About the author: Hugh Kimura enjoys travel, surfing and marketing. He is the Content Strategist at Sensor Tower, a platform that helps mobile app developers do App Store Optimization (ASO) to get more downloads on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Understanding uptime and responsiveness of your app is the cornerstone to providing an excellent user experience. Tracking these metrics is vital to giving you a quantifiable way to understand how your app actually performs in the hands of your users and can help you obtain more downloads. Analyzing this data gives you valuable information, but there is still some insight that cannot be discovered through numbers alone. This means one must sort through actual reviews of the app to uncover subtle clues that can have a big impact on optimizing the performance of your mobile app.

Mining your reviews for valuable user feedback takes a lot of time. Is it really worth the effort? This post will show why Review Mining is something that should be done on a regular basis. It will also provide insight into the information you can dig up and the most efficient way to accomplish this.

You Might Just Be Seeing The Tip Of The Iceberg
In a recent study on Apple App Store reviews, we found that 57.7% of all iOS app reviewers only left one review. People who left 10 or more reviews accounted for only 1.8% of all reviewers.

This implies that regardless of the number of reviews that your app is currently getting, chances are very good that it only represents a small fraction of your total user base. Throw in the fact that many users have never written a review at all, and the useful reviews you do get become even more valuable. These reviews usually represent the sentiments of a much larger population who are having a similar experience with your app, but not vocalizing their opinion. Keep this in mind when examining reviews.

Uncover Specific Crash Conditions
When you look at your Apteligent dashboard, you may see that your app is crashing a lot on a particular screen. But if this only happens to a small number of users, it may be harder to figure out what is causing the crash. It may be an obvious problem, such as crashing only on a particular device or OS. For bugs that are harder to find, this is where reading through your app reviews can be a lifesaver. They can point to specific conditions that are causing your app to be unstable.

Discover Minor Bugs
There might be other bugs that are not pervasive enough for users to complain about, but when fixed, will add extra polish to the user experience of your app. Below is an actual review about a famous game. In addition to alerting the developers to the presence of a bug that causes the game to crash when using the chat feature, it also mentions a bug that censors words that are not swear words. Fixing the censoring bug will eliminate one more irritating distraction and make the game much more enjoyable.

It is also important to note that this review is a good example of a bug being reported in a five-star review. Keep in mind that not all reviews with positive star ratings contain positive verbiage about your app and vice versa. It is much more likely that bugs will be reported in one and two-star reviews and if you are pressed for time, that is the best place to start. Nonetheless, it is important that you search both positive and negative reviews to get the maximum benefit from Review Mining. In addition, there may also be issues with your app that are not actually bugs, but could be improved. Ugly graphics, oddly positioned buttons or a process flow that is not intuitive, are just a few issues to examine.

Analyze Your Competition
Review Mining your competition can also help you improve your app functionality and marketing efforts. If there is a function that users of a competing app really enjoy, you should think about including a similar function. On the flip side, if there is a feature that people complain about in an app and your app does that well, it is a selling point that should be included when marketing your app. Finally, look for the absence of a feature that users would find useful and either add a similar feature to your app or if you already have it, add extra emphasis to that fact.

Keeping track of your competition is especially useful if your app does not get too many reviews but you have competitors that get a ton of reviews. This will give you a broader view of your industry and allow you to more effectively survey a large population of potential users.

How To Do Review Mining
Although there is a lot of valuable information in user reviews, there also is a lot of noise. In order to get the maximum benefit out of Review Mining with a minimal amount of work, here are some suggestions.

1. If an app does not have many reviews, simply go to iTunes or Google Play and manually view the reviews for that app. In Google Play, go to the page for the app you are analyzing and sort by either Rating or Helpfulness.

Helpfulness is probably the best place to start because that will give you more in-depth reviews. But experiment and see what works best for you.

In iTunes, go to the Ratings and Reviews section of the app and select a sort from the drop down menu on the right side of the screen. The best place to start in iTunes is Most Critical because that will show you the problems that people are having with the app you are looking at.

If the app you are examining has many reviews, you will have to use something a lot more powerful. We have built a Review Analysis module into our platform to make looking for bugs much easier. You can do a search by bug description or the app feature that you want to examine. The best place to start is by looking for the word “crash.” Here is an example of the information you will see.

Notice that the star ratings for reviews that contain “crash” are largely negative, but there are also quite a few positive ratings as well. Be sure to go through all of them to uncover as much information as possible. If you have ignored user reviews in the past, I hope that this post has given you good reason to take a look at them now. Doing so is a great compliment to the data that you already get from Apteligent and can help you take a more holistic approach to continually improving your app.