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How to Improve Your App Rating: The Journey to 5-Star Success

Whitney Filloon
Author Whitney Filloon
Published On Jul 11, 2023
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When mobile presence is a key part of your brand’s digital strategy, delivering an exceptional app experience must be a top priority. From a seamless user interface to innovative features, the goal is to create an app that not only serves its purpose, but surpasses user expectations. One clear sign that you've hit the mark? That coveted 5-star rating in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. It's an acknowledgement that your app stands out from the crowd and a testament to your commitment to excellence.

But if you take a stroll through the app stores, it quickly becomes clear that not every app achieves this 5-star status — or even comes close. Why is that? And more importantly, how can your brand bridge        the gap?

The Importance of Mobile App Ratings

When it comes to user feedback, mobile apps are a different beast compared to the web.

App ratings carry a substantial influence on user perception, and ultimately, your app's triumph or downfall. They provide a swift, at-a-glance insight into your app's quality and reliability. A high rating can serve as the nudge a user on the fence needs to decide to download your app. Conversely, a mediocre rating might be enough to deter users, regardless of the actual quality and functionality of your app.

When it comes to user feedback, mobile apps are a different beast compared to the web. While there isn't a universal platform for leaving or viewing feedback on your brand’s website, the App Store and Google Play centralize user feedback, making it an accessible and influential force in shaping public opinion about your app and your brand. Each star and every comment helps craft your app's image in the public domain, for better or for worse.

This centralization affords a unique opportunity, enabling brands to tap into a vast reservoir of direct user feedback that’s conveniently collected and organized. Users who leave reviews are typically up front about sharing their experiences — the good, the bad, and everything in between — offering invaluable insights into user experiences, preferences, and dislikes. What's working? What's falling short? What do users want that you're not providing? The answers to these pivotal questions lie within your app's ratings and reviews. This feedback, if utilized judiciously, can chart the course of your app's evolution and refinement, steering it towards that coveted 5-star rating.

The significance of a 5-star rating extends beyond mere perception. According to a report from Apptentive, 79% of consumers scrutinize ratings and reviews before downloading an app. Apps with ratings below 3 stars experience a notable drop in downloads. A high rating can therefore dramatically boost conversion rates. In fact, Alchemer reports that while only 50% of users consider downloading an app rated 3 stars, that figure jumps to 89% for apps with a 4-star rating.

The app stores’ search algorithms also favor apps with higher ratings, increasing their visibility and discoverability. As a result, a 5-star rating is more than a badge of honor — it's a powerful tool for attracting and retaining users, driving downloads, and ensuring the long-term success of your mobile app.

What’s Really Driving Your App’s Current Rating?

The first step towards transforming your app rating is to pinpoint what exactly is behind your app's current rating. It's important to identify whether the rating is due to the app itself, or external factors like customer service issues.

Numerous tools exist to facilitate your in-depth review and analysis of app ratings. Platforms like App Annie and Apptopia offer comprehensive analytics that can help you track and understand your app's performance in the marketplace. Similarly, AI sentiment analysis tools like AppBot and Kraftful can help parse app reviews, summarizing the general sentiment behind a user’s words and providing valuable insights into sentiment trends.

Once you've sifted through the feedback and isolated the comments related directly to the app, it's time to face the negative feedback head-on. These comments are a gold mine of information that can tell you where your app falls short in meeting user expectations and show you where to focus your resources to make crucial improvements.

To effectively analyze this feedback, you'll need to identify and validate the UX and engineering issues reported by users. Look for common complaints or themes, as they may indicate a genuine issue that needs to be addressed.

You’ll also want to be mindful of the difference between actual issues and a lack of features when compared to competitors. If users are lamenting the absence of a feature that competitors provide, it doesn't necessarily point to a flaw in your app. But it does indicate an area where you could potentially expand and improve, adding more value to your user experience and inching closer to that 5-star rating.

What’s Keeping Your App From Achieving 5 Stars?

At Heady, we've had the opportunity to work on a wide range of apps across industries and along the way, we've noticed some common challenges that tend to pop up. Here's a rundown of these issues and a brief explanation of how addressing them can turn your app into a top-rated one:

Failing to Harness Mobile Capabilities: Mobile apps that simply replicate their website counterparts without taking advantage of the unique features and benefits of mobile technology miss out on opportunities to elevate the user experience. For example, integrating the camera feature can be hugely beneficial for a retail app that wants to offer a virtual try-on feature or a banking app that allows users to deposit checks via photo. This kind of thoughtful integration of mobile-specific features can significantly improve UX and, in turn, the app's rating.

Inconsistent User Experience Across Platforms: A disjointed experience between the desktop version of a platform and its mobile app can be jarring to users. The key lies in maintaining consistency while optimizing the app for mobile use.

Cross-Platform Compatibility Issues: An app that doesn't work smoothly across a range of devices, screen sizes, and operating systems, or fails to integrate well with device-specific features, can be severely limiting. Prioritizing broad compatibility can boost user satisfaction and your app's rating.

Inefficient Communication and Error Handling: What information do users need, and when? Information delivery should be timed and prioritized effectively for the best user experience. Also, efficient management of UI states like empty, loading, and error states can greatly enhance user comprehension and satisfaction, and clear error messages and guidance on the next steps can prevent user confusion and frustration.

Poor Navigation and User Interface: A complicated navigation structure, unattractive design, or unintuitive user flows can lead to a disappointing user experience. An intuitive, easy-to-navigate, and aesthetically pleasing UI/ UX is critical to user satisfaction and higher app ratings.

