Mobile app developers and their brands are experiencing a chicken or the egg scenario: Popular apps that top charts are downloaded the most, but apps can only become popular if they are downloaded to begin with. This means that businesses need to find a way to become popular with fewer downloads.
Enter the five-star review. Developers get carpal tunnel trying to achieve it, and users search the ends of the earth looking for apps that are reviewed well. But, what does a five-star review even mean? Does it actually help a mobile app get more installs? In short, a high rating attracts users, and yes, great reviews contribute to the number of times an app is downloaded.
Let's take a look at the importance of a five-star mobile app rating.
Higher Star Ratings, Better Placement on Store Lists
It should be a no-brainer, but the better the reviews, the more likely it is for a mobile app to top the charts on Google Play and the App Store. According to Apptentive, 88% of the Top 100 Android apps are rated higher than four stars, while 51% of the Top 100 iOS apps were rated similarly. This has to do with the algorithms being used, and therefore, the more stars, the higher apps will chart.
VentureBeat contributor Michael Silverwood explained Apple's App Store's system for ranking mobile apps. Keep in mind that Apple never disclosed the actual algorithm, and therefore, this should be taken with a grain of salt. Regardless, Silverwood wrote, "Ranking = (# of installs weighted for the past few hours) + (# of installs weighted for the past few days) + REVIEWS (star rating + number of reviews) + Engagement (# of times app opened etc.) + Sales ($)." This means that reviews are -- by Silverwood's estimation - worth 25% of list ranking placements.
Users Search for Apps
Of course, top lists are the only way that mobile device users find new and interesting apps. According to a Google survey conducted on 8,470 smartphone users over the age of 18, 40% of these individuals discover mobiles by simply browsing through app stores. Additionally, Google researchers noted that 25% of mobile apps are found through search engines, as users typically look for opinions on apps before committing to downloading them.
While many highly rated apps tend to be mobile games, that makes reviews on productivity, shopping and social apps more important as they stick out in a sea of freemium games.
Good Reviews Equal Downloads
Brand interactions drive the need to create mobile apps, so at the end of the day, five-star ratings should contribute to installs. The good news is that there is a correlation between high ratings and downloads, according to Robi Ganguly, CEO of Apptentive. In a contribution to The Huffington Post, Ganguly wrote that apps with two stars are downloaded approximately 50,000 times, while those with four-star reviews are installed an average of 270,000 times.
It's clear that good reviews directly impact user engagement, downloads and general interest in mobile apps. This only serves to highlight the need for mobile app testing and continuous quality assurance, as bugs, glitches and poor performance all contribute to less-than-stellar user ratings.