What Are Web Push Notifications and Why Should You Use Them?

You’ve probably been exposed to push notifications on iPhone or Android. These are the little notifications you get from some apps which “push” you to engage with the app.

What many people don’t realize is that these can be enabled on websites as well. They look something like this:

aspiring bloggers - web push notifications

What are web push notifications?

In a nutshell, web push notifications are notifications that you can send directly to your subscribers through their desktop or mobile web browsers. They show up in the form of a popup and allow you to communicate with your subscribers or get them to revisit your website even if they’re currently browsing another website.

Benefits of web push notifications

Like many other tools at our disposal, web push notifications come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. We’ll go over these now in order to give you a more well-rounded idea of what to expect.

  • High click-through rates (CTR) – Web push notifications have shown to be quite effective compared to other types of advertisements for actually getting clicks. Some case studies claim that they have CTRs of 15-25%!
  • No private data required from readers – For web push notifications to work, the only thing that the user needs to provide you with is permission. Unlike email campaigns, for example, which require an email address.
  • Consistent across devices – With web push notifications, you can have advertisements for your blog reaching potential readers from all of their devices, including iPhone and Android devices.

Disadvantages of web push notifications

There are a few disadvantages to go along with the advantages of web push notifications.

Since they can help you reach your target audience at basically any time, they can be a powerful tool. However, they also carry the risk of annoying potential readers if they become too pushy. The key here is to find a good balance between pushiness and utility.

Push notifications on mobile are often cited as the number one reason people uninstall apps. We’ve all had the experience of checking our phone and seeing an unpleasant number of notifications. If the notifications are not tasteful, and cannot be controlled, then it is easiest to simply uninstall the app.

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Web push notifications work a little bit differently and send notifications through the subscriber’s browser. Since managing browser permissions can be a bit of a pain for people who are less tech-savvy, it’s imperative that you make your push notifications tasteful and effective.

Examples

Once you have them set up, web push notifications can be versatile. You can instantly send notifications to your push notification subscribers. Here are a few examples of what you can do with them:

  • Notify subscribers when you publish a new blog post
  • Advertise your products or services
  • Send out coupon codes
  • Promote affiliate links

You have several different options at your disposal when you are figuring out your approach. If you always respect your target audience and try not to get on their nerves too much, you should have no problem at all attracting readers with web push notifications.

Installing web push notifications on your blog

With WordPress, using web push notifications becomes quite simple. No complex coding or anything like that is required!

The first thing to do is to install the OneSignal plugin for WordPress. This is a great free push notification tool that allows you to create and manage your push notifications right inside WordPress. OneSignal’s free plan allows you to target up to 30,000 subscribers. This gives you great access to your readers basically whenever they are sitting at their browsers!

Once installed, you should be able to create an account with OneSignal in order to get started. Once you’ve verified your email address, you can get started by clicking on NEW APP/WEBSITE button in the OneSignal dashboard.

Give the app a sensible name, select Web Push and then click Next.

OneSignal - Name App

Then, under the 1) Choose Integration section, select WordPress Plugin or Website Builder and WordPress.

OneSignal - WordPress

For 2) Site Setup, enter the URL for your site, and the image you wish to use for the notification icon/ Be sure not to leave any slashes at the end of the URLs here.

The icon you use should be at least 80×80 pixels, with a URL beginning in https://. If you don’t have an icon to include with your notification, OneSignal will instead use their default one.

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If your website is not fully run with HTTPS, make sure to check the box. Since Chrome only accepts notifications from HTTPS sources, you will need to use OneSignal’s subdomain in order to send web push notifications on Chrome. This causes the notifications to show up from a subdomain of OneSignal. Since HTTPS sites rank lower on search engines than their non-HTTPS alternatives, it is generally a good idea to upgrade your site to HTTPS.

In the 3) Configure WordPress Plugin section, copy the APP ID and API Key and then head on over to your WordPress dashboard, select OneSignal Push on the left menu, go to the Configuration tab and paste the APP ID and API Key in the corresponding fields.

Then go back to the OneSignal website to finish the setup. In section 4) Add your first user, click Go to my website and you should now see a push notification! Click Allow.

aspiring bloggers - web push notifications

Once all that is done, go back to the OneSignal setup and click Finish. All set! Web push notifications are now active on your blog.

Conclusion

Remember, as long as you keep them tasteful and effective, you should be well on your way to increasing your traffic!

Don’t forget to pay close attention to what competing blogs in your niche are doing. Seeing what works for other people is one of the greatest ways to learn. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to ask away in the comments section!

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