Digital MarketingContent MarketingThe ultimate guide to web push notifications

The ultimate guide to web push notifications

Web push notifications are an interesting addition to the marketing mix. To help you understand what they mean for you, we've put together a guide with everything you need to know.

Web push notifications are an interesting addition to the marketing mix.

For advertisers, they represent direct access to highly relevant customers. For publishers, web push notification can offer a new revenue stream.

And, when done correctly, users can receive timely, useful and engaging content right to their mobile or desktop. To help you understand what web push means for you, we’ve put together a guide with everything you need to know.

Brought to you in partnership with ReachMobi.

What is a web push notification?

A web push notification is a pop-up that appears in a web browser or on a mobile device.

How does it work?

Customers receive an opt-in request in their browser when they hit the website.

Image: Digital Marketer

Once the user opts in, websites can then send clickable push notifications, even when the user is not on the website.

On desktop, this is made up of a title, body copy, image and a shortened URL. On mobile, it looks the same as a regular app or system notification (click here for a handy gif).

 Image credit: Digital Marketer

What are the character limits?

Character limits are browser-specific:

Browser Chrome Chrome (Android) Safari Firefox
Title limit 50 30 40 30
Body limit 120 N/A (when notification expanded) 100 30

Which browsers is web push available on?

Web push is currently supported by Chrome, Firefox and Opera. Microsoft Edge list it as ‘in development’ on their platform status page. IE 11 and Safari currently do not support the Push API, but Apple have their own push notification system for OSX.

What are web push notifications used for?

There are two types of push notification:

1) Transactional: used to deliver information a user needs to receive at a specific time. This includes:

Social media notifications






Image: Onesignal

Alerts like breaking news

Image: Wigzo

2) Engagement: used to drive user action. This includes:

  • Time-sensitive deals
  • Sales
  • Offers
  • Freebies
  • Downloads

Image: Digital Marketer

How effective are web push notifications?

Very. According to a study by, click-through rates for push notifications are upwards of 40%. There are several other benefits, too:

  • They’re delivered directly to users, not via a third-party email service – research by Zipstripe found that an email sits for an average of 6.4 hours before being viewed. Web push notifications, by comparison, are seen and acted upon almost immediately.
  • Web push notifications can’t be ignored – if users are opted-in, there is an extremely high chance of message delivery
  • Delivered at the right moment – can be triggered by behavior, e.g. while checking out
  • Messages can be segmented – users can be targeted based on interest and behaviour

Which companies currently use web-push notifications?

Early adopters include Beyond the Rack, eBay, Facebook, FanSided, Pinterest, Product Hunt, and VICE News. Apple and the New York Times offer them to users of Safari, and The Next Web and The Washington Post use it for breaking news on all supported platforms.

However, it lacks mainstream adoption – the technology is still in its infancy and can be difficult to implement.

Where did web push notifications come from?

Introduced by Google in 2015 as part of the Chrome 42 update, web push notifications aimed to address the native app vs mobile web dilemma. Previously, developers had to choose between the engagement benefits of a native app and the reach of a mobile-optimized website.

Notifications were a key attraction of mobile apps, as they gave businesses scope to re-engage users when they were not using the app. With their introduction on the web, brands can now talk to customers across mobile and desktop without the expense of developing a native app.

ReachMobi is pushing the limits of what’s possible with push notifications, creating the industry’s only native web push solution built specifically for monetization. So far it’s proving to be a powerful tool for both publishers who want to create a new revenue stream and advertisers who want to enhance their customer acquisition efforts.

How does web push compare to mobile app push notifications?

Mobile web push operates in a similar way to app push. But there’s an obstacle for both – getting users to opt-in. For mobile web, there is a dearth of data regarding opt-in rates (one website puts it around 50%), but mobile apps have shown some encouraging results – a study by Responsys found that 68% of people enable push notifications for their apps, and 70% thought all types of push notification were valuable.

When enabled, notifications have a tangible impact on engagement and retention. In 2015, users who opted to receive push notifications opened an app three times more frequently as those who opted out – the former averaging 14.7 times per month as opposed to just 5.4 times per month for the latter. And a study by Localytics found that user retention saw a massive increase when push notifications were enabled, with a 26% increase in the number of users retained after 90 days.

