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Get rid of bad ratings with new App bundle?

Discussion in 'Android Lounge' started by Hannskanns, Jan 7, 2019.

  1. Hannskanns

    Hannskanns Lurker
    Thread Starter

    Hey all,

    we are currently developing a brandnew, state of the art eCommerce App for a big retailer in Europe, which will replace their current eCommerce App.
    The current (old) App is available in Playstore and is poorly rated with 2,6 stars and has ~100.000 active users.

    A big (management) goal of this project is to get rid of these poor ratings. So the management has decided to release the new developped App with a new bundle ID, so that the App will appear as a brandnew App in Playstore. This means we will have to provide some kind of "force Update" screen in the old App, pointing to the new App within Playstore. With that, we can shift the user base towards the new App and the bad ratings can be left behind.

    Honestly, I don't believe that this is a good approach:
    • we propably will loose a big amount of our 100k user base, as it is very unlikely that the users will follow the "force update" approach --> Risk of revenue loss!
    • All kind of SEO & Marketing activities have to be started from scratch again
    • It is not guaranteed that the new App will recieve a 5 stars ratings in future anyways
    I would rather go for just updating the current apk to save the active users and benefit from the re-engagement potential off an App update (the last update has been released in 2017)

    So what do you think, wich approach is the better one to release a new App under this circumstances: Update the existing one or provide a new greenfield App?

    Best, Hans

  2. Hadron

    Hadron Smoke me a kipper...
    VIP Member

    If you want to improve the average review quickly then a new app probably is more effective. I doubt that many people go back and change reviews, and most of the people who left bad reviews have probably ditched the app long ago and so won't be updating theirs. Hence the chances are that simply updating the app will mean that improvements in the average review score will be quite gradual.

    As for how many of your user base switch, I'd have thought that would depend on how important the app is to them and whether the new one is an improvement. Certainly getting the new one right for its initial launch would be important, especially if you force migrate rather than leaving the old one active but including notifications to try the new one (allowing those who do not switch immediately to keep using the old one, at least for a while).

    My own experience of a forced migration was when Microsoft replaced the Outlook.com app for Android with the Outlook app. They issued a final update that did nothing except disable the old app and tell you to install the new one: not a move designed to produce a good feeling. The new app did have a number of improvements over the old one, but it removed what was for me the most important feature of the old app, and at that point they lost me as a user. So I do acknowledge that there are risks in this approach, because I've walked away when put in that position. The lesson I draw from that is to be very careful with the first release (and accept that some people will dislike a major change regardless of how good it is).

    I think the key questions I'd ask is whether the clients understand that they will lose some users during a migration, and that there will be additional marketing costs? If they do, but think that this is for the long term good, then I guess that's their choice. It's if they are being naive about this that I'd have big worries.
  3. Deleted User

    Deleted User Guest

    Are the poor ratings recent? Have you taken steps to improve the quality of the app, based on the negative reviews?
    If you release a new version of the app which addresses the issues, then your ratings should improve. I think readers of reviews will see that, and realise that the quality is improving.
    GameTheory likes this.
  4. Hadron

    Hadron Smoke me a kipper...
    VIP Member

    I think that may depend on the number of reviews. If you have 50 reviews already you can change the average quickly, but if you have 50,000 it will take a while for the average to shift.

    It's a good point about distinguishing between recent and old reviews, but that does take sufficient engagement for people to check. If you just look at a list of apps (say a search result) and their average reviews and see a 2.6 will you necessarily go further to check whether the bad reviews are old or recent?

    I've never released an app in the Play Store, so don't have direct experience. Just thinking aloud here. We also don't know whether they've done some research and found that the current low score is a big problem for the business or just don't like the way it looks: in the first case fixing it quickly would be more important than the second (that's "important in reality" rather than "perceived as important by management", even if managers often act as if that's a meaningless distinction ;)).
    MoodyBlues and lunatic59 like this.
  5. lunatic59

    lunatic59 Moderati ergo sum

    Are they truly active or just app installs? I would think that if your current app is truly awful and the new app a tremendous improvement, then a new app would be better for FUTURE marketing and user experience. You current user base, while temporarily inconvenienced, should welcome an improved apps. Here are the gotcha's ...

    It better be better. If you release a NEW app and force users to upgrade, and it's equally crappy (or even only marginally better) then it will be next to impossible to fix in the future. Your user base will now feel that either the development team (and the company) are idiots, or that they aren't important enough to the company to release a decent app.

