Indie App PR 2: Keeping On Top Of User Feedback
Jun 21, 2011 12:34

This is part of an ongoing series of blog posts about building, launching, and promoting my first iOS app Remembary: The Connected Diary For Your iPad.

One of the reasons I built Remembary was to learn about the business of having a product - from original design to customer support. Here are some things I learned (some the hard way) in dealing with user feedback for an iOS app in the App Store.

Pay Attention

You can't respond to problems or criticisms that you don't know about.
  • Check for your app on Google every so often, at least weekly if not daily.

  • Set up Google Alerts for your app's name and related keywords, which will automatically email you with any new activity.

  • Set up a Twitter search for your app name as well, for real-time results (Google doesn't index Twitter for several weeks).

  • If your app gets reviews or articles written about it, check them every so often for new comments.

Be Reachable

Your app's App Store page is the worst place to get feedback: it's public, it's the last page people will see before making their final purchase decision, and there's no way to respond to reviewers. People can change their reviews, but they likely won't unless they have a good reason to - and while the 'front page' reviews are reset every time you release a new version of your app, your app's average score will still include all of the earlier ratings from before. Bad reviews and single-star ratings on this page can kill an app.

If a user is having trouble, adding a nasty 1-star review on your app's App Store profile should be their last option. Here are some ways to avoid that:

  • Build a feedback page in your app's website (your app has a website, right?).

  • Put obvious questions and common misunderstandings on this page, and include a contact email address and/or a feedback form.

  • Link to this page from the front page of your site, and in the "Support" link of your App Store profile.

  • Blog about common support problems, and enable comments on these blog posts - and put links to these blog posts on your support page.

  • Have a Twitter account and a Facebook page for your app and check both regularly.

  • Set up as many automatic notifications on these services as possible, so you don't miss anything.

  • Publish all your website activity, especially support messages, to Twitter and Facebook.

  • Set up a Mailing List in MailChimp or a similar service and send messages out to your list covering common problems that people might have.

  • Put links to all of these contact sources directly into the app - and include the ability for people to email you directly from the app, too.

(Of course you should also use these same outreach methods to say good things about your app: guides to new features, promotions, and interesting related information. Bad news isn't as bad when it's mixed in with good news.)

Hunt Them Down

The main reason for setting up all of these avenues for feedback is to make sure that any comments or critiques can be responded to - ideally directly and privately. Emails and tweets can be replied to, you can usually respond to articles and comments, and you can even pre-empt problems with timely emails and an informative support site.

The worst thing about App Store reviews (from an App owner's point of view) is that the reviewers are essentially anonymous. There's no email address or any other way to reach people - all they have is a nickname like 'wispy893' or 'jack_the_giant_killer' or whatever. However, I did find a way to find people through their nicknames: Often, people use the same nickname for different services, so I looked for Twitter users with the same names. If that didn't work, I just searched on Google for these nicknames. If I found a possible match, I sent them a short friendly note in Twitter (or email) asking if they had been having trouble with Remembary and if they could help me figure things out. While some people were impossible to track down, this did work out really well in several cases: the people I contacted were the ones having trouble, and I was able to help them through their difficulties, offline.

Indie App PR 1: How to Handle an App Disaster
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