If you’ve clicked this link, you’re probably thinking one of two things …

“Web push notifications? You mean those messages websites try to get me to sign up for by blasting me with an annoying “blah.com would like to send you notifications” prompt the first time I load their page… the ones I always deny?”


“What the hell is a web push notification and why should I care?”

Both of those are fair questions, but let’s first take a look at some advantages of web push notifications and why you might care.

No need to have a mobile app to get the benefit of mobile push notifications:
Web push notifications work exactly like the native mobile push. So, you don’t have to create a mobile app just to get the benefit of native push notifications on mobile.

Wider reach across browsers:
Safari, Chrome and Firefox when combined have a market share of about 61-77%. With these browsers providing support for web push the reach of web push notifications is immense.

Access to users who are not on your website:
Using web push notifications, you can reach out to those users who are not on your website

Ability to re-engage users without knowing their contact details:
Web push notifications don’t need a user’s email or other contact details.

Higher opt-ins as compared to emails:
Since users don’t need to give their email id or other contact details and they also have the ability to unsubscribe from receiving notification easily whenever they want, the opt-ins for web push notifications are higher than emails.

Lower unsubscribe / opt-out rates:
Studies have shown that less than 10% of the subscribers who opted for notifications from a site, unsubscribed in a year.

Prompt and assured content delivery:
The moment you click on “send notification now”, it will be delivered to the users immediately. Unlike emails that sometimes fail to deliver or go to spam folder, these notifications are for sure delivered to the user.

Higher conversion rates:
Studies have shown that web push notifications have 30 times higher conversion when compared with mail.

Greater mindshare of users:
Sending notifications even when the users are not on your website, helps you capture their mindshare and then as the saying goes market share follows!

Source: OneSignal.com

There are quite a few reason to care about web push notifications if you’re in the business of creating omni-channel messaging, abandoned cart messaging, order status messaging, or a host of other types of messaging where your goal is to re-engage your customers and keep them coming back. This gives marketers and customer engagement teams a new method of reaching customers that takes hardly any development time and at near zero cost.


The right and the wrong way to ask permission…

Addressing that first response about immediate opt-outs… Yes, customers immediately opting out of messaging when you prompt them happens and it’s bad… and that’s exactly why you shouldn’t immediately prompt them the first time they visit your website. I’ve seen loads of websites employing this method and they’re quickly ruining any chance of getting a large push notification segment.

There are two basic methods of asking a visitors for permission to send them notifications:

Method 1: Browser based prompting (cannot re-attempt)

You’ve probably encountered this method before, it’s a drop down just below the address bar that says “blah.com would like to send you notifications” with handy “allow” and “deny” buttons. When you slam customers with the prompt the first time they visit your website, it’s no surprise many deny access. The customer has no way of knowing exactly what you’re going to message them about, they just envision you sending them a million alerts asking them to buy stuff. What’s worse, customers have to go into their browser settings and unblock you if they’ve denied access, which basically means you’ll never be unblocked. You had one shot, and you blew it!

Method 2: Website based prompting (can re-attempt)


The second (and right) method is to custom create your own way of prompting the customer within your website. The way this works is, you code a button or send them an alert on your website either asking for permission to send them notifications or giving them the ability to opt in to notifications. If they click the icon or click “yes” to your website prompt THEN you send them the browser-based permission prompt. There are a couple of advantages to this method.

  • If they’re clicking the icon or replying “yes” to your website prompt, they’re nearly certain to approve the official browser prompt that immediately follows. This alleviates the concern of people opting out of notifications forever.
  • If they reply “no” to your website prompt, because you didn’t just blast them with the browser-based prompt that can’t be undone, you have a chance to prompt them again in the future or they can opt in later with your website button.

Side Note: If you choose to prompt them with a pop-up like the one shown above, you should find an organic opportunity to ask them, like when they start a cart, complete an order, or view their bill. Throwing a unprompted pop-up at them, especially when they first visit, isn’t the best experience and you probably won’t like the response they give.

[Shameless Plug]

This website allows you to opt-in to web push notifications by clicking the red icon in the bottom right corner; we only send notifications when a new article is published. Remember, Apple hasn’t yet allowed web push notifications on iOS. If you’re reading this on an iPhone, it won’t work (yet).

[/Shameless Plug]

Web push notifications are an easy, quick, and cheap way to engage with a large segment of your customers. Every company with a “digital first” strategy should leverage this technology.

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