Do App Reviews in the Media Matter? Yes, but, not Why You Think…

by GameHouse

App reviews are the Holy Grail of app PR, with many app developers clamoring to get their apps favorably mentioned by leading app reviewers and tech blogs. Many developers think that the value of app reviews is getting end-users to know about your game – and while this may be true to a limited extent, this is not the main reason that developers should care about getting people in the media to review their apps.

Here are a few of the real reasons that app reviews are important:

Influential People and Thought Leaders Often Pay Attention to Reviews

Getting featured on Apple can make or break your app launch. While the average end-user may not pay attention to the latest reviews, you can be sure that people that are making decisions about which apps to feature do. App reviews are important not because millions of end-users are going to make a decision based on what they read about your app – but because a smaller group of highly influential bloggers, thinkers and social media stars are going to be more likely to find out about your app – and spread the word. App reviews have an amplifying effect that can boost the success of your launch to the next level.

Links from External Sites Count Towards Your Position in the Google Play Store

We know that external links influence your Google Play rank and Apple may do something similar in the future. Since many app review sites have a high page rank on Google, getting links from these sites (back to your app) can have a positive impact on your ranking in the search results. Also, because bloggers, journalists and other influential people follow the latest app reviews and recommendations, one positive app review can lead to many more backlinks indirectly.

Unfortunately, it’s getting harder all the time to get your app reviewed. Reviewers for top sites get hundreds of app review requests per day. But, the good news is that you are in control of how to get your app reviewed – and there are many things you can do that don’t require a lot of money.

Here are a few suggestions to help you stand out from the crowd when you’re trying to get your app reviewed:

Build Relationships First

Lock in your launch date early so you know what deadline to aim for, and then start reaching out to influential app reviewers and bloggers months in advance. App reviewers should ideally have some idea of who you are when you contact them – even if it’s just a social media relationship or a conversation on an online forum. If the first time a journalist hears from you is when they see your template e-mail pitch asking for an app review, you have already lost. Follow them on Twitter. Interact with them. Get out to events. Make useful comments on their posts. Show that you are familiar with their work.

Make a Compelling Pitch

App reviewers get swamped with e-mails from app developers trying to get their app reviewed – to stand out, you need to be specific and write short, to the point e-mails. Have a hook in the first 1-2 sentences. Break your e-mail into headings and concise chunks of text, so it’s easy for the reader to scan through. And don’t be afraid to think beyond e-mail – get creative with your outreach. Use video and other formats. Consider sending an old-fashioned “snail mail” package to a particularly influential reviewer whose attention you’d love to get.

Build Consumer Buzz First

Journalists write about what they think people will read – and the easiest way to get a journalist’s attention is by showing that you already have an audience. Build an audience through social media or sites like Kickstarter. Show app reviewers that your app has a viable audience and is already making some noise out in the world – whether it’s a Facebook page with 1,000 “Likes,” or a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised $10,000 to build the app, or whatever you can point to as a hook that proves to the media that your app is legitimate and that they won’t regret writing about it.

Don’t Forget Bloggers and Influentials

It’s easy to send an e-mail to IGN or Pocket Gamer and hope for the best. But, your chances of getting a review in time for your launch are very low. Instead, reach out to people who write about your kind of app or who are well known in the category that your app serves (even if they are not the usual app reviewers).

For example, if you have a cooking app, getting a mention by a famous chef may mean more than getting a review on a major app review site. If you have a personal fitness app, try to get mentioned on the blog of a local/regional/national chain of fitness centers. If you have a personal safety app, try to get endorsed by the local firefighters or police officers union and ask them to write about it in their newsletter.

Every industry and category of consumer goods has various niche publications and websites that are constantly looking for story ideas – they might be grateful to get some ideas from you about the concept of writing app reviews or recommending new apps that relate to their mission.

Target your Pitches

The absolute wrong way to try to get your app reviewed is to create a generic template e-mail and send it out to a mass e-mail list of hundreds of journalists. Instead, take a personal approach and reach out to journalists one at a time. It’s better to focus on 20-30 sites that you have already built relationships with than to send e-mails to hundreds of strangers.

The key to getting app reviews is to focus on relationships and rely on an inner circle of people who know and trust you to help spread the word. While it’s possible to hit a home run by landing a big app review on one of the most-read sites, a more likely strategy is to build relationships with a wider circle of app reviewers, bloggers and influential people in a variety of roles within your target market, industry or category.

Join the conversation. What is the best or most influential review you’ve ever gotten for one of your apps? Do customers tell you about whether or not they’ve ready app reviews of your apps? How do you decide on the right tactics for app PR? Leave a comment and let us know.

By Ryan Morel

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