The Dawn of a New Marketing Channel: Web Push Notifications

DJ Swanepoel wrote this on January 20, 2016

If you have a smartphone, chances are you get regular push notifications from apps like Facebook, Twitter, Chase, etc.

First introduced by Apple in 2009, push notifications were created to provide a way for mobile app developers to re-engage their users. This was an extremely big deal since apps generally didn’t have the users’ email or contact information.

And, as one would expect, they worked incredibly well.

According to a study done by Localytics - a business analytics service with data on over 3.7 million devices - apps saw a tremendous increase in sessions when leveraging push notifications.

In fact, those that leveraged push notifications saw up to a 278% increase in user sessions.

For many, these notifications were a dream come true. The catch? They were exclusive to mobile apps.

Well, after about 7 years…. that’s now changed.

The birth of web push notifications

In late 2013, Apple changed digital marketing forever when they introduced support for push notifications within Safari.

This meant, for the first time in history, that a web browser could ask for your permission to send you push notifications. What’s more is that this “permission” didn’t require any personal information from the user.

No forms. No need to capture emails. In fact, it’s almost like magic.

Once subscribed, the website owner could send a notification to the subscriber at any point, in real time - regardless if they were on your website. These messages could notify users about sales, promotions, items being shipped, new blog posts - virtually anything. 

And again, as one would expect, they worked incredibly well.

The concept was extremely well received and within a year, Chrome announced support for web push notifications for their browser as well.

Shortly thereafter, Firefox joined and announced they would be add support with an upcoming next release.

Fascinating. How do they work?

After installing push notifications on your website, any visitor that comes to your website (on a compatible browser) can receive a push notification approval prompt. This prompt looks different from browser to browser, but serves the same purpose.

Pro tip: While you can always just prompt the user as soon as they come to your website, it's often deemed best practice to tie the request in with some sort of value add.

Once a user clicks "Allow", your website has the permission to send that user notifications at any point until they decide to unsubscribe. Essentially you receive a unique push token from the browser itself, which can be sent to Apple or Google to then relay on a message to the user.

The true beauty behind these web notifications is that not only are they delivered instantly to all your users, but they are delivered regardless if the user is on your website or even has their browser open. They also work on both desktop and mobile devices!

After a message is sent, visitors can then click on your notification and are directed back to your website. 

Ok, so how do I get started?

Normally, integrating push notifications would be rather tricky as it requires a whole bunch of coding and dealing with Apple & Google's Push Notification servers.

Thankfully however, we aim to make this integration as easy as can be. In fact, setting up your website only takes a few minutes and you can start getting subscribers just moments later! 

To get started just head on over to https://aimtell.com and sign up for a free account. The whole setup process really just requires you to upload a small snippet of code to your site, much like google analytics, as well as upload two small files. 

For those using the WordPress platform - there is also a free plugin which takes care of all of this for you. You can view the demo on installing the plugin here: https://aimtell.com/blog/push-notification-plugin-for-wordpress.

All and all - the process probably only takes about 5 minutes to install if you are using Wordpress.

Once installed, your website will automatically start prompting visitors for permission to send them push notifications. To manage which pages show the prompt, just go into the dashboard and edit "prompt management" under the "view websites" -> "edit".

Now you can sit back and wait for people to start subscribing! (Of course, you can also start thinking of those value adds to entice subscribers)

Once you are ready to send a push notification to your subscribers, just add a campaign under "push notifications" -> "add campaign". Here you can prepare the content of your message, determine who you want to send it to (you can even break it down based on Geolocation, device type, etc) and set a date & time for it to go out.

Hit "schedule push" and that's it....your first push notification is on its way!

Wrapping up

Web push notifications are a game changer. 

For the first time in history, we are able to allow people to subscribe to our websites without the need of providing any personal information - dramatically lowering the barrier to entry.

And this is all just the beginning. Web is making a very strong come back against apps in what is referred to as "The Progressive Web". So expect to see a lot of advancements in the capabilities of websites and these web push notifications! 

About The Author DJ Swanepoel is the Founder & CEO of Aimtell who loves all things tech. He enjoys coding, chess, tennis and the competitive side of life.