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The Effective Way to Ask for an App Review

Posted by Padraig on Feb 26, 2014

App Store Reviews and the ways developers should (or shouldn’t) go about asking users for them has been a widely discussed topic lately.

John Gruber linked to a tweet about the developers of Threesasking for reviews in their release notes.

So not only is Threes an amazing iPhone game, they prompt for App Store reviews in a classy way too.

Over the last few releases of Castro, we’ve also been experimenting with this approach. As well as being more polite than prompting with an alert view in the app, we’ve seen that this dramatically increases the number of reviews we get when an update comes out.

Release notes are one of the only places where we get to communicate with our users. We think “Bug fixes” is a wasted opportunity so Castro release notes are always pretty detailed. Beginning with 1.0.5 we added the following simple request at the end:

If you like Castro, please take the time to give us a nice review: it really helps.

Castro 1.0.4 had received 10 App Store reviews in the first three days of its release. After three days 1.0.5 had 48.

We wondered if the dramatic increase was a coincidence so when 1.0.6 was released we left the request out. Three days later we had only 4 new reviews, after a week we had 8. It took three weeks to get 24 reviews, half of what we had after three days for the previous version.

When we released 1.0.7 we added the request to the end of the release notes again and within three days we had 45 new reviews and a five star rating.

Asking politely at the end of your release notes is an effective way to encourage users to leave you a review without compromising the user experience within your app.

Update: We’ve heard a few suggestions that users don’t read release notes any more because of iOS 7 auto updating apps. We think the data shows that our most engaged users do seek information on updates though, and by giving actual details about what’s changed we can keep them interested. These are the users who are most amenable to leaving a review so the request at the end has an impact.

Fionntán O'Donnell pointed out that the data may be better visualised by showing reviews per day over time. Here it is:

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