5 Things You Need to Know Before Installing Web Push Notifications

Briana Barkett wrote this on April 19, 2017

So you’ve decided you want to install web push notifications for your website- that is great news! Web push is a great way to retarget your audience, but you already know that if you’ve made the (incredibly smart) choice to use them. Before getting started, there are a few things you need to be aware of.

Whether you have already made up your mind to use web push, are currently considering it, or even if you just want more information, here are 5 things everyone should know before installing web push notifications.

 

Tech Requirements

People frequently ask us if it is necessary to use SSL/HTTPS in order to send web push notifications. The short answer is yes. The long answer is a bit more complicated. Most browsers require you to use HTTPS in order to send web push notifications, with the one notable exception being Safari. However, to send notifications to users on Chrome, Firefox, or Opera, you need to use an HTTPS website.

If you don’t currently have an HTTPS website, you strongly want to consider getting set up as one if you are serious about using web push notifications. Without HTTPS, you will be limited to sending notifications only to users who use Safari. If you aren’t sure if you currently support HTTPS, view our FAQ page for help.

If you’re wondering if there is a way around this requirement, technically there is, but we do not recommend it. Some push vendors do offer this option for users who do not wish to install an SSL certificate, but it is a less than ideal situation. Your vendor will have to set up a subdomain for you which users will have to go to in order to opt in. Basically, users won’t even be going to your actual website, but rather to the vendor website. This makes it incredibly difficult if you decide to switch web push providers and makes importing and exporting subscribers basically impossible.

Unfortunately, no one has control over these rules, as they are created and enforced by the W3C community. We recommend setting up HTTPS before starting with web push so that there is no confusion or potential loss of subscribers down the road.

 

Browser Differences and Limitations

Most browsers today support web push, but there are still some limitations and differences to be aware of. Subtle differences exist in the appearance of opt-in prompts across various browsers, for example.

opt in prompt differences installing web push notifications

The above image compares the standard opt-in prompt as it appears on Safari (top) and Chrome (bottom) desktop windows. To see how opt-in prompts look on all supported devices, click here. The prompts may look different, but thankfully it’s easy for a user to subscribe no matter what device or browser they are using. Pressing ‘allow’ is all it takes to turn a user into a subscriber.

In terms of actual notifications, the one major difference to be aware of is regarding custom icons. This was a feature that was heavily requested that we rolled out last summer. Currently, Safari does not support custom icons, meaning that the site wide icon you select will display with every notification you send. Not a huge deal, but something to be aware of when designing campaigns. If you want, you can create a segment of Safari users to target them directly. For help with creating segments, click here.

Finally, the biggest limitation you will run into with web push notifications is the lack of iOS support. Currently, no one is able to send web push notifications to iOS devices (if a web push vendor says they are able to they are lying). It’s probably safe to say that at this point it isn’t a matter of if this support will come, but when. There is a lot of pressure on Apple to make this happen, and we will be sure to update our service as soon as we are able to.

 

Permission Based Channel

Users love web push notifications because it is simple, fast, and safe for someone to “sign up.” In fact, it isn’t a sign up process at all, but rather the click of one button. That’s it. Users also have total control and have to grant you permission before you can send them notifications. Once they press allow, you’ve got your subscriber. Best of all, there is no chance for getting a “fake” subscriber.

american apparel email sign up sheet installing web push notifications
Image Credit(s): Web Site Optimizers

 

The above image is an example of an email sign up sheet. Just look at all the information a person has to put in before hitting submit. Not to mention that after hitting submit the user has to wait for a confirmation email, find the email, open it, and click a link to confirm their email address. Even the shortest of email forms still require you to share personal information and go through the confirmation process. Users may choose to not sign up because they don’t wish to share their information, or instead use a fake email that they never check.

With web push, a user shares no personal information and doesn’t have to take any additional steps to be a subscriber. Keep in mind that as easy as it is for a user to grant you permission, it is just as easy for them to revoke it and opt out of your notifications. Be mindful when creating campaigns and don’t take for granted the power of web push. Whatever you do, don’t make these 5 mistakes.

 

No App Required

Another common question we get regarding web push notifications is about mobile devices, and specifically if there are requirements to send notifications to mobile devices. Some people think you need to have a mobile app in order to send these notifications, but good news, that isn’t true at all. In fact, many websites turn to web push because it is a quicker, easier, and more affordable way to target users on their smartphones instead of having to build an entire app.

You create and schedule all of the notifications that you send from your dashboard. If a user opts in from their mobile device, that is where they will receive their notification. Even if a user’s smartphone is in their pocket, the device will vibrate and alert them of your message.

 

Price Matters: No Free Lunch 

Finally, you might be wondering why anyone would pay for a web push service when there is a free option available to use. It’s a reasonable question- who wants to pay for something they can get for free? In this case, the issue is the hidden cost of a free service. At first glance, free services seem really appealing. But, once you dig deeper, you’ll see something quite different.

In particular, you should always pay close attention to a service’s privacy policy. You’ll usually find that any data collected from your subscribers is fair game to be sold and/or given over to advertisers. With that data, targeted ads can be shown to your existing customers advertising competitor’s products. The damage this could do to your sales far outweighs any cost you would pay for a web push service.

Not only is using a free service a dangerous move, it really isn’t necessary when you look at the cost of our services. Compared to other forms of remarketing, such as retargeted ads, you will find that our cost-per-click ends up being far lower than other advertising platforms. And, by charging a nominal price, we are able to provide our users with first class support, including live chat, email, forums, and even phone support.

Web push notifications are a great way to retarget and engage your audience. To learn more about notifications themselves, take a look at our beginner’s guide. It’s an excellent source of knowledge for anyone wanting an overview of all that web push has to offer.

If you’re ready to start using Aimtell, click here.