How to respond to negative and positive app reviews

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Anatoly Sharifulin
How to respond to negative and positive app reviews

Table of Content:

  1. Why do you need to manage app reviews
  2. How to start responding to app reviews
  3. Strategy to ratings, reviews, and responses
    • Strategy 1: Reply to all reviews
    • Strategy 2: Reply to Featured/Helpful reviews
    • Strategy 3: Reply to reviews with changed ratings
    • Strategy 4: Respond to negative app reviews
  4. How to optimize review management and reach your KPIs.
  5. How to choose the right strategy
  6. Takeaways

Getting users’ feedback is so unbelievably easy now, thanks to mobile. User reviews in app stores are a valuable channel of communication with users, giving you a chance to fix issues they may experience. Answer users’ questions and respond to reviews — that will help you increase app rating and conversion rate, improve the product, get loyal users and, in general, increase app revenue.

Mobile games and apps have plenty of ways to learn user feedback. The most obvious one is through reviews in the app stores. Funny enough, very few of them (if any at all) are read and answered by the developers. It’s hard to see a direct connection between responding to app reviews and seeing more installs or direct revenue growth. User retention is a well-observable metric that helps to gauge the effectiveness of your efforts, though.

Why do you need to manage app reviews

Before downloading or buying anything, users will always get to read the reviews first.

Source: Apptentive

That's why other customer experience is a critical point in their decision-making regarding your app. Thus, you must reply to user reviews regularly and proactively. But how to measure the efficiency of responding to reviews?

Don’t expect miraculous results the second you begin your online reputation management efforts. Just like with other app store optimization activities, the results will mount up over time, weeks and months later. However, their impact can be so unbelievably resultative. We’re talking about better user retention, higher ratings, better conversion, and subsequently - better revenue.

"Every day, developers respond to more than 100,000 reviews in the Play Console, and when they do, we've seen that users update their rating by +0.7 stars on average." — Google I/O 2019

Now, you will learn how to respond to reviews in the App Store, Google Play Store and, in fact, any app stores. If you’ve never worked with the mobile user reviews, you'll see the first positive results very soon. If you’ve already done that and didn’t see much, our tips will help you improve and automate your work to get positive results soon. You will also learn more about the common mistakes to avoid.

How to start responding to app reviews

You should get started by encouraging your users to provide it. It’s a common occurrence when developers forget to ask the users for this crucial feedback. Sometimes it's the opposite — you ask to rate the app at every turn, and a kind invitation to provide feedback turns into annoying popups that ruin the experience.

Think of a moment when your users had a chance to experience the main area of your app — give them some time — and go for it! But don’t be hasty — otherwise, you’ll shoot yourself in the foot.

Then, after you get some reviews, it’s time to answer. Make sure your answers are clear and concise. What you say should clearly address the issues or respond to feedback. No tippy-toeing around dismissive “thank you for your feedback” when it really means nothing.

Source: Apptentive

Pay close attention to bugs submitted by your users as they may be paramount to tackling critical issues early on. Even simple communication can be a great start to establishing rapport with your few vocal users and let them know you care.


Strategy to ratings, reviews, and responses

There is more to answering reviews than simply blasting all cannons at once and answering all reviews. What you do should be strategic and maximize the benefit of your effort. As your business grows, you will get more reviews and you will have to choose which reviews will get your team’s valuable time.

Here are a few strategies on responding to reviews in Google Play and the App Store to consider.

Strategy 1: Reply to all reviews

When to use it

Use it when your app has been in the store less than 6 months, when you work with reviews for the first time, or when your support team can handle replying to all of them.

Monitor all the reviews in the app store you receive. It’s especially important for a new app, as the reviews help to get feedback right from the start, or after a new feature launch. In a way, it can be referred to as a customer development methodology: what users are new, how fast they learned to work with a product, what they liked or didn’t like, etc.

After the app launch, replying fast is not as crucial as replying right. The focus must be on users’ opinions and helping them to learn how to use an app. If they’re not able to figure out how to use it and you don’t assist them properly, they will definitely go to your competitors. New users will only see problems and negative reviews when visiting your app page, which will drop the conversion rate.

Being a loyal customer, a user had difficulties with the service and mentioned them in their review:


It’s important to respond to such reviews, as more users will then see that everything works with no bugs. Remember that if your customers are satisfied with your help, they can update the feedback to a higher rate.

How to start

Start following reviews on Slack, Discord, or email. Choose the services that will enable you to send replies easily  —  the faster you get notified about the problem, the faster your team will be able to handle it. You can also write to your users that you have been currently working on fixing the issues.

Android developers are able to get feedback from alpha and beta testers even before publishing their apps. Access to reviews is available through Slack and the console, which makes it possible to start replying right away. Beta reviews are considered as working with users, the only difference being that they are not published on Google Play and don’t affect ratings and rankings.

