“Push notifications” is the new buzzword in the online space. After Chrome recently enabled websites to send push notifications through its browser, it seems that everyone wants to know about website push notifications. Let us start with a quick introduction:
Website push notifications are messages which a website can send to its subscribers through the browser. These messages are clickable and lead to a specific URL. They can be sent either by a desktop or a mobile website. This is how they work:
- As soon as a visitor arrives on your website, an opt-in box is triggered which asks the visitor whether he/she wants to “allow” push notifications from this website. If the visitor agrees to allow, he/she is added to the subscriber list for that website.
- Once a website starts collecting subscribers, it can send push notifications to those subscribers on their browsers. The website has to specify a title and a text message, as well as the URL to which the notification will lead to. The notification will arrive even if the website is closed.
- Website push notification is the latest marketing weapon and naturally, people are curious about how to use it. In this article, I’m going to list 3 quick, actionable ways you can use push notifications for your content website. (When I say ‘content website’, I mean any website which deals primarily in creating and publishing content for its readers. A content website could be a news website, an online journal or even a blog like the one you’re currently reading!) Post that I’ll also talk about some tips to craft effective push notification messages which will boost your overall click rate.
#1 Promote your latest content to interested readers
One of the most obvious and best use cases for website push notifications is to send a push notification to your subscribers whenever you publish a new piece of content. This is especially useful if your website attracts a lot of fresh traffic, but the majority of those visitors never come back for a second time. Website push notifications is an easy way to convert those ‘visitors’ into ‘subscribers’ and then send them a message whenever something new gets published on your website.
#2 Resurface your old, high-performing content
Another way in which content websites can use push notifications is to promote their best-performing content. All websites dealing with content have faced the problem of visitors not being able to reach old but high-performing content. With website push notifications, you can send an “Article of the Day” or “Piece of the Day” to resurface your old content and make it available to current readers. A music blog called K2N blog used this tactic to get 18.5% click rate on their push notifications. Read about how they did it here.
#3 Get feedback from your visitors
A great way to use website push notifications is to get feedback from your visitors on the quality of your content, what kind of content do visitors want, how to make the website experience better etc. Normally, website owners take feedback from their readers in two major ways: email and on-site surveys/forms. These have their limitations which hinder their effectiveness. For example, contacting visitors through email is great, but you typically do not have the email address of most of your visitors. Email feedback method, therefore, suffers from not being able to reach the majority of your visitors.
On the other hand, results of on-site surveys/forms are also biased because of the recency effect, namely, the tendency of people to give more weightage to the latest event in a series of events. Thus, visitors who fill in surveys/forms in this way may give their responses keeping in mind the latest article they’ve read or their most recent website experience.
Website push notifications, however, have certain unique capabilities which distinguish them from email and on-site feedback methods. Firstly, web push notifications have a great opt-in rate compared to email (the opt-in rate for push notifications have been observed to be close to 40%, which is 10X the rate at which an average email rate builds), making your notification subscribers a much better representation of your overall audience compared to email subscribers. Also, one of the great advantages of website push notifications is that they work even if the website is closed. Thus, you can get feedback from your visitors when they have spent some time away from your website, which will make their responses much more balanced and objective.
Now that we have discussed 3 basic ways to use push notifications for content websites, I also wanted to write down some pointers you should keep in mind when composing your push notification messages.
Be clear in your messages – Most people on the internet have very short attention-spans. A push notification that is clear in what it is trying to say will almost always win over a notification that sacrifices clarity over humour and wit.
Practice writing short, crisp messages – Most web browsers have a character limit for push notification messages which fall somewhere between 40-120 characters. As such, it is necessary to write your push message in such a way that it is able to clearly express the value proposition within tight character constraints. Since writing effective push notifications is very similar to writing effective headlines, also take a look at this article on effective headline writing.
Use persuasion techniques to increase click rate – Dr. Robert Cialdini listed 6 principles of persuasion in his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. They are reciprocity, commitment, social proof, authority, liking and scarcity. Use these 6 principles to make your push messages irresistible to your subscribers. For example, you can use the social proof principle to craft a push notification for a webinar registration saying “2000 eCommerce marketers have already registered. Book your seat!” or use scarcity for the same event saying “Last 1 hour to register. Book your seat!”.
That’s it from my side! I hope you got a good understanding of push notifications from this article. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
Anand Kansal works at PushCrew, a tool that enables websites to send push notifications on desktops, mobiles and tablets. He tweets about push notifications and online marketing in general at @PushCrewHQ