Turning Your Site Visitors into Web Push Notification Subscribers

Oct 25, 2018 12:37:17 PM / by Pushly Content Writer

The most important part of your web push notification marketing strategy is obtaining that crucial opt-in. By using a few simple creative techniques, you can gain more web push notification subscribers and boost your opt-in rate profoundly.

Avoid the common "all or nothing" opt-in approach

Before we discuss more creative approaches, we need to talk about the most common approach – one that fails more than others – and unfortunately, it's the one most people use.

When most people offer web push notifications on their website, they activate the default subscription screen. They attempt to obtain sign-ups from their website homepage using only the default browser subscription method.

This happens, in many cases, simply because they do not know there are better and other alternative ways to go about asking for web push notification subscriptions.

Here is an example of a default web browser push notification subscription screen:



As is woefully apparent, this screen is avoid any enticement to sign up. It's pretty much asking: Push notifications – Yes or No?

This method mostly fails and it happens for a number of reasons, with the foremost being that it is simply too generic of a prompt.


Limited text availability is a major problem

A major problem is that this default screen has a very limited text capacity. You do not have the room or available characters to do more than what you see on the above screen.

All this screen does is ask if the visitor wants to show or subscribe to notifications or not, with its two buttons reading: Block or allow.

Obviously, this is not good at all and unfortunately there's nothing you can do about it if you are relying only on this screen.


The problems with the default subscribe screen

The official default subscribe notification screen has a number of problems, including:

  • Limited available text/characters and screen display size.
  • No means to properly introduce yourself before asking for the subscription.
  • No means to offer the visitor any justifications or enticements for subscribing.
  • No means to explain to the visitor what they will get by subscribing.
  • No room to inform the visitor they can unsubscribe at any time.
  • Your homepage may not be the best page to ask for subscriptions.


The default screen doesn't answer your visitor's "Why?"

This default screen is missing the extremely vital explanation of "WHY" your visitor should subscribe.

All it does is ask them whether they are "in" or "out." That's not going to motivate anybody. Frankly, trying to get opt-ins with this method is a complete crapshoot. But not to worry, we are going to show you other effective methods to use instead.

In following paragraphs, you'll learn different techniques and tactics for asking for the opt-in. For now, let's just understand that the generic opt-in screen is not the way you want to go about obtaining your web push notification subscriptions.



Why asking visitors to subscribe on your homepage is a bad idea

When visitors arrive at your site, especially new ones, the first thing they are trying to do is simply familiarize themselves with your website, your company and your products.

Homepages can be a bit overwhelming at first, there is typically a lot going on which is vying for their attention, and the visitors need time to settle in.

Just as you wouldn't ask someone to marry you on the first date, you shouldn't ask someone to subscribe to web push notifications when they first arrive at your site.

To get right to the point: There are better places on your website to ask for someone to subscribe to web push notifications – and your homepage is the worst.


Two crucial factors for encouraging opt-ins:

  1. You must time your subscription request with care. You don't want to interrupt your visitor's normal user experience. Let them settle in, familiarize themselves with your site, then ask them to subscribe at the opportune time.
  2. Use a "pre-permission" screen or "pre-subscription page/button" placed strategically somewhere on your site, which allows you to explain to the visitor what benefits they will gain from subscribing to your web push notifications. You'll do this before you trigger the web browser's official notifications opt-in screen.

Alternative techniques for gaining web push notification subscriptions

We'll look at two different techniques you can employ in encouraging people to opt-in for web push notifications. These both utilize kind of a "sleight-of-hand" to delay triggering the official default subscription screen we discussed earlier.


Understanding the browser subscription process

Here's what you need to know: The official default subscription screen is the one that must be used to sign up for web push notifications.

Users are subscribing to receive browser notifications, and this process must, ultimately, initiate through the web browser itself.

However, what we are trying to get you to understand is that, while we ultimately need this screen to sign people up, we don't want to show this screen to visitors until we've had time to explain what web push notifications are and how they can benefit by receiving them.

And we certainly don't want to trigger this screen right off the bat on the homepage when someone first arrives at your website.

Subscribing is all or nothing: If a visitor chooses "block" or "don't allow" on the official browser web push notification subscription screen – the bad news is – you won't be able to ask them to subscribe again. It blocks web push notifications and it takes quite a bit of effort on the user's part to go into their browser preferences and unblock it. That's unlikely. So if they opt-out – you've pretty much lost them forever.

For this reason, it's crucial not to show them this screen until you are fairly certain they are going to subscribe.


How pre-permission screens & pages save the day

The thing is, you do not have to trigger the official sign-up screen until someone actually wants to sign up. You can trigger it with a "yes" button you set up somewhere on your site, so that it only appears to people who are ready to subscribe.

Using the two techniques we are about to introduce you to, we will first encourage the visitor to sign up by showing them enticing information, then once they are ready to sign up – we will trigger the browser's official subscription screen.


Example of a pre-permission screen…



Using a pre-permission screen or page

A "Pre-Permission Screen" is something you can display, either as a pop-over, slide-out, widget or actual webpage, to be shown to your visitor before asking them to subscribe to your web push notifications.

The point of the pre-permission screen is to answer your visitors' inevitable question about subscribing: "What's in it for me?"

Your pre-permission screen will inform your visitor of the benefits they will receive by subscribing to your web push notifications. This is your opportunity to show them how subscribing will provide them with value, whether through free helpful advice, free downloads, discounts, important updates and/or all of the above.

This pre-permission screen will contain a "yes" button, (yes, I want to sign up!), that when clicked, triggers the official opt-in screen. When they click the official opt-in button, they are subscribed.

But here's the good part… If they don't click the sign-up button on your pre-permission screen or click the "no" button, then the official sign-up screen is not shown. That way, you can prompt them again and again, because they have not blocked you by an opt-out.


Using a pre-subscription page/button

Another technique you can use, as an alternative to creating a pre-permission screen, is to use pre-subscription buttons placed on a webpage on your site.

With this method, on a page of your choosing, or in a sidebar, you create a headline and explanatory text about the benefits of web push notifications.

At the end of your subscription pitch, you embed a button for the user to click to sign up for web push notifications.

You will offer a "yes" or both "yes/no" buttons, although preferably titled with something more motivational such as, for example, "Yes, sign me up!" and "No, not at this time" respectively.

When the "yes" button is clicked, it will trigger the official default browser opt-in button, and your subscriber will click that to actually subscribe.

If the "no" button is clicked, nothing happens.

Again, because you only trigger the official opt-in screen if your user clicks your "yes" pre-subscription button and nothing happens if they click "no," it allows you to have additional chances to ask for the opt-in.


The greatest advantage of pre-permission screens or pages

The greatest advantage of using a pre-permission screen or a pre-subscription page is that you prevent the official opt-in screen from ever showing to anyone who selects "NO" on these preliminary pages.

Using this method, their "no" is only a temporary setback. It's not their final or "official" opt-out. You preserve your opportunity to convert them into a subscriber.

By delaying the showing of the "official" opt-in screen, it leaves the door open for you to entice them further and ask them to subscribe at a later time.

As you should now be able to understand, if you only show the official opt-in screen to your visitors, rather than use one of these pre-permission methods, you immediately give them the ability to block you forever, while eliminating your opportunity to convince them that subscribing to web push notifications can be rewarding and beneficial to them.

Using these pre-permission methods, you can  greatly increase your odds of turning your visitors into subscribers, as once they have spent more time on your site, made repeat visits or have become more familiar with your company or products – they may be more inclined toward subscribing.


  • Your most important task in turning your visitors into subscribers is to answer their question: "What's in it for me?"
  • The official, default browser opt-in screen for web push notifications has limited text display, and can only be used to ask the visitor "yes" or "no" regarding web push notifications. Therefore, employing tactics such as a pre-permission screen or using a pre-subscription page/button is necessary to entice subscriptions and boost opt-in rates.
  • In general, you should avoid asking users to subscribe by showing the opt-in screen on your homepage. First, users may not be yet familiar with you and you are asking them too soon. Secondly, website homepages are typically "busy" with a number of items, which can distract the viewer from your goal of subscribing.
  • You need to use great care to perfectly time the point at which you ask your visitor to subscribe to web push notifications. Allow them time to become familiar with your site and products first, before trying to persuade them to subscribe.
  • The default subscription process is an "all-or-nothing" proposition. You only get one chance and if they say "no" and block web push notifications – for all practical purposes – you have lost the opportunity to ask again or show browser push notifications to them forever.
  • The use of a pre-permission screen or page allows you to answer the "what's in it for me" question of your potential subscriber, while allowing you to explain the benefits of a subscription before showing the official opt-in button.
  • The use of a pre-permission screen or page gets around the default subscription process by delaying the showing of the official opt-in screen until you are fairly certain your visitor is ready to subscribe.
  • The use of a pre-permission screen serves as a "filter" that allows you to prequalify visitors who are most likely to subscribe – with those visitors being the only ones you will show the official opt-in screen to.
  • If your visitor selects "no" on your pre-permission screen or page, they will not be shown the official opt-in screen. In this way, they have not actually blocked notifications, and it gives you the opportunity, at a later time, to once again encourage them to subscribe to web push notifications.
  • Using a pre-permission screen or page greatly enhances the odds of your converting more of your visitors into web push notification subscribers.

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Topics: digital marketing, engagement, Marketing, web push notification