Not getting the press you expect? It’s probably how you approach the review process. It’s not them…It’s you.
This is a must-read for any developer that takes their craft seriously. You can make the best app in the world, but if no one knows about it, you are only doing your app and potential fans a disservice by not reading this.
Affective Apps recently spoke to Sidney Doucette, the Founder of iViewApps.com. Read this interview and hear about how to get your app reviewed, about how to be more professional, about how to develop meaningful relationships with publishers, and about publishers’ perspectives on paying for reviews.
Hello Sid and thank you for taking the time to talk to us today. I’ll be asking questions that every app developer is dying to know. So on behalf of the entire development community, thank you in advance for sharing your insights. We all understand how many review requests that you see in any given day, so how do you go about choosing which apps to focus on?
When we look at the amount of reviews that are brought to our attention on a daily basis, there are a few things we tend to focus our thoughts on. Have we worked with the developer of the application in the past? We really want to keep a good relationship with developers with whom we’ve worked with and have shown loyalty with us. Is this application unique, creative, innovative and/or visually sound? We are always looking for new applications that are really different in the sense that we haven’t seen anything like it before. Keeping that in mind, we also want to review an application that our readers may not have seen. To sum this up, we generally want to choose an application that our readers will be interested in reading.
What is the first thing that catches your attention in an app review request?
Personally, the first thing that catches my attention when looking at a review request is how a developer presents themselves and there application. Too many times, a developer will contact us with requests like: “Hey can you review my app?” or “Please review my application.” When I look at these requests, it’s rather disappointing. I mean, what app? Who are you?
To follow up with the first thing that catches my eye; I generally focus on presentation…if someone approaches me and seems unprepared, it’s a little harder to take them seriously.
How important are the app store icons in your decision making process?
Well, when we look at the app store icons for applications, it really doesn’t affect our decision process of whether the app gets reviewed or not. Although, icons with really nice graphics would generally be preferred for some advertising to boost the image of our website. In regards to our decision making, it really has no effect; we may suggest to the developer that it would be beneficial to them if they created a better looking icon if it needed a little work.
How about the title of the app?
The title of the app is another thing that really doesn’t have much of an effect on our decision making. Unless the title of the application is simply inappropriate…although you generally won’t see a title like that! So for the title of the app, our decision process is not affected.
How about attached screenshots or video URLs?
Bringing back what we had talked about before, when a developer approaches us with a prepared presentation of their application it is easier to take them seriously. With that being said, when a developer includes screenshots and video URLs, this definitely has an effect on how we decide to proceed with a review! This shows us the developer is prepared and has taken the steps necessary to promote their application properly.
Really – what I’m getting at is this: what is the best way to get a reviewer’s attention and to increase the odds of getting an app reviewed?
Well touching up on everything we have talked about…really the best way to get a reviewer’s attention and increase yours odds of getting a review of your app is to be professional. First off, speaking for all reviewers here; time is scarce so a developer should focus on keeping their request fairly short and precise. Use proper grammar, give a quick description about yourself and your app, be sure to include an itunes link within your request, you can also include some screenshots, a video link as well as a press release if you have one. Basically, as a developer, you’re asking a reviewer to generally use his/her own time to do something for you. So you should be respectful, whether the review is being paid for or not; in turn you’ll be treated respectfully.
OK – what are a few things to avoid?
As a developer you really want to avoid saying things such as “Can I have a good review?” or “Please give my app a high rating!” It happens all too often. Also, a developer should try to avoid being impatient. We understand that the process can be slow at times, but there are lots of developers out there looking to get their app reviewed!
How many times does a developer typically need to contact you before you pay more attention to their app? Or a better way to ask this question, how important is follow up from the developer and where is the line between being persistent and being a stalker?
Well, a developer really only needs to contact me the once. I generally reply to an email within 24 hours and during holidays 48-72 hours. I would always recommend a follow up email if you have not received a reply back to your first response. A friendly reminder is always welcomed especially if for some reason an email has been misplaced or confused with another! Personally, some developers will simply carry on a conversation and generally ask about the review process. I love to keep in contact with developers and follow up on their success. This is completely acceptable in my book, being persistent by not only asking about their application but just having a general conversation. If a developer is continually messaging 1-2 times a day, asking to get a review for their application — please please please — we will generally not continue to work with this individual. We simply like to keep things professional!
My background happens to be in the music business so for me, there are very clear parallels between apps and songs. And I happen to see review sites as radio stations in this analogy. As a developer or as a musician, you can have a great app/ track, but if the radio stations don’t play it —no one can hear it. Do you see any validity in this comparison? And if so, what are your thoughts on this matter?
Not being an expert in the music industry, I can only relate to my general knowledge. Although using this analogy, we can see how this may have some legitimacy in regards to how reviewers/radio stations as well as apps/tracks work together. Looking into the question of radio stations not playing a track that nobody will hear it. You can see some comparison between review publishers and radio stations. When an app/track enters the industry, it’s instantly being challenged by millions of other apps/tracks. I believe that for an app or track to become great; to reach the top, is based on if the app/track is truly great! A publisher or radio station generally promotes visitors/listeners, from then on the app/track carries its own weight and will succeed or fail. In this regard, I can see how radio stations and app reviewers are very similar in trying to help developers and artists try and succeed in such a large industry.
