PWAs, or progressive web apps, are websites that load like native web pages while incorporating original functionality from traditional mobile apps. Developed by Google, PWAs are low data websites that are optimal for both mobile and desktop users. This technology is so effective that no matter how users choose to access the PWA, it remains usable and fast.
When Google determines search results, they tend to rank fast websites above slow, outdated ones. Recent statistics from Google claim that approximately 53% of users leave a website or app if it doesn’t load in less than 3 seconds. As a result of their speed, PWAs are more likely to rank above a non-responsive, traditional website.
For most self storage facility owners, the technical skills required to develop a progressive web app may be above their skillset. While Google has an extensive library for software developers, it may be more cost and time effective to outsource a PWA to a third party marketing agency or website developer that has proven experience. Having a website that is slow, difficult to use, or that crashes can cause problems and can lower your Google search ranking. Keeping your website fast and simple can be the key to success.
"Optimizing your website can help increase your search result rankings."
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process used to organically increase traffic to your website. Traffic isn’t everything - it’s about creating profitable traffic. Sure, getting 10,000 views is great, but if none of those views are from potential tenants, then you’re not getting the right traffic. This is where SEO steps in - it helps generate local traffic to your facility’s website by moving your facility up on Google search results. One of the ways your website developer should do this is by using relevant keywords and having searchable text that matches that people in your area search when looking for self storage.
While the benefits of using PWAs are enumerable when you’re in the self storage industry, one of the biggest ones is HTTPS. HTTPS is used on secure websites and is a key requirement for PWAs. Google doesn’t want to push traffic onto websites filled with potential viruses, so having a secure HTTPS website will encourage Google to move your facility up on their rankings.
"Self storage facilities are all about creating a safe environment to store items, and your website should be no exception."
Progressive web apps also require 70% less data than a traditional web app. This means that if your potential and current tenants load your website in a data-restricted area, it will still load significantly faster than a traditional app.
Another great benefit to embracing a PWA is the ability to send push notifications to current tenants. Push notifications can range from upcoming storage unit auctions and rent to warnings about upcoming storms or facility maintenance. It’s a smart and easy way to show tenants that you want them to stay informed, and doing this can increase tenant occupancy long-term. For mobile users, this experience can make it feel like a traditional web app, while using less storage on their phone.
Traditional apps require users to constantly (and manually) update to ensure they have security and new features. With PWAs, developers are able to update in the background so that users never have to worry about personal security. PWAs are also cached, making it possible for users who are away from cell service or wifi to view facility information, such as addresses and hours.
"While it can be tempting to stick with the tried-and-true traditional apps, the reality is that most mobile users do not download any apps on a monthly basis."
Traditional apps are more expensive, and without data to prove that they are worth the investment, it makes sense to consider adopting a PWA that meets users halfway so they can use your app without altering the way they use their technology.
Additionally, PWAs are easy to share with friends and family. If a tenant or potential tenant sees a storage unit or deal that they like, they can easily share a direct link to that page with their friends or family that may also be interested. This is ideal for facilities near college towns, where parents often do research and share that information with their children.
After West Elm, a home decor company, added a PWA to their website, they found a 15% increase in the amount of time users spent on their site. A great part of the success businesses find with PWAs is because Progressive Web Apps are optimized for both mobile and desktop users, regardless of operating system or internet browser.
Overall, implementing a PWA can provide opportunity to increase revenue, website traffic, and search engine rankings. PWAs can help potential tenants determine which storage unit and facility best fits their needs, budget, and values.