The OS war is long over. Both iOS and Android won. Though on the same battleground, the fight is now between web apps and native apps. Over a billion users across the globe use Chrome on their mobile device to discover and consume content. According to the Comscore report, across 50 leading mobile properties, mobile web audience is twice the size of app audience. With advances in mobile web capabilities and new standards, mobile web adoption and usage is driving increased consumption, across categories.
Over the last 15 months, Google Chrome has led this evolution, introducing powerful capabilities such as web push notifications, web payments API, web sign-in API, and so forth. The adoption, especially for web push notifications has been rapid across industry verticals including publishers, eCommerce, BFSI, Travel and B2B SaaS.
Web push notifications are quick, bite-sized updates that are pushed to users once they have agreed to receive notifications from their favorite websites. As with mobile app notifications, web push is strictly a permission-based communication system. As the subscription is managed by the users, there is little tolerance for spam.
Here's what the notification permission looks like on desktop and mobile:
Push notifications are delivered to the user's device even when the user is not browsing. This allows businesses, especially in the marketing sector, to engage their users swiftly and seamlessly, giving them a native app experience.
Web push notification capabilities were introduced almost two years back, and the evolution curve has been rapid.
Over 18 Billion Chrome Notifications are sent on a daily basis.
Progressive web apps Chrome feature usage status confirms usage of and Notifications API heading north.
Benefits for marketers of using web push notifications include:
Better opt-in rates : Subscribing for web push notifications is a one-tap process. Result - Using web push, marketers can build their marketing list 30 times faster than they can with email subscription.
Better click through rates : Email open and click rates are plummeting with the highest open rates hovering around 30%. With web push notifications, marketers are able to drive CTR's in the range of 10%-25%.
Better user experience : Not every business needs an app or can afford to build one. Moreover, users value the real estate on their device very much. According to Comscore's Mobile report , users are not downloading new apps like they used to. Result: Businesses have started shunning the app route.
There are three key reasons why push notifications have emerged as an alternative communication channel.
They can be personalized : 94% marketers believe personalization is the key to drive performance, and web notifications can help with this. There are four key elements of a notification (title, description, image and CTA) and each of them can be personalized at an individual user level. User's subscription can be synced with CRM data to personalize notification content.
They are visually appealing : It's a known fact that visuals help in boosting recall value over text. Starting with Chrome 56, marketers will be able to add banner size images, helping them to communicate more powerfully with their customers and prospects.
They have a great delivery mechanism : Web notifications are delivered to a device (via the browser) helping marketers to communicate swiftly, on both desktop and mobile (including tablets). Note that web notifications are not completely device agnostic (they are not supported by iOS yet, for example).
It's important to understand how web push notifications compare with the existing channels of communication. Each medium comes with its own set of pros and cons. Here is quick snapshot of what the overall comparison looks like:
SMS and emails have their own place in marketing, but when compared to web push, they fall short. Due to web push's crisp text, there is no beating around the bush and users get the information in a jiffy.
Web push notifications are a great alternative way of communicating with the end user. The underlying use cases around a communication channel are driven by business objectives.
Marketers across industries, especially eCommerce, affiliates, media, travel, banking, and EdTech are leveraging web push to drive their business objectives. Use cases include retargeting, cross selling, sale promotions, and more. Let's take a deeper look at the execution and overall impact.
DoubleClick's first remarketing campaign for Victoria's Secret provided a 1000% uplift in CTR's. This was way back in 1998. Little was understood about remarketing. DoubleClick never looked back - neither did advertisers. Web push solves one of the bigger problems associated with display retargeting - media buying. Using web push notifications, marketers don't have to buy media or wait for the user to browse to their web site again. They can communicate in near real time and drive impact. A couple of industries using retargeting in this way are:
eCommerce runs on the golden rule of 98 vs 2.2% of visitors transact. A gentle reminder along with 'limited stock' or a discount offer, significantly increases the chances of users buying what they had viewed, added to card or saved for later. Average CTR: 20-25%
B2B companies (SaaS companies, for example) use web push to loop the users back to the website and generate sales by alerting the user about their trial expiration and also give them a discount to accelerate and boost the chances of sale. Marketers can always sweeten the deal by adding a layer of discount. It builds the chances of users making a transaction at that very moment rather than them pondering about it when the the trial actually expires. Here's how a leading bank saw a 25% CTR' while retargeting with web push notifications to drive their credit card registrations.
Average CTR: 20-35%
88% of B2B companies rely on content marketing to drive their buyers through the sales funnel, creating awareness and driving decision making process. Marketers are now increasingly using notifications to communicate with these users, pushing out everything including tips and tricks, case studies, how to guides, polls, and surveys. The intent is simple - building trust with end users and driving leads home.
If content is king, distribution will give content a run for its money in 2017. Here are some of the interesting drip campaigns that have been executed via web push notifications:
Industries are often plagued by complicated jargon. Terms that experts use in daily business will often repel new users. The unfamiliarity of words often makes if difficult for users to understand. It's only sensible to decode it for them. Businesses in FinTech are educating their users - one step at a time.
Average CTR: 10%-13%
Product updates and announcements:
Once you tweak or release a new feature of you product, you need to inform the users about it and show how this feature can benefit them. An article or a product video will let them know exactly what has been changed and how it is an improvement. Users need to know anything that happens to the product they use, hence it is necessary to tell them every single detail. Think of this like pushing a newsletter product update, on a notification.
Average CTR: 15%-20%
The mad rush for user acquisition has stabilized. Marketers are increasingly starting to focus on user engagement and retention. This also happens to be the most common use case across industries.
Notifications with offers and discounts get a high level of engagement. Trivial sounding things such as a welcome notification can help you in building trust with the users. Top this up with a discount and you are looking at a potential sales opportunity (quick tip: give a coupon with an expiry date). It engages the users from touchpoint, making them feel wanted. These kind of notifications establish the first stepping stone for them to become a loyal customer.
Average CTR: 15%-18%
Banking and financial services:
BFSI can encourage users to visit their website with notifications like special discounts, or by providing bonus reward points that the users can redeem, provide cash back opportunities etc. They can keep in touch with the users to help create a bond.
Average CTR: 15-20%
Season collections, new collections can all spark interest in the user's mind. Once their interest is peaked, the user visits your site and the prospect of making a transaction increases. Average CTR: 10-15%
We are living in the era of ad blockers, accelerated mobile pages, and Facebook Instant Articles. A lot is being done by platforms, publishers and adtech platforms to woo publishers. Each platform exposes them to certain limitations and advantages. Facebook gives traffic spikes but negatively impacts impression rates. AMP is not yet stable for publishers and ad blockers directly impact revenues.
Publishers have been increasingly dependent on social platforms to generate traffic, especially Facebook. Given this, web push notification is a channel that publishers are able to control themselves. As a result, publishers have been at the forefront at leveraging push notification. Web push opens another channel for them, allowing them to drive repeat traffic.
Some of the simpler use cases revolve around pushing out content alerts to subscribers.
Notifications keep it crisp and to the point and informs the main gist of the article, encouraging users to open your website.
As the segmentation gets sophisticated, publishers start communicating to users as per their interest level, prior reading pattern, pushing out selected updates to users.
Average CTR: 5%-8%
There are about 200 million active websites in the world and 4 million websites that attract over 5,000 visitors per month. The overall adoption for web push notification currently stands at about 250,000 websites.
With Apple's Safari already contemplating implementation of service workers and the native OEM browsers still in the development stage, there is a long way to go for web push as a concept. The important point for marketers is to take heed of mobile web notifications and build for it.
Vivek Khandelwal is Founder of Datability Solutions focused on building iZooto, a web push notification platform for user engagement and retention. Over the past seven years, Vivek has worked extensively on edtech, adtech and telecom products. An avid reader and writer, Vivek is also a keen cyclist and can be often spotted early mornings riding solo on empty stretches in Lutyens area in the Indian capital, New Delhi.