When it comes to mobile apps, smart strategies and clever design can make all the difference in the world in regards to downloads and active app users. The differences between a successful app and one that goes unused can sometimes be as small as a tweak to the user interface or the addition of a single helpful feature. Regardless of what business you're in, having a strong mobile app can keep your brand top of mind to your customers.

Check out these great tips for building an all-star app that mimics the success of the best mobile brands.

Location, Location, Location

Let's be frank—we're all in the business of doing business. This means that, no matter where you customers are in the world, you want your brand to be as accessible  as possible. While this may sound simple, making effective use of your brand's mobile app to accomplish this can be deceivingly difficult. However, it's not impossible. Many brands fall into the trap of thinking that their apps are places to offer their products or services to their customers while they roam the world. While this may be true for some, it could not be further from the truth for others.

Take the mobile app for oil and gas giant, Shell, for one. More than a map with Shell locations on it, its app offers countless features to help motorists plan their trips and find their way to their destinations efficiently. Shell's app didn't seek to exclusively usher people to Shell service stations. Instead, it looked at common problems of its customers and built its app to correct those problems in a way that is intuitive and useful for the end user. Think about what problems your customers might be facing while they are out in the world. Is there a way that you can correct these problems while simultaneously building consumer trust?

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Easy Does It

Mobile apps have come a long way since they first debuted. Gone are the days where playing with a fake Zippo lighter or tossing paper into a basket constituted a valuable additions to users' home screens. These days, people want apps on their phones that make their day-to-day lives easier, and there are a lot from which to choose. Knowing this, it's important to really dial into your app's user experience. Offering valuable tools to assist your consumers is a solid start, but if they're left staring at a frustrating and clunky user interface, your app likely won't gain much traction.

Take Starbucks, for example. The dominant coffee chain has a storied history of embracing UX changes that make their customers' everyday lives simpler. Starting with a store locator, as most major brands do, the world-famous bean roaster quickly expanded its mobile app offering to include many other quality-of-life features—such as mobile pay and drink personalization—which have allowed the app to stand head and shoulders above other apps in the food-and-beverage industry. Simply put, if you want people to use your app often, it needs to offer a pleasant experience. Simple, boxy visuals, a cluttered user interface and glitchy in-app functions will drive users away—regardless of how useful your app may be. 

READ: 5 Things to Keep in Mind When Graphic Designing for Digital

Recommendation: Gamification

If you've been around the marketing game long enough, you've almost certainly heard the term "gamification" thrown around a time or two. For those who haven't already bought into the phenomenon, gamification is a term used to describe the concept of taking the user-captivating elements developed by the video-game industry and applying them to the world of business. This may sound like a peculiar concept, but you've likely already experienced it at work.

For instance, Dominos' in-app "Pizza Tracker" feature allows its hungry customers to track the progress of their pizzas from order-entry to eating and everything in between. This adds an element of fun to the pizza-buying process and prevents customers from calling in wondering how much longer they'll have to wait for their 'za. Reward points, progress bars and achievement badges are all gamification elements that have become widely adopted by the best mobile app brands. Finding a no-cost way to incentivize users to use your app regularly will undoubtedly result in more daily active users for your app, which is sure to improve your company's bottom line. 

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From pizza to gasoline and everything in between, every business or industry could stand to boost the key performance indicators of their apps. By adopting a few of the strategies referenced here, you can separate your mobile application from the un-downloaded masses and keep your brand top of mind for the customers and clients your business serves. Who knows? Maybe you'll stumble across the next big in-app innovation.

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