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Drilling deep: Technology behind Web Push Notifications

By now, you must have already heard of the amazing technology that allows you to send push notification to your user’s browsers. Yes, we are talking about Web Push Notifications.

Aren’t you in love with the already? Let’s face it, web push notifications are the best thing that happened to the web space since Quora! No kidding, this is going to be legendary.

Despite the booming mobile app industry, there are people (trust me, many) who still prefer web. Last year, comScore released a study which stated that US mobile browser audience is 2X larger than app audience and has been growing 1.2X faster in the last 3 years.

Simply put, web gets traffic which you need to mobilise and web push notifications offer the fastest, easiest and the best way to do that.

Until a year back, you could only send push notifications to your users if you had a mobile app.

However, things changed for the better. In April 2015, Chrome announced that it would support push notifications on browsers. Hence, this concept became a beautiful reality and a dream which marketers could actually live.

Those of you who still are not aware of this technology, let me walk you through it.

What are Web Push Notifications?

Web push notifications are clickable messages that a website sends to its subscriber’s browsers. They work similarly to push notifications except that they are accessible on all the devices (mobile, desktop, tablets etc) and they work for websites instead of mobile apps.


Why are Web Push Notifications such a success?

You keep hearing that the click through rates and the opt in rates for web push notifications are great. Why do you think that is?
Here are the most important reasons:

  1. Web Push Notifications don’t ask the visitors to enter an Email Id or any other contact information. Hence, your website visitors can subscribe/unsubscribe in just one click without giving away any personal information.
  2. Your notifications are delivered instantly and in real time. So even if your subscriber is not online at the time when you send the message, they will receive it as soon as they open their browser. That is why this technology is best for delivering time sensitive information.
  3. It is very simple to get started with web push notifications or make your website push ready.
  4. Website push notifications don’t require design efforts. All you need is a few lines along with the link where the user has to be redirected.
  5. You don’t need to have a mobile app for this.

How do Web Push Notifications work?

Web push notifications can be enabled in 2 simple steps:

  1. As soon as a visitor comes on your website, a small opt-in box appears asking them whether they would like to receive notifications from the website.
  2. If the visitor clicks on “Allow”, they are added to the website’s subscriber list.
  3. Sending out Notifications: As soon as the visitor becomes a subscriber, you can easily send notifications directly to their browser.

You can customize the image,title, description and of course the link to your page.

This was the simpler version. I know a lot of you are tech buffs here. So, especially for you guys, I’ll dive into the technology that supports web push notifications.

What’s the technology behind Web Push Notifications?


Thanks to the support from the following HTML5 APIs web push notifications are what they areright now (a complete hit):

  1. Push API: Through this, the users subscribe, unsubscribe and receive push messages.
  2. Notifications API: This API controls how the notification will look when they are delivered to the subscriber’s browser.
  3. Service Workers API: This looks into the processing of push messages when they arrive in the background. It makes sure that the message is delivered to the subscriber even if they are not online.
  4. Web app manifest specification: This configures all the meta information about a web app.

These APIs work together in collaboration to send web push notifications to your browser’s window.
The best part is that the message would be delivered irrespective of whether the user is on the website or not.

So, let’s go through the process of delivering web push to the subscriber’s browser:

When a visitor comes on your website, they see a tiny popup window asking them whether they’d be interested in subscribing to your notifications.

Once they click on “Allow”:

  1. The Push API kicks in and the visitor is registered as a subscriber for the browser or service worker.
  2. The Subscription ID which was generated is then sent for storage in the application server. These subscription Ids are later retrieved or used at the time of sending push notifications.

Now when you decide to send a notification to your subscribers the following APIs kick in:

  1. The server requests the Push API or server for the subscription Ids that were stored in the application server.
  2. The Push messaging server sends out the messages to the devices of the registered subscription Ids.
  3. The service worker finally picks on the message and displays it on the subscriber’s browser.

I hope this information satisfied the tech savvy person within you.

Before signing up for the service, here are two things which you need to take care of:

  • Deep integrations are possible only on HTTPs websites. All other type of integrations can be on any type of website. You need to have a HTTPS website or a sub-domain/section on a HTTPS server : Web push notifications can be registered only on a HTTPS enabled domain.
  • Your website must support Service workers, notification APIs and Push APIs must be supported : web push wouldn’t work without them.

Now that you’re versed with the key aspects for web push notification integrations, you can go live with web push using Notifyfox.

Wrapping up

Web Push Notification has proven results.Also, it beats Email Marketing hands down. Since, it’s in its initial stage, I would suggest you to take maximum benefit of it until your competitors pick up on it.
I still believe they will be a big game changer in the industry since they drastically reduce, in fact, eliminate the barrier to entry.

Do you want to build a strong subscriber list fast?

Learn how to leverage the full power of web push notifications.

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Shivangi is the Content Crafter at Notifyfox - a software helping marketers connect and communicate better with their users.  She is a writer by day and an avid reader by night.  When not working, you can usually find her buried deep down in Google SERPs.