Have you been thinking about getting your app reviewed by a popular review site like 148apps.com or AppGirlReviews.com? I’ve had a few of my customers come to me concerned because there might be another app in iTunes that happens to be slightly better, done by a large company like EA Mobile or Digital Chocolate, or has more features. Reviews by their very nature are suppose to be unbiased, so – like every 14 year old acne faced boy, they ask themselves the same question:
“What if they don’t like me?”
The fear that a bad review will hurt sales can be justified, but as CNNMoney reports – even bad reviews can drive sales!
Take their example of a the product website AlpacaDirect.com, a purveyor of Alpaca products such as sweaters, socks and yarn, considered by many as an alternative to cashmere. Recently, they hired PowerReviews, a company that provides the tools which allow consumers to leave ratings directly on your website – both good and bad.
Not all the reviews were good! Take for example this post from a customer in Santa Cruz about a pair of alpaca socks:
Comments: I’ve ordered and enjoyed the old version of this sock but it seems like they have changed and possibly the wool isn’t as “smart wool” as it used to be. Next time I’d order a man’s version, and will avoid these WOMEN’S LARGE. I went by the picture to identify the right sock to order but the product looks slightly different.
Before bringing in the PowerReviewer tool, Alpaca Direct had a page that hand picked all the best comments they had recieved about products and displayed them for customers to see. Now – they are paying out of pocket – and sometimes to have bad reviews up on their site. So why keep it up?
First of all – no one believes you when you put up your hand-picked reviews. How many reviews did you have to get before you got a good one? Consumers want to know. Sites like Yelp and CNet thrive on direct from the consumer reports because people want unbiased opinions to help guild their spending, especially in a tight budget economy.
The most impressive part however, is that Alpaca Direct has seen sales increase… even on products with bad reviews!
“A month after installing the PowerReviews service, Hobart saw sales climb 23% on items that had customer reviews (even that cardigan, which garnered an average of four stars).”
So what does that mean for iPhone developers?
At Watkins Mobile (the parent company of The Appency Press), we devise reviews into two categories – external and engine. External reviews are done by professional journalists and bloggers and are posted either online or in a print publication, a few steps away from the actual purchase.
Engine reviews are those that consumers leave in the sales engine itself (read- in iTunes, Blackberry App World, Android Marketplace, etc). These are usually gated so that only consumers that have actually downloaded the app are able to rate it and leave comments. These review sites often have major traffic – and can expose your app to new users that would be willing to download and try your program – even if the review given was not the best. This is no excuse for shoddy programming – I in no way want to encourage developers to strive for anything but the highest quality work – but you cant please all of the people all of the time.
In iTunes specifically – when you delete an application from your phone, you are allowed to give it a star rating. The problem with this, is that its not a valid picture of your consumers. People that keep the application on their phones long term often do not go back to the app store to provide comment on an app they use. This leaves us with the majority of star ratings from the (hopefully) smaller portion of consumers that are uninstalling your app.
After an email conversation with Jeff Scott, founder of 148apps.com and the O.A.T.S. group (Organization for App Testing Standards), we decided to come up with a way for developers to get reviews on their apps within the search engine that is both unbiased and inexpensive to the developers. We have put together a large app review focus group called RateMyApp, composed of consumers from all walks of life with only an iPhone as their common denominator, willing to download and leave their honest opinions of apps directly into the app store.
*please note – we DO pay the focus group back the cost of the apps – they are donating their time and we do not want them to be incurring costs*
Is it worth it? We think so. If you believe in your app, and have put in the time and energy to get it developed, it is important to get feedback from real consumers – even if sometimes its tough love.
To join our app rating panel, or to have your app rated, check out RateMyApp!