Your App Crash Rate is Impacting Your Growth – Here’s Why

POV: You’ve spent a lot of time developing the perfect app. This app will unveil your genius to the world; in this moment, this app is your legacy. You proudly launch it onto the app store. Time passes and you return to take in the success of your latest and greatest project to then find that it’s not taken off in the way you’d hoped. Your app is ranking poorly in stores, it’s receiving low ratings and very negative reviews but you aren’t sure why.

After investigating, you find your app is the victim of a high crash rate. Has this ever been you? High crash rates can be the secret killer of your app’s marketing performance. That’s why we have compiled some useful tips to guide you through this dilemma.

Why Apps Crash

An app crashes because of a sudden exit in the program flow. As app development involves complex programming, errors are inevitable. There are many reasons why an app can crash:

Improper Memory Management

One of the major reasons why apps develop performance issues is high memory usage. In extreme cases, these performance issues end up causing the app to terminate. When a mobile devices’ operating system requires more memory to perform tasks, the first course of action is to terminate high usage apps. If your app consistently uses a lot of memory, it may end up on the operating system’s blacklist. In these circumstances, the user experience will likely suffer.

Network Issues

More cloud-based apps are being released onto both the App Store and the Play Store. This means many apps interact with cloud services to function. This leaves apps exposed to the vulnerability of network issues. Currently, network issues account for 20% of all app crashes. If the issue is temporary and beyond your control, you may want to offer the user an offline version of the app.

Device Incompatibility

Your app may be crashing because it is not compatible with the user’s device. Difficulties can occur where there are system and device updates that your app is not yet optimised for. Developers typically face issues with Android due to the wide range of devices and operating systems available. iOS apps are more predictable to work with in comparison.

Inadequate Testing

To prevent or minimise your app’s risk of crashing, it’s important to test continuously. While doing so, bear in mind that the quality of testing is equally as important as the regularity of testing. Testing your app effectively generally involves doing so in several running environments. Not all developers practice this. For a clearer insight into the end-user experience, you need to test the entire app experience.

Whatever the reason your app is crashing, it is important to understand the impact it will have on your app marketing efforts such as App Store Optimisation (ASO) or long-term engagement and retention. The first step in mitigating the impact of crashes is keeping your eyes peeled for the signals that indicate your app is victim to high crash rates.

Detecting App Crashes: How to Spot the Signs

There will often be signs that indicate that your app is not performing to its potential. If you find yourself in this dilemma, it is important to resolve the issues as quick as you can to avoid negative user sentiment or even app revenue loss.

Crash metric analysis is inbuilt into both the iOS App Store and Google Play Store algorithms. Once the Play Store and App Store algorithms learn that your app is crashing frequently, your visibility and conversion will immediately be impacted.

Alongside crash metric analysis, the algorithm also monitors other metrics like reviews, ratings, retention rates, lifetime value and even revenue. This means that the stores are constantly evaluating the quality of your product and service. If your product is proven to delight users through high engagement rates or monetise users well, you will be favoured by Apple and Google with high ranking, indexing and even feature opportunities. Reviewing these ASO success metrics regularly could help you to unveil underlying signals that point towards a high crash rate.

Bad Behaviour Thresholds

You can observe first-hand how well your apps are performing by delving into your product performance data via App Store Connect or the Play Store Console. These programmes will offer you the in-depth insights you’ll need to plan your next move. Be aware that there are also more specific measurements to watch between both iOS and Android. An example is that the Play Store has bad behaviour thresholds:

  • Overall bad behaviour threshold: At least 1.09% of daily active users experience a user-perceived crash, across all device models.
  • Per-device bad behaviour threshold: At least 8% of daily active users experience a user-perceived crash, for a single device model. […]

Android metrics will vary due to the wide range of devices available on the Android operating system. If your app exceeds the overall bad behaviour threshold, it is likely to be less discoverable on all devices. If your app exceeds the per-device bad behaviour threshold on some devices, it is likely to be less discoverable on those devices, and a warning may be shown on your store listing. Gathering data for iOS apps is less complex in comparison.

(Source: Clickz)

The Consequences of App Crashes

One of the areas of your app marketing efforts that are affected when your app has a high crash rate are your search visibility and conversion rate in the app stores.

