(This is a guest post from Parag Jain of Gamifyd. In promoting the studio’s past and upcoming games: Burt Destruction, Air Strike Classic, Candies With Friends and Pac Dot, he and his colleagues have learned a lot about integrating app reviews into a marketing strategy. If you would like to write a guest blog for us, please click here to send us an email.)
According to consumer behavior analysis, most buyers read product reviews before purchasing a product. But how many read app reviews before installing an app?
With more than 7 million apps in the app store and hundreds uploaded everyday, many developers get cold feet when uploading a new app to the marketplace. Getting a good app review can help ease the tension.
But getting those reviews can be tough. Developers go all out, e-mailing every app reviewer, sometimes more than twice a week, to get a review of his app done in time to coincide with the app launch. But most of the time, for whatever reason, it doesn’t happen and developers are left downtrodden and even more nervous about the success of their app.
But Why is an App Review Important?
There are a plethora of apps in various app stores and more are being uploaded every minute, so how do you get your app noticed?
Either you are a big name in the industry and reviewers are waiting to write for you, your previous app was a major success and a sequel is much awaited, or you get a review to shed some light on why your app stands out.
App reviews help to both leverage your app and bring you to the attention of reviewers who will keep a note of your future apps… This is one perspective.
Another, if you have been in the industry for sometime and have heard about SEO, you know that good SEO implementation increases organic rankings of products. In the same way, ASO (App Store Optimization) increases organic rankings of an app in the app store, and app reviews from notable sites really help.
App reviews left by users also help improve organic rankings of your app and instill trust in the minds of new users.
App Marketing Strategy
Big names in the mobile industry plan an app marketing strategy months before the launch of their app. This helps leverage the buzz around the app that particular company is working on.
Industry big shots hire marketing agencies to do the work for them, but if you have to do it on your own, a pre-planned strategy is crucial.
Try to coincide the date of the launch with a good review and social media activities relating to the app.
Viral word of mouth spreads like wildfire, so even if you don’t get an app review, then make sure at least a handful of industry leaders you trust, know about your app and have some experience with it that they can tell others about.
Getting App Reviews from Reviewers
On average, app reviewers receive more than 100 pitches per day to review new apps. Eminent companies get reviews for their apps without much hassle, but for others, you have to be really lucky.
It’s hard to get an app reviewer’s attention unless you have something extraordinarily amazing in your email subject line that makes the reviewer open your email. Apart from that you can:
- Write the uniqueness of the app in the subject line.
- Be personal with the app reviewer but not informal.
- Introduce your company and your previous work.
- Talk about the reviewer’s previous work. Let them know you are an industry expert and not an e-mail spammer.
- Along with the description of your app, attach a press kit, app screenshots & a link to the app video.
- Highlight high points in the app, and how do you plan to release a sequel (if it is a gaming app).
- Let the reviewer know what is unique in your app and how it is better than others.
- Send the app for no less than a month before you plan to launch it. An app reviewer does not work on your deadlines.
- A reminder email is suggested, but not everyday. You may e-mail after a week and then again after 10 days.
- Have a professional signature at the end of the email, with links to portals you can be contacted at.
Furthermore, here’s a good link to review sites for iOS platforms along with their Alexa ranks: http://www.reviewfordev.com/ipad-and-iphone-app-review-sites-the-list-to-promote-ios-apps.php.
Also, here’s a highly useful marketing checklist for indie game developers: http://gamedev.tutsplus.com/articles/business-articles/promoting-your-indie-game-checklist/.
App Reviews from Users
User ratings and rankings are equally important for an app as professional reviews. Good reviews and ratings in an app store help drive organic rankings for your app.
Have review submission available within your app for the best results. Prompt your users from time to time for reviews and ratings. Different app store studies show that some developers have earned positive reviews during the initial days of app installation. This is because users are enjoying the app when it’s new and go back to it quite regularly. But on the other hand, some developers believe reviews after some time of app usage are more prominent and genuine.
You have to try what works for you.
Getting paid reviews is a black hat practice and is condemned by the industry. When advertising agencies are hired for pre-launch publicity, work may be outsourced to companies that indulge in such practices. Paid reviews are a downgraded way of earning publicity that may not last long. Such a practice is unethical and will result in bad publicity once it’s caught.
Another perspective to this is that if you are an established app development company, getting reviews is no trouble, but for new and indie game developers, indulging in other practices to gain game reviews is apparent.
For those of us that aren’t industry giants, I stumbled upon a website, ReviewExchanger that allows users to exchange app reviews and works on a simple rule: you review someone’s app and they will review yours back. Other forums doing the same with certain implications is http://iphonedevsdk.com/.
Manipulation of App Reviews
The manipulation of app reviews involves maximizing positive reviews and minimizing negative ones. Some of the apps doing that well are Occipital’s 360 Panorama and Dragon Flight.
360 Panorama made a clever user interface by disintegrating their users with options like ‘Send Feedback’ and ‘Send Love’. The former directs the feedback in an email to the developers whereas the later takes them to app store review interface. The sentiment analysis in this technique is manipulation of app reviews. This practice is not black hat yet, but we can’t say if it is white hat.
Dragon Flight, on the other hand, is a top rated app with 4.5 stars and more than 30,000 ratings. The gaming app gives its users 2,000 coins automatically as a bonus when they leave a review or rating. This cannot be referred to as black hat for sure and is an intelligent way of gaining reviews – both positive and negative.
Read more about manipulation of app reviews here: http://www.90percentofeverything.com/2012/05/21/manipulating-app-store-reviews-with-dark-patterns/.
Getting app reviews is a marketing strategy that should be planned long before you launch your app and should be continued until long after the app is running. Create incentives for app reviews and don’t forget to thank users and reviewers who do the job for you. However, remember that key to a successful app is a top quality functional app, not just cool rewards for leaving feedback.
What are some practices you’ve seen gaming studios use to get app reviews? Do you think they’re ethical?
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