The world has gone mobile..or, has it?  While that's what we are all led to believe and spend any time walking around the world and you will see people glued to their mobile devices.  But, believe it not...according to Stat Counter Global Stats, 47.04% of global internet time is consumed on a desktop device.  

Worldwide Market Share

That's a massive amount of internet usage and, yet, there is still the same old problem whether your audience is engaging your website on a mobile or desktop device...people just don't stick around enough.  Site visits are fleeting, few people convert and it's really hard to get people to come back to your site after they have left.  

If you have a website, there are many ways you can build a relationship with your site visitors.  You can capture emails using a service like Hello Bar.  You can then send out regular emails or newsletters.  You can also use social to build community and send out updates and build interactions with your audiences.  

One very effective way to build a relationship with your site visitors, drive higher conversions and keep visitors coming back to your site is through Web Push Notifications.  

WHAT ARE WEB PUSH NOTIFICATIONS?

Web Push notifications are content messages that are sent to a device by a web application or website.  These Web Push notifications can only be sent to site visitors who have opted-in to receive such notifications from a particular website or web application.  This opt-in for Web Push notifications usually occurs by a visitor visiting a site and being presented with a Web Push notification that asks if that visitor would like to receive updates from that website.  If a user accepts or says yes, then that visitor subscribes to these updates.  

Basic Opt-In; More Advanced Opt-In Designs Available On Some Browsers

Web Push notifications can be delivered to a mobile or desktop device, though Web Push notifications are mostly used to send Web Pushes to users on a desktop device.  These Web Pushes can be sent to a device whether a user is on the site the user subscribed to or not.  This means that Web Pushes are very effective in bringing people back to a website and enable a website to build a strong and consistent relationship with those who have subscribed to updates through Web Push notifications.  

The technology behind Web Push notifications, also known as Browser Push notifications,  is slightly different for each of the browsers.  Therefore, Web Push notifications have slight differences between Chrome, Edge, Safari and Firefox.

Web Push notifications are effective for delivering a variety of different messages and driving a variety of actions from subscribers.  They are highly visible and engaging though they take up a small amount of screen real estate compared to other tools.  

Web pushes look a bit different on each browser - with Subscribers, you can preview each push by browser

WHY SHOULD YOU USE WEB PUSH NOTIFICATIONS?

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.

  • You can connect with your audience even when they aren't on your website: This is a massive benefit of Web Push notifications.  You can send your audience update, content and other things of value even when they aren't on your site.  
  • You don't need to know a person's contact info to build a relationship with them: Web push notifications don’t need a user’s email or other contact details. If a user who once visited your website and has given his permission to send him notifications, he can be sent notifications anytime without needing his email
  • Broad Reach: While still somewhat a new capability, all major browsers have invested in the technology behind Web Push notifications and seem poised to continue doing so.  
  • High Opt-In Rates: Because a user doesn't need to share personal contact information and opting in requires just one or two clicks, opt-in rates are high.  
  • Bypass The Spam Folder: There is no such thing as a spam folder for Web push notifications.  So, while you should be sure not to spam your audience, the delivery of your message/content will go directly to the user rather than getting hung up in a spam folder.  
  • High Conversion Rates: Click-through rates are high on Web Push notifications and once a user comes to your site, the conversion rate of that traffic is very high as well.  
  • It's A Simple Way To Stay Top Of Mind: Studies show that you only need a split second of interacting with a brand to register it in your mind.  So, even if your audience doesn't click on every push you send, you are still building mindshare.
  • Web Push Notifications Are Simple To Set Up And Send: It's very easy to get started in sending Web Push notifications so it's a quick, easy and affordable marketing channel in which to invest.  

WHAT IS INCLUDED IN A WEB PUSH NOTIFICATION?

Each web push includes the following elements:

  • Title: A title is a short and sweet summary.
  • Description: A description is still short and sweet, because there isn't much real estate in a web push notification, but gives a little more information to the viewer about the destination content if a visitor clicks on the Web Push notification.
  • Domain: The website domain where the user will arrive if he/she clicks on the Web Push notification.
  • Call To Action: Usually in the form of a button, there is a call to action that the visitor can take.  
  • Icon: An icon in a Web Push notification is a small, usually square, image that is placed within the push.  Most people who are sending pushes will place their logo or brand icon in this space.  
  • Image:  An image is usually placed in a Web Push notification.  The size of the image that can be included varies from browser to browser.  For example, you can place a larger image in Web Push notification on Chrome on a PC, but you can't on most of the other browsers.  
An example of what a "Rich Push" looks like on the Google Chrome browser

HOW SHOULD YOU APPROACH CREATING A WEB PUSH NOTIFICATION?

For each Web Push notification created, a user should answer three questions:  

  1. What Do You Want To Push?  What kind of content do you want to send to this audience.  This should be content that is relevant to the audience and is effective when delivered through Web Push notifications.  
  2. When Is Best To Push This Content?   You need to think about the best time to send each particular Web Push notification.  For example, you don't want to sent a cart abandonment push 4 days from now - the user will already have moved on.  You also may not want to send notifications at certain times of day.  So, you need to really consider all of these elements when considering when the best time and cadence of sending your push notifications.  
  3. To Whom Should You Send These Pushes? You really need to identify the audience you want to send each Web Push notification.  You can send to a broad group of people or you can micro-target based on certain commonalities.  

WHAT CONTENT IS USUALLY DELIVERED THROUGH A WEB PUSH NOTIFICATION?

You can deliver all different kinds of content through a Web Push notification.  This content can include everything from the title of a new blog post with a call to action to view that blog post to a series of different messages related to e-commerce.  Below are some popular and effective uses for Browser Push notifications:

  • Welcoming Subscribers: A simple push can be created to welcome a website visitor who recently just visited your website and subscribed to browser push updates from you.  These can range from simple welcome pushes with no call to action to featuring popular and highly informative content from your site.  Check out key tips for creating an effective welcome drip on Subscribers here.  
  • Broadcasting New Blog Posts: Blogs and news sites use Web Push notifications to send out new blog posts and bring their subscribers back to their sites to stay informed.  
  • Cart Abandonment: A site visitor goes to an online store and places an item in a shopping cart.  That visitor then leaves that site without completing her purchase.  Web Push notifications are a popular and effective way to bring visitors back that have abandoned their cards through a simple reminder or an offer/incentive to complete the purchase.  
  • Special Offers: Another popular use of Web Push notifications is sending along special offers or incentives to return to your website.  This can include coupons or discounts, contests or other special offers that give a compelling reason for a user to come back.

There are many other uses for Web Push notifications and you can get very granular in targeting specific users or segments of your audience to really drive up personalization and, thus, engagement rates.

TECHNICALLY SPEAKING, HOW ARE WEB PUSH NOTIFICATIONS DELIVERED?

Three pieces come together to deliver a push notification.  And, for some advanced functionality, a fourth piece can enter the picture.  These three pieces include:

  1. Push Notification Service: Each of the browsers have their own notification delivery service.  There is no one size fits all - for example, Chrome uses a different service than Safari (Firebase Cloud Messaging vs Apple Push Notification Service).  This adds complexity, as the technologies and capabilities behind each browser is a bit different.  
  2. Service Worker Registration: A developer has the task of registering the service worker on the browser for Chrome and Firefox.  Safari uses a different method of delivery though it has added support for service-workers.  
  3. An Individual User’s Subscription ID: A specific and unique Subscriber ID is created for each user when that user opts in to receives notifications from each particular website.  

There is an optional 4th piece that includes an SDK that that can be added to web apps to enable additional analytics and segmentation functionality.  

HOW ARE WEB PUSH NOTIFICATIONS DIFFERENT FROM NATIVE APP PUSH NOTIFICATIONS?

Native app notifications are entirely different and leverage completely different technology.  So, while the delivery and view may be similar, what you can and can't do on Web Push notifications is very different than that of native app push notifications.  Importantly, native app notifications can fully access all of the features of the device itself.  So, a native app notification can tap into the GPS or contact list or camera.  Currently, Web Push notifications can't tap into any of these device features.  

Also, native app notifications can only be delivered to smartphones and tablets.  They can't currently be delivered to desktop browsers.  Web push can be delivered to these devices with large limitations.  But, native app pushes can't be delivered to desktop devices.  

Finally, Web Push notifications are limited in the types of media they can display.  Recently, images started getting more support through Chrome, but other browsers still don't provide this level of support.  And, none of the desktop browsers support rich media like videos, audio, interactive features, etc...Only time will tell if browsers choose to offer this support for Web Push notifications.  

HOW DO WEB PUSH NOTIFICATIONS COMPARE TO EMAIL MARKETING?

Simply stated, Web Push is another channel.  There are some reasons why Web Push notifications are better than email marketing and some reasons why they fall short.  So, Web Pushes are just another tool in your marketing toolbox.  If you use email for marketing then you should also be using web pushes and vice versa.  

Web Push notifications get very high engagement rates on average.  Typically, we see anywhere from 2-12%+ click through rates across the platform.  This engagement is very high and the visitors that click through a push to your website typically engage well on your site when they get there.  Email click through rates are generally all over the board, but you should feel good if you are getting 2%+ CTRs on emails sent out.  

One potential big difference between Web Push notifications and email is the kind of content you will choose to feature and the length of content you can feature in each medium.  While some email marketing emails are short and sweet and play the same role in the funnel as browser pushes, many companies choose to use longer emails with lots of content and images.  These rich emails can be lengthy and can have a lot of the content covered in the email and then the deeper dive into that content might be limited when the user gets to the site.  With Web Push notifications this isn't really an option.  Every word in your push must count and must drive action because the deeper dive into the content or offer is usually going to happen on the website itself.  

As Web Push is a unique and distinct channel from email, you need to treat it that way. What works in terms of messaging and offers in email may or may not work with your Web Push notifications and vice versa. For that reason, you should be prepared to invest some time and energy in really learning how best to leverage browser pushes as a distinct avenue to engage your audiences.  

ARE WEB PUSH NOTIFICATIONS SPAMMY?

The simple answer is no...BUT...

Generally, people subscribe to your website because they want to hear more from you and they want to be reminded to come back to your site.  Life is busy and subscribing to your site is a way for them to stay in touch with your site and/or business by getting updates, special offers, etc..

AdWeek reports that over 70% of consumers value push notifications and we would say this number is much higher for those consumers that choose to opt-in to push notifications.  Remember, a visitor has to subscribe to a site to start receiving Web Push notifications to get them.  Therefore, there is no default opt-in or automatically being opted in to browser pushes.  

So, back to our answer on this.  Are Web Push notifications spammy? No, they aren't inherently spammy anymore than email marketing isn't spammy or social media isn't spammy.  But, there are plenty of people who use Web Push notifications to spam people.  In fact, we recently had a customer join our service and built a massive list of subscribers in the first few days.  A few days later we got a cancellation request and when we looked into it that customer had sent over 30 pushes in the first day and wanted to cancel because they thought the service was spammy.  So, while Web Push notifications inherently aren't spammy, this kind of use of Web Push notifications is definitely spammy. Could you imagine signing up to receive emails from a website and then get 30 emails within the first day after signing up?  You wouldn't say that email is spammy, but, rather, that the person using email to send you all those emails is a spammer.

Like any channel, there are best practices for how often to communicate with your audiences with Web Push notifications.  Simply stated, your Web Push notifications might be spammy if you fall into any of these:

  • You Send Too Many Pushes: If you send 30 push notifications in a 24-hour period, we can guarantee you that your subscribers will unsubscribe because they will feel spammed.  There is no exact science in how often and how many Web Push notifications you should be sending, but a general guideline is to follow similar best practices to those for email marketing. If you are a daily deal website, sending a daily push makes a lot of sense and a customer is probably waiting for that and won't view it as spam.  But, if you aren't, you should probably limit to 2-3 pushes per week.  Again, testing and measuring is the best way to determine the optimal regularity of pushes for your own site.  
  • You Are Only Using Your Web Push Notifications For Promotions: If you are only sending out promos as part of your Web Push notification strategy, your subscribers will feel barraged.  You need to earn their trust and send them content that adds value rather than just constantly asking them to buy something from you.  Make it personalized.  Send links to cool information or content (videos, articles, image galleries, etc...).  
  • You Are Sending Irrelevant Content: Your Web Push notifications should be delivering value to your subscribers.  If you are delivering irrelevant information, it is very likely that your subscribers will find this content annoying and feel spammed.  
Web Push notifications aren't inherently spammy but, like any channel, the technology can be abused

WHAT ARE OPT-IN RATES FOR WEB PUSH NOTIFICATIONS?

This is a great question and it is impossible to not compare opt-in rates for Web Push notifications to other channels like email and/or social.  ProBlogger reports web push opt-in rates at 15%, which puts it at over 10x that of opt-in rates for email newsletters.  And, while this stat is somewhat outdated and there aren't a lot of market wide reports available, we see a rate of 5-15% across our platform.  

Consider that for a second - what if out of every 100 people who came to your site, 15 of them sign up to stay in touch.  That is a game changer.  So, now the key is to optimize your Web Push notification that asks if people want to subscribe to receive your updates.  And, then, you need to test and follow best practices to make each of your pushes meaningful and valuable so that you can build a lasting relationship with those visitors.  

HOW ARE PEOPLE USING WEB PUSH NOTIFICATIONS IN E-COMMERCE?

People abandon their shopping carts at a MASSIVE rate.  In fact, it is estimated that the average cart abandonment rate is 69.57%.  So, for every 10 people that go to an e-commerce store, take the time to browse and find something they like enough to add it to their shopping cart, only 3 of those people will actually purchase.  Even if you could get 1 or 2 more of everybody that added something to their shopping cart to buy, that would lead to massive growth.  

There are many channels you can use to improve cart abandonment.  You can use retargeting to advertise as somebody browses the web.  If you can tie into some more personal information from a visitor, you can send them an email reminding them about their cart and giving them some incentive to complete it.  

But, those options have been available for a long time now and cart abandonment still leads to around $4 trillion in lost sales annually.  Therefore, Web Push is another channel that can be leveraged.  

Abandonment rates by e-commerce channel

Source: conversionup

In terms of why people leave without paying, there is some great data from ConversionUp on why.  You can see the top reasons below.  

Top reasons why people leave a site without paying

To get rid of this problem, you need to find a proper marketing channel, which will help you to keep a sophisticated connection with your users.

E-commerce businesses must obtain a tool that helps to lift conversion rates while building a relationship with their site visitors so they can create a lasting and loyal customer base.  Web push notifications are a great channel for this.  

Below are some ways that ambitious e-commerce companies are leveraging Web Push notifications to grow their businesses.

1. Convert Abandoned Carts Into Sales

With such a massive abandoned cart that all online stores face, this is one of the most popular uses for web push notifications.  On the simplest level, some e-commerce companies are sending simple reminders to people when they leave items in their cart.  But, you can get more creative with your browser pushes and increase conversions even more.  How about including an incentive to come back and complete your purchase? Or, how about limiting the time that somebody has to finish their purchase and get a discount so there is a sense of urgency?  

2. Broadcast A Sale Or Sale Items

Everybody loves a good sale and web push notifications are great at announcing a sale.  To increase conversion rates on these announcements, many sites are creating urgency by setting expiration dates and/or times to these sales.  And, if you can get even more advanced, you can create sales on specific items or even personalize sales on particular products that you know individual customers would want.  

3. Get People To Sign Up For Email Newsletters By Offering Discounts

Some companies use web push notifications to help nurture their email marketing activities.  They do this by pushing out discounts for people signing up for an email newsletter.  This is similar to what companies do with modals or pop-ups but there is one key difference - a user doesn't have to still be on your website to be presented with the incentive.  

4. Let Customers Know That An Item Has Been Shipped And/Or Delivered

With purchase information provided by some of the leading shopping carts, web push platforms enable e-commerce companies to notify customers when an order has been shipped.  They can also let a customer know when their order has been delivered, picked up for return or even returned to the store and a refund has been issued.  

5. A Product Has Come Back In Stock

It's so frustrating to spend a bunch of time looking through a store, finding a perfect product to buy and then seeing it's out of stock.  Wouldn't it be cool if you could know when that item comes back in stock without revisiting the store every couple of days?  Well, with browser push notifications, this can be possible.  

6. Feature Hot New Products

How about featuring cool or trending products on your site.  These could be new products or products that all of a sudden have trended with a bunch more people buying them. You can feature individual products at a time or could put together a weekly list of hot products.  This could be done manually or automatically.  

CAN HTTPS WEBSITES SEND WEB PUSH NOTIFICATIONS?  

This is a great question and the simple answer is YES.  However, digging in a bit more, there is a further explanation required.  See, generally speaking, the Web Push notification API can only be used by websites operating on the HTTPS protocol.  This enables these sites to do a 1-step opt-in for the user to subscribe.  For those sites on the HTTP protocol, a 2-step opt-in is required by a user to subscribe to updates.  Therefore, opt-in rates for HTTP sites tend to be lower than those for HTTPS sites.  

WHAT METRICS SHOULD YOU TRACK ON YOUR WEB PUSH NOTIFICATIONS?    

On the simplest level, you should be tracking the click through rate of your pushes.  This is just how many people clicked on a push as a percentage of the total number of people who received the notification.  While this is a first good step of a metric to track, it will only tell you a very small part of the story.  

With Subscribers you can place the proper UTM parameters and use Google Analytics to determine how traffic from your pushes is performing once they get to your site.  If you have your web pushes connected to your shopping cart, you can also easily track the direct ROI of your web pushes.  Within Subscribers you will soon be able to see the value delivered by your pushes directly within the app.  

And, while the above covers the basic metrics, like any marketing channel, get more precise will really help you optimize web pushes for success.  For example, you should set up segments for your pushes and then track how those segments respond to different messaging.  For example, do people that receive your Chrome browser pushes react the same to your push vs those on the Safari browser?  Or, did your browser push to people in San Diego respond to your push about your bathing suit sale in June as people in Portland?  Armed with more granular metrics, you can then take action to craft your future browser pushes accordingly.  

CAN YOU GEO TARGET WEB PUSH NOTIFICATIONS?

We get this question off and we know the importance of being able to target various Geos. Going back to the example above, you might not want to target a winter jacket promo to people in Los Angeles but you might want to do so to people in Seattle.  Most push platforms enable you to target users in certain locations but you are limited to being able to target based on time zone.  In this example, this means that you can target folks in Chicago as they are in the US midwest time zone differently than those in Seattle in the US pacific time zone.  But, you can't target folks in Seattle differently than those in Los Angeles because both cities are in the same time zone.

With Subscribers, you can target users on a city basis.  So, you can target people in Los Angeles differently than those in Seattle.

CONCLUSION

As has been outlined above, Web Push is a great marketing channel that every company should consider.  They are easy to set up and send.  They are effective in helping you build a relationship with your audience and engagement rates are high.  You can target pushes and you can use browser pushes to increase your conversion rates across a variety of industries.

Like any marketing channel, you will get out of it what you put into it.  You need to test various approaches.  You need to look through your analytics and use insights there to improve future browser pushes.  And, you need to do the work to target and segment your browser pushes.  

At Subscribers, we are always here to answer any questions, share thoughts or hear your ideas and requests for additional features that would help your Web Push notifications be even more effective.