When apps send you notices on your phone it is called app notifications. So what exactly is a web push notification? Web push notifications, also called desktop notifications, are similar to app notifications, but rather than being sent through the app to appear on your phone’s home screen, they come from a website and appear on your desktop or phone’s home screen in the case of Android. Web push notifications are sent from in a subscribed browser and show up when they are sent–or if a user isn’t on their computer, they show up upon login.
Perfect deliverability with messages that show up on the desktop, Web Push Notifications are ideal method for SaaS companies to alert their users
Below you can see how a Chrome notification appears on a MacBook as well as a Windows computer. NOTE: These visual examples are taken from SurveyTown, a survey software provider.
What are the advantages of web push notifications?
While not a brand new tool, web push notifications are being used more and more by marketers to keep their audiences engaged. Below are some of their distinct advantages.
- It is easy to subscribe and unsubscribe from push notifications
- They are more immediate than email because they come up directly on the desktop when you push them out
- Unlike email which can leave you guessing about whether or not your message got delivered, push notifications are always delivered
- Because of their high visibility web push notifications can be used to alert users to events inside of your SaaS application or on your website.
- You can transfer user data so that you can use marketing techniques like segmentation and A/B testing to make sure you are delivering relevant messages
- The permission trail of a web push notification is stronger than email, so you can be sure that subscribers have actually subscribed
- Unlike app notifications, they do not require embedding via an SDK
See how Google and Slack use web push notifications
How do web push notifications work?
A visitor must opt-in to receive web push notifications from your website while they are navigating the site. If a site has web notifications installed, then you’ll be prompted with an opt-in at some point during your visit.
Once a visitor opts in, they will be subscribed to your website’s notifications. This means that when you send a push notification, they’ll receive the alert immediately on their screen no matter whether their browser is open or not. If they aren’t on their device when you send the notification, then they’ll see it once they log in to their device. Depending on a user’s browser and device, website notifications may appear and disappear a little differently. For example, once they’re pushed, Chrome notifications stay up until a user clicks through or dismisses them while Safari notifications appear then disappear after a predetermined number of seconds.
The desired outcome, of course, is for a user to see your website’s push notification, be interested in the message, and click the alert to be directed to the intended URL. Depending on the landing page you choose, you may then be hoping for them to read a new blog post, sign up for a new offer, or try out your new feature. Just like email, you can use website push notifications to share just about anything.
While the dismissal of a web notification isn’t ideal, an even less-desired outcome is an opt-out. Your web notification subscribers can opt out at any point by clicking on the “settings” button on their notification. Losing subscribers isn’t all bad though. While it’s sad to see subscribers go, it’s good to have a highly engaged subscriber list to ensure proper delivery.
Which browsers and devices support web push notifications?
All browsers and desktop devices (Mac, Windows, and Chromebook) support web push notifications, making it easy for you to reach your entire subscriber list. Not all mobile devices, however, do support web push notifications. Web notifications work on Android devices, but not Apple devices (although rumor has it that they may be coming soon).
Depending on your browser and your device, your web push notification might look and function a little different, but the notifications will always appear and function the same on the same device. Learn about the anatomy of a Chrome push notification and a Firefox push notification on a Mac.