Web notifications hold a massive opportunity for digital marketers to engage audiences on desktop and mobile web.

In this post, we share answers to some of the top questions mobile marketers are asking about leveraging web push notifications.

Why should I care about web push notifications?

Most brands have far more traffic on their mobile websites then they have app users. In comScore's 2017 U.S. Mobile App Report, they compared the top 500 mobile apps vs. the top 500 mobile web properties and found that website audiences are more than twice the size as app audiences.

(Apps have the clear edge on engagement though - according to the same comScore report, people spend 16x the amount of time in apps as they do on websites.)

So websites offer a huge addressable audience - and a huge opportunity to deepen engagement with those web visitors with notification-style messaging that demonstrates the value your brand has to offer. And that's an opportunity brands should most definitely pursue.

What exactly are web push notifications?

Web push notifications are notification-style messages sent from web browsers to users on mobile and desktop web. After opting in, users receive web push notifications on their mobile device or their desktop - even when their web browser is in the background.

If you're using a desktop computer, web push notifications slide onto the top or bottom of your screen. On mobile devices, web notifications are delivered to the notification tray and have a nearly identical appearance to those coming from a mobile app.

How are web push notifications different from push notifications sent via apps?

From a user's point of view, web and app push notifications are virtually identical. The biggest difference is that web push notifications can show up on their desktop, not just on their mobile devices.

From a marketer's perspective, web notifications offer a way to take advantage of the fact that 73% of online engagement is from mobile search, and global web traffic from smartphones is predicted to reach 70% by 2025.

This means marketers can reach audiences where they're at - on and off mobile devices. For example, web notifications make it easier to reach professionals who are sitting in front of a desktop computer for much of the work day with an interactive, actionable notification.

Do visitors have to "opt in" to receive web push notifications?

Yes. And much like app push notifications, it is possible to present the opt-in dialogue when it will be best received. As with mobile messaging, we recommend digital marketers present a "soft ask" prior to presenting the web push notification opt-in option. The soft ask should explain the value your customers will get from opting in to web notifications.

Can I send web notifications to a user when they are not on my website?

Yes. Users can receive a web push notification from a site regardless of whether or not they are actively using the website in the moment. As long as the browser is open, a web visitor can be sent a notification and it will appear on their desktop or mobile device screen.

Do I need to have an app to send web push notifications?

Nope! While web push notifications are a fantastic way to complement app push notifications, you can use one without the other.

In fact, web push notifications are another great way to reach more of your customers on mobile - through web push notifications sent to mobile web.

This is great if you don't have an app. It's also great if you do have an app, but want another channel for reaching users who have opted out of app push notifications.

Can I personalize web notifications?

Absolutely. If you're using DigitalPUSH, you have access to much of the same kinds of message personalization you do with push notifications. That includes real-time automation triggers as well as segmentation and personalization capabilities. (Heads up, not all web push providers are making it possible to personalize web notifications. If you're evaluating vendors, be sure to ask.)