Any mobile entrepreneur aspires to disrupt the market and become the next big thing in tech. Names like Instagram and Tinder instantly come to mind, painting the perfect picture of the American mobile dream. With almost every aspect of our lives turning to the small screen to establish an innovative presence, success in the field is taking on many new meanings and interpretations.

So what IS mobile success? Unfortunately, there’s no definite answer. First of all, it depends on who’s asking. If you’re a startup developing a mobile app or a global brand looking to establish a dominant mobile presence, your goals will be different, and as a direct result, so will your definition of success.

When it comes to startups, early-stage entrepreneurs are extremely ambitious and strive for big numbers. Their goal seems pretty straightforward: get the largest amount of people to download their app -- the more exposure the better. However, as the mobile industry matures it becomes clear that quality users are what entrepreneurs should really be after.

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Whereas years ago investors sought after apps with a large user volume and overlooked those with a relatively small following, today’s reality is a different story. Industry insiders know the power of a strong user base, regardless of its volume -- an active community with interesting behaviors and patterns indicates that the product genuinely is promising. Engagement is key, not quantity.

It’s all about understanding what your product really needs. If you’re a mobile game, chances are the majority, if not all of your revenue, comes from a tiny percentage of users (approximately 2 percent). It does not require too much common sense to know that the only sector worth marketing to is that small percentage of “whales."

Or, if your product is a transportation app, it does not help you one bit when users download your app but don't book rides. A quality user for you would mean one that plugs in their credit card information and orders a cab. That’s what success looks like for you.

The point is that for apps, installs are no longer a sign of success. Apps with tons of downloads may not be as successful as the numbers lead people to believe. A strong base of users who are active, contribute to the community and make in-app purchases, should be your goal, and harnessing more of those users is your new definition of mobile success.

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On the other hand, if you’re a “traditional,” non-digital brand looking to make a name for yourself in the mobile arena, your definition of success should be different. Cultivating a user base and getting your name out there shouldn’t be much of a challenge, since you already have a consumer base.

For brands, succeeding in mobile means creating an improved experience -- one that utilizes everything mobile devices have to offer -- and providing users with an alternative platform to interact with the brand in a way that will keep them coming back for more.

In a recent conversation with a colleague, she mentioned that she uses an app of an American food chain that doesn’t have branches in her country of residence. She explained that the app offers various features that appeal to her such as free music and other content. This is a perfect example for a brand that succeeded in creating an enhanced mobile experience that offers consumers an added value.

Whether you're a mobile startup or a well-established brand, accurately defining your goals is a significant step on your way to mobile success. Don’t rush into forming a digital strategy without first taking the time to fully understand where you should be going.

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