Push Notifications for Websites: What They Are and How To Use Them

Push notifications for websites are small pop-outs that show up on the top-right of your computer screen. The first push notification a brand will show you will ask for you to enable push notifications, like this example from Hype:

The allow button on push notifications for websites.

If you allow them (either purposely or accidentally), you’ll then get recurring reminders from that brand.

You may have noticed more and more websites asking if you want to enable push notifications. That’s because this newer type of marketing strategy is growing in popularity, straddling the line between email and SMS marketing — and sometimes performing better than both of them.

What Are Push Notifications for Websites?

Web push notifications, sometimes referred to as browser push notifications, are short, to-the-point messages that are sent to your device from a website through the browser. Here’s an example of a push notification from Ikonick:

A Black Friday push notification.
Source: PushOwl

They don’t say just any random thing. Instead, push notifications are sent for a purpose, both in context and timing. They’re personalized, too, because they’re designed to engage users.

Unlike an overlay (example below), web push notifications don’t require the user to enter personal information, like their email address.

A lead magnet with a discount offer.

Instead, they simply notify the users about something to increase brand awareness or conversions.

Should I Use Web Push Notifications?

Push notifications are best for brands that promote a product or service. However, they can also work well for a blog by alerting users to new content.

Here are a few use cases for push notifications:

  • Limited-time promotions
  • Timely content, like breaking news
  • Upcoming events

Basically, if you have any type of conversion you’re after, push notifications for websites can help guide your audience down the funnel to the conversion stage.

However, you don’t want to set up push notifications and send every single one to all subscribers. Instead, push notifications work best when they’re personalized and based on actions and behaviors.

For example, a restaurant that’s open for lunch and dinner wouldn’t want to promote delivery at 10 a.m. But if you have an offer for free delivery at 7 p.m. on a Friday night, that’s much more relevant.

Understanding your audience is necessary if you want to use push notifications effectively.

How Are Push Notifications Different From Emails?

If you’re already doing email marketing, you may be wondering if you need push notifications on top of that. Though they’re similar, there are enough differences between email and push notification marketing to make both worth your while.

Here are the main differences to consider, with a focus on how push notifications solve some email marketing issues:

  • Push notifications have a shorter opt-in process.
  • It’s impossible to sign up for a push notification with fake subscription information.
  • There are no spam filters for push notifications.
  • The entire push notification message can be seen instead of just the subject line.

Overall, emails and push notifications differ when it comes to several factors, including content, length, open rate, CTR and conversions. It’s not that one is necessarily better than the other. Instead, they can complement each other and both have a place in your marketing strategy.

9 Types of Push Notifications for Websites

There are several different kinds of push notifications for websites that you can send, which is why segmentation is so important. Let’s get into the different types.

Bulk Push Notifications

Sometimes, you’ll want your notification to go out to every subscriber. Maybe you want to mention any of the following:

  • Feature launch
  • Limited-time deal
  • New product
  • Seasonal sale
  • Special offer
An example of restaurant push notifications for websites.
Source: OneSignal

In this case, you can send one message in bulk to everyone without personalizing or segmenting the message.

Be prepared for lower conversion rates than with other types of push messages. They can still result in a lot of positive actions, though.

Segmented Push Notifications

Segmented push notifications are exactly what they sound like: web push notifications that are divided into groups based on demographics like:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Geography
  • Lifecycle stage
  • Purchasing behavior
Dunkin Donuts push notification.
Source: Sendbird

Since these notifications are more targeted than bulk notifications, they usually get a higher click-through rate (CTR), particularly those based on behavior or lifecycle stage.

Recurring Push Notifications

In some industries, regular reminders can improve customer engagement. For example, e-commerce, entertainment and food businesses can send recurring notifications to stay fresh in the user’s mind.

A free ebook offer.
Source: iZooto

These notifications are less specific and therefore require less monitoring by the marketing team. You can set a specific date and time to always send the notification, like on the 1st of the month at 12 p.m.

This isn’t the same as a bulk campaign because you can still segment your audience. But the message itself can be less specific than other types of notifications.

Account Update Push Notifications

These types of push notifications for websites let a customer know about their account, order or purchase. Here are a few examples:

  • Delivery statuses
  • Reminders about upcoming plans
  • Reservation cancellations
An example of confirmation push notifications for websites.
Source: iZooto

This type of open communication improves the user’s trust in your brand, as well as their loyalty. They’ll know that you’re on top of their account and that they don’t have to keep tabs on what’s going on.

Cart Abandonment Push Notifications

When someone adds an item of yours to their shopping cart but then doesn’t actually purchase it, you can remind them with a cart abandonment push notification.

An Amazon push notification.
Source: Sendbird

By adding an offer like a discount code or free shopping, they’re even more likely to go through with the purchase.

Drop-Off Push Notifications

Drop-off push notifications are similar to cart abandonment messages, but they’re more for services than products. Similarly, though, this type of conversion push notification can be sent when a user starts a process but then abandons it, such as:

  • Booking travel arrangements
  • Registering for a course
  • Signing up for a subscription
An example of travel push notifications for websites.
Source: Sendbird

Because of how far the user got in the process, they have some intent to convert. By sending them a reminder to complete what they started, you can nudge them toward that step.

It’s smart to cap how many of these messages you send per user so they don’t get annoyed and feel too pushed.

Product Recommendation Push Notifications

By considering a user’s behavior and purchase history, you can use push notifications for websites to recommend products you know they’ll be interested in.

A fashion push notification.
Source: iZooto

Sending tailored recommendations nurtures users, improves engagement and increases conversions.

Price Drop Push Notifications

Whether or not a user goes through with a purchase often has to do with pricing. When one of your products goes down in price, send a push notification to encourage sales. By suggesting that there’s a limited supply of the item or that the discount will expire, you’ll increase urgency, which gets people to buy now.

A personalized push notification.
Source: iZooto

You can segment your audience based on which users showed interest in specific products. For example, if a user visits the same product page two or more times within three days, they’d be a good candidate for a price drop notification.

And if you notice that a lot of users are eyeing the same product or service without checking out, it’s a good time to run a sale to increase purchases.

In-Stock Push Notifications

Let’s say a user shows interest in a product that’s out of stock. Once that item is back in stock, you can send a push notification to let them know.

A stock push notification for websites.
Source: Shopney

Consumers don’t usually keep track of out-of-stock items they’re interested in, so without your reminder, they may forget about it completely.

At the same time, seeing that a once out-of-stock product is available can spark FOMO because they’ll worry it’ll be out of stock again soon.

Benefits of Push Notifications for Websites

Web push notifications allow you to add a new type of marketing to your strategy, and it comes with a lot of perks:

  • Fast, direct communication with users
  • Notifications are unobtrusive but still noticeable
  • Messages don’t get buried in inboxes or text messaging
  • Past notifications show up on browser launch
  • Notifications also work on mobile
  • Inexpensive alternative to building a mobile app

Push notifications are a nice complement to your current marketing efforts; they don’t have to replace anything you’re already doing.

Here are more perks to using push notifications for websites.

Instantly Contact Users

Push notifications for websites reach users exactly when you want them to, in real-time and without delay. If the user is online, they’ll receive the notification — you don’t have to wait for them to see your social media post from earlier or open the newsletter you emailed them.

If the user isn’t online when the push notification is sent, they’ll see it the next time they get on their browser. That means that your marketing efforts won’t be wasted if the user wasn’t online at the moment you sent the message.

Contact Inactive Users

Push notifications work whether the user is on your website or not. As long as they’re using a browser and have an internet connection, your pop-out will be shown to the user regardless of the website they’re on.

That means that your contact with the user doesn’t have to stop once they exit your website.

Offer an Easy Opt-In

Opting into push notifications is super easy — all the user has to do is click “Allow,” like in this example from Everyday Health:

The allow button on a push notification.

This doesn’t require the user to enter their name, email address or phone number — which also makes this type of marketing effortlessly GDPR compliant.

Increase User Engagement and Conversions

Push notifications have a time-sensitive factor because they’re sent in real-time. When the notification pops up on the user’s browser, they’re more inclined to pay attention to it and take advantage of the offer than with other types of messaging.

You can use this to your advantage by offering a limited-time coupon or promoting a sale that’s almost ending. By tapping into FOMO (the fear of missing out), you’ll get more visitors to your website and converting.

Also, by personalizing push notifications and sending specific ones to a segment of your audience, you can target the specific group that will care about the message. This can increase conversion rates.

How To Set Up Push Notifications for Websites

Exactly how you’ll set up push notifications depends on the provider you choose and the way your website is built. But basically, these are the five steps to getting push notifications up and running:

  • Choose a push notifications provider.
  • Run the initial opt-in window on your website.
A push notification subscribe form.
Opt-in permission window on Pushpad
  • Collect users who allow your push notifications.
  • Segment your users.
  • Send customized push notifications to segmented users.

Once the user opts in, they’ll immediately get your push notifications. Bonus: There are no forms for them to fill out or for you to process.

Measuring Push Notification Performance

Here are the metrics to watch for your push campaign:

  • Total Subscribers: The total number of users who have opted-in to your push notifications.
  • Subscribers in a Specific Time Frame: The total number of users who have opted-in within a specific date range.
  • Weekly Growth: How many new subscribers you had within the past seven days.
  • Click-Through Rate: The number of clicks divided by the number of sent notifications.
  • Conversion Rate: The percentage of users who converted.

When compared to other types of marketing campaigns, measuring push notification performance is pretty straightforward.

6 Elements of a Web Push Notification

You’ll see a lot of different push notifications for websites. However, the most effective ones will incorporate these six elements.

As we go through these, keep these tips in mind: Adding an emoji can help grab attention and make the message seem more approachable and enjoyable. Also, adding the user’s name to push notifications can help build trust and spark interest.

Title

The title for your push notification can be up to 50 characters, and it should be eye-catching to attract attention.

The headline of a push notification.
Source: Convertcart

Try out different types of titles to see which ones work best. For example, you can test shorter vs. longer titles, statements vs. questions, and even the color of the font.

Description

This is the main message that you’ll send to users. Because push notifications are small, the description should be short, no longer than 120 characters.

The description of a push notification.
Source: Brevo

Users should be able to see it clearly and read it quickly. If the font’s too small or the copy is too long, it’ll be ignored.

Think of the description as a slightly longer call to action (CTA). You’re describing the action you want the user to take.

URL

The URL on the push notification should match the URL where the user opted-in to notifications. This tells the user which site is sending the message.

The link on a push notification.

Pay close attention to the URL when it comes to more personalized notifications. For example, if you’re sending a cart abandonment message, you don’t want the URL to go to the home page — you want it to go to the user’s cart.

Icon

By adding your brand icon to your push notifications, users will instantly recognize who the message is from.

The icon on a push notification.
Source: Brevo

If you don’t add an icon, the user will likely see a bell icon in its place. With so many push notifications being sent daily, seeing the bell icon over and over makes it difficult for users to distinguish brands.

Note that push notification icons should be 192×192 pixels.

Image

While you don’t have to include an image with your push notification, it may increase conversion rates.

A push notification with an image.
Source: Convertcart

Consider A/B testing to see if notifications with images vs. no images perform better.

Call to Action

The CTA is a chance to discover how the user wants to interact with your brand. This should be super-short and make it 100% clear what you want the user to do.

The CTA on a push notification.
Source: Iterable

Try out different types of CTAs to see what works best. For example, you can A/B test “Discover Now” vs. “Read More” or “Buy Now” vs. “Get Yours!” to see which one gets more clicks.

5 Tips for Optimizing Push Notifications

Want to get the most clicks and conversions possible? Create or update your push campaign by following these best practices.

Use Templates

Make it easy to create instantly recognizable push notifications by using templates . You can have placeholders for each element of the push notification and simply replace imagery and copy to customize the template.

Create an Optimized Landing Page

Your landing page has to sync with your push notification in content and relevancy. Whatever promise the push notification sends is what the landing page has to deliver.

Improve Page Load Time

Even if you get a click on a push notification, you’ll lose that user if the resulting page takes too long to load. Anything over 3 seconds is too long and can cause the user to abandon the website altogether.

Carefully Select Send Times

Even though push notifications will go through once the user is back online, the idea is for the messages to be seen as soon as you send them. Consider the best days and times for the user to be online and take action on the notification.

Build a Cross-Device Campaign

Don’t try to reach users on just one device; send push notifications to every device your audience uses.

That doesn’t mean sending every notification to every device. You can be savvy about it by figuring out which devices are used for which actions and then meeting your users there with personalized push notifications.

Final Thoughts About Push Notifications for Websites

Today’s consumers have so many choices that it’s easy for your brand to get lost in the mix. And customers don’t always want to seek out brands — instead, they want the companies and products they love to come to them.

Push notifications are an excellent way to stay front-and-center in your audience’s mind and show that you understand what they need at any given time. In turn, you’ll be rewarded with more engagement than you may get from your other marketing avenues.

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