There are many considerations that can affect app conversion rate and visibility, like app icons, metadata and your ratings and reviews. Of each of these factors, it’s worth paying particular attention to your ratings and reviews. App store ratings are typically a high conversion driver. 59% of consumers say they usually check an app’s ratings and reviews before downloading, even if everything else checks out. If you’re ramping up high negative reviews because of high crash-rates, you’ll soon see the effects on your app store conversion rate.

Ratings and Reviews

Serving as social proof, your ratings and reviews are often the first element users consider when downloading new apps. They are visible and easy to understand, making them highly influential. If a user is deciding between two apps and everything else is equal, they will download the app with the higher rating. An app should aim at keeping a rating between 4.3 and 4.9 stars but, at the minimum, needs to have a rating of at least 4.0.

Once you have a high crash rate you will likely begin to receive lower ratings and more negative reviews. Just as search engines use keywords to rank websites, app stores consider ratings and reviews too when crawling for indexing and ranking. An app with numerous negative reviews and low ratings will likely rank lower than apps with positive reviews and high ratings. This drop in ranking can lead to reduced visibility, fewer downloads, and slower growth. Apps with declining ratings and visibility begin to foster user distrust. This directly impacts an app’s potential for revenue generation; there will now be fewer opportunities to convert users into paying customers or to benefit from in-app purchases.

(Source: FoodPrint app, iOS Reviews)

Counteracting Crashes: Strategies for Success

Factoring in the information we’ve gathered above on app crashes, let’s now look into strategies we can use to counteract them. As mentioned earlier, it is very important to act quickly to mitigate the impact of high crash rates, and we suggest taking a holistic approach. From your app marketers to your developers, ensure all teams involved with your app are working collaboratively with an open communication channel. This way, once crash rate is detected, all teams can quickly and cohesively minimise damage and fix the issue. Make a point to set clear goals, aligning all team members on one common objective. Your goals and objectives also serve as mutual reference points for decision-making, prioritisation and measuring progress.

Leverage Error Monitoring Tools

These tools collect and analyse data from your app’s crashes, such as stack traces, device information, user actions, and app state. Overall, they provide valuable insights into how users interact with your app and help you identify and fix issues that may be affecting their experience. Some examples of crash reporting tools are Firebase Crashlytics, Sentry, Bugsnag, and Instabug.  

Once you have set up your error monitoring tool, you can start to identify the root causes and severity of crashes. Using filters, tags and labels to sort crashes by different criteria, you should be able to isolate metrics you can pull a reading from. Focus on the crashes that affect the most users, the most critical features, and the most recent app versions. After you have identified the root causes and severity of crashes, you can start to implement fixes and improvements based on user feedback and data. You can use your app crash reporting tool to assign, track, and resolve issues, as well as to test and deploy new app versions. 

Implement a Code Freeze

Implementing a ‘code freeze’ could also be a good solution to tackle your high crash rates. This is a period where no new code changes are allowed to be introduced into a software project. In this case, that would be an app’s software. During a code freeze, developers are typically not allowed to commit new code changes or make any modifications to the codebase. This allows the project team to focus on testing and debugging the existing code. They are also able to ensure that the software is stable and ready for release. It is advisable during peak periods.

Many of our clients do this as a measure to ensure that the app is bug free while there isn’t a team to monitor crashes. On Android, the benefit is that you can take a more systemised approach. You can isolate the problem by detecting the affected device and focus the strategy there. This is different on iOS, as there is less variety between the devices. Variety on iOS shows up more in terms of updates and operating system versions.

Keep an Eye on User Reviews

Protecting your app store reviews is really important if you are seeing the impact of high crash rates on user sentiment. However, this feedback could be very valuable for your development teams. First find the areas that you need to improve on from the comments that users are leaving about your app. Reply to the comments directly and optimise accordingly; you should then be able to ask users to leave more positive comments. Happy users are more likely to improve their reviews, which is something other store listing visitors might also see. By applying each of these methods and regularly checking consoles too, you should be able to maintain more stable apps.

Conclusion

Creating and maintaining a stable app will always come with its challenges in the ever-evolving mobile app landscape. Errors are to be expected – developers aren’t robots! It’s just a matter of understanding why said crash or error has occurred and how to quickly resolve it. Hopefully this guide has provided you useful insights and strategy that can strengthen your ASO recovery efforts for your apps. Check out some of our other posts to find more ASO best practices!

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