The below graph is the download counts for my Camera roll Sync App. I had stable daily ~25 downloads right until early October when I released an update. Since then the daily uploads are rising day-by-day soon touching almost 250 downloads a day. So what changed with the update? I added 10 new lines.
The motivation for the code change
The original motivation for the whole app was just to code when I felt bored at home. You know. Coding is fun. Originally I didn’t have any business model in my mind but I placed an ad control in the app. I know I couldn’t make reasonable money with this app ever but learning more about the mobile advertisement sounded interesting. And even actually it was. I started to watch scorecards and metrics and more and more reports and statistics till I reached the point when I felt like I want to change the data. I wanted to improve all my metrics.
What to change?
The most obvious change would be to install new ad rotator and display different ads from different ad providers. Call me loyalist but I didn’t want to change from Microsoft Advertisement. If I keep the same number of ads I can either increase the user engagement or my user base. Improving the user engagement would be achievable by adding new exciting features to the app but it costs many-many weekends and late night coding. That’s something what I willing to do but let’s just put this on the side for a while. Another idea was to somehow move up the ranking score of my app in the Windows phone store. I wanted to achieve this by boosting the user’s review score. The idea was simple, this is how I decide which app to download. If it has good ratings I install it. If it has bad rating I don’t even consider it. I have enough problem in my life. J
Popular way to have more reviews is to implement the rating API which basically a dialog box offering the user to write a review. I don’t know you ever clicked on yes but I hardly never because they are implemented in a really annoying way.
- It appears every time the app starts
- Randomly right in the middle of an activity
- Triggered by a link what I never click
- Right after a big error message
- The request to make it review just doesn’t make me feel clicking on it.
I implemented the rating API as many other app developers but did a few clever trick. First of all I am not pushing the user to review my app right until he succeed with his task. I have a fair number of crash and failed sync attempt (I know I should fix them) but for those users I just don’t offer to review my app. They can still review it but I just don’t offer it. This app is all about syncing files. I exactly know in which cases have the user 100% success. And this is the point I offer the review.
Second trick is to offer something for the review. I promise that good ratings will make me more productive. And this is not even a lie.
“Good rates and reviews encourage me to create and release updates for this app. Would you like to rate it now?”
About 1000 reviews in 5 months.
TOP 194th best rated app out of all apps in the US
TOP 153th best rated app out of all apps in the UK
TOP 413th out of all free apps in the US
TOP 20th UK photo app
TOP 24th US photo app
TOP 8th DE photo app
And most of the ratings are very positive.
Of course the original goal to move the revenue metrics also went up but I still earn just a small amount of pocket money. 😀
As I later found out the rating is used for ranking score. Maybe it worth to read dev blogs at the end.
“Second, the new algorithms used to generate app lists more directly and accurately reward app quality and user preference. Previously the list algorithms were based primarily on downloads over time. Now we’re able to factor in measures including an app’s customer rating, how frequently it’s pinned or unpinned from Start, and performance (does it crash often?) to determine its overall ranking. The upshot: if you’ve invested in quality, performance, and customer satisfaction you will now more directly benefit through better ranking and discoverability.”
I work for Microsoft but I don’t have access to any internal information about the Windows Phone project and I am not allowed to use any Microsoft resources for Windows Phone development. None of my apps has any connection with Microsoft.