With the evolution of technology, Internet users expect to visit clean, engaging and reliable websites. At the same time, app technology has taken the world by storm in the last decade, accounting for 89 percent of all mobile media time.
So, what if there was a way to combine the convenience of an app with the speed and search engine optimization (SEO) abilities of a responsive website? That’s where a Progressive Web App (PWA) comes in. A PWA is a new technology by Google that combines the best features of traditional apps and websites into a single, low-data website optimized for mobile and desktop users. By 2020, these all-encompassing platforms will have replaced 50 percent of general-purpose consumer-facing apps, according to Gartner Research, a global research and advisory firm.
Let’s look at some PWA benefits and drawbacks, and how to get started using one in your self-storage operation.
There are dozens of benefits to adopting a PWA, from fast loading, to low data and battery use, to safety and security, to automatic background updates. Here are a few highlights:
- According to Google, 53 percent of Internet users will leave a website or app if it takes longer than three seconds to load. For that reason, the search engine giant gives strong preference to websites that are fast and efficient. It’s often inclined to rank a fast-loading PWA above a slower, non-responsive website.
- PWAs require 70 percent less data to load, which is great for users on data-restricted cell-phone plans.
- An interactive PWA experience allows customers to engage from any digital medium in any location. This means your self-storage tenants can access your information from anywhere with unparalleled speed.
- PWAs offer push notifications, which are great for reminding tenants about rent, upcoming auctions, maintenance projects or office closures.
- HTTPS, which is used for secure websites, is a requirement for PWAs and can play a role in improving your website ranking. Search engines and your tenants value security, so it makes sense that Google and other search engines do as well.
- With traditional apps, users must download from the store. A PWA, on the other hand, can be easily added to a phone's home screen with the click of a button. It offers an enhanced mobile experience with an app-like feel. Not only is this great for increasing conversions, it decreases bounce rates and improves SEO.
- Traditional apps must be repeatedly updated. With a PWA, the developer can update the program in the background to ensure users always have the most recent release. With offline abilities as well, cached versions of the PWA are available so users can check information quickly, even when they don’t have Internet service.
Faster, integrated and engaging, a PWA allows your business to reach a larger audience than ever before; however, it isn’t a perfect solution to engaging customers. It’s a relatively new technology, and many people are struggling to use them to their fullest potential. From a self-storage operator’s standpoint, it can be difficult to convey the usefulness of a PWA to a customer. This may require a campaign to teach tenants. In the long term, though, proper adoption can prove extremely beneficial.
Trumping Traditional Apps
While a PWA may be a foreign concept to you, most major companies now have one, including Instagram and Uber. In recent months, studies have shown that most smartphone users are hesitant to download new apps and are averaging zero (yes, zero!) per month, making traditional apps an extremely expensive and ineffective option.
Traditional apps also aren’t designed for easy sharing among peers, but with PWAs, users are always one click away from being able to share a page. If someone has a relative in college, for example, being able to quickly share your self-storage website with them via e-mail, text or social media can help start a conversation among potential tenants about renting from your facility.
When West Elm, a home-decor company in Brooklyn, N.Y., added a PWA to its website, it experienced a 15 percent increase in the amount of time users spent on its site. With so much local competition for storage facilities, boosting the length of time users spend on your site will help create business and return visits. A lot of this success is because PWAs are optimized for mobile and desktop users, regardless of operating system or Internet browser.
If you search online for PWAs, you may be overwhelmed by the information at your fingertips, and that's OK! As with all great things, there’s a lot to consider.
For the average self-storage facility, developing a PWA may be out of reach. You could try to build one on your own, but there are many companies that specialize in PWA development. Google provides a wealth of knowledge for software developers who produce these technical programs. Whether you develop a PWA or partner on one, remember it's often better to keep things simple.
When trying to create a more profitable online presence, it can be beneficial to use the services of a proven digital marketing agency that can ensure your website makes the transition without a hitch. After all, having a website that’s difficult to use or maintain may cause more damage than benefits.
Don’t forget to optimize your website for SEO. While there are other ways to help your rankings, such as completing Google My Business listings and gathering online reviews, having a fast website filled with relevant, genuine keywords will benefit your organic rankings.
Part of staying relevant in the digital age is ensuring your website and online presence are modern and engaging. PWAs can help create a meaningful presence that’s optimized for mobile, desktop and tablet users.
Laura Gattis is a marketing specialist for The Storage Group, a provider of self-storage technology products and services including website design, search marketing and an industry progressive web app. She earned a master’s degree in media innovation from the University of Nevada. Her expertise lies in social media management, digital marketing and strategic communications. For more information, visit www.storageinternetmarketing.com.