

P.S I tweet interesting stuff here: @manas_saloi