Anyone else remember Alec Baldwin back in the day, before he became known for his Trump impersonation? No? Okay, let me jog your memory:

While I could write an entire post about how sales and marketing tactics from the pre-Internet ‘90s differed so greatly from what we do today, let’s focus on Baldwin’s tagline:

“Always. Be. Closing.”

When it comes to the digital age, that adage still rings true. If you’re not actively marketing your business across multiple channels, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to expand your reach and close more business.

One such opportunity is related to the exit-intent technology we talked about a couple months back. As you may remember, exit-intent technology enables you to step into the visitors’ experience to prevent them from bailing on your website. While browser push notifications aren’t contingent on someone being on your site in order for you to engage with them, they do serve a similar purpose: to retain that business and convert.

Let’s take some time today to explore what push notifications are, why you’d want to use them, and how to do so the right way.

What Are Push Notifications and Why Should You Care?

Originally, push notifications were a marketing tool that could only be used on mobile apps. Customers would download the app to their phone and then they’d receive occasional notices from the app owner. It wasn’t until recently that browsers began to adopt this technology and make it their own.

The website (or browser) push notification works a little differently than the mobile app version. For starters, visitors on your website need to “Allow” you to send them notifications.

a photo of push notifications for a website

Secondly, nothing needs to be downloaded on the part of your visitor or customer. Once they allow notifications, you can send messages at your discretion. The best part about these notifications is the fact that visitors can receive them regardless of where they are: desktop, mobile, your website, or someone else’s website. Pretty cool, right?

Push notifications enable you to re-engage with visitors long after they’ve left your website. And no email or phone number is necessary. But if you abuse the trust they’ve given, you may find yourself receiving just as many opt-outs as opt-ins.

While there aren’t many studies done on web push notifications yet (since it’s a fairly new addition to most browsers), we do have a good idea of what works and what does not for mobile app push notifications. Here is what Localytics found:

  • 52% of app users thought they were annoying and distracting while 48% found them useful.
  • 48% of users wanted to receive personalized special offers, 34% wanted new content notifications based on their interests, and 34% wanted special, location-based offers.
  • 46% of users found that two to five messages every week was enough for them to opt out.
  • 32% said six to ten messages each week would be enough for them to never return to the app (or site) again.

A question submitted through Inbound.org reinforced Localytics’ findings. When asked about browser push notifications’ effectiveness as a marketing tool, respondents seemed to be torn. Some loved them while others absolutely abhorred them. The most useful responses, however, shed some light on why there’s such a divide. In sum:

“I think they can be a great tool if used correctly. Sadly, most will want to push success by sending far too many and quickly driving their audience away.”

In other words, tread lightly at first until you know what your audience wants.

The Trick to Being Pushy with Push Notifications

If you’re not totally sold on adding browser push notifications to your marketing strategy, let me just say three things:

  1. Browser push notifications don’t require an expensive application build.
  2. Push notifications are as easy to add to your site as Google Analytics tracking. Providers like Aimtell and PushCrew can help.
  3. You don’t need to wait for users to sign up, pay, or give you their contact info. You just need their permission.

Okay, so if you’re curious now to see how all this works, take a look at the following 15 tips to make your website be “pushy” without going all Alec Baldwin on them.

  1. You only have about 120 characters to work with, so keep messaging brief, action-oriented, and to the point.
  2. Personalize the message based on user behavior and preferences.
  3. Don’t be afraid to segment your visitors, so you can personalize these notifications even further.
  4. Send scheduled (i.e. predictable) messages to stay top-of-mind with users.
  5. Don’t complicate the message. Give only one option.
  6. Use push notifications for abandoned shopping carts or form fills.
  7. Use urgency when you can, like with limited-time offers or changes in pricing.
  8. Use them to supplement other marketing efforts, especially if your visitors aren’t subscribed to your newsletter or blog.
  9. Use them to upsell and continue the relationship after purchase. Let them know when you launch products or have a related one they might like.
  10. Use them to solicit feedback.
  11. Use them to send shipping and delivery notifications.
  12. Pay attention to time zones and other day and time considerations.
  13. Start out nice and easy with one or two messages a week.
  14. Review analytics regularly to ensure you’re not receiving an excessive amount of drop-offs.
  15. A/B test to see if different messages, notification frequencies, times of day, or even the receiving device affect behavior.

Just remember: push notifications need to be useful. Focus on how to recover the visitor and give them a valid reason to return to your site.

Always. Be. Notifying.

Push notifications are like any other piece of your marketing strategy. They shouldn’t be relied on as your only marketing channel nor should they work separately from everything else. If you’re running email campaigns, social ads, and creating content on a regular basis, every piece of your marketing arsenal should work together—and push notifications are an excellent way to keep your visitors engaged with all these pieces. Just remember to exercise caution.