If you’re considering developing an app (or if you have an app already), reviews are your bread and butter.
Glad you asked!
To start, apps with a high review volume are indexed higher on the app store. Meaning, the more reviews your app gets -> the greater the exposure.
The second reason reviews are so vital, is because they will tell you the EXACT demand in the market. We call this strategy Review Mining.
Use the steps below to learn how to create an explosive app using reviews.
Step 1: Dialing Your Idea
A lot of app ideas are formed during casual conversation. Two people are talking about something, and those magical words erupt – “we should make an app for that!”
Unfortunately…market research goes a little bit further than a 30 second conversation with a friend. We need actual PROOF that there’s a demand in the market.
The best place to start for validating an app idea, is in reviews!
Start by searching for apps similar to your idea in the app store and read the reviews. The good, the bad…ALL OF THEM!
You will quickly learn what users like, dislike, limitations in the app, and technical issues.
Check out this screenshot example:
By using app reviews for market research, you can find new ways to make your app unique, and gain a competitive edge.
You and your team should become intimately familiar with competitors’ apps. While testing apps and reading reviews, ask yourself the following:
- What is the app’s overall rating?
- What type of reviews is the app getting? Are they mostly positive or negative?
- What improvements are the reviews suggesting? What’s it missing?
- What’s the demographic of the person leaving the review?
Action Item: Spend 1-2 hours this week going through app reviews and taking notes on things your app could approve on. Click here to get the exact Google Sheet we use to track reviews. You can also use services like App Annie and Mobile Action for review tracking.
Step 2: Outside Voices
Reviews from apps themselves are the best place to start, but people talk about apps outside the app store too.
To find out what people are saying about an app outside the app store, start by searching the app name on Google. Next, poke around review sites, tech sites, bloggers, vloggers, discussion boards, and forums.
Also start to get a picture of who your target audience is. Are they teenagers? Males? US based?
Here’s some important traits to know about your audience:
- Age- how old are your users? What age range will most likely download and use your app? What are they into? What other apps or technologies do they use? What are their preferred digital channels of communication? How can you deepen their engagement? What types of content/ads will be most effective when it comes to reaching this audience?
- Gender- will your users be mostly male or female? Or, will both men and women use the app equally? Based on this information, you will have to make design and messaging decisions. If you have a mixed user base, you will have to come up with a design and UX that appeals to both genders.
- Location– will your users be local, national or international? Do they live in urban, suburban, or rural areas? What languages do they speak? How do they speak? For example: are your users looking for a refined/sophisticated tone, a playful or friendly voice, or a technical/expert tone?
- Income– do your users have disposable income to make in app purchases? If so, how much? What kind of pricing scale will you create to help drive purchase decisions?
- Write down 5 traits about your audience
- Go onto Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest…and search for an app. There’s a very good chance the app has a social media presence. Research how the developer interacts with followers, and how the followers react. Are they posting positive or negative comments?
Step 3: 1-On-1 Validation
The coolest part about being in the app business, is the ability to interact with your competitors and your audience. You will save a lot of time, money, and hassle by communicating with others.
Example: you’re review mining a photography app that uses filters just like Instagram. While checking the reviews, you notice that people like the app, but they want more filters.
You continue reading the reviews, and you notice more and more people are asking for filters.
Why isn’t this guy adding more filters?!?! His users clearly like the product and are willing to pay for more photo filters. What’s the holdup?
It’s your job to research what the user wants, and deliver.
Now that you’ve captured the demand, it’s time to execute. To understand the true demand of a user, you need to reach out to them. This is the definition of Market Research.
Contact the user by finding their Apple ID in the review post and performing a Google search. Another method (I actually prefer this one), is to visit the app’s social media page and start interacting with followers in chat and messages.
Action Item: Contact someone who uses the app you’re researching. Start by browsing through the app’s social media pages.
Once you’ve got your idea fleshed out and know your audience, the next step is talking with other app developers; doing so will help you avoid costly and time-consuming mistakes, and can give you access to insights. Like in any other industry connecting with your peers is invaluable and may even result in future opportunities for collaboration.
We have some of the best top developers in our Bluecloud Select community. It’s a great resource to ask questions, network, and gain insights.
You can network with app developers in-person too. Attend app developer meetups, mobile app development workshops, or mobile technology conferences and events to make industry contacts and learn from experienced leaders and developers who have successfully launched their own apps.
Using app reviews for market research and connecting with your peers, can help you create a better app that’s 100X more likely to succeed in today’s digital space. It takes a lot of time, dedication, energy, and research to make sure an app is market-ready, but taking the time out in the ideation, development, and testing phases can help you save time and money, and create an app users will want to download and use over and over again.
Nice post Carter! This is an excellent way for new app developers to create the best MVP to launch with since they will know all of the most desirable features to include in the first iteration. I also love the tips on how to do audience research through these reviews and social conversations. Great stuff, I’m going to be including this post in our weekly roundup on Friday. Keep a look out:)
@Ron – thanks man!
App reviews is a critical part of marketing research, indeed. Along with competitor’s analysis, it provides you with full set of opportunities at the beginning of the app development process. Wish you to get only positive reviews!
Good article, Carter!
Information about our competitors and their strong and weak points – our main source of inspiration)
Use all what we can – reviews, social conversations…
But further we have 2 ways:
give people what they need, or let people know that they need it)
Very useful tips for a recent app developer like me! love to follow them thanks for sharing these!!
Very useful, thank you.
Thanks Carter for the helpful post. How can I find a user’s Apple ID in the review post? (I can usually see the nickname under which they post reviews – but not sure where to find the apple ID)
This info is visible in your iTunes Connect developer dashboard:
1. In iTunes Connect, click My Apps on the homepage and then select your app.
2. In the toolbar, click Activity.
3. Under the platform in the left column, click Ratings and Reviews. For tvOS, click Ratings.
4. The ratings and reviews appear on the right.