    Did you take all those negative reviews into consideration with the new app? If you (the company) simply says it's better but never addressed the complaints you can expect further negative reviews on the new app.

    Also, if you don't make your user base feel that this improvement is for their benefit, then they will feel used. Did you ever get a "special offer for new customers only" from a company you are already doing business with? The deal was great, but you were not eligible, even though you are a current customer and paying higher prices. How did that make you feel as a customer? Maybe if you gave them something for upgrading ... a discount or some sort of perk? They's also be more likely to migrate is you made it time restricted ... "Upgrade by X date and get X deal".

    Don't expect 100% compliance ... or 90% or even 50%. To be honest, if you see 30% or greater, you are doing fantastic. Did you know that a 3% response rate to mass marketing is considered successful? and that a 12% response from targeted marketing is a slam dunk?

    And, a lot is going to depend on your user base and the business. For example, if the app were a simple calculator that could be replaced with one of 1000 apps in the play store, don't count on winning back too many of those negative reviewers. A new app with better reviews would be beneficial. If, however, your app is a customer portal to a proprietary product that only your company sells then you have a captive audience and I wouldn't worry about the negative reviews and just update the app so long as it really is an improvement. My guess is you're somewhere in the middle.
    MoodyBlues, Hadron and GameTheory like this.
  6. GameTheory

    GameTheory Android Expert

    Do to that rating being so low, I recommend doing a new app. Then release an update for the old app that notifies the users once per month about the new app, but do not force them to update. The old app should also have a link to the new app within a settings menu.

    As an app developer that's the approach I would take for an app with 100,000 active users and such a low rating. I'm certain a good percentage of the old users will migrate to the new app and in turn boost rankings for the new app.
    MoodyBlues, Hadron and lunatic59 like this.
  7. Hannskanns

    Hannskanns Lurker
    Thread Starter

    Hey guys, thank you so much for your great feedback.

    @Hadron: I also think that many people will not go back and change their reviews. Your experience with the outlook App might also be visible at our users. Certainly, some user will miss some specific features of the old app, although they will be available in the new app as well – just different. But at least, you followed the way of microsoft and you have downloaded a complete new App. One experience from a past project showed, that a force update scenario results in a deinstallation peak. (This scenario was within the same App due to API changes)

    The business is aware of additional marketing costs to promote the new App, as they are planning big marketing campaigns. On the other hand, it took a couple of years which let the active user base grow to 100k. So maby the marketing campaign will „compensate“ the User loss with totally new users.

    You have to know, the current App is a very very simple one: The App just contains a WebView component, which displays the mobile Website. The App has been released 3 years ago without any update in between.

    @LV426: So the poor ratings are not really resent, they are constantly poor since 3 years ;) We are talking about 700 Reviews.

    @Hadron: To awnser your last question: Indeed, the business just don't like the way it looks, no research has been done. But, honestly, if you have an ancient webview App like ours, then you dont need any research!

    @Lunatic: Yes, I think the current App is truly aweful and the new app a tremendous improvement! Webview container App vs. 100% native % RESTful. The new App adresses a lot of the User comoplaints.
    You pointed out a very interesting thing: The longterm FUTURE! I thought (and I still believe we will) loose a lot of users in a shortterm. But in a longterm, it is propably the better way to release a new App
    On the other hand you are also right with "your app is a customer portal to a proprietary product". Thats what we are - an eCOmmerce App for exclusive products only available at our palce.

    So all in all, I now believe that providing a NEW App is not that bad as I initially thought. Maby I will stick to that approach.

    Thanks for all your feedback :)
    lunatic59 likes this.
  8. Deleted User

    Deleted User Guest

    I have to ask, why do you need an app at all? If it's just a Webview, then why not develop mobile friendly web pages for your site?
    MoodyBlues likes this.
  9. lunatic59

    lunatic59 Moderati ergo sum

    ^^^ I like this as long as the user experience isn't diminished. (This is marketing talking to development, here ;) ) For example ... Amazon ... or would you prefer a car analogy? ;) :D ;) :D

    Okay, seriously. Amazon's website is mobile friendly, but it requires more clicks and scrolling to order something that I can do with the app when I'm in a hurry. Of course, if your current "app" (is a webview portal truly an app?) is as bad as you say, then a web site, which you should have regardless, would be more efficient for you, can be constantly tweaked without worrying about updates or supporting legacy code.

    Food for thought ... oooh food, now I'm hungry. :D
    MoodyBlues likes this.

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