Performance Issues and Bugs: Slow loading times, unresolved bugs, and frequent crashes are surefire ways to rack up negative reviews. Investing time in optimizing your code, reducing file sizes, and performing thorough testing can result in a smooth, responsive app that delights users.

Lack of Updates and Support: If an app isn't regularly updated with bug fixes, new features, or adjustments for new operating systems, it can quickly fall out of favor. Couple that with unresponsive customer support, and you have a recipe for disgruntled users and low ratings.

Security and Privacy Concerns: Weak security can lead to data breaches, and poor handling of users' personal data can create privacy issues. Both of these can damage user trust and negatively impact your app rating. Robust security measures and stringent data handling practices can help maintain user trust and ensure higher ratings.

Taking The Next Step: Paving A Path To 5-Star Success

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After identifying and understanding these common issues that might be impacting your app's rating, the next critical phase is formulating an effective strategy to resolve these problems. At Heady, we're not just diagnosing issues, we're helping our clients find solutions. Our goal is to turn every stumbling block into a stepping stone on the path to mobile app success. With a customer-centric approach, we channel our expertise to turn feedback into action, paving the way for our clients to go from swimming in a sea of average ratings to scaling the summit of 5-star reviews.

The proof of our successful approach is in our satisfied clients who have transformed their app experiences from so-so to stellar. Read on to learn how we've helped brands brands like Hibbett Sports and Motel 6 win over their user base with top-rated apps.

Heady Client Success Stories

When mobile presence is a key part of your brand’s digital strategy, delivering an exceptional app experience must be a top priority. From a seamless user interface to innovative features, the goal is to create an app that not only serves its purpose, but surpasses user expectations. One clear sign that you've hit the mark? That coveted 5-star rating in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. It's an acknowledgement that your app stands out from the crowd and a testament to your commitment to excellence.

But if you take a stroll through the app stores, it quickly becomes clear that not every app achieves this 5-star status — or even comes close. Why is that? And more importantly, how can your brand bridge        the gap?

Hibbett Sports:
Harnessing The Power Of User Feedback

Our long-term partnership with nationwide sports retailer Hibbett Sports began in 2018 when we took over the management and enhancement of their ecommerce app. At the outset, the Hibbett | City Gear app’s rating hovered around 3 stars. Our mission wasn't just about adding new features, but improving what already existed based on invaluable user feedback.

As we launched and enhanced features for Hibbett, such as their proprietary sneaker raffle program, we drew heavily from customer reviews. This feedback allowed us to strike a balance between meeting customer demands and surprising them with unique new offerings. Importantly, reviews underscored the link between app engagement and how fair (or not) the raffles were perceived to be. With this insight, we reshaped the raffle experience to ensure fairness was highlighted at every stage.

Our efforts elevated the Hibbett | City Gear app to the Top 50 shopping apps with a current 4.8-star rating in the App Store. User feedback continues to guide us in tracking issues, assessing updates, and strategizing feature rollouts. As we continue to manage the lifecycle of Hibbett’s app, our work together underlines the power of truly listening to users and making iterative enhancements in transforming an existing product into a top-tier app.

 

“They’ve successfully built and managed a proprietary raffle system that has proven to be a major driver of revenue and 4.8 star rated mobile app that now has over 1 million monthly active users.”

Hibbett Sports

Motel 6: Boosting Ratings Through Bug Fixes

Our collaboration with Motel 6 started with an unusual challenge: The My6 app ratings were significantly influenced by location-specific customer service issues, pushing ratings in the App Store and Google Play Store as low as 2 stars. To accurately reflect the app's performance, we reset the App Store ratings regularly and engaged with reviewers, guiding them to evaluate based on app functionality rather than individual experiences.

When we inherited the My6 app, it came with an extensive backlog of bugs, many causing disruptive crashes during the booking process. We promptly integrated Google Firebase Crashlytics into the app, enabling us to swiftly locate and resolve these issues and significantly improving the user experience.

Through regular updates that balanced feature enhancements with bug fixes, we reduced the known defects to near zero, and the app ratings rose accordingly to more than 4 stars. This transformation showcases the impact of proactive bug management and iterative improvements, especially in the face of unique external challenges.

Taking Your App to 5 Stars With Heady

Elevating your app to a 5-star rating is more of a marathon than a sprint. It requires an intimate knowledge of what makes a mobile app successful, a keen understanding of user sentiment, and a meticulous and systematic approach to implementing the needed changes, along with the resources to make it all happen. Not every team has the bandwidth in-house to tackle every user-flagged issue, and that's where having an expert tech partner like Heady in your corner is key.

We don't just pinpoint your app's problems; we devise a detailed plan of action to address them effectively. Our expertise spans across the entire improvement process, from analyzing user reviews and distinguishing critical issues worth addressing to implementing bug fixes and developing, testing, and releasing in-demand new features. Our multidisciplinary approach encompasses everything from strategy, UI, and UX to backend issues, leaving no room for error and ensuring every aspect of your mobile app is tuned towards that coveted 5-star rating.

As the trusted partner behind top-rated apps for brands like Hibbett Sports, Melissa Wood Health, and Heyday Skincare, our clients’ long-term success is everything to us. We’re not in this for quick fixes, but to craft winning strategies that prepare your app for both present and future challenges.

Your journey to a 5-star app begins with a thorough app audit. We'll take a comprehensive look at your app to determine the best path forward that not only meets your business needs but also delights your users. Ready to upgrade your app to 5 stars? Let's chat.

LET'S TALK IT OUT.

Figuring out your next step? We're here for you.

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