Do you like me?

Unless you know me or are a steady reader of this blog I can’t imagine you would be ready to answer that question.

In fact, you’re likely leaning towards no.

It’s obvious why people don’t ask that question when they first meet someone.

Despite this being so common, I see apps asking me to review them in the app store within the first 10 minutes.

New users are delicate. The slightest nudge in the wrong direction can turn them off from your app forever. In fact, 80-90% of users delete an app after using it just once.

However it is important to ask your users to rate your app on the app store. Few of your users will be proactive enough to go to the app store and rate it on their own unless you have a stand out app.

Your users need to be pushed to rate your app. Otherwise it will never show up in results and potential users will be reluctant to try it out.

Whenever you ask your users to review your app, the timing needs to make complete sense. If you don’t give them enough time to play with your app and learn how it works, you end up rushing them. When you rush your users to make a decision, it will leave a bad taste in their mouth. When you leave a bad taste in your user’s mouth, they will translate that foul taste in as an app review.

Image from Kissmetrics

There is only one situation where it makes sense to ask for an app review from your user.

After they experience the core value of your app.

This is the only time I have found where it makes sense to ask a user to rate your app if you’re looking for constructive feedback and/or positive reviews.

This is important if you want to sustain high app store ratings and improve your app.

If you’re creating a messaging app, ask your users to rate your app after they’ve sent at least 20 messages. By then it should be clear that your app generates some sense of value for them.

If you’re creating a social network, then ask people to review your app after they’ve added a few of their friends and interacted with them. You wouldn’t ask someone to rate your app if they’ve never used it.

“But what if I want to use the app store to see how I can improve my app?”

Your app store reviews is not a support center.

If your users have a problem with your app, don’t give them the option to release their frustration on your app store rating. Instead, make a prompt come up asking them to explain their frustrations. Keep it private. Not everyone in the world needs to know that your app is buggy.

In fact, the best customers are the ones with the problems. By giving your users an avenue to express their frustrations, you open an opportunity to turn a frustrated user into an evangelist by providing exceptional customer service.

If you’re looking to turn frustrated users around I recommend using Helpshift. Their product creates a very simple instant communication avenue with your users.

Those who like you give you five stars. Those who love you give you four.

A common mistake I see when founders are reading their app reviews is focusing too much on one and five star ratings.

App reviews on the app store

I have a problem with anything using the Likert scale because you end up with a U-shaped results. You have a lot of five star ratings, a lot of one star ratings, and very few of everything in between.

One star ratings are almost useless. The only time they make sense is when there is a huge flaw such as frequent crashing. Other times they’re a user who had a bad experience at no fault of your app. For example, this person gave a waterfall mapping app a one star review because they got stung by wasps.

One star ratings generally aren’t helpful. Five star ratings aren’t much better.

Thoughtful five star reviews are great for finding out what users love about your app. While this may be great for your team’s focus, it doesn’t give you much in terms of improvement or news.

Users who rate your app between 2-4 stars want to see you succeed. These are the reviewers that give the thoughtful constructive criticism.

They will tell you what they like, what they don’t like, and what they think could be done for improvement.

Conclusion

If you’re asking your users to rate your app, make sure you’re doing it in a timely manner. Don’t rush them to form an opinion when they haven’t had enough time to experience the benefit of the app.

One star and five star app reviews will not be as helpful for information to improve your app. Instead focus on the 2-4 star reviews.

When do you ask your users to rate your app? How has it worked out for you so far? Tweet your answer to www.twitter.com/willietran_ or reply in the comments below.