Web Push – What Every Marketer Needs to Know

Both Apple and Google recently launched support for Web Push in their Safari and Chrome browsers. In doing so, the two tech giants effectively added a new marketing channel to the digital marketer’s toolbox and brought website functionality yet another step closer to a native app-like experience.

Push was one of the few reasons that companies still supported a native app. This is very important as native apps are suffering from “download fatigue”: customers would much prefer to visit a website than be forced to download yet another an app, and website operators are looking forward to maintaining only one content base.

As browser push gains popularity, it will become a recognized peer of established marketing channels like social, email, search engines and online advertising. Without doubt, this new technology presents new opportunities to reach customers, but there are significant risks of becoming a nuisance to your customers.

CloudEngage’s need-to-know primer is a good place to start on the best practices for Web Push notifications.


  • The Power of Web Push vs. Email & Other Channels
  • Dealing with the Anonymity of Web Push Subscribers
  • A Litmus Test for Web Push Notification Relevancy
  • Achieving Relevancy with Micro-Targeted Subscriptions
  • Improving Push Notification Relevancy with Geo-Targeting
  • Closing the loop


1. The Power of Web Push vs. Email & Other Channels

Web push is extremely disruptive to the user experience!

Tight integration between browsers and operating systems make Web Push different from other digital marketing channels focused on opt-in subscriptions.   Super tight OS  integration allows  push notifications to force alerts to the user’s desktop or mobile home screen in ways that email and social media messages simply cannot match.

Unlike email or website alerts, where the customer checks for new messages on their schedule, Push notifications literally interrupt your customer’s digital experience.   As a result, Web Push is easily positioned to deliver higher exposure and conversion rates than other forms of digital message marketing.

The front-and-center notifications generated by Web Push, however, also can be among the most intrusive interruptions that a subscriber can receive.  Push notification content – if not tailored to a user’s specific profile and/or interests – can easily be considered spam and the technology offers the simplest opt-out path of all digital marketing channels.

2. Dealing with the Anonymity of Web Push Subscribers

Unlike email list subscribers and social media followers, the identity of Web Push subscribers is both unknown and unknowable.  In this way, push subscribers are lot like users who subscribe to an RSS feed: they take action to follow information generated by a website, but haven’t traded their personal information in exchange for receiving notifications.

This presents a particular challenge for digital marketers who would normally segment subscriber databases and send only the most relevant messages to selected marketing targets.

The combination of subscriber anonymity and the relative intrusiveness of push notifications means that message relevancy is more important – and more difficult to achieve – in Web Push than in any other marketing channel.  Best practice for push notification relevancy are based on the following:

3. A Litmus Test for Web Push Notification Relevancy

While effective, push notifications can be as intrusive as text messages or phone calls – and should be treated as such.  For that reason, CloudEngage recommends that the content of Web Push notifications be subjected to the following litmus test:

If message content wouldn’t be appropriate to convey via a call or text, then it isn’t appropriate for Web Push.

This simple rule of thumb leads to obvious conclusions.  For example, newsletters, blog posts, press releases and the like are not the type of content that should be conveyed with Web Push.  Calls to action that are relevant to a subscriber’s interests  and have a time sensitive component are more appropriate.

In practice, this means that content delivered via browser push must be as specific as possible.  There are a few main ways to achieve this level of relevancy:  micro-targeted subscriptions and geo-targeted messages.

4. Achieving Relevancy with Micro-Targeted Subscriptions

A clear means by which a company can ensure that Web Push notifications are relevant is to tailor the subscription to the subscriber’s interests.  This means creating subscription options via channels, not just one site-wide option.

Channels are technically outside of the browser push specification, but services like CloudEngage include the capability to offer channels, otherwise the marketing value of push to send only relevant content would be greatly diminished.

For example, John goes to WidgetWorld.com, and is presented with the option to subscribe to push notifications. Rather than having just one push channel, WidgetWorld offers several, such as “local events”, “sales” and “webinar alerts”


5. Improving Push Notification Relevancy with Geo-Targeting

Advanced geofencing solutions like CloudEngage can help ensure relevancy in a different way by recording the subscribers geo-location at the time of subscription.  This allows digital marketers to segment otherwise anonymous list subscribers by geography and send highly relevant messages accordingly.

Geo-targeted push notifications can benefit any company or organization that operates locally across multiple geographies, and can even enable segmentation down to the level of a single city block.  Local promotion and event notifications are natural uses of this unique technology.

For example: Sally visits the website of her favorite band, The Horseless Riders, and signs up for concert notifications with a simple click.  The band’s CloudEngage-enabled website records not only her subscription, but also the fact that she accessed the website from Chicago.  When the band plans a concert date in that city, it sends a Browser-based push notification to Sally and all other subscribers in a 200 mile radius of the event venue.  Sally can then click through for event details and ticket purchase.

6. Closing the loop

Your 70 character notification can only say so much. Make sure that you direct your subscribers to a meaningful URL where they can act on your call to action. This can either be a custom landing page created in your CMS, or if you’re using CloudEngage, you can create a landing page on the fly that is tied to each specific push campaign.

The increased adoption of Web Push make it one of the hottest, untapped resources available to digital marketers – as it unleashes the power of targeted, effective messaging to just about any website visitor.

Follow these simple rules to get started, and find out what this exciting new technology can do for your business.


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