Increasing Customer Loyalty with Progressive Web Applications

By Lisa Forsyth, Senior Director, Strategic Accounts

You may have heard about Progressive Web Apps—how they are the next evolution of mobile experiences that businesses should pay attention to in order to remain competitive in today’s dynamic marketplace—but do you know why your business needs one?

 

A Changing Landscape

Digital technology is changing our lives faster than ever before. Our smartphones, when not in-hand, are never far from sight. We use them to wake us up and to check weather and traffic conditions before heading out the door. We tap a screen and we’re instantly connected to friends and family. We use them to shop, to bank, and to answer any questions we have. From pet health monitoring to dog walkers, from driving directions to the drivers themselves, whatever we need, we can get on demand, and we expect to get it with quick, seamless and highly polished user interfaces.

The ongoing and continuous surge in mobile device usage that we’re seeing, however, hasn’t been favorable to the native application marketplace. Customers are much less willing to spend the time required to journey through the multi-step application download process than ever before. In fact, nearly 2/3 of mobile device users install zero new apps per month. The surge in device usage has, on the other hand, led to favorable increases in web traffic coming from mobile devices, which now eclipses that of desktop. But the opposite is the case when it comes to engagement (time spent), as native applications continue to outperform mobile websites tenfold. In order to differentiate themselves from their competition, companies must understand what’s driving these behaviors and take action to retain customer engagement across platforms before another brand steps in and takes over.

 

Customers are loyal to experiences, not brands

Today’s customers expect an amazing experience every time they engage with a brand, and those expectations don’t change when they move from device to device. They expect an experience that responds to their interactions within a hundred milliseconds, whether its navigating between screens/pages, switching tabs, clicking on filters, or sorting results. And traditional web experiences, even the most performant ones, just can’t get there because of the round trips to the server they require. At best, they create small delays that are only briefly annoying to users. At worst, they make a mobile site completely inaccessible when connections slow down or drop. In this age of decreasing spare time, our user journeys continue in moments, and if a brand’s isn’t there in that moment, the result could mean the loss of a potential customer to a competitor’s more polished experience.

When your site or app is clumsy or slow, 29% of smartphone users will immediately switch to another site or app if it doesn’t satisfy their needs. In fact, of those who switch, 70% do so because of lagging load times. And 67% will switch if takes too many steps to purchase or get desired information.

Customer’s just aren’t loyalty to brands the way they used to be. It’s not just about having a great product or service anymore—it’s the entire experience a brand provides. Customers are loyal to experiences, and a brand is only as good as the last interaction the customer had with it. Businesses must deliver great experiences across all touch points to win in this increasingly competitive marketplace and they must exceed the customer’s expectations at every point in the journey.

 

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Build better experiences and get better results with Progressive Web Applications

The good news is that what we can do on the web is becoming increasingly closer to what we can do with mobile applications, and a well-designed Progressive Web App can bridge the user experience gap between mobile sites and native applications. Using a web stack (JS, HTML, and CSS) and a suite of new web APIs, Progressive Web Apps are streamlined web applications capable of mimicking the navigation, interactivity, and immersive full screen experiences found in native applications. They are installable in one tap, live on the home screen, and are always up to date. Progressive Web Apps also offer push notifications, enabling brands to effectively re-engage them with customized, relevant content, and they are not dependent on network conditions, so they can continue delivering the polished experience users have come to expect, even when off-line or on a low-quality connection.

Progressive Web Apps combine the functionality of native applications with the distribution of the web, and early adopters are seeing startling large benefits.

Twitter

The popular social media platform with more than 328 million active users developed the Twitter Lite Progressive Web App to increase engagement and reduce data consumption in low bandwidth areas. Twitter Lite is fast and responsive, uses less data, takes up less storage space, and supports push notifications and offline use in modern browsers. Since its release in April 2017, the brand has seen the following gains:

  • 70% decrease in data consumption
  • 75% increase in tweets
  • 65% increase in sessions
  • 30% decrease in page load times
  • 20% drop in bounce rate
Lancôme

Mobile traffic was eclipsing desktop traffic for the first time in 2016, but despite this increase in mobile visitors, mobile conversions rates were still significantly lower than desktop.  Lancôme looked to Progressive Web App technologies to provide an immersive experience with reliable performance despite network conditions, and push notifications for re-engagement.

  • 84% decrease in load time before page is interactive
  • 15% decrease in bounce rate
  • 51% increase in mobile sessions
  • 17% increase in mobile conversions
  • 12% increase in conversion on abandoned carts
Pinterest

This image-based platform serves a “catalog of ideas” that inspires over 200 million active users monthly. After consistently seeing an 80% higher engagement rate in their native applications than their site, the brand re-examined the state of their website on mobile browsers and realized the mobile web experience for people in low-bandwidth environments and limited data plans was not good. And because of this, only a small percentage of the users that landed on the mobile web site went as far as signing up or logging in. With more than half of their active users based outside the U.S., building a first-class mobile website was an opportunity to make Pinterest more accessible globally, and ultimately improve the experience for everyone. After a year on the market, the results are impressive:

  • Increase of weekly active users by 103%
  • Increase of Pins seen by 401%
  • Increase of logins by 370% and new signups by 843%
  • Decrease of the page payload from 490kb to 190kb

 

 

PWAs: The Best of Both Worlds

With such incredible gains to be had, it’s no wonder interest in Progressive Web Apps is growing faster than ever. The web is still the platform with the most powerful reach, and Progressive Web Apps can deliver the immersive, highly performant, and polished experiences users expect from a native application. A poorly designed Progressive Web App, however, won’t lead to any competitive advantage gains, and considering how fleeting customer loyalty can be, could even damage the overall perception of the brand. In fact, according to a study from Google, 69% of online consumers’ report that the quality, timing, or relevance of a company’s online presence influences their overall perception of a brand.

A successful mobile strategy means nailing the basics first—it means understanding what customers want and expect, and then designing the best experience possible. An experience tailored to our expectations.  One we want to spend time with. A delightful journey we can continue on in our spare moments.

Contact us at pwa@smashingideas.com if you’re ready to test the waters.

 

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