If you want to receive app reviews the moment they are left, consider trying an online reputation management tool by AppFollow. It allows you to easily sort reviews by rating, app version, country, changes and more along with the replies to them. This feedback doesn’t get published on Google Play, which is very important when you test new features.

If your support team is already using a help desk service, include app store reviews into their current regime and start getting reviews through the service of your choice. We use Zendesk, Salesforce, Helpshift, Help Scout, Intercom, Freshdesk, and other services.

Read here on how to respond to reviews after the app launch using the example of the Babycare & Breastfeeding app.

Strategy 2: Reply to Featured/Helpful reviews

When to use it

Use this reputation management strategy when there are few app reviews (more than 50 reviews per week), and when negative ones are less than 10% (1–2*)

The reviews that got featured show up on the app page on the App Store and Google Play. The App Store publishes 6 reviews, while Google Play shows 3 reviews on smartphones and 4 reviews on the web page. Every country has its own language and specific reviews, so it’s important to divide the countries and locations and work with them separately.

These reviews are the most important for install-to-conversion rates, as most users only get an impression of the app based on the first reviews in the app store they will see. If most of them are complaints, it can only have a negative effect on the number of installs.

First featured review on the App Store. A customer complains about a flight canceled without warning and with no refund of money. The review, with no response or apologies, is the first one that catches other users’ attention


How to start

You can use filters on AppFollow to reply to such reviews faster and do online reputation management better. Monitor user reviews that are becoming popular in different countries and how many likes they get and reply to them immediately. You can do that in consoles or in various mobile app review monitor tools.

Go to the AppFollow’s Ratings & Reviews section and filter reviews by “Featured reviews”. You can do it for any app, country and period of time.


If you receive reviews in team chat or a help desk, you can choose to get only Feature/Helpful reviews or set up a separate channel for them. This can be done when connecting integrations in AppFollow. Just filter the Featured reviews you receive by language and ratings, press “Add Integration” and voila.


Remember that everyone will see your response to a featured review. Try to ensure your customers that the issues they have experienced will be fixed shortly, and if necessary, try to continue communication via email. Make sure to inform users that you’ve taken care of their problems. To make it work faster, use tags to find the specific tickets; e.g. “update reply” or “problem with sign-in registration”. You can also ask users to change your app rating when they update their feedback. In this way, you’ll increase your rankings.

An app page displays 6 Featured reviews in the App Store. In Google Play, it displays 3 reviews on smartphones and 4 on desktops. These reviews are different for each country and language. App Store Connect and Google Play Console don't highlight these separately, which is why you can spend up to an hour searching for them in 10 countries for an iOS app, and more than half an hour for an Android app.

How to grow your app sales through responding to featured reviews.

Strategy 3: Reply to reviews with changed ratings

When to use it

When you need to raise your average rating after an unsuccessful release, grow user loyalty, or quickly find a problem.

App store reviews give users a way to talk about a problem or influence how their favorite game develops. Users can also leave just one review before changing the content and rating. They can drop it if something breaks or isn't to their liking or raise it if the developer gets back on track. When you react to changing reviews, you are guaranteed to find out about an unexpected glitch, unusual gameplay, or increasing loyalty.

If a user raises their rating, that means that they started to view the product more favorably. 74% of users increase their rating after receiving a response from the app's developer. If you reply to an updated review, you can affect that user's loyalty even more. The most recent reply is shown under the review. If the previous answer helps others (to find a level, for example), keep the original text.

how to respond to reviews on google

How to get started

An unsuccessful release or bug can lead users to lower their ratings. If you can't resolve the issue quickly, let users know you're working on fixing it. Don't wait until repairs are complete. When you resolve the issue, update your reply and tell everyone who complained that you've fixed everything. Tag the reviews you need to find them quickly.


If you want to react more quickly to negative comments, change the settings in your favorite help desk service to only get reviews that have decreased ratings. That way, you can quickly respond to let the user know that their feedback is important.

All integrations with team chats and help desks have a filter for changed ratings. Source:

Strategy 4: Respond to negative app reviews

When to use it

Start when your app has lots of negative reviews (1–3*), more than 10–15%.

By responding only to negative reviews, you solve the users’ problems and make it less stressful for the support team. The more unhappy customers you can help and turn into happy ones, the higher your app rating and conversion to install will be.

According to our research at AppFollow, users who leave 2-star reviews share their opinion most often, while users who give 2-3 stars are more willing to increase their rating after receiving your response. The more dissatisfied users our replies help, the higher our rating and conversion rate will be.

Unable to log in, the user gave an app only 1*. Support managers were fast enough to assist him on Helpshift, and the user changed the rating to 5*.

