An Ecommerce Marketer's Guide to Web Push Notifications

Posted by Hannah Stacey 26 Nov 15

shutterstock_235626274.pngPush notifications have been touted as the next big channel for retailers to reach their prospects and customers for some time now.

But while their promise - of being able to reach people via instant notifications straight to their home screen - is certainly attractive, the reality is that push notifications have only ever been the reserve of retail giants with enough marketing budget to build themselves a mobile app.

The good news, however, is that web push notifications have arrived, and they’re ready to level the playing field. This post will explain how!

What are they?

In the same way that the apps installed on your mobile or tablet can send a cheeky push notification your way (see the example from ASOS below), web push notifications enable sites to target subscribers with push messages via their web browser on any device.

What’s the big deal though?

Not convinced website push notifications could be useful for you? Think again!

People like push notifications (for now)

Research suggests that push notifications enjoy notably high open rates (50-80%, according to one study), with over half of brand app users opting in to receive them (64% opt-in, with 80% of this crowd believing such messages to be ‘somewhat or very useful’, according to this research).

The big caveat here is that we don’t yet know whether consumers will respond to website push notifications with the same zeal - and there’s a risk they won’t, if everyone jumps on the bandwagon and starts merrily spamming subscribers with push notifications left, right and centre.

You can use them to target desktop users

Website push notifications enable you to target prospects on all devices (desktop, tablets, mobiles, smart watches etc.).

Which is pretty handy when you consider that, according to stats from IBM, desktop still accounts for 53.9% of ecommerce traffic and 76.9% of online sales.

Even in a mobile-first world, being able to target desktop users with timely notifications is undoubtedly still a big opportunity.

You can use them to target mobile users (without building an app)

Mobile apps are notoriously costly to develop and maintain, but up until now have been critical for any brand wanting to target prospects with push messages.

With the ability to send messages to opted-in users on mobile, website push notifications have ROI on their side, effectively doing away with the need to devote vast amounts of your marketing budget to a mobile application.

You can target opted-in users even if they don’t have their web browser open

In spite of their name, you don’t actually have to have the website (or indeed, even a web browser) open to receive website push notifications once you’ve opted-in (more about the opt-in process up next).

How does it all work?

Hopefully we’ve made the case for why website push notifications could be big news for online retailers, but how exactly do they work?

For the user

When someone browses a push notification-enabled website, they’ll receive a prompt asking whether they want to subscribe or not.

If they enable website push notifications, they can receive real-time messages from you that will appear on their desktop or mobile screen, linking to a page on your website.


For the retailer

This feature requires some technical development work - the instructions for which can be found here for push notification on Google Chrome and here for Safari.

Likewise, there are a number of services - such as Roost - that offer the ability to implement push notifications across multiple browsers and devices. For help getting your message right (which we'll cover in the next section), you can always talk to us at Ometria.

What does it mean for ecommerce marketers?

We've gone over why this type of notification is an exciting means of reaching web users, but what benefits do web push messages offer online retailers in particular?

As with any newfangled marketing channel, it’s probably only a matter of time before website push notifications are commonplace (/overused to the point that everyone hates them), so getting in there early with a good strategy is key to success.

And when it comes to strategy, relevancy is always key - the carpetbombing approach never wins, and sending prospects and customers personalised, timely messages will mean the difference between them zoning in or zoning out.

Here are some ideas for ways that retailers could segment and personalise their push messages:

    • Targeting ‘at risk’ or dormant customers: Sending this group a message aimed at reactivating them.
    • Taste profiling: Using push messages to promote the products and categories that a prospect or customer has shown an interest in.
    • Replenishment date: Sending a customer a little nudge to repurchase a consumable product that they’re likely to be running out of
    • VIP programmes or loyalty schemes: Sending your best customers personalised offers and updates.
    • Birthdays and milestones: Sending customers messages on important days of the year aimed at activating them.

Topics: Ecommerce news

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