Push notifications would get the attention of your subscribers even if they left your website. Properly crafted, they can be a valuable tool, as existing customers are more likely to repurchase. And that’s where push notifications shine: they can help you build relationships with your customers and up your retention game.

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With the GDPR and increased privacy concerns, push notifications are a great alternative based on permission-based marketing. In this article, we’ll cover all the basics of push notifications, their functions, and benefits for business, so you’ll be good and ready to craft push messages like a pro.

Mobile apps also send push notifications. However, we’ll be covering web push notifications, as they don’t limit you to a single app and require only a browser, which is a standard feature on any smartphone.

What is a Push Notification?

Web Push Notifications (browser push notifications) are short messages sent from a website via the browser on desktop and mobile devices.

Here’s an example of a push notification. It must look familiar to you, as most, if not all, smartphones or laptop users have seen such notifications.

Web pushes make it easy for a user to return to a website they have already visited. Push technology helps to develop a more productive and user-responsive marketing strategy.

Push notifications from mobile apps encourage a customer to open an already installed app on their smartphone. Web push enables a user to quickly return to a website, allowing a company to establish long-term communication.

Web push is a cross-platform technology. A notification on a desktop device appears on top of all open windows and stays there for some time. After a web push is displayed for Windows 10 and Mac OS, it goes to the Notification Center, and users can view it later. On mobile devices (for example, on Android OS), it pops up even if the browser is inactive.


  • In 2001, RIM created the first email alert system for Blackberry phones (Push Service). It changed the process of checking for your emails. Before that, you had to open the email app and see what’s in there. With the new alert system, you got a notification if there was a new email. 
  • In 2009, Apple introduced push technology for their iPhone. Since then, push notifications have become an integral part of mobile apps. The technology also migrated to Android devices.
  • After push technology became successful for mobile devices, Apple developed an alert system for the desktop Safari browser. However, it wasn’t until Google supported the technology that it gained mass popularity. 
  • In April 2015, Google introduced a web push for the Chrome browser. Then Firefox also implemented it in their browser. Today, most popular browsers also support the technology.

Today, you can add web push to your website using specialized services. We recommend Gravitec.net as an easy-to-use web push service.

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Using the Gravitec.net platform, you can send notifications via six desktop browsers – Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Safari, Yandex, Edge, and four on Android –  Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Yandex. This list covers over 85% of all Internet users.

Types of Push Notifications

There are multiple types of web push notifications depending on the campaign goals.

  • Service notifications alert subscribers about changes, technical problems, etc.
  • Promotional pushes notify subscribers about sales, discounts, and special offers, making them a favorite type for e-commerce websites.
  • News alerts can be used by media and e-commerce alike. Media send notifications with catchy headers about relevant news, and e-commerce sites urge customers to come back with information about products or company updates.
  • Personal notifications can be crafted to appeal to individual users.
  • Trigger campaigns respond to the subscriber’s action on a website. For example, a push notification can be sent to inform a user about an abandoned cart.
  • Targeted campaigns affect specific subscriber groups segmented by interests, region, device, etc.

Push Notifications Examples and Use Cases

A company might create other types, depending on its customer communication style and marketing needs, so there’s no limit to creativity. But these are the main types.

How Push Notifications Work

Push notifications flow is relatively straightforward. We’ll describe Gravitec’s way of delivery to help you understand the process:

  1. You create and start a campaign using Gravitec’s platform.
  2. A person visits your website.
  3. The website requests permission to send notifications.
  4. The visitor chooses to allow or decline the request.
  5. If the visitor accepts, they will start receiving web push notifications from the website.

You can add push technology to your website in just a few easy steps. The Gravitec.net software allows you to send notifications, track user activity, view statistics, segment your subscriber base, and perform analytics.

You can see a preview of the Gravitec.net platform on Youtube.

What does the technology look like from the inside?

Three devices are involved in the process: a user device/browser (the Client), a website server (the Website), and a message server (the Message Server).

A website shows a webpage to the Client and connects to the Message Server. The Client signs up and receives a personal identifier (ID). Then the ID is sent to the Website, where the data is processed. After assigning an ID to a specific device, the Website sends a message through the Message Server to the Client. The process of subscribing, sending, and delivering push messages is JavaScript-based.

However, to send push notifications, coding isn’t a must. You can send messages, craft campaigns, and target your subscribers without ever learning what JavaScript is. However, if you’d like to get deeper into coding and using API, we provide this option as well.

Push Notification Structure – Basic and Rich Push

There are two types of push notifications based on the type of bells and whistles they can include. 

The basic structure of a push notification consists of:

  1. Header
  2. Text description. The Text can be up to 240 characters long, which is a little less than a post on Twitter.
  3. Image. We recommend using size 192×192 px.
  4. URL. The URL is your website address (which can be a link to a Facebook page). 

Rich push notifications can also include big images, from 360х240 px, and extra buttons. You can also include UTM tags for the buttons to track clicks.

Push notifications on desