Push Notifications Explained

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In the cat and mouse game to engage and retain the readers, publishers have found solace in marketing channels that help them own their subscriber list and increase the reach. Push notifications have been at the forefront helping marketers reach their audience with swift bite-sized updates to keep the wheel moving.

What are push notifications?

Push notifications are crisp clickable messages that help businesses to engage their audience, both on mobile and desktop. Push notifications are frequently used to share latest information, offers and sales, breaking news, live event updates. 

They are permission-based notifications sent by an app or a website. Once subscribed to the notifications, the subscriber receives push notifications on their device helping them to stay updated with the latest and the greatest. Though app push notifications have been around for about a decade now, web push notifications and Facebook Messenger notifications are relatively new, but thriving nevertheless. They are widely leveraged in the marketing stack to seal all the gaps in the audience engagement flywheel.

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Who uses push notifications and why?

Push notifications are leveraged by businesses of all types - newsrooms, bloggers, online retailers, service providers, the list is endless. As for digital publishers- marketers, editors, and product managers make the most out of push notifications. It is used aggressively by publishers to build, engage, and retain their audience.

Publishers rely heavily on push notifications, update users about breaking news, new stories, reminders for subscription renewals, course commencement, transactional alerts, retarget users to make a purchase, and whatnot. Push notifications can be personalized to send contextual and relevant messages by creating different sets of audiences according to demographic, device, interests, behavior, and location. One can schedule, set it on recurring, and set drip campaigns to reach out to the audience to reach out to them at the right marketing moment. Publishers have seen rampant growth in engagement and retention with push notifications. 


Pros & Cons of push notifications


  • Higher visibility - Push notifications are personalized updates that are delivered right at the corner of a user’s browsing screen which makes them highly visible. 
  • New real estate for push ads - Along with boosting your website traffic, push notifications also offer comparatively higher CTRs on ads. More and more media companies are moving towards this new reliable revenue stream that monetizes your audience (subscribers) that are 100% owned by you. 
  • Timely and customized - Push notifications and their opt-in can be customized for a website’s design and theme. They are delivered instantly and can also get scheduled for later.    
  • Higher conversion rate - Given that push notifications offer high visibility, it brings 12X the CTRs of that of an email.   


  • Interruptive in nature - Push notifications are delivered just like a pop-up ad making them interruptive. While this might work for a business that has clearly defined the time it’ll send the notifications, it fails to deliver a good user experience at the times.
  • Spammy – Research gate, in their recent study, revealed that users on average receive around 80 notifications/day which is just mind-boggling. Imagine your device going gaga about the updates. The industry needs to restrict the ill-usage of push notifications that otherwise are one of the best channels to engage your loyal users.


Push Notification Channels

Web push notifications

Web push notifications can be sent to users on both mobile and desktop even when the user is not on the website. The user does not even have to download an app to receive notifications. Web push notifications reach upto 80% of all internet users.


Web push notifications are supported by Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Edge on Desktop and by Chrome, Firefox, Opera on Android Mobile. Support for iOS push notifications is not yet ready, but there is still a ray of hope.

More than 3 million sessions!

Inquirer aced audience development using web push notifications and generated 1.8 M Push notification subscribers. Know how Inquirer generated more than 3,569,943 new sessions on-site in 3 months.

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Anatomy of web push notifications

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Best practices Kit

Get it right from get go. This set of three best practices for web push notifications is all you need to build, understand and engage your audience.

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How businesses make use of web push notifications

  • Recover Abandoned Tabs

    Reach out to readers when they abandon your tab to bring them back to your webiste. A reminder for distracted ones

  • Recover Cart Abandonment

    Nudge users to buy the product in thier cart by instilling urgency and/or provided with discounts to encourage immediate purchase.

  • Engage Dormant Users

    Build a sense of excitement. Grab their attention with something that pertains thier interest, and builds curiosity.

50+ web push notification templates to evoke emotions

Get inspired by these 50+ templates to strike the right emotion to engage users and instill the desired reaction. Try it out for yourself!

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App Push Notifications

App push notifications are sent to users who have installed an app on their mobile devices. App push notifications is widely used; an average US smartphone user receives 46 app push notifications per day. Users on iOS have to explicitly grant permission to receive notifications, but users on Android will start receiving notifications one the app is downloaded and launched.

The user need not be actively using the app to receive notifications, which makes it easier to engage users even when they are not on the app. With app push notifications, you can include images, gifs and videos along with the notifications, letting you grab user attention instantly.

Anatomy of App push notifications (Android)

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How businesses make use of app push notifications


  • Real-time updates

    Flash breaking news so that readers don't miss a beat. You can also include a video to give them a sneak peak of the news.

  • Lure users into subscribing

    Nudge users to try out your premium plan be it for getting the best offers in a sales, discounts on air fare or getting access to exclusive content.

  • Promote your e-books

    Encourage users to buy your e-books by provding information about it and enticing them with an offer they can't resist.

Get on the list

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Messenger Push Notifications

Facebook messenger push notifications are interactive media-rich messages that are sent to users who have either initiated a chat or have explicitly given permission. Once clicked, the message opens up inside the messenger inbox. Messenger push notifications appear on all the browsers, operating systems, and devices that have messenger installed in it. Messenger, just like app push notifications, supports images, gifs and videos within the notifications.

Messenger push marketing kit

Engage your audience with these 4 Messenger Push Notification Guides + get the bonus of One-On-One Consultation for FREE

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Anatomy of Messenger push notifications



When to use which channel

Know how you can make use of Web push notifications and Messenger push to engage users & make some serious cheddar.

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How do push notifications work? 


Web Push Notifications - Web push notifications need a push notification delivery service that comes with every browser that supports push notifications. Chrome uses Google Cloud Messaging (and now Firebase Cloud Messaging), Safari uses Apple Push Notification Service (APNS) and Firefox uses MDN servers. Next, the developer needs to register a service worker on the browser (only chrome and Firefox). Now, once the user opts-in, a subscriber ID is generated in order to receive updates from that website.  

App Push Notifications - In order to use app push notifications, businesses are required to connect their apps with the app push service provider. You need to share the Firebase Server API Key and Sender ID for Android apps and an APNS .p12 Certificate for iOS apps.

Messenger Push Notifications - To engage a user via messenger push notification, the conversation has to be initiated by the user. To simplify this, Messenger has created message types and message tags that help businesses define what type of content (sponsored, standard or news) will be shared with the user. For news websites, Messenger push notifications right now are available under the news messaging type only. It requires them to apply for the NPI registration and define the type of content you plan to share via Messenger push notifications. 

How businesses make use of Messenger push notifications

  • Welcome Push Notification

    Get it rolling from get go. Schedule a welcome notification who users subscriber to your notifications.

  • Interact with users

    Encourage a conversation and lead them to a purchase. Help users make a choice, guide them to make a purchase and answer their queries.

  • Set reminders

    Delight users by setting reminders.Make sure they do not miss out on something they enrolled for, a flight they have to catch, a webinar they had to attend an so on.

Need help?

Want to know more about push notifications and when you should use what to engage and retain users effectively?

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