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Web push notifications; How to get more opt ins

Web push notifications are a relatively simple and cost-efficient means of engaging with website visitors and remarketing to existing customers.

When used correctly they can offer a better ROI than email. They also allow you to engage a wide range of users, in real time and with dynamic content. This makes it a perfect channel to both remarket to existing customers as well as moving new prospects through the sales funnel.

It all begins with the opt in, however! The more contacts you have, the higher the chance of increasing conversions.

Why do people have to opt in to receive web pushes?

Web push is a permission-based marketing channel. This layer of protection has been implemented by developers to give consumers control over who they receive messages from.

For our purposes here, it means that brands need to be smarter with how they go about collecting subscribers. They need to understand the limitations of the opt-in forms and what they can do to work around them.

It is paramount, of course, that brands respect GDPR (or any other legislation governing customer data) at all times.

We’ve seen companies across every vertical (from eCommerce to sports betting and gaming) have incredible success and dramatically improve their opt-in rates, so we know what works best.

And we’ve seen all the mistakes, too!

What’s a good opt-in rate for web push notifications?

On average, our clients see 20% of active website users opting in to receive web pushes (in some cases it’s a lot higher), provided brands follow best practices. That’s a pretty high percentage.

Put it this way; I imagine you’d be pretty happy if you had email addresses for 1 in 5 visitors to your website. Of course, email opt-in rates are notoriously low, between less than 1% and 5% for most brands.

The beauty of web pushes, compared to email, is that almost no effort is required by the user to give their consent to be contacted. They don’t need to fill out a long form, or even type out their email address. They simply need to click “Allow” when the question is asked!

And from a brand’s perspective, this means that there’s no need to create a dedicated email-capture landing page. The opt-in request for web pushes can be served on any page you like.

Given these advantages, convincing users to opt in should be easy, right? Unfortunately, things are never that simple.

If you’re already sending web push notifications then you’ll know all about the challenge of persuading visitors to give you permission.

It’s a fundamental stage in the whole process. Yet, it’s easy to get it wrong, or partially wrong, and miss out on a huge amount of potential contacts.

What’s the biggest mistake that brands make when asking users to opt in?

They get the “value-exchange” all wrong. Or they overlook it entirely.

What do I mean by that phrase? Think about it like this; it’s pretty obvious what’s in a web push for the sender, but what does the recipient get in return?

The decision to opt in or not is based on this. If you want more people to opt in then you need to make sure they understand the value of doing so.

The problem is that too often brands simply rely on the generic, system opt-in form only.

An example of a generic system opt-in for web push notifications


There just isn’t enough information contained in this brief message for someone to make an informed choice. The result? Permission denied.

The Hard Ask versus the Soft Ask

Anyone who has worked in sales will know about hard and soft sells.

The same principle applies in marketing, and especially when it comes to persuading users to give you their contact details.

The “hard ask” is basically a no-frills, “take it or leave it” proposition. That’s what the system opt-in form we looked at above is. There is little context given, just an unappealing box with some very short text, (usually) placed in the top-left corner of the browser window.

As a marketer, this is incredibly frustrating. Your hands are completely tied. You don’t have any creative freedom when it comes to the look and content of the form. You’re at the mercy of the browser’s developers!

It’s also a one-time-only opportunity. Each device can only be sent the request from the browser once per website.

If the user clicks “Block” then the only hope you have of opting them in is to convince them to go into their browser settings and turn them on for your website manually.

To be fair, that isn’t is a complicated process by any means, and well within the capabilities of even the most “technically-challenged” users. It does take effort, however.

Ideally, we want to get their permission first time around. To do that, we need to create a persuasive value exchange.

3 steps to creating a better value exchange

Personally, I only give permission to brands that I know pretty well and whose products I either use regularly or am thinking of buying in the future.

I’m happy to receive web push notifications from them because I believe they will add value to my online experience, whether that’s through new product updates or sales promotions.

Even so, I still need a little persuasion from those websites when it comes to actually saying yes. Most of us share this same opinion.

If a visitor to your website is going to give you permission to contact them at a later date, they need to be sure that there’s something valuable in it for them.

As we’ve seen, the standard system request by itself doesn’t do the job we need it to. Thankfully, there are some additional things we can do to work around it.

1) Get pre-permission with a custom opt-in

We recommend holding off on sending the system opt-in request until you’ve first gotten “pre-permission”. This is the “soft ask” method, and it’s the best way of optimizing your opt-in rate.

