Web push notifications have become an increasingly common experience for internet users over recent years. The tech is not exactly new, but more notifications seem to be popping up lately as their potential slowly becomes evident.
The problem with web push notifications is that many website owners don’t yet understand how to take full advantage of them. They are not like emails or PPC, where huge amounts of information and best practices can be dug up in an instant.
Instead, they remain something of a mystery to many marketers—which is a shame if you run an e-commerce website because they can be a great way to get more engagement from your customers and make more sales.
So how should you be using them? How should you get users to firstly sign up for your notifications and secondly pay enough attention that they take action? Here’s what you need to know.
The Fundamental Goal: Get Users Back to Your Site
You already well know the problems associated with users leaving your website. It’s one thing to get traffic to your store, but once people leave … well, that’s sometimes your chance blown.
That’s why e-commerce site owners are so keen to collect the email addresses of their users on the first visit. That way, they can continue to stay top of mind and tempt them back to eventually become customers.
Retargeting is another popular strategy that allows you to reach out to previous visitors to tempt them back to your store.
Web push notifications are somewhere in between, but the goal is the same: To get users to revisit your website and purchase more of your products.
Ways to Use Push Notifications
Push notifications can be used for a variety of purposes. The benefit for news websites is obvious: If your users are looking for breaking news, signing them up for notifications is an easy sell.
For e-commerce sites, the benefit is less clear. However, there are many potential ways you can use them:
- Send updates for new products to users who have shown an interest in similar products.
- Alert users to price drops if they have shown an interest in a certain product or category of products.
- Send time-sensitive offers during the holiday season to generate urgency.
- Send notifications to users who are looking at a particular product but then leave the page.
- Let users know that certain products are back in stock.
- Cross-sell similar products to your users based on their past purchases.
- Send a reminder asking for feedback after customers have received their products.
Getting Permission: The First Challenge
Before you can send any push notifications, you have to get permission. This involves getting the user to click a button agreeing to receive your notifications.
You do this by presenting a dialogue box like this one:
Once a user has clicked “Allow,” you can notify them of updates and information whenever they are browsing online, providing a fantastic way to get them back to your website.
Because many users are not ready to leave an email address, sending push notifications could be seen as an easier sell. That might well be, but getting them to click that button is not always easy.
So the first thing you need to do is focus on maximizing your conversions. Here are a few ways you can do this.
Use an HTTPS Domain
First of all, you’ll need an HTTPS domain to take full advantage of web push notifications (even though it is not entirely necessary.)
(There are also other benefits of using HTTPS, so it’s something you should be doing anyway.)
If you have an HTTP domain, there are additional steps that the user must take. You can still show the dialogue box, and if users allow notifications, a pop-up window is displayed that leads to an HTTPS window.
But while it’s possible, it creates an extra step for users, which can hurt conversions.
Time Your Requests
The best way to maximize conversions is to time your requests. So when is the best time to ask people to sign up?
- As soon as they visit?
- On their second visit?
- After they have performed a specific action like watching a video?
It depends on your website and your visitors. For an e-commerce store, someone might view an item that you are selling. After they have been viewing for a few minutes, you could ask them to sign up to get alerts about price changes.
Or they might watch a video about some of the things you sell, and once they have finished, you could ask them if they would like notifications about other similar videos.
In short, make your requests more relevant to your users and this will typically lead to more opt-ins.
Avoid Auto Close
You can set the dialogue box to auto close or leave it so that the user has to choose to accept push notifications or not.
It’s usually best to leave the request on the screen, forcing the user to close it or accept notifications. By forcing them to take an action, this could help to boost your CTR.
Images can often be used to increase conversion rates, and of you can use images in your request, you should. This can easily add CTR compared to using text alone. You can even use larger images (in Chrome 56 onwards), so these are worth experimenting with.
Push Notifications Best Practices: Keep It Targeted
Once you have got users to sign up for your notifications, you will need to encourage them to interact so you can get the most out of the push notifications you send.
So how should you go about doing this?
The simplest way to send notifications is with a broadcast to everyone who has signed up. However, while some people will always click, it is not the best way to go about your notifications—especially if your site is not news based.
For e-commerce sites, broadcasts could be frustrating for your subscribers.
Instead, always think about why people opted into notifications in the first place, and then provide them with what they want by making your notifications as targeted as possible.
A targeted broadcast allows you to send messages to different subsets of your subscribers based on their interests, which makes them more relevant.
So rather than targeting people who have simply visited your site, target them based on what they did on your site.
As always with any type of targeting, greater relevancy leads to more engagement. So you might also want to experiment with auto-triggered notifications that are based on the behavior of the individual.
So if someone is browsing on your store, you can encourage them to add an item to their cart and provide incentives to help them along.
Finally, avoid sending too many notifications. This will only become frustrating, and it will have the opposite effect. Stick to one every few days or so to start with, but experiment and find out what works for you and your visitors.
Experiment with Web Push Notifications
Web push notifications are becoming more popular for both publishing companies and e-commerce sites. It may take a little while to get the hang of them, but there are undoubted benefits you can get from using them.
Use this info to set up your own campaign and try and get users signed up. Then experiment with sending out notifications to your users and see what sorts of results you get.
Optimize your campaigns and continue to experiment even if you don’t get great results in the early days. The truth is that push notifications are still new enough that there’s a good chance your competitors are not yet utilizing them—and that presents a great opportunity for you.