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What Are Browser Push Notifications

Browser push notifications are a popular way of sending clickable messages on any device, even when a certain web page is not open. Like all push notifications, browser notifications alert the user and nudge him to take an action.

Various industries - eCommerce, travel, online dating, banking and finance etc. have been using browser notifications to improve visitor engagement and increase sales and conversions. Websites can re engage with their visitors, using browser push, without even knowing their contact details or email IDs.

On mobile, browser notifications appear on a notification tray. On desktop, they appear next to the task bar.

Why They Are Used

There are a number of things that browser push can be used for, depending on any businesses' end goal. In its simplest, they are a communication channel used for sending across messages that can:

Generate awareness:

Show latest sports news, Inform about discounts etc.

Drive user engagement:

Get users to discover recommended products

Initiate user activity:

Prompt users to download coupon codes, make them subscribe to newsletters etc.

Increase sales:

Nudge users to buy products or avail offers they might be interested in

In general, there are a number of things that push notifications can be used for. These include:

  • Sending out transactional notifications
  • Informing users about price drops
  • Nudging inactive users to become active users
  • Sending out cart recovery reminder
  • Informing users about products that are back in stock
  • Notifying about or promoting products that other users have purchased
  • Sending out weather reports, stock market news etc.

Who Can Use Browser Notifications

Though different industries can use browser notifications as an effective channel to improve their conversion rates and increase sales, the top three industries that MUST use browser notifications are:

  • eCommerce
  • Content/Blogging
  • Travel
  • Entertainment

How Are They Used

For eCommerce

  • Re-engage your users who haven’t visited you for two weeks.
  • Notify about items in cart and nudge them to make the pending purchase.
  • Inform about timed discounts and get those users who are not on your site to your website.

For Bloggers

  • Keep your users updated about new blog posts or fresh content on your website.
  • Increase your subscriber base with browser notifications. Getting subscribers with browser push is simple and has high conversion rates.
  • Send time-sensitive information such as stock updates and keep users well-informed.
  • Engage users and keep bringing them back to your blog by showing them most read articles or content that they might want to read.

For Travel

  • Notify users about price drops and discounts on flight bookings.
  • Re-engage them with travel package options based on the destinations they browsed on your website.

For Events and Entertainment

  • Inform users about the latest movies and events and get them browsing your website for bookings
  • Notify users about fast-filling up seats and use the urgency principle to convert them.

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Push Campaigns That Convert Visitors Into Customers

Recover abandoned shopping carts

Bring back those users who abandoned their cart after adding items to it. Create a sense of urgency to bring him or her back on the website and to complete the purchase process.

Send time-sensitive price alerts

If the price of the product that a certain user has viewed or added to wishlist falls, send out a push notification or price-drop alert to get that user to buy the product.

Location-based tips and discounts

Inform users who are near by your store about the ongoing discounts and sales and get them to visit your offline store. Use your online strategy to generate in-store sales.

Back-in-stock alerts

Missed out on your sales because the product that your user was interested in was not in stock? Inform these users about these items being restocked and get them back to completing the purchase.

Keep the customers informed of their purchases

From notifying them about their order being received to letting know them that it is out for shipping, use web browser notifications to keep your users well-informed.

Notify users about an ongoing sale

Catch your user’s attention by pushing real-time notifications about your ongoing sale and discounts - seasonal sale or limited period discount.

Product Recommendations

Send out personalized product recommendations and get your users to buy more. If a user is browsing high boots, send him a notification with recommended items he/she might be interested to view and buy.

Social Proof

Notify a user who shows buying intent in a particular product, the number of other users who bought the same product. This works as a social proof and can positively influence buying decision.

Re-engage Dormant Users

Don’t lose out your users to competition and keep getting them back to your website. With browser notifications you can re-engage users with inactive users and push them offers that make them take an action.

Validate Customers

Have users who haven’t created an account with you yet? Don’t ignore such users and validate the actions they take, with push notifications.

Cross-sell and upsell

Increase average order value from your users. Offer mobile covers at 50% discount with the mobile that they just viewed. Or, show them the latest version of that mobile, with your push notification.

How Do Browser Push Notifications Work

  • Register website on the notification server like Google Cloud Messaging (GCM) service which will return you the API key.
  • When a user allows push notifications or subscribes for them, the service worker gets registered and a subscri ption ID is stored on the PNS as well as on the application server.
  • A subscription ID enables sending notifications to the correct device
  • Whenever a notification has to be sent, the user ids are sent from the application server and delivered to the push notification server. Once the permission is granted, the service worker sends a fetch request to the application server and the notification data will be displayed.

Types of Browser Push Notifications

Based on the uses, push notifications can be segregated into the following three types:

Transactional Notifications

Used for notifying events. For example, these can be used for notifying about flight delays, order dispatches etc.

System Notifications

Used for informing users about new available products, discounts, sales etc. For example, notifying a user about a seasonal discount on clothes.

User Notifications

Used to notify users about messages from their network. For example, messages on e-mail or social networking application.

Another classification of push notification could be as follows:

Simple Push: Best used for sending one-off messages. For example, notifying users about store closing down sale - 70% OFF ON ALL ITEMS ON STORE CLOSE SALE!

Personalized Browser Push: Best used for sending messages that are meant to increase engagement, win more sales, and increase user retention.

Advantages of Browser Push Notifications

Eliminates the need for app downloads: You do not need to download a mobile app in your phone in order to receive notifications from your favorite places. No need to have a mobile app to get the benefit of mobile push notifications. Browser notifications will keep you notified just as app push notifications do.

Wider reach across browsers: The reach of browser notifications is immense. The combined market share of Safari, Chrome and Firefox is around 75%.

Reach users who are not on the website: Browser push does not require a user to be on a certain page of the website to be notifies.

Low opt-out rates: Only 10% of the subscribers who opted for notifications from a particular website, unsubscribe annually.

Prompter delivery: Browser notifications are much faster than emails and never see the spam box.

Greater recall value: Notifying users even when they are not on the website helps build a bigger recall value and captures bigger mindshare of the user.

History of Push Notifications

Before talking more about browser push and their uses, let’s quickly walk through the history of push notifications:

2003: RIM becomes the first operating system to introduce Push Notifications for Blackberry phone. The technology was called Blackberry Email Push. With RIM, emails became instant.This was the first time ever, in the history, that email became real time.

2009: Apple takes the leap and launches Apple Push Notifications Service. APNS became the newest way sending alerts and notifications to Apple users. This was the time when the world was opening up to the power of push.

2010: Google enters the push notifications market with Google Cloud to Device Messaging.

2013: Google releases rich notifications and takes user experience to new heights. With rich notifications, it was now easy to use images, and action buttons on notifications.

2016: From 2003 to 2010, push notifications were a mobile technology. Enter 2013, and Google took the game one-notch above with browser notifications. Google envisioned push notifications for Chrome and soon brought the concept with Firebase Cloud Messaging. 2016 saw a lot of buzz and competition on browser push. Firefox also extended web push API support for mobile with Firefox 48.

2017: Chrome Beta 59 come into the picture. This new innovation ensured that Mac OS users receive push notifications in the native notification center interface. With Chrome Beta 59, Mac OS user experience becomes more consistent and user-friendly. Read more on web push notifications in Chrome Beta 59 to fetch more insights.

Browser Push Notifications vs. Onsite Notifications

Browser notifications are different from onsite notifications. The difference is that onsite notifications are displayed only when a user is a website. In other words, the webpage should be open in the user's browser for onsite notifications to display.

Another difference to point out here is that browser push notifications work only on SSL sites.

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