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3 Big Reasons Why You Should Avoid Web Push Notifications
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In a world of unwanted ads and messages, marketers are fighting to raise their voices above the noise. The latest technology pushing the boundaries of browser tolerance is Web Push Notifications, messages that display once a visitor has ended their session.

Websites are required to gain a user’s consent for displaying push messages. However, acquiring an opt-in is rarely as simple as asking an honest question. And whilst some push messages serve a legitimate purpose, the majority are composed of the same hard-sell that once made pop-ups so unpopular.

web push notifications

Not all Web Push Notifications fall into the “black hat” category. For some services, Uber for example, push notifications are an essential part of communicating with customers. However, if you are promoting a brand or a product, there are good reasons to resist the murky world of the deep push. Firstly, though, let’s be clear about what constitutes a push notification. 

push notifications for mobile

A Web Push Notification is a message that is displayed outside the originator’s webpage or site. They are generated and hosted at the system level, so that users receive information even when an app is idle. Unlike pop-ups, the messages do not constitute a new browsing window

push notifications displayed on desktop

3 Big Reasons Why You Should Avoid Web Push Notifications

Here are 3 big reasons for you to avoid the murky world of Web Push Notifications. Each one is based on consumer behaviour research and cognitive principles. 

Despite the fact that push notifications require an opt-in from recipients, it is all-too-easy for unscrupulous marketers to acquire the clicks they need. Opt-in boxes are engineered to avoid the intuitive filters that people have built up over time. Occasionally, marketers employ deliberate deception to encourage more people to click “allow”.

Trying to circumvent consumers’ choices is never a good idea. When users feel that their agency has been undermined, they experience a strong psychological reactance that leads them to reject your website and your business. 

web push opt-in strategy

Research by Daniel Kahneman highlighted the fact that attention is a limited resource. When the limits of our attentional capacity are reached, we react by experiencing anger (if you’ve ever seen a driver/passenger argument over directions, you have witnessed this effect in action.) 

Messages that occur out of context, either by appearing in an unexpected location or interrupting an unrelated browsing session, will provoke a similar response. 

intrusive web push notifications

A number of psychological phenomena demonstrate the role of framing in the way we perceive things. The Halo Effect takes place when a positive feature transfers associated qualities to its surroundings. Similarly, Anchoring occurs when an initial factor determines the way subsequent inputs are received. However, these effects can also occur due to negative framing. 

If the first message a customer receives when they arrive on your site is an opt-in request, this will affect the way they perceive your brand. They are also more likely to act in a defensive fashion and be suspicious of everything they are offered. Overly direct marketing messages have the same effect, and can undermine the value of luxury brands.

branding issues web push notifications

By far the most effective form of messaging is positive reviews from previous customers. There are many ways to display Social Proof on your website, but your customers can also be trusted to spread the word about a great product or service. Another solution is to focus on making your website visible to people who are looking for the product or service you offer. SEO is an indirect form of marketing that allows you to retain your brand’s integrity. 

Finally, on-page website notifications offer a way to communicate with your customers on their terms. A Social Proof app, for example, can complement a browser’s experience, rather than distracting them from their intended actions. Using real data, delivered during a browser’s session, you can demonstrate the popularity of your products without irritating your customers. 

by Benjamin Ligier

Benjamin is a CRO Expert at Convertize. He is passionate about design, web marketing and consumer psychology.