How To: Improve Your App Store Rating

September 11th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

You may recall a blog post we did a few months ago about how Google Play is taking steps to allow developers to respond directly to their reviews in hopes of receiving more information. This new feature is designed to help developers troubleshoot any issues user’s may have with the product. We hope that Apple’s App Store will do the same, but in the meantime, here are some tips and tricks to prevent negative reviews from getting posted in the App Store in the first place.

Xtreme Labs has tried a number of different methods to prevent the vague, sometimes cryptic, calls for customer support from working their way into App Store reviews. This has been done in an effort to keep the reviews focused solely on their overall experience and thoughts of the app functionality, and away from troubleshooting.

1) Make it easy for users to contact you for help
It should be easier for users to find your support email address (or phone number, they are on a mobile device after all) than it is for them to leave your app, go to the app store, and take the multiple steps to leave a review. It needs to be in the first place they look, without having them to jump through hoops to get there. As a bonus, you are able to reply to the user and help them resolve their issue.

2) Use associative wording
Rather than “Contact Us”, think about using stronger, clearer wording that drives the call to action. “Experiencing issues?,” “Help us improve,” and “Log an issue,” are some of our favourite negative callouts that will drive the negative reviews to your customer support inbox, away from the App Store. “Show us some love,” “Do you love us?,” “Love this app? Rate it!,” are strong positive ways to drive users that are really enjoying your app to the App Store.

3) Use time and usage interval driven call to actions
A lot of apps are using in-app rating popups (like Appirator) to drive ratings. The problem is that more often than not it could be annoying to the user if you have them improperly timed, and might even lead to negative reviews. It’s important to use time and usage intervals to drive a positive review when using these popups. Make sure it’s at a point where the user has used your app a few times, (on first launch doesn’t make sense – they haven’t even played around with it), span it between 24 hour periods, and make sure to give them the option for you to not prompt them again. And of course, always log the event that they have left a review, or have sent a support email, so you don’t continue to annoy them.

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Cross-posted from the Xtreme Labs blog.

App Review: Tiny Tower

October 1st, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Tiny Tower
62479 Ratings
Company: NimbleBit LLC
Platforms: iOS, iPhone and iPad

Tiny Tower is an addictive time waster app that brings back memories of the Tamigotchi toys, paired with the addictive element of Farmville. In this app, you act as a landlord of a tower where you build new floors with residential units or stores. You want to keep your tenants happy, and help them work up to their dream job. It’s a perfect mix of the Sims and Sim City, but vastly simplified to be mobile friendly.

The notifications and urgency bring you back to the app multiple times throughout the day. Regardless if you close the app, your tower keeps building and you keep earning money. However, your stores also run out of stock and your tenants get angry, resulting in the constant need to babysit it. Great for the app, not so great for the day job.

I initially downloaded this app because it’s one of the best for in-app purchases, and I immediately see why. This app capitalizes on impatience, people not wanting to wait to build up their tower, and their price points are affordable with 0.99, 4.99 and 29.99 to purchase “Bit Bux”. Although I think 29.99 is a bit steep (I wouldn’t have hesitated on 19.99), the others provide a sense of instant gratification, and a shopping spree within the app.

A cute feature is “Bit Book”, which gives you a view of your tenants’ “Bit Book” status updates. It’s for pure entertainment value, and I find myself checking it just to see the hilarious updates (ie. “What is the trampoline policy in this building?”).

Things they do well: It keeps things simple, and is a great execution on a not so original idea. It’s extremely easy to navigate, and the purchase experience is speedy and seamless. It’s fully integrate with Game Center so you can see how your friends are doing and adds a competitive element. They also do a perfect transfer of your game across devices. A lot of games handle that poorly (Angry Birds, for one), in that you need to start from scratch per device.

Things they could do better: I need the ability to actually fully close out this app and stop it from running. I understand that they made it continue running in the background regardless so you could earn money, but it leaves me feeling uneasy with a slight sense of anxiety (or maybe I’m just neurotic). The pace could be sped up ever so slightly, but I understand that the pace is optimized to encourage in-app purchases. Also, the music? Snoozefest.

iPad Optimization

July 28th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Now this is how you mobile, err.. iPad, optimize a website. Well done, The Next Web.

iTunes Ten

September 2nd, 2010 § 3 comments § permalink

iTunes 10

New Icon. I don’t love it. Feels a bit too cartoon-like.

New Interface. It’s sleek. Note the close, minimize buttons.

Ping. It took about 3-5 minutes to process my image. Only let me select 3 music genres.

It let me pick up to 10 favourite songs. Up to. It’s fun to share music, but the only other option was “at random”, and it didn’t quite accurately display my top listened to tracks. So, I went to and selected my top artists.

I am only following 3 people because I can’t connect to Facebook (apparently Facebook blocked access to the API after Apple and Facebook couldn’t agree on terms, some people were lucky enough to use it briefly last night), or Twitter to find people to follow.

It seems that the recommendations to follow are not based on my music played in my iTunes library (even though I love Lady GaGa and U2)

Poor Justin Bieber, NOT the teenage popstar.

It’s Not Just About Your Klout

July 7th, 2010 § 7 comments § permalink

Last weekend I had my first Virgin America flight to San Francisco; a flight that was given to me for free through a joint campaign between Virgin America and Klout because of my ‘influence‘ on Twitter. Now, I have already written a post with my opinions as to why this particular campaign was met with a lot of criticism on and off Twitter, and the areas where I think the campaign struggled. Once I sat down with Klout, we quickly realized that many of those areas could be rolled up into single issue: communication.

Klout was gracious enough to give an open invite to the winners of the campaign to stop by their office in San Francisco (where they have some great company in Twitter, Bebo and others — I met Ev in the hallway, a true San Francisco celebrity sighting), and with my interest in emerging technologies, I jumped at the chance. We went over the issues that I listed in my post, and while I could tell they certainly weren’t pleased with me, they gave me some truly valuable insight into not only the selection process for this particular campaign, but also their business.

What the Client Wants

All marketing campaigns have a target demographic as determined by the client. In this case it was Virgin America and they wanted people who not only had influence, but were aligned with their brand and this particular campaign. Klout was the tool that took the data we pump daily into Twitter (think of all that data!) and used it to categorize and profile each and everyone one of us, allowing their client to pick and choose what type of person would be given a flight. Yes, the client wanted ‘influencers’ (anyone else hate that word yet?), but they also wanted people who spoke about the various destinations, among many other variables that they deemed important. Normally, it is rare that the target demographic for a campaign is so heavily questioned, but when dealing with a large number of users who like to talk a lot, it’s more than likely to be put under the microscope and heavily scrutinized.

Word of Mouth

Klout started off with an initial shortlist of hand picked users who had not only had high Klout scores, but that additional X-factor, if you will. From that list, it became a word of mouth trickle-down effect. They watched for people the original round of influencers were speaking to, and about. So really, it wasn’t just about the Klout score, or how influential each person was, it was a word of mouth marketing campaign. Sure, talking to or about Klout itself might have helped you get noticed, but once noticed, if you didn’t fit the criteria that the client deemed important, then you weren’t selected.

Tip of the Iceberg

After speaking with Klout it really became apparent to me that they were as transparent as they possibly could be, without putting themselves in competitive risk. Gregarious Narain, the VP of Product, put it best when he said “we are an iceberg”; the scores and summaries we see are just the surface of the data analysis and manipulation that goes on behind the scenes. The Content Analysis from our profiles are not specific keywords that we speak of, but categories in which these tags are grouped into. Furthermore, they are the most influential categories; so it’s not just what we say but more about what resonates with others. Klout puts a heavy emphasis on the limited focus it has on followers and following count, but more on what happens in each and every interaction.