Source: Helpshift

How to start

  • Monitor negative reviews with the help of a reputation management tool and receive them in a service used by your support team like Slack, Zendesk, Help Scout, Intercom, Helpshift, and AppFollow dashboard. With these services, you can reply to all reviews in the App Store and Google Play without any redirection to app stores.

    When setting up an integration for app reviews in AppFollow, choose what reviews you want to receive, add the integration and enjoy automated sorting and saving time on looking for negative reviews on Google Play, the App Store or any other store you are interested in.
  • Work with positive and negative reviews separately. For example, negative ones go straight to Help Desk or a dedicated chat on Slack for immediate reaction. The rest of the messages should be sent to the service most convenient for analysis, such as Slack, Discord, or email.
  • Tag the negative reviews and use semantic analysis to define what the users complain about most often. Make tags with the most common issues, such as “registration bug” or “update bug”. It will help if you can find a similar template and reply in time.
  • Use response templates. This will take less time to reply to negative reviews asking users for more details or reassuring them that update bugs will be fixed. Prepare two or three templates for each tag with issuers, and reply within a couple of seconds.
  • Monitor the updated reviews. As a reputation management system, AppFollow offers a “Became better/Became worse” filter. It shows whether the users change their reviews for the better (which means that the response strategy and support team are working well), or worse (check how fast and efficiently support managers are working). In this case, you may need to change the template response, or not use it completely.

This app saw a wave of negative reviews after a bad release in August. They needed to release 3 more builds to decrease the number of dissatisfied users.


To identify the exact problems your users complain about, go to Semantic analysis and check pie charts with bugs, topics and a wordcloud that will show you the most used words.


How to optimize review management and reach your KPIs.

  1. Set up notifications about critical reviews. Learn about the problem and reply quickly to get a higher rating from the users. Without getting notifications, you may take a week or more to find a review and reply to it, and lose the chance to improve rating and attract new customers.
  2. Do not rely on previous replies. Users don’t remember what you wrote previously and won’t start searching for moments where you respond to reviews. When asking the questions, they want to be replied to specifically. Every time a user updates a review, go ahead and update your reply.
  3. Let users know you’ve fixed their bugs. Show your customers that you are working on the problems they have faced. Fix the bugs in a new release, and update a reply to those asking (use tags to find these particular messages). Also, try to ask the users to give high ratings, and the conversion rate will go up. Publish what you’ve changed in the What’s New section. (Yes, users still read those, and update their reviews accordingly.)
  4. Don’t use one template for two different updates. It looks like you can’t really be bothered to reply. Add emojis when you send Thank You replies.
  5. Don’t ignore featured reviews. If some of the featured reviews are negative ones, this will lead to a lower conversion rate.
  6. Being okay with the negative ones. Spam or PR from your competitors is crucial for conversion rate: users can just choose the other app. If the negative reviews are coming from bad competitors, complain to them or give dislikes.
  7. Report negative and spammy reviews. If you suspect your reviews were flooded by spammers or competitors, don’t hesitate to report a concern in Google Play or the App Store. App stores’ admins listen to their publishers and delete spam from their reviews. Here you can find an instruction on how to do it right.


How to choose the right strategy

It’s important to remember the following when working with reviews:

  1. In the early stages, reviews help you to understand users and attract them to your app.
  2. When developing and growing, reviews influence conversion to-install-rates.
  3. Even after winning the market, reviews are important for loyal users and sales.

If there are not enough people in a team to work with the reviews, combine the above strategies and reply only to featured and negative reviews in app stores. This will cover the most problematic areas in working with the users.

These strategies are not only suitable for iOS and Android apps. Being a reputation management tool, among other things, AppFollow makes it possible to also work with Mac apps, Amazon apps and products and Microsoft apps, and all the above-mentioned strategies can be applied to them.

Do you want to improve working with your customers’ reviews and learn how to respond to any kind of review? Get in touch with us and we will help you to set up working with reviews, improve your ratings, increase conversion-to-installs, provide reputation management services and more.


Protecting your brand’s image is no easy feat, but it’s manageable with the right tools. Mobile apps are a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of your customer base and are useful in guarding the gate to app store content.

Good reviews make for a perfect marketing material, so long as they are telling of your app. Be wary, though: the reviewer’s permission must be granted before you can use it.

Remember, apps are an extension of your brand, and app store content has a profound effect on your brand as a whole, no matter who you are. The impact of ratings and reviews don’t discriminate; brand name or no brand name, consumer perception changes based on how many stars you’re sporting and what’s included in your reviews. Hopefully, the tips mentioned above get you started in your brand’s online reputation management, which will lead to a fluid brand experience across all of your channels!


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