The 'app rating' as a metric for your product team

Why the 'app rating' is a questionable metric to send as a product team

  • Article
  • Customer Experience
Bastiaan Boel
Customer Experience Specialist
5 min
25 Feb 2021

Before downloading a new app, consumers often look at the app's rating. This is shown in stars with 5 stars being the highest rating. What does the app rating mean for your organisation? And for your users? The app rating is a metric that accurately reflects the tension field between marketing and product. While the importance of a high rating is obvious, a shortcut can be taken on the way to it. How does your organisation use the app rating?

What does the metric mean to you? 

The app rating is often interpreted as a metric that indicates how satisfied users are with your app. Where in our experience the approach to the app rating starts out fairly neutral, it soon takes on a different shape. An important difference between the app rating and many other metrics is that the app rating is public, everyone can see it.

Because a higher app rating means more downloads, many organisations now use the rating as a marketing tool. The use of the metric is shifting towards marketing purposes. When this becomes the goal, organisations do everything they can to get the highest possible rating.

The app rating for marketing purposes 

Below are some common actions when the rating shifts to a marketing metric:

  • Reset the app rating when it is low
  • Requesting the app rating at a happy/positive moment for the user
  • Requesting the app rating of a select group of users that you know are happy/positive

These are some examples of actions that are taken to increase the app rating, besides of course the further development of the app. When you start this, what does the rating actually say about your app? It has become a marketing metric, not a product metric. You will have to look for another metric that gives you insight into the quality of the app.

An example of how the metric can be influenced by pre-selecting users:


This app asks how the user feels about the app with a friendly pop-up using recognisable emojis. Users who choose the heart emojis will then be asked to leave a review in the App Store; on the other hand, if they choose the frowning face, they will be sent to a feedback form. 

An abstract metric for the app 

What exactly are you measuring? Besides the fact that the measurement is influenced for marketing purposes, you can also ask yourself what you are actually measuring. And what you want to measure as a team.

Suppose the rating is not influenced by your marketing team, then you still have to be careful. For many users, the rating serves as an outlet for the overall customer experience with the organisation.

The metric indicates more than the user experience of the app. The rating also includes the proposition, the service, user experience and various technical aspects. You can ask yourself whether such a metric is suitable to send as a product team, when not every aspect is under your control.

Which metric can you now use for your app? 

Our advice would be to be aware of this. Don't kid yourself when you start influencing the measurements to get more downloads. Also see if you can define other metrics that each measure their own aspect, including technology, ease of use, value delivered and marketing efforts to manage that. These are less abstract and provide more concrete tools. This way you can look for other metrics that do reflect the quality of your app. For example, you can look at the 'active usage' of the app. Read all about the active usage of your app/product in this blog. 

We are happy to contribute ideas to see which metrics suit your organisation best!

This is an article by Bastiaan Boel, Customer Experience Specialist at Digital Power

Bastiaan's mission is to make better digital products. He has extensive experience in measuring and optimising apps at organisations such as KLM, Interpolis, KPN and Philips.

Bastiaan Boel

Customer Experience

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