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Web Push Notifications: Delivering a Richer Web Experience

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by: Loren McDonald (@LorenMcDonald)
13 January 2015

Mobile app push notifications can keep you connected with your mobile customers, but they have a big drawback: You can reach only those customers who have downloaded and installed your app and given you permission (required on iOS devices, optional on Androids) to send notifications. 

This assumes you built an app in the first place. You might not have your own app yet, but you certainly have a website. Use it to push notification-style messages to a potentially wider audience: your customers who are on your regular or mobile website.

Web push is a relatively recent development that will gain more traction in 2015 when Google (Chrome) and Mozilla (Firefox) are expected to enable it for both desktop and mobile browsers. Apple's Maverick operating system launched its service several years ago using Apple Push Notification.

Why Web Push Can Convert Casual Browsers into Engaged Shoppers

A Web push notification is a targeted message that capitalizes on the content your shopper is viewing at that moment. It can incorporate other data, such as the shopper's previous browser behavior, where or when he/she is browsing your page, and any other behavior or preferences associated with that user.

Web push notifications can grab an easily distracted shopper's attention because they're directly associated with the content being viewed. They also don't get lost among other app-push notifications on a smartphone's lock screen or home screen.

Web Push for News, Marketing and Remarketing

Think of Web push notifications as news bulletins. Many news websites use them to alert readers to breaking news, updates and other developments. 

On-page notifications are generally simple text messages, perhaps with a simple icon, message text and link, while rich messages can offer multiple images, larger text and several links.

The possibilities for marketers are endless. Here's a list just to get you started:

  • Special offers keyed to the product page being viewed
  • Flash sales
  • Product launches
  • Abandoned-cart reminder
  • Email opt-in or account creation invitation
  • Link to live chat or customer-support contacts
  • Cross-sell to relevant product pages

Similarly, the data you can use to target your push notifications is as vast as your warehouse:

  • Search terms
  • Time of day
  • Time on page
  • Visit frequency
  • Browser's location
  • Previous behavior (such as cart/browse abandonment)
  • Previous purchases/downloads/other conversions
  • Preference data

Web Push on the Back End

Web push is easier to launch from the marketer's end because you don't have to build a separate communication device, like a mobile app, or hard-code Web pages to deliver the messages.

Instead, software-as-a-service programs such as IBM's Mobile Web Push give you a dashboard you can use to build, target and deploy your messages using criteria like those listed above.

Besides sending on-screen messages, many Web push programs store their messages in a unique inbox on the site for each customer, housing rich versions of the simple on-page message like an email inbox.

How Disney Store and Staples Use Web Push Notifications

A. Disney Store

The Disney Store uses IBM Mobile Web Push notifications to send a simple on-page offer to qualified browsers and to provide custom inboxes on the site where users can browse messages they might not have seen or acted on previously.

B. Staples 

Staples sends a mobile Web push notification once an hour to visitors who meet certain message specifications. After 45 seconds, the message leaves the screen and moves to the persistent "My Deals" tab on the website that follows the visitor on the site.  The notifications and "My Deals" tab drive traffic to deal-specific product pages for redemption online or in stores.

Adding Web Push to Your Omnichannel Marketing Strategy

Today's customers want a seamless experience wherever and whenever they engage with you, whether they're on their big desktop screen at home or in the office, on their tablets relaxing after dinner, or peering at their mobile screens on the go.

Push notifications, whether Web or from a mobile app, will likely become another essential tool in your omnichannel marketing strategy. 

Related Resources:

1) Blog: “Getting Started with Mobile App Push Notifications

2) Tip Sheet: “10 Tips for Using Email to Drive Mobile Engagement — and Vice Versa

3) White Paper: “7 Key Marketing Trends for 2015 – and Tactics for Succeeding in the New Year



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