Less Marketing, More Metrics

We are willingly feeding Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and various other social networking sites personal information that if analyzed and manipulated properly, can provide extremely powerful insights into any individual. I imagine that Twitter is only the beginning of data analysis for Klout and other companies alike. Imagine a tool not only knowing what topics you are most influential based on your tweets, but even where your favourite hangouts are from Foursquare, your favourite bands from Last.Fm, your job from LinkedIn and even who you are friends with from Facebook. Companies will be able to target each and every one of us to such a fine detail that it’s one part terrifying and one part fascinating. (On a side note, think about how CSIS and the FBI could use this information).

In the end, it was a small communication misstep that has caused so much customer service and PR grief for a 10 man technology startup. The email said “Because you have so much Klout”, which led us all to believe that it was cut and dry; if you have a high Klout score, then you get the free flight. Even with the blog post that followed, people had already stopped listening, started whining and it was too late. Perhaps if the email had said something along the lines of “you met our criteria”, Twitter might have been a whole lot quieter with the complaining. Wishful thinking right?

Even so, something so small will not break a company that is currently knee deep in such powerful data. I am confident that they will learn from their mistakes, and the attention will shift away from the customer service and free flights, and back to the actual metrics.

Twit Your Pic is the new Flick Your Bic

June 30th, 2010 § 7 comments § permalink

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have heard me vent and rant about people who use Tweetphoto. It’s set as the default image hosting app for ÜberTwitter, so I know why people use it, but what they don’t know is why they shouldn’t: Tweetphoto is incredibly ugly and painfully slow.

When someone posts a Twitpic and I view their tweet on Tweetie 2 Twitter for iPhone it gives a nice little preview:

When I click on the image, the preview then quickly loads into the full image, as seen below:

With Tweetphoto on the other hand, you can see there is no preview:

And as it takes ages to load, most of the time looks like this:

Finally when it has loaded, it’s not within the app, but it has loaded on an extremely cluttered and ugly page. It doesn’t even have a zoom placed on the photo:

iPhone Users: To change from the default YFrog, go to Settings -> Services -> Image Service and change it to whatever you wish! Just as long as it’s not TWEETPHOTO.

My love for Twitpic has recently been challenged upon news that they have closed off their service to Posterous and called a lawsuit in attempt to stop Posterous from poaching their users. Now, I have never been a big Posterous user, but when I am a big promoter of open source and an open web, so when I heard this news, my first instinct was to get all my pictures off Twitpic as soon as possible. Or, at least back them up. I don’t like the idea of a company telling me what I can and cannot do with my pictures, especially when it comes to mass importing them elsewhere. After seeing Posterous’ case for switching, I don’t see how I can’t not.

I recently download the PicPosterous iPhone App and I am in LOVE. It’s a quick and seamless way to get my photos into albums and onto the web, completely pain (and time) free. I highly recommend the app.

I don’t feel comfortable enough yet to fully switch over to Posterous until I’m sure I can bring my TwitPics with me. I will be watching this case closely, in hopes that Twitpic realizes it’s verging on the side of draconian and ease up. Until then, remember: ANYTHING is better than TweetPhoto.

Woot M&A Response Rap

June 30th, 2010 § 1 comment § permalink

Some companies hold suit and tie, serious face, press releases. When gets bought out by Amazon, they rap. With monkeys.

Klout: Double Standard for Influence?

June 29th, 2010 § 24 comments § permalink

I want Klout to do well. From an obvious standpoint (according to their scale of 1 through 100, I am a decent influencer worthy of free prizes!), but more importantly from a social media and technological advancement perspective. The world is starting to appreciate Twitter, and finally realize the power and impact it can have. It seems like Marketing and PR agencies are just getting on the “blogger” wave, while Klout has already skipped past that and is on the new wave of 140 characters (or less).

Yes, it no longer requires a long 500-1,000 word blog post to influence people or to gain trust from your audience. If anything, I trust people on my Twitter feed more than I do a blog post; on Twitter, the person behind the account has no other option but to communicate and converse with their followers, while a blogger can stand up on a soap box, spew out hundreds of words, then sit and watch comments flow (or, trickle) in and approve or deny based on their preference. On Twitter, you get to see who does similar things as you, goes to similar places (yes those Foursquare check-in tweets are annoying, but it can tell you something about a person), and has similar interests. There are certain people who I follow on Twitter that may not have a blog (or I might feel weird emailing out of the blue), but I would look to them, just like I would look to a friend, for their opinion on something because I feel I have gotten to know them and I trust them.

