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Bad reviews can burn your money within 24 hours

If your brand has less-than-good reviews, your monetary value is at risk. Users expect brands to be on the reach-out 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This is a disruptive challenge for everybody and a great opportunity for the brands that are on it.

Your customers are out there talking about you and giving you hints - or straight-out requests - about what you should do better. More often than not, reacting to those requests as a brand is enough to bind your reviewers and convert them to long-term buyers. Being there for them, listening, moderating and acting is key to modern customer satisfaction.

Engaging in the conversation with your customers, you will make them happy while gathering fresh, unbiased feedback from the market as a side benefit. In sum, a review management strategy helps you on several fronts and should also be a key point in your market fit research.

Business case: Super Mario Run and the free-to-start model


This is the story of how app de-installers once again didn’t miss the chance (they never do) to leave bad reviews, reinforcing each other and drawing app ratings down to 2 out of 5 stars.

Super Mario Run was published as a free-to-start app - a kind-of-freemium model that allows the user to play with the full version of the software for free until s/he hits a specific mark. You may know this model from many office and business tools. The idea behind it is pretty similar to the one of a time-limited software trial. Instead of a limited number of days of usage - “try me for 30 days, then decide if you want to buy” - Super Mario runs some levels for free before the user hits a 10$ paywall.

Right after launch, the download numbers were looking good - the app had been downloaded almost 90 millions of times shortly after the publication. So much enthusiasm within the early downloaders didn’t replicate in the percentage of them who decided to keep the app by paying for it. Keeping playing wasn’t worth the charge to many users, who eventually de-installed the app. Today, approximately 3 years after the launch, the discussion around the free-to-start model of Mario Run is still open within the online community:

Forecasts and truth.

Of course, Nintendo did anticipate that not all free starters would convert into paying users - nevertheless, they did forecast a conversion rate of two figures and had to face a disappointing 5%. While the free-to-start model seems to work for other kinds of software (for example, for productivity software or office utilities), Super Mario Run was different in at least one key component - time.

The time constraints of it were found to be unfortunate. In the original release version, each level was capped at 90 seconds and only 3 levels were free. The entire gaming time that a user had at his disposal before hitting the paywall summed up to 4,5 minutes. A relatively short time, even for millennials with a short attention span.

Short gaming experience and the upfront paywall caused 95% of the users to uninstall the app.

Bad reviews can get your stock value down


The fact that people were de-installing the app came down with two problems. Nintendo made on the game much less money than they had forecasted. In absolute numbers, it was still a success - 5% of 78 million users still sums up a lot of paying users - but a different app monetization model could have granted much more.

Most importantly, with a bad rating, it had gotten even more difficult for Nintendo to attract new players or convince de-installers to come back. A study on the social function of anger in product reviews confirms that Nintendo lost 7% of its stock market value within 24 hours because of bad reviews.

Protect your market value from bad reviews and decrease your product development costs.

This short story about plumbers teaches marketers, product teams and entrepreneurs how important it is to collect and manage genuine customer feedback over the web, to react on it and to integrate it in their future product decisions. Sometimes, timely feedback could even help revise decisions that were already made.

Beyond and before market researches and expert roundtables, take a closer look and nurture your brand’s greatest resource - your customers.

What do you think about Nintendo's case? And as a brand, do you use customer feedback for future product decisions? Let us know in the comments!

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