In this article, we'll go over push notifications and take a look at some of their use cases. Then, you can decide whether or not you should be using them.

What Are Push Notifications?

Push notifications are messages that websites send to people who've opted to receive them. Unlike email notifications, push notifications appear as little pop-ups in the browser window.

For example, let's say you visit a blog, see a pop-up asking if you'd like to receive push notifications, and click on the "Allow" button. Afterwards, you'll likely see a pop-up in the lower, right-hand corner of your desktop browser alerting you that the site has published a new blog post. That's the push notification.

Interruption Marketing

You can think of push notifications as an example of interruption marketing. They appear when the person is usually visiting another website or working on something else.

That's where they differ from email marketing. With email marketing, people consciously make an effort to check their email. So they're not interrupted when they see an email from your site.

Not so with push notifications. They can appear at any time the browser window is open.

Before you decide to move forward with push notifications, you should ask yourself if interruption marketing something that people in your target market will appreciate.

Mobile Support

Are push notifications supported on mobile platforms? Yes, but there's a caveat.

They're supported on Android devices. On iOS, it's a whole different ball game.

If you want to send iPhone or iPad users push notifications, you'll have to obtain a developer's license from Apple. Then, you'll have to register for permission to send push notifications.

For many marketers, that's more trouble than it's worth. That's why they just stick to sending push notifications to Android and desktop/laptop users.

If the vast majority of the people in your target market are using iOS devices, you'll have to jump through some hoops if you want to send them push notifications or you'll have to sign on with a service that's already jumped through the hoops.


If you want to make the opt-in process as seamless as possible for people who choose to sign up for push notifications, you should use the HTTPS protocol on your website. That's the secure version of the HTTP protocol.

Why? Because with some push notification software you can implement a one-click opt-in solution only if you're using HTTPS. Otherwise, you'll have to settle for a two-click option and you might lose some people between the first and second click.

Of course, there are certain SEO benefits to running your site with HTTPS, so you'll enjoy an added bonus if you decide to go that route.

Adding Push Notifications to Your Site

The technology behind push notifications is fairly sophisticated. You might need to enlist the aid of a developer to get it working on your website.

Fortunately, there are plugins available if you're running a WordPress site.

Push Notifications for WordPress by PushAssist is one solution. Although you'll have to pay for the service, the company supports iOS push notifications (the developers have jumped through the necessary hoops on your behalf).

OneSignal is another plugin that you can use for push notifications. It's a great option if you're just getting started with push notifications because it's free, with premium support options.

Ways to Use Push Notifications

What are some ways that you can use push notifications to boost your brand online? Here are a few different strategies:

"Limited Time Offer" notifications - Send people in your target market offers that expire in just a few days. That's a great way to put some "fear of loss" marketing in front of people in your target market.

Personalized notifications - Yes, you can segment your push notification subscribers. In fact, you should segment them and send people within each segment a marketing message that's tailor-fit to their interests. You can determine their interests from the pages on your site that they frequent the most.

New blog post notifications - Want to take your content marketing to the next level? Send push notifications when you publish a new blog post. Of course, that will get very annoying if you publish dozens of blog posts every day and send a push notification for each one. It's best just to send one or two notifications a day at most.

Abandoned shopping cart notifications - If you're running an ecommerce site, you can send a push notification to people who've abandoned their shopping carts. Include a coupon code as an incentive to complete the transaction.

Upsell and cross-sell notifications - As a rule of thumb, it's much cheaper to market to existing customers than to find new customers. That's why you should use push notifications to upsell and cross-sell to people who've already made purchases.

Request for feedback notifications - What do customers think about your business? A good way to find out is to ask them. Use push notifications to request feedback about the quality of customer service that you're providing.

Get Started Now (If You Dare)

Before you decide to move forward with push notifications, it's a good idea to determine if they're right for your business model. Think about the people in your target audience and the various use cases for push notifications. If there's a solid match, then talk to your development team about adding them to your site.

Published on: May 9, 2017
The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of