Okay now this just seems like a Twitter love post. Back to Klout.

The thing about this campaign is, it successfully exploded, as they wanted it to. However, like many progressive campaigns, they may not have gotten all their ducks in a row that would prepare them to answer the inevitable questions that would arise regarding their grading system, and even more importantly, their Virgin America golden ticket winners. Now, I am not one to bite the hand that feeds (err flies) me, but I wouldn’t mind sharing a few things Klout may have wanted to consider before launching a high profile campaign (beyond free yogurt and coffee):

1. Iron out all the kinks in the Algorithm.
I received one of the first flights and I was made somewhat of a poster child for this program when Mashable contacted me about the ticket I was given, as well as for information on my Klout score. What they didn’t ask me was, “Is it accurate?”. To be honest, I wouldn’t even have known as I had never even looked before they asked me for the screenshots. Upon further review, I noticed the topics it told me I tweeted about most frequently were odd ones like ‘Voodoo’ (I ain’t no witch!), some of my apparently most clicked on tweets had never even come from my fingertips (and tells me what my most popular links are, so this I know), and all-in-all my score seemed low relative to other people who didn’t receive flights immediately (apparently my score needed to be refreshed and recalculated and is now at a 63? Whatever that means, again I don’t know. By this point I probably should).

2. Be transparent on how the winners were selected.
If you are going to be the standard for determining who is an influencer, then you need to set a standard process for how winners are selected. Was it at random? Was it people who had a Klout account? Was it at random over a certain threshold? Hand selected – if so, based on what criteria? The people who win the ticket won’t ask these questions (although I am, I guess), but those who didn’t win certainly will.

3. Know the community.
I don’t know about other communities, but the Toronto Twitter community is a pretty tight knit crew, and that crew is partially (if not fully) responsible for everyone’s “Twitter Influence”. I’m a bit of a floater, but I do know that most people in this city are friends on Twitter and in real life, and they have more influence because of this – their followers aren’t exactly followers at all, but friends, so of COURSE they have influence over them. Knowing this, it’s easy to see how people would get offended, or hurt even, if they are snubbed in a program in which they feel they are partially responsible for their friend winning. I even read one post which referred to the program as feeling like “high school” and “Mean Girls”. If you hear a Lindsay Lohan analogy for a marketing program, you know you might be in trouble! If number 2 happened, then I don’t think the “Mean Girls” comment would be able to come into play, as it would be based on a specific criteria, removing all room for apparent bias.

4. Have a cut off point.
This is a bit of column 2 and 3. The initial invites, for the most part (and I’m not just saying this because I was included) made sense. Celebrities People like Scott Stratten and Casie Stewart received invites and it made sense. Then, once the cries of “why didn’t I get one” came out, it seemed as though all you had to do was tweet the right hashtag or @ reply, and bam, you would magically see a tweet saying “I’m going to LA or SF, THANKS VIRGIN AND KLOUT”, and they would stop complaining. That’s when things got confusing, and a bit fishy. I saw people who had a Twitter account for maybe a month, and less than 200 followers receiving it, when well known Toronto personas weren’t seeing the love. This is when people started to question a) the validity of number 1 up there, and b) more importantly, number 2.

5. Use Hootsuite
Okay, so this is a bit of a weak one but I just noticed a flurry of retweets regarding a Klout meetup tonight at the Gladstone. The meetup has come and gone (it was last night). CoTweet scheduler is a bit wonky, so they should use my pals over at Hootsuite.

Despite the rough patches, I think there are a lot of valuable lessons learned from this program that will only help Klout be stronger and more successful going forward. The Toronto Twitter community is a tough crowd, and can be ruthless at times, but we can also be understanding. I’m excited to visit Klout while I am in San Francisco this coming weekend (on a FREE FLIGHT), and I will be sure to share some of the constructive feedback that I have here, and also that I have heard from others. In the end, I think we all really do (or SHOULD!) want Klout to succeed, and I think any help we can offer will benefit them.

