When developing an iPhone app there are few things that can help or hurt you as much as App store user comments. Great comments and high ratings can accelerate your sales. Poor comments and ratings can kill an app with great potential.
I want to encourage you to look at your app store user comments daily.
Why so often?
Textfree Unlimited is a 4 star app that has stayed in the top 100 apps for 138 days now priced @$5.99. Pretty incredible.
But something bad happened last week. I noticed that for our 4 star app, suddenly had 14 1 star ratings with terrible comments that were all marked “most helpful” by tons of people. This all happened in a 24 hour period.
Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes you make a product error or launch an update that warrants bad reviews. In that case, read them all, listen closely, make changes to your app, and your users will be grateful. This is not what happened.
So what happened?
Last week at Pinger we had a competitor come in and trash our ratings.
Here is what they did.
Massive iTunes Account Creation
This unscrupulous competitor created 50-100 iTunes accounts. This is not hard to do, but it takes time. They did this so they could act like 100 different users.
They then created the 14 comments each with a different user account and gave our app a 1 star rating.
Here’s where the really powerful and potentially dangerous feature of the App store reviews comes into play. Apple gives users the ability to mark a comment “helpful”. Once this competitor with questionable morals, created the comments, they used the 50+ iTunes accounts and marked all the terrible comments they made “helpful”. This immediately raised them to the top of the heap.
So What Can You Do?
Here is what I suggest you do:
- Watch your reviews closely
- If you get slammed with a bunch of negative reviews research them
- Take action
Watch Your Reviews Closely
This is easy to do when you first launch an app, because you are thrilled that people are actually talking about your app. But as the excitement wears off, you’ve got to be committed to checking your reviews daily.
If you see something similar to what I explained, after you have your short hysterical break down, start researching. Are these for real? Is something really wrong with your app?
Some tell tale signs of fake reviews:
- They sound fake – read em – really they do!
- They mention another app that you need to go get
- They all happen at once
- Contact Apple and ask them to be removed (may or may not help)
- Decide how to fight back
Contacting Apple is not easy. You probably don’t even have an app store account manager. But try to reach out to Apple and report what’s happened.
The biggest decision you have to make in all of this is how to respond. Do you want to strike back? Oh yes! Go write some of your own reviews. I won’t do that because you are just stooping down to their level. Yes, it’s a question of morals and I wouldn’t go there, but it’s obviously your call.
You could also write your own glowing reviews of your own product and beef them up by fake means. I’d personally prefer to read reviews of my apps that I like and click on them as helpful (as long as they are). It’s for you to decide. But I indeed would act if I were you.
Has this happened to any of you? What would you do?
Need more help? Check out the How to Market iPhone Apps eBook!
Photo credit: chefranden