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How do Push Notifications Work in Web Applications?

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There is no shortage of communication alternatives for modern-day marketers. From emails, SMS, social media post to live chat, each of the mediums possesses some unique abilities that others lack. This is the only reason why so many marketing tools exist in the market.

Push notifications are one such marketing tool that is often seen as a replacement for SMS and email channels. However, they are not exactly a replacement. Instead, push notifications work in a different way to achieve various marketing and conversion goals.

This article aims at explaining the same for a special type of push notification- web push notifications.

We will discuss how these tools work to fetch your small chunks of clickable texts to your customers, and how you can integrate one in your own business.

What are Web Push Notifications?

Web push notifications are special marketing tools that give an ability to a marketer to connect with the target audience without knowing their contact addresses. They use push notification services to deliver real-time messages to web app users. To send a web push notification the website or web app must ask for permission from the user.

Based on the device used to access a web app, we can classify a web push notification into groups:

  • Desktop web push notifications – Triggered by web apps to users on desktop web browsers.
  • Mobile web push notifications – Triggered by a web app to the users on mobile web browsers.

To send a notification on any of the devices, the web app pops-up an opt-in box with two options- “Allow” or “Block”. The web app can deliver a notification to only those users who chose “Allow” option. The opt-in box looks something like this in Desktop and Mobile web browsers:

How do Push Notifications Work in Web Apps?

Web push notifications work with two technologies- “Push” and “Notifications” technologies. The push notification service for web is compiled using two separate APIs for “Push” and “Notification” services.

  • The Push API triggers the notification through the server to a web service provider.
  • The Notification API takes care of displaying the triggered notification to the users.

This is how the process goes on:

  1. Web app opens a JavaScript opt-in box on the user’s web browser (Mobile or Desktop).
  2. Browser saves the stated preference of the opt-in box in the user’s profile setting.
  3. Browsers also send the same information to the server the web app server.
  4. Admin user sets certain conditions for automatic triggers or create manual notifications.
  5. Based on the conditions or the manual trigger, the API sends the notification to the subscribed users.

Please note: The UI and process of opt-in or notification pop-ups can be different for differing operating systems and devices. For example, mobile web browsers demand a two-step process enable web push notifications:

  • One: Allow push alerts for browser app from App Setting
  • Two: Allow push notifications from a particular website

How Do Push Notifications from Web Apps Look Like?

Users from different platforms see web push notifications in different styles. Desktop users normally see the alert pop-ups in the lower right corner of the screen. Even the subscribers who are not actively browsing the site can receive the web push notifications.

Mobile users see the web push notifications in two different UIs:

  1. In the web browser window
  2. On phone’s notification panel

Constraints for Web Push Notifications to Work

  1. You cannot send web push notifications to users browsing in Incognito Mode.
  2. You cannot send web push alerts to Chrome users on iOS or Mac devices.
  3. You cannot send web push messages to the users who have opted-out.
  4. You cannot send web push to the users who haven’t enabled JavaScript on web browser

Pros of Web Push Notifications Over Other Channels

  1. An Instant Communication Channel – Browser based notification is delivered instantly without a delay to the user’s browser or mobile phone, even if they are not browsing your website.
  2. Works like app push notifications– Push Notifications from the web browsers on mobile phones work exactly the same as mobile app notifications. You don’t need a mobile app to use the power of push notifications for your business.
  3. No Spam Filters – Unlike your emailer, your push notification don’t fall prey to the spam filters. All the triggered notifications are delivered to all subscribers in their regular notification panel.
  4. Cross-platform delivery – As web browsers are present on both mobile and computers, your messages will be delivered to every subscriber on any random platform, OS, or Web browser. You can target users across all platforms in one swipe.
  5. Re-engage without contact information– Users don’t need giving out their email address or phone numbers to sign-up for your notifications. A simple click on the “Allow” button gives you the ability to connect with your users or website visitors without even knowing their names.

Over to You

Hence, this is how push notifications work in web applications. There are different web push notification tools and services in the market. Some are self-hosted, while others are delivered through the SaaS model. Both types have their own benefits and cons. Depending on your requirements and the investment budget, you can choose anyone for your own push campaigns.

Author Bio: Marry Ann is a branding consultant for PushMaze, a service that lets you send trackable push notifications for users. She mainly passionate about building brands in all aspect of online marketing.

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