Weekly App Review: How Evernote Should Recover from a Crash

Helpshift’s Review Analytics gives a thorough, actionable breakdown of what people say about your product in the app store. You now have the ability to transform feedback into a solid product development and marketing strategy at scale. Every week we’ll provide data-driven insights for an app based on its publicly available user ratings.

Evernote has a global average review score of 3.7 on iOS, excluding ratings without a review attached. What was the bug that affected Evernote’s awesome ratings? How can they control the damage?


Our review sentiments show where Evernote had a few negative review spikes over the past 30 days. Normally users are quite happy with the app; some days there are no low reviews at all. A sudden surge of negative reviews can indicate a serious recent issue. Looking at the review trends will reveal what caused dissatisfaction among Evernote’s users:


From the US, UK, and even China, feedback about bad updates will be heard around the world. They all have the same complaint: the app is literally unusable because of a bug that crashes the app. A bad update can cost thousands due to customer churn, stifled user acquisition, and lost developer time. There are likely hundreds of users who are deleting the app for every one person that leaves feedback in the store. Only 16% of app users are willing to try a crashing app multiple times.

Preventing Bad Review Spikes

Preventing bad review spikes means anticipating needs in the Age of the Customer. Nigel Fenwick from Forrester writes “companies that fail to adapt to increasingly powerful customers, and disruptive competition, will not simply face near-term disruption — they risk their long-term viability.” Evernote has to act fast to control the situation. Here’s the standard method they should use to iterate products with customer feedback:

  1. Give customers an easy, direct way to provide feedback outside of the app store.
  2. Analyze what users request, and segment requests by priority & possibility.
  3. Shift your workflow to prioritize bugfixes over new features.

In-app messaging is the preferred method of receiving direct feedback, because it has less friction than email and increases engagement by up to 30%. It also diverts potential bad reviews to prevent acquisition losses while you recover from bugs. 75% of the top 1000 apps have at least 4 stars–losing ratings to a temporary bug can damage app success forever. Connecting with users on a personal level is a perfect way to let them know that the solution is on the way.

Evernote should use “phased” (region-specific) updates to test out a new release. For instance, push an update in the US a few days before the UK, and stop any problems that arise before it goes global. That would prevent the massive international customer issue increases they saw this month. No developer can truly foresee all bugs, but anyone can prevent the potential scale of the issue.

How to Survive a Bad Update

Push notifications come in handy after a bugfix–let users know that their voice has been heard in the latest patch. DomiNations often uses that messaging to remind players of game balance patches, new features, and other attractive changes. Users are three times more likely to return when an app pings them with important updates. Push notifications are one of the simplest ways to mitigate acquisition loss.

Evernote also needs to begin a reengagement campaign to attract users that have deleted the product. Many apps create YouTube videos to reach that audience, because the majority of our generation browses that site for information and fun. Thought-leaders in mobile have shared comprehensive talks about how to start engaging customers when you can’t send push notifications or market directly.

Once everything is fixed, Evernote should leverage their community, evangelists, and/or power users to share how the app is now back in business. Minecraft players have purchased the game multiple times when friends inspire one another to try new content. A great campaign would be encouraging users to edit their bad review if they feel the issue has been addressed–bringing them back to 4.5-star competitiveness.


  • After launching an update with a huge bug, Evernote should take advantage of in-app messaging tools that bring users away from the app store when they provide the needed feedback to recover.
  • Always segment your feedback by priority and your ability to accomplish it. Bugfixes are always more important than new features, especially for retaining users.
  • Release updates one region or segment at a time. That way, if there’s an unforeseen issue, only a portion of your users will complain and be affected by churn.
  • Use Push Notifications to let users know that their issue is being addressed. Be sure to leverage your community to bring back users that have churned while you fixed the problem.

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