Pros vs. Cons of Website Push Notifications

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You've probably seen website push notifications before. These are the requests that pop up on a variety of websites, asking if you want that site to send you messages in the future. The request typically comes with a "block" or "allow" option for visitors to choose. If they choose allow, you can send small updates and messages to their computer, which show up similar to an app alert. Google has a piece explaining the code behind this process if you are curious.

The more immediate question is: Are push notifications a good idea for your brand? They come with notable pros as well as serious cons, so let's take a look at the trend and what it means for your brand. 

Pros of Push Notifications

  • They can be personalized with a variety of content. Think of push notifications like asking people to sign up for a mini newsletter. You can use them for all kinds of different content, from new deals to special offers and more. They can even ask subscribers to fill out surveys, or remind buyers about items they looked at or products still in the shopping cart. It's a very versatile tool if you can get people to sign up.
  • You don't need a complex CTA form. Traditional newsletters and alerts require people to fill out forms with names and contact information. That takes time and requires giving data to a business, two things that make people uncomfortable. A website push notification only requires a simple "allow" to work, so it can lead to higher engagement numbers.
  • They allow for highly visible content reminders. Emails can be filtered out or ignored. Social posts can get lost in feeds. But pushed notifications show up as alerts that are far more difficult to avoid or ignore. People (at least for the time being) pay attention to them.
  • They can expand your audience. Furthermore, there are some people who prefer push notifications to other forms of brand communication. You can reach this audience and expand your overall reach with these push notifications. Plus, the content is typically the same content that you are posting on social media or via email, so you don't need to do a lot of extra content creation.
  • They don't require browser activity. Most web alerts are pushed onto operating systems and will appear outside the browser window, or even if the browser is closed. That means people get your important updates even if they aren't current using the internet.

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Cons of Push Notifications

  • They function just like a pop-up ad. People hate pop-up ads with a passion. They may see push notification requests as an insult or, even worse, an intrusion. Additionally, many older clients may not understand what they are signing up for, and could be dismayed at seeing how this gives brands a license to throw up alerts at will on their computers.
  • They may be worse in the long-term. Imagine if every site starts using push notifications. That means people will have to block requests over and over again, or sign up for an unending series of computer alerts they don't care about. Neither option promises much for the future of push notifications. In other words, the more brands that use web push notifications, the less they are worth. It's only a good strategy if you are one of the only players on the field.
  • They only work when loyalty is already high. New leads and visitors typically choose push notifications only out of mistake. They don't want notifications, they are still learning about the brand and finding their way around the website. People only agree to notifications if they already trust the brand and have interested in what it sells. So they aren't exactly the best tool for lead generation.
  • Chatbots may be superior. The chatbot also pops up in a website window, but it doesn't push notifications. Instead, it answers questions about products, helps customers through the buying process, and lets people know about important offers. When it comes to vying for website real estate, chatbots may have more uses and a better path into the future than push notification.

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Aleks Vizulis

As operations manager at 21 Handshake, I bring an analytical perspective to the discussion table. My vision is to take projects from 'just strong' to superb. Often you will find me capturing behind the scenes photos in the 21 Handshake office or at a clients location. I play a fierce round of 18 during warm weather and catch me on the slopes during the other months of the year!

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