How Do App Ratings Affect ASO?

Published by Drew Johnson · November 30 2023
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Okay, so before we get ahead of ourselves, you might be asking, “What is ASO?” and the concise answer is: ASO stands for “app store optimization”, a similar process to search engine optimization, with the goal of making your app stand out from the competition within the App Store. ASO focuses on increasing organic traffic to your app listings by creating and distributing highly rated content that naturally ranks higher on search results, charts, and in other placements. In short, by creating a high-quality digital product and following app store optimization best practices in your marketing efforts you too can reap all the rewards that ASO has to offer.

What happens when my app rating is low?

A couple of common issues with poorly rated and reviewed apps are: One, low discoverability, a.k.a. Apple burying your app in their search results. Which is bad if you rely on organic search traffic. Like, really bad. The further down your app is listed in search results, the less likely it is to be discovered, and if no one can find it then they’re probably not downloading it. Two, it can impact perception of your brand, damaging your overall brand halo.

What is a good app rating?

It depends. Different verticals have different baselines. For example, a good app rating for a fitness app might be lower or higher than a good app rating for an eCommerce app. Based on data from Statista we can see the best apps had an average rating of just 3.35, across all categories. As an average, this is a good number to shoot for—it might not be high enough to beat your competitors though. You’ll want to set a goal that puts you on equal footing or above your competitors if you want to surface above them in search results.

How do app ratings impact my company?

In addition to making your app less searchable, your brand might also suffer from some negative consequences related to brand halo. In short, if a customer has a poor experience with one of your products and now believes it’s low quality, they might judge your other products in a similar light. This can be a big issue for companies that are new to the market, where users are still forming opinions about your brand. No one wants to make a bad first impression.

How to improve app ratings

Thankfully, there are tons of ways you can improve your app ratings. Below are a couple that are easy to implement and are worth their weight in gold, you can use these to make your own app store optimization checklist. If you’re a little underwater currently then you also might consider hiring an agency that offers app store optimization services, especially for top-of-funnel marketing techniques like picking the most effective app title or adding meaningful keywords to your listing. Additionally, you might want to use a method like the Pareto technique to decide which improvements to make first.

UX improvements

First, identify and implement quick-and-easy fixes—these don’t take a ton of time to deploy and can have big impacts on your app's overall usability. Focus on the basics: typography, easy-to-navigate menus, and following mobile accessibility guidelines. If your app isn’t usable you’re unlikely to engage and retain users. Second, read your app reviews. Users will tell you what’s right or wrong with your app. Feedback is super valuable, it not only helps you identify areas of opportunity for your UX design but also helps with ASO as apps with reviews are often better positioned than those that lack any user feedback.

How to respond to App Store reviews

At this point, you might be thinking, “This sounds like a lot of work, can app developers delete reviews?” While we appreciate your, let’s call it bias-for-efficiency, there are two things to note here:

  1. No, app developers can’t delete any reviews in Apple’s app store. Only Apple has that power, they use a flagging system to help identify reviews that might violate their standards.

  2. We can’t recommend trying to get legitimate app reviews deleted anyway—this kind of feedback is vital to your entire product team, embracing it is a great way to learn from your users and get unique insights into what’s driving them to use your app. We recommend strategically engaging with user reviews, try the following techniques:

    • Positive feedback: For big reviews that are text-heavy and have a positive overall sentiment, let them know that you appreciate their comments and thank them for using the app. You don’t need to do this for every review, just for the standout ones.
    • Minor issues: Thank the user for their review, and let them know they’ve been heard. People like knowing that you’re taking their feedback into consideration, some users will even change their review if they receive a reply.
    • Major issues: Provide an apology and a point of contact for the user to reach out to. Make sure you’re being compassionate and taking their complaints seriously, you’ll want to follow up with them if they reach out via email, DM, or whatnot. Providing top-notch customer service is a surefire way to help your app succeed.

Why are app store reviews important?

Reviews exist to help potential users make decisions. They also provide invaluable feedback to product designers, developers, and managers. Ratings and reviews are an integral part of the app store experience. To review, they also have an impact on your overall ranking and are an important part of ASO. Asking your users to provide feedback can seem scary, but by following best practices around requesting feedback you’re sure to start collecting useful data in no time.

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