3 Things You May Not Know About the Holiday App Download Rush

Partner Post - Apptentive A better way to communicate with customers.

Posted: December 17, 2015


Emily Carrion is the Head of Marketing at Apptentive. Interests include digital marketing, women in tech, entrepreneurship, and storytelling. Follow her at @Emily_Carrion.


The holidays are an important time for customer acquisition and re-engagement. New devices lead to new installs, and the top apps typically see double or triple their historical download rates. And app downloads see a 150% increase on Christmas Day alone.

These new app installations come during a time when most companies do not have the ability to change or modify their apps. When the App Store goes into its annual code freeze, most companies submit a new version of their app before the holidays, and everyone’s ratings start back at 0. If you’re submitting a new version of your app before the freeze, you only have weeks—maybe days—to get your ratings back from 0 to 5-stars.

App Ratings and Reviews Matter. A Lot.

The best way to differentiate is through your customer ratings and reviews. Only 15% would consider downloading an app with 2-star ratings, whereas 96% would consider downloading an app with 4 or 5-star ratings. There’s a 46% difference in downloads for apps that are rated 5-stars versus apps that have 3-stars; that percentage jumps even higher for apps with no stars at all.

Consumers look to ratings to pick new apps, and even to evaluate if they should re-install your app. Since everyone’s ratings start back at 0 once they submit a new version of the app, better ratings and reviews give you the opportunity to look more mature, more loved, and more interesting to download.

A Highly Rated App Makes User Acquisition Dollars Go Further

Jumping from a 2-star to a 3-star rating increases your app store conversion by 340% and jumping from 3 to 4 stars increases your conversion by an additional 89%. This means that if you had a 2-star app with 100k loyal customers you’re likely missing out on a huge portion of your addressable market. According to our recent consumer survey, jumping to a 3-star average could net you an additional 240k customers. Jumping again to a 4-star average could bring in another 300k customers for a total of 640k new mobile customers.

Since only 15% of prospective app customers would consider downloading a 2-star app, get your ratings up before upping your user acquisition dollar.

A 4 or 5 star app will not only help your user acquisition dollars go further, it will also drive organic downloads. An added benefit of boosting star ratings, is that the average rankings boost for a well rated app with great reviews is 15 to 20 spots in competitive categories, all else being equal.

Engaging with Customers In-app Dramatically Increases Retention

The App Store freeze is a time when no company has the ability to change or modify their apps. This means that for 2+ weeks, most apps, their ratings, and their customer experience are static. Furthermore, most companies are out of luck if they release a bug, or don’t have a way to highlight new features in the app.

The companies that build in dynamic, server-driven engagement capabilities will win the holidays. They can message customers, drive engagement, and intercept negative feedback while the competition wrings its hands, unable to respond. Proactive engagement will minimize churn since customers who complain and don’t hear back are 10-times as likely to exit an app and never return as those customers who hear back.

To be clear, I’m not talking about an endless barrage of push notifications. As a best practice, we’ve found the best way to engage customers is to communicate with them (via rating prompts, messages, surveys, etc.) at key ‘mobile moments’ throughout the customer journey. These moments are typically tied to the completion of an in-app task, such as after a customer has made a purchase or watched a video. In contrast, attempting to engage customers before or during a specific task can be seen as intrusive and leads to higher exit rates and lower response rates.

As you drive downloads during the holiday season, it is important to also keep them. Engaging with customers in a personal way dramatically increases retention, customer loyalty, and mobile revenue. In fact, people who are engaged in-app are 4 times more likely to continue using the app 3 months later.

Take advantage of the holiday opportunity, and ensure your app is moving up the holiday charts. By being proactive, and building in server-driven engagement capabilities you can make your app stand out and tilt the odds in your favor.