Why its smart not to solicit your customers for mobile app reviews

When I update apps on my mobile devices I am seeing a really terrible trend, developers taking up space in their update notes begging people to review their app. I need to set the record straight before this gets out of control.

If your app is worth giving a review, I will go out of my way to do that. But when you nag me for a review in the app itself (or anywhere else) I get this sense of being compelled, by force, through in-app nagging notifications, to leave a review. If innovation exists in your app, I will go out of my way to post a review, and I suspect many others will do the same. In my view, if you, as a developer, use notifications to nag users, this creates really low quality and frustrated reviews. Develop apps and features that makes you say, “You know what? This app/update is awesome, it deserves a review”. Customers of your app will feel the same way and go out of their way to leave a review without you having to say anything.

The problem with asking customers to leave a review is:

  1. It’s annoying, its like begging a customer for business. The request is out of place. Its like a stalker that keeps asking you to take them back. Stop it, just stop.
  2. Asking for a review unconsciously has an effect that assumes your app doesn’t deserve it. Otherwise you wouldn’t be asking. If your app was innovative, it would just be assumed that your app is worthy of a automatic review.
  3. There has to be a really good reason to want to review your app. If that reason doesn’t exist, you create a schism between you and your customer base. The customer that does leave a review will expect something in return since your app clearly doesn’t deserve it, after all, you are begging someone to leave a review.

    I am very selective on which apps I post reviews of. I look out for the following things:

    • Does the app attempt to use non-proprietary formats so my data isn’t locked behind some obscure development decision?
    • Does it have support for encryption if applicable?
    • Does the developer refrain from using an intrusive subscription model?
    • Does the developer respond to suggestions and support request in a reasonable amount of time?
    • Does the developer innovate where possible?
      If you are not doing anything in the above bullet points, i’m sorry but your app does not deserve a review. I can only remember one app that I went out of my way to give a review for: Editorial. You know why? Because the app is so innovative that for me to not give a review would make me feel bad. The app does so much to improve my life that I absolutely feel compelled to say something about it.