There’s not much in the way of hard data on re-engagement for mobile web push notification because the format is so new. But as they look and work in an identical way to mobile app notifications, the results above seem to provide good evidence of their potential as a channel.

Image credit: Localytics

What do web push notifications offer?

Conversion & Engagement

In the short term, web push notifications help drive additional revenue through well-timed offers, deals and freebies. However, they also provide long-term value, helping to convert one-time web users into engaged subscribers.

This chart from PushEngage pits web push notifications against email in terms of views/opens and click-through rates. As you can see, web push for browsers is, on average, three times as effective at drawing eyeballs than email. This is unsurprising, as a web push notification is significantly more ‘disruptive’ than an email, which can easily be ignored. Web push notifications also outperform email in terms of click-through rates – with email averaging just 1-3%, compared to 5-30% for web push.

Like email, web push notifications give marketers the ability to send behavior-triggered messages – such as a cart abandonment notification if a user navigates away from a checkout page. The immediacy of this message is key to its effectiveness – targeting users while they’re still on their browsers, rather than hours later when they may be less inclined to finish their purchase.

This immediacy extends to the real world, too – notifications can be targeted based on location, ideal brands looking to drive footfall to physical stores.

Also like email, push notifications can be sent to a tightly-defined audience. This means a potentially massive pool of users can be whittled down to an ultra-specific target audience. ReachMobi, for example, have access to 1.5 trillion user profiles, and can use advanced targeting methods to deliver content to only the most relevant users.

This has a tangible impact on conversion rates: data from Localytics reveals that targeted push messages result in 3x higher conversion rates. What’s more, these messages can be scheduled and automated, significantly reducing the time required to manage campaigns.

All in all, the scope for improving the customer experience is huge. Such a high degree of control over when and where notifications appear to customers allows brands to hyper-optimize messaging for specific scenarios, re-engaging with customers and subscribers anytime, anywhere.

Advertising opportunities

For advertisers, web push notifications are a compelling proposition. Companies looking for additional revenue can now offer advertisers direct access to their audience of opted-in subscribers.

Publishers and other companies with high-traffic websites can do the same. Businesses like Reachmobi, who have been premium partners of Yahoo for the last decade, connect these publishers with a vast network of advertisers and search partners – providing publishers with better reach, targeting and greater potential for audience segmentation.

There are a host of other benefits for brands looking to advertise, including:

  • Programmatic access to a pre-qualified audience
  • Response-based targeting algorithms
  • Segmentation by age, intent, homeownership status, household income and more
  • Hyper-optimized targeting based on location, previous interactions etc.
  • Time-constrained offers

Web push notifications are particularly useful for sending single-use promotion codes, which deliver a direct, personalized benefit to an individual user – even when they are no longer on the website. Interactive, hyper-focused and cost-effective, web push notifications provide fantastic value for advertisers.

A new revenue channel for publishers

On the other side of the coin, publishers (or anyone with high-traffic pages) can use web push notifications to help reach and engage with their audiences whilst simultaneously providing a new and lucrative revenue channel.

A case study from ReachMobi shows how one deals website gathered over 40,000 new subscribers with no additional cost using web push notifications. They gained nearly 400,000 impressions on web push notification content while maintaining an unsubscribe rate of less than 3%.

The campaign was a roaring success, with opt-in rates averaging over 15%, a delivery rate of over 90% and engagement rates near 30% – enabling the client to send daily content and re-engagement notifications and increase the frequency of user visits.

The ultimate result? Higher revenue per user and greater exposure of on-page ad units.

Nick DeStefano, Elite Web Holdings, parent company of said, “This new technology and service has given us a much more effective way to turn our website visitors into subscribers. With a delivery rate over 90% and engagement rates near 30%, it is clear ReachMobi has created a sustainable, engaging, and profitable digital experience.”

Try it free now

ClickZ has partnered with ReachMobi to offer its readers an exclusive trial opportunity of their unique Native Push Notification solution. This ClickZ offer guarantees 500 free clicks at zero cost. Sign up for your free trial and get 500 clicks here.

This guide has been produced in partnership with ReachMobi. Click here to read our collaborative content guidelines.