OK – so to take it a step further. Radio is an older business model and radio stations have segmented along interests. You have classical stations, indie stations, college stations and rock stations. No one station appeals to every crowd segment but by differentiating along genre interests, radio is better able to serve its customers. To me, the app business feels much younger and this differentiation has not yet happened. All review sites seem to be as broad as possible to attract as many viewers as possible. Do you think that this will change and we’ll start to see a lot more specialization in the future?
Alright, continuing the relationship between radio stations and review websites and looking into it further. I agree with you in regards that the app business is still very young. It is always a possibility of differentiation in the future amongst review websites. You can slowly see signs of this already beginning that can lead to this possibility, for example, when we look at websites that focus on kids/educational applications for younger audiences. Although the difference between review websites, and radio stations is the fact that readers and listeners have a much different scale of viewership. For example, as a single website you are still able to provide your readers with the apps they want with the ability of having multiple categories to work with. This is where the difference comes in between a review website and a radio station. As far as seeing specialization in the future, it is definitely possible to see different areas of expertise; examples such as business apps, cooking apps, utility apps and of course gaming apps.
To go further with this metaphor and line of thinking, how does an app review site find viewers and loyal readers? What makes iviewapps different than your competitors? See – the way I see things may be different than some other developers. I believe that developers and review sites are partners and that we both need each other in order to really approach the consumer market. Without compelling apps, you don’t have anything interesting to review and as such, you have no readers. Or back to that analogy, you have a bad radio station with few listeners. So with that in mind, how do you see developers and reviewers working together to better serve the readers?
Well, looking at how we found viewers and loyal readers to continue coming back to our website, revolved around the fact of simply talking to developers one on one. I generally take a legitimate interest in how developer’s start up, create there apps, inspirations to build an app and so on. I like to keep in touch with my developers as much as possible and follow up on how their app is doing in the market. Generally this relays off into the developers word of mouth, reaching out to their friends. Looking at the differences between iViewApps and our competitors is generally like anything else. If you treat people right it will reflect on how your business is run. Like you said at the end, if we have pleasing reviews people are more apt to follow as well. So we focus on keeping our reviewers to an un-biased standard regardless of being a payed or free review. This is also true about what you say in regards to the relationship between developers and reviewers. This is why talking to developers is really helpful to learn about the people who have created these apps, is good because you get a better understanding on how to relate with one another. This will carry on to provide our readers with a better experience while visiting your website as well. When we can work with the developers to create fun themes, interviews..etc its becomes a better way to tackle the market all together!
And with that, I’ve got to ask, what about developers paying for reviews? Pay-to-play is well documented in the music industry but it’s not really talked about outside of developer circles in this industry yet. What is your view on this for both the short-term and long-term health of the industry. I don’t ask this with any moral stance or objections to the process or with any judgement either way. I just think that it is a very interesting subject to cover. And like any other site — we need readers too;) Interesting topics and subjects generate interested eyeballs.
Thank you in advance, Sid.
I’m really glad you asked this question, a lot of publishers tend to avoid this question all too often! I’ll try and sum this up quickly as you could definitely write books on this topic. Some reviewer’s would argue the fact that they take their own time to write reviews… and usually end up with more and more requests piling up daily; that maybe it’s ok to reward themselves a bit for the work they have done! Others would argue that reviews should be free and developers should not be charged for their reviews, because as a reviewer…when money comes into play it can lead to a biased opinion of a developer’s application. If the main industry supports paid reviews it can be seen as beneficial as well as problematic. It’s great that reviewers
can be rewarded for the work they put in, although in certain circumstances reviewers will take advantage of monetary gains and create biased reviews. This can virtually lead to some damage as customers could be mislead to buy a particular app. I think the long-term health of the industry would benefit with such things as pay-to-play. This way you will begin to see more reviewers trying to help developers succeed in such a large market. I believe that a biased reviewer really only harms themselves in the long run as their negative reputation will carry on in the long run!
Personally, I think both views are great. In respect to knowing how much work it really takes to control the requests that come in and review them fairly. The way I like to do things at iViewApps is really give reviewers a chance to be rewarded for their hard work as well as allowing developers to benefit receiving some advertising if they would like to pay for a review. In a waiting list of 60 other applications, it’s not really fun to be at the bottom as its undetermined how long it can take for your review to completed…if at all! Although I completely support the idea of free reviews and will always be doing free reviews at iViewApps. I believe it’s important that review sites include free reviews…not all developers have the budget to really market their app!
Sidney Doucette is the Founder of iViewApps.com. He’s from Nova Scotia, Canada and has been working with application’s for awhile and has recently taken a major interest into reviewing iPhone applications!
About Affective Apps
Affective Apps is a small independent design studio with one huge goal: to offer individuals and families creative outlets and experiences. Their newest release, Mad Lips, helps people connect through laughter. Previous apps, such as Art Bellies Pocket, showed non-artists how to create digital masterpieces that are inspired by loved ones.