Private Parts

May 23rd, 2010 § 1 comment § permalink

If you were to mention the big P word, coupled with the F word, in any bar, restaurant or coffee shop these days, you would most certainly have some sort of debate on your hands. The F word in mention is not of a four letter variety, but, of course, Facebook. At f8 they recently announced a number of changes to their current security (err, information sharing) model, and boy oh boy, are people up in arms about it. But why? Do they have a right to be? Does anyone actually have a grasp as to what the big changes are?

I will admit, I jumped on the “OH MY GOD FACEBOOK YOU ARE EVIL I WANT MY PRIVACY” bandwagon before I had a chance to really look into it. I’m guilty of going with the masses (baaaaaah sheep) if I haven’t had time, or interest. Since then, I have read a countless number of breakdowns, and have seen this infographic being tossed around at least two dozen times, and I’m still not getting it. I understand WHAT changes are happening, but what I don’t understand is the big fuss over it. When you put stuff on the internet, it’s not private. It just isn’t.

Have you ever had those moments where you’ve spent an unknown amount of time on Facebook, probably stalking an ex, and when you snap out of it you realize you are looking at pictures of a complete stranger’s children? You have no idea who this person is, but they were in the same album as the girl who was recently in a picture with your ex boyfriend’s best friend who was in a picture with your ex and his dog, so you obviously clicked deeper.

So how are the new Facebook changes going to change your stalking habits? Will you be able to stalk more, or less?

  1. Facebook has changed the default settings to be more open. Okay. The people that will be affected by that are new Facebook users.
  2. Stalker Verdict? Rejoice, until they realize anyone worth stalking is already on Facebook.

  3. Facebook is opening up our interests, with the default set on. As a product manager, I understand the struggles of releasing new features and having to hide them at the same time. This is where Facebook ‘f’-ed up. 100%. If they had left this setting to be set off, I doubt we would have as big of a war on our hands.
  4. Stalker Verdict? Helpful if they manage to get a date and can pretend to have the same interests, but otherwise yawn. Boring.

  5. Facebook is actually remembering who I don’t want to see my status updates.
  6. Stalker Verdict? Cue Stalkers moaning.

  7. Facebook is setting my albums to be open to the public by default, but prompts me in the album creation to ask if I want to restrict it.
  8. Stalker Verdict? Stalkers rejoice temporarily, but then retract. Still hold out hope that we will forget to change the settings.

  9. Facebook removed the ability to control what is posted to your wall. This is a huge issue for me, and probably the change I dislike the most. I loved not having to broadcast when I wrote on someone’s wall at 2AM. It has created an excess of noise, which is a nightmare for Brands and Marketers, but this noise also makes those certain relationship status updates, or pictures you don’t want to see, a lot less prominent.
  10. Stalker Verdict? They can see your every move on Facebook.

Personally, the two things that I keep extremely private on Facebook are 1) Tagged Pictures of me and 2) Friend’s posts to my wall. The underlying theme of those two things? I don’t have control over them. My favourite books and movies, what religion I am (I have, by the way, Vancouver Canucks listed as mine so good luck with that one advertisers), does it really matter if advertiser’s have access to this information? Ads will be more tailored to my interests now, which can be helpful since we are in the world of an ABUNDANCE of information. I would love it if my favourite products and interests can come to me now instead of me going and searching them out.

The best way to handle the new Facebook privacy settings is to not fight it, and be grateful that it’s received all this attention so now you are being more careful what you put out there. We all know that if they tried hard enough, anyone would be able to access it regardless. I have embraced the chaos, I have allowed random people I don’t know that read my blog to add me on Facebook and they are the best filters.  I am forced to behave myself when I don’t know who might be watching, whether it be potential employers, potential boys to date, or my mother’s best friend. This is not new information, this has always been the case, we were just happily ignorant before.

Remember folks, if it’s on the internet, it’s best to assume it’s not private.

If you want to know more information on this matter, I highly suggest reading the following (comprehensible, I promise) articles: