What Are Web Push Notifications & How Should You Use Them?

Web push notifications are a unique complement to your email marketing strategy. Learn what they are, how to use them, and where they fit into your marketing plan.

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What do successful marketing strategies and breakfast have in common? 


Answer: The best ones involve variety. 

Think about it. A healthy breakfast means eating a variety of foods — fruit, toast, eggs. You need a variety of foods with different nutrients to fuel your body and stay healthy.

A healthy marketing plan needs variety, too. To be successful with marketing, you need to use different tactics and test strategies to find what works for your business. You can’t go all in on one thing, and one thing only.

Side note: if you hear “this is the only tool you need,” turn and run the other way. Always be skeptical of tools or strategies that promise it all. Small business influencer Rieva Lesonsky talks about this more on The FWD: Thinking Show. 

So what can you do to diversify your marketing strategy? 

Enter: web push notifications. Not only do push notifications let you communicate updates to your audience, they enable you to drive traffic to your website or landing page, build your audience, and grow your business. Plus, they work great in tandem with email marketing. 

Read on to learn all about web push notifications and how you can use them to complement your marketing strategy. 

What are web push notifications?

Web push notifications — also known as desktop notifications or simply push notifications — are short, one-time messages that are delivered straight to a subscriber’s desktop when they have a browser open. 

Web push notifications are sent to people who have opted-in to receive messages from you. Once they’ve opted-in, subscribers do not have to be on your website in order to receive a push notification.

They usually appear in a corner of your desktop or laptop screen and serve to alert your audience of exclusive deals, offers, promotions, or even freebies. 

The goal of push notifications is to drive your audience back to your website or landing page and take the action you want them to take. 

What’s the difference between a web push notification, an in-browser notification, and a mobile push notification?

An in-browser notification is another form of online messaging that targets active website visitors when they are actively on your website. 

Mobile push notifications are the types of notifications that appear on a mobile device. These messages go to a user’s phone and show up on a lock screen. When a user opens a push notification, it will bring the user to whatever app sent the message. Much like web push notifications, users can opt-in and opt-out of receiving notifications. 

But in this guide, we’ll be covering all you need to know about web push notifications. They differ from in-browser notifications and mobile push notifications in that a user does not need to be on the website in order to receive the push notification. This allows marketers to reach users when they’re not actively engaging on a website. 

Why marketers should use web push notifications

Marketers use web push notifications to build, inform, and retain their audience. Web push notifications capture subscribers’ attention, no matter what they’re doing online.

Whether a person is in their email inbox, scrolling social media, or browsing their favorite ecommerce sites, if they are subscribed to your opt-in messages, they will receive them.

And the stats speak for themselves. DigitalMarketer analyzed web push notification metrics and found they maintain a click through rate of 4-6% even when subscriber count is above 25,000.

Web push notifications also offer marketers a more flexible form of communication, allowing subscribers to opt-in and opt-out with more freedom than a typical full page popup modal.

There are 9 primary reasons why marketers use web notifications to elevate their marketing strategy.

#1. It’s easy for web visitors to subscribe (or unsubscribe)

Opting in for web push notifications is as simple as clicking a button — literally.  

If a visitor clicks on “allow,” they will start to receive web push notifications. Likewise, when a reader no longer wishes to receive web push notifications, they can unsubscribe by changing their web browser settings. 

This also removes the barrier of needing visitors to provide their email address. 

#2. They allow for instant communication

Promoting your content can be hard work. There are tons of different social and publishing platforms — but they’re not always the best at making sure your content gets seen. 

Web push notifications are not dependent on social networks. They instantly appear on a subscribers’ browser, so they can access it immediately.

#3. Web push notifications are an owned channel

You never have to worry that a social media algorithm will block you from reaching 100% of the people on your list. . 

But that doesn’t mean they will stay subscribed if you don’t send them valuable content. So be selective in what you send so you can turn a casual visitor into a regular reader. 

#4. They help you drive traffic to your site without advertising

Paid advertising is a great way to drive traffic back to your website. But web push notifications can help you do that with your existing audience just as well. 

Let your subscribers know when you’re running a limited-time sale or have an exclusive offer. No need to spend money on paid advertising to target this group of subscribers — just use web push notifications.

#5. They let you build deeper connections with your subscribers

Make your readers a top priority by treating them like a VIP when you release new content. 

Plus, sending exclusive content to web push notification subscribers makes them feel valued and a part of your VIP community.

#6. They help you grow your audience on other marketing channels

Leverage your existing email subscriber base to grow your web push notification list and vice versa. Drive them to sign up pages to grow your email lists and opt-in for notifications. 

#7. They complement a strong email marketing strategy

Web push notifications don’t replace email marketing. Email still provides the highest ROI of any single channel. But not all first-time visitors are comfortable providing their email address.

That’s where web push notifications may be the first step in building a relationship. 

Combining your web push notifications and email creates a winning marketing strategy by giving you additional touchpoints to connect with your audience. 

#8. They save time 

A web push notification message takes less time to create than other marketing assets because  they are concise and less time-composing to compose. 

#9. They let you communicate  limited-time offers instantly

Make your subscribers aware of limited-time offers the minute you launch. Don’t let them miss out on a great opportunity — they’ll appreciate the heads up.

What do push notifications look like?

While simple in design and layout, these push notifications pack a powerful punch in a little package. 

The anatomy of a web push notification
The anatomy of a web push notification

As you can see from the image above, there are 4 components of a web push notification — let’s break them down.

A. Logo. Including a brand logo or image on a web push notification provides instant recognition from a user. It’s a highly visual way for a subscriber to recognize that the message is coming from your brand, and can drive them to read the notification and take action. 

Pro tip: You may want to test adding an image of yourself or an image of a product to help illustrate your message, rather than your logo. Consider using visuals that make your content more comprehensive.

B. Title. The title of the web push notification is also called the header text. This is the piece of text that will catch the attention of a subscriber and decide to read on.

C. Message. This vital section is where you can elaborate your message. This is your opportunity to concisely explain the value a subscriber receives from clicking on your push notification and visiting your site. Answer questions like: what will your subscribers receive by visiting your site? How long will the offer last? Keep in mind, however, that web push notifications are meant to be short and sweet. Avoid jargon and use simple and direct language.

D. Domain. This is the URL that the user subscribed to. Including the source link in your message can’t be changed. It not only serves to remind the subscriber of your website, but aids in recognition and awareness of your online presence. 

How to use push notifications in your marketing strategy

Now that you know the basics about web push notifications and the benefit of using them, let’s get into how to use push notifications as a part of your broader marketing strategy. 

Getting started with push notifications as a marketing tactic

When considering web push notifications as part of your broader marketing strategy, there’s a few things you want to consider:

  1. Align your strategy with your business goals.

Is your goal to get more website traffic? Do you want to make more sales? Drive visitors to view new content or sign up for a guide?

Whatever your business goals are, consider how web push notifications can support them. This will help you figure out what kind of messages you want to send out to your audience.

  1. Think about the user experience. 

When a website visitor signs up to receive your push notifications, what will they experience? Where do you want to take them? What actions do you want them to take? How will you control the message and make sure they’re receiving value?

  1. Use push notifications in tandem with other marketing tactics. 

Make sure that push notifications fit in with how you’re marketing your business across all your marketing channels. You may have heard this described as cross-channel marketing, or omnichannel marketing. 

This means that people experience the brand consistently across different marketing channels, which is why maintaining a consistent brand voice and branding is key.

But why is this so important? According to ClickZ, customers bought 250% more frequently when interacting with three or more channels than customers who only engaged with one channel.

Let’s get into this deeper and look at how you can use push notifications along with email marketing in your strategy.

How to use web push notifications and email marketing together

Web push notifications and email marketing support each other in many ways.

While your email subscribers and your web push notification subscribers are independent of one another — meaning those who sign up for your email list don’t automatically become web push notification subscribers, and vice versa — you can drive subscribers of one to become subscribers of the other.

Let’s break down how to grow your web push notification subscribers using your email list.

Step 1: Write the Opt-In Prompt

In order to start collecting web push notification subscribers, you need to ask your website visitors if they’d like to subscribe to receive notifications from you.

That initial ask is called the opt-in prompt. The goal of the opt-in prompt is to encourage website visitors to allow you to send them push notifications to their desktop. 

Writing a compelling opt-in prompt begins by explaining what a subscriber will receive from you. This offer has to be valuable to the reader in order for them to let you send them notifications. 

Step 2: Ask your email list to subscribe to your web push notifications

Alert email subscribers about opting in to receive your push notifications. This is called the ‘soft ask’ and explains the value of opting-in to receive push notifications.

An email subscriber may want to opt-in to receive push notifications for numerous reasons. Some of the more common reasons are that they want…

  • A chance to receive exclusive offers and deals online.
  • Up-to-the-minute notifications about new blog posts, podcast episodes, social media posts, or other types of content.
  • To stay in touch with you.

Once you make the soft ask, drive email subscribers to your website to sign up via your opt-in prompt.

Step 3: Create and send your web push notification

Once you’ve begun collecting web push notification subscribers, it’s time to send out your first notification. 

Think about what action you want your subscribers to take back on your website. Do you want them to sign up for a webinar? Make a purchase? Download a guide or checklist? Whatever your lead magnet is that you want to promote will dictate the content that you send out.

No matter what action you’re pushing your subscribers to do, here are a few tactics that will incite action:

  1. Create lead magnets that speak to the pain points of your audience. Rule #1 of effective marketing is to know your audience and their pain points. Once you have a solid understanding of their needs and why they’re coming to you for help, you can create lead magnets that are tailored to solve their problems. 
  1. Use FOMO. FOMO — or fear of missing out — creates a sense of urgency among your subscribers. If you have something truly amazing to offer your subscribers, most of them won’t want to miss the opportunity to take advantage. 
  1. Make them feel special. Give your subscribers exclusive offers or content that no one else has access to. Not only does this make them more inclined to sign up initially via the opt-in prompt, it will keep them engaged and interested whenever you send out a push notification.

Once you’ve written an informative, engaging push notification that drives them to a desired location, it’s time to press “send.”

Step 4: Use data to drive decision making.

Push notifications are a great way to connect with your audience. But, there’s a delicate balance between sending too many and too few. 

Too many notifications can lead to notification fatigue — which could mean subscribers start  ignoring your messages or opting-out altogether. But send too infrequently and subscribers may forget they opted-in.

Test your sending frequency to see what resonates best with your audience. Test the best time of day to achieve maximum engagement.

Pay attention to your click-through rate (CTR) to monitor the results of your tests.

Step 5: Take your strategy to the next level. 

Finally, consider where you’re sending your web push notification subscribers in your messages. 

With a tool like AWeber, you can create a landing page that promotes your business or your lead magnet. This is perfect especially if you don’t have a website, or you want to save on costs to build your own website.

Landing pages drive visitors to take one, specific action, which keeps web push notification subscribers on task and focused on the action you want them to take. Include a sign up form and the benefits a subscriber receives when they join your email list. 

Plus, add a tag to people who sign up for your email list via your landing page according to the lead magnet they signed up for. This lets you send personalized and tailored email content in the future if you wish. 

Editor’s Note: This content was originally published at an earlier date and has been updated to provide new or revised information.

11 Comments

  1. Drewry

    8/22/2020 2:30 pm

    Back in the day when I was just getting into affiliate marketing, I had no clue what push notifications was nor how I could apply it to the online business model. Push notifications are ideal for blogs and websites because it helps to increase awareness of new content, increases subscribers to push notificatons, and increases income potential from affiliate marketing.

  2. Amy

    8/27/2020 3:32 pm

    Does Aweber provide the tools to create push notifications or is this a service we need to subscribe to outside of Aweber?

  3. Brandon Olson

    8/31/2020 10:38 am

    Stay tuned, Amy! We’re always adding new features and ways for you to connect with your audience.

  4. Ivan Jones

    8/28/2020 3:59 am

    I am looking forward to AWeber offering push notifications as well as pop up subscriber forms for my website. I have tried a few different companies for push notifications but they have been unreliable and expensive to maintain on my Shopify site. Roll them out asap!

  5. Brandon Olson

    8/31/2020 10:39 am

    Thanks Ivan! We’re always adding new features, so stay tuned!

  6. Bradford Rogers

    8/28/2020 9:24 pm

    Great food for thought in this piece! But did I miss something? I don’t see what platform or provider you use to do web push notifications. aWeber? Or a WordPress plugin? Or third party paid service? Thanks!

  7. Brandon Olson

    8/31/2020 10:39 am

    Hey Bradford! Stay tuned, we’re always adding new features.

  8. BHULLAR

    8/31/2020 9:39 am

    I am wondering could we just request a OK (√) in our visitor pre-reg forms just like we do for SMS permission.?

    See here: https://abcex.com/visreg/

    (We shall be using AWEBER for our visitor promotion)

    Thanks.
    Bhullar

  9. Brandon Olson

    8/31/2020 10:40 am

    Hi Bhullar. You can certainly add a checkbox to your sign up form using custom fields.

  10. Katerina Pan

    1/21/2021 2:52 am

    Thank you for the inspiration.

    I look forward to studying and growing my business with the tools you are offering.
    Great to know that you are doing so much for me

  11. Anubhab

    2/4/2021 7:34 am

    Hi Kelly,
    Thanks for the great Article about push notifications. I was previously not using this service thinking it will annoy the users. However, after reading your article I am feeling like I can use this service safely to bring back repeated users to my website.