Essentially, this is an overlay message sent in advance of the system request. Think of it like a pop-up; its design, content and placement is customisable.

eCommerce pre-permission opt-in message

The image above is an example of what I’m talking about. You’ll notice how it looks different to the generic version. The CTA is also customisable.

Only once the user has said “Yes”, or whatever CTA you decide on, is the system opt-in message served.

One of the advantages this two-step method has is that if the user does say no at stage one you haven’t burned your chance completely. You can actually schedule the custom overlay to be displayed again at a later date, or as many times as necessary until the user is in the right frame of mind to give permission.

2) Write a compelling message

Custom opt-ins are a perfect opportunity to make the case for why your web push notifications are worth subscribing to.

Let visitors know what type of content they can expect to receive. Maybe that’s exclusive content just for subscribers, or maybe they’ll be sent the latest deals on product categories they’re interested in.

Perhaps more importantly, it’s a chance to remove the nagging doubt at the back of the user’s mind that you’re going to spam them all the time with irrelevant content and offers!

For the same reason, it’s also worthwhile reminding the user that they can opt out at any time in the future.

3) Incentivise the opt-in

One of the tactics we’ve seen brands have a lot of success with is offering users an incentive to opt in.

This could take the form of special discounts or competitions where only subscribers are eligible.

Creating a strong value exchange improves opt-in rates for web push notifications

When should you send the opt-in form?

If you trigger the opt-in form straight away (as soon as a visitor lands on your website), then there’s a chance that you’re missing out on subscribers. This is especially true if it’s just the system opt-in served on its own.

Why? Because the visitor simply hasn’t had enough time to form an opinion of your brand. They have come to your website for a particular reason. Maybe they intend to buy something or perhaps they’re just looking for information right now.

An immediate opt-in request is a distraction from their goal. For some people it’s a nuisance and the decision to block notifications is almost automatic.

Within the Xtremepush platform, we offer brands a variety of possible triggers to determine when the opt-in message is served. This allows them a huge degree of control over their subscription campaigns.

Types of opt-in triggers

What we’re really talking about here is targeting. It’s possible within Xtremepush to create an opt-in trigger based on pretty much any user behaviour. In general, the three most effective triggers are 1) specific page viewed, 2) number of pages viewed 3) time on site.

Let’s discuss the reasoning behind each and the best practices.

1)Specific page visited

Rather than simply sending the opt-in request on your homepage, it’s worth thinking about saving it for a particular page. For example, an ecommerce brand might wait until the user has gotten to the checkout, as in the example below.

Value exchange for a web push notification opt-in message

This allows the brand to present a really strong case for allowing notifications. The value to the customer of receiving a web push notification is very clear, increasing the odds of them saying yes.

2)Number of pages viewed

One of our clients, a large publisher, only serves their opt-in message once a visitor has gone three pages deep into their website.

Publishing and media pre-permission opt-in message

They allow their visitors to see for themselves the value of the brand. Persuading them to opt in is then much easier. Unsurprisingly, the knock-on effect of this is that their opt-in rate is very high, comparatively speaking.

3)Time on site

We have another client, a sports betting brand, that triggers the permission request based on the time the user has spent on the website. For them, this is the best indicator of genuine interest.

Sport betting pre-permission opt-in message for web push notifications

If a user is happy to spend 3 or 4 minutes, for example, on the website then there’s a very good chance that they are engaged enough to opt in.

These are all very different approaches, each of which is effective in its own right. The learning here is that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach (is there ever?).

You won’t find the perfect strategy for your brand unless you have the ability to experiment with different triggers.

The next step

So there you go; some practical advice to help you increase the number of subscribers to your web pushes. If you want to learn even more about push notifications then check out this detailed guide.

To learn more about how to deploy these strategies, you can schedule a free demo of the Xtremepush platform, tailored to your brand’s specific needs. Our digital engagement experts will be happy to share advice based on years of setting up multichannel marketing campaigns with high profile clients across a number of industries.About Xtremepush

Xtremepush is the complete digital engagement platform, purpose-built for multichannel marketing. It empowers brands to deliver personalised, relevant and real-time messages across email, web browser, mobile app, SMS and social messengers.

The platform is completely modular and combines enterprise-grade analytics with a full suite of campaign and automation tools. This provides brands with accessible and actionable data, enabling them to unify the silos, create dynamic customer experiences and execute core business goals at speed and scale.

Related reading:

How to convince your customers to opt-in for app push notifications

One to one marketing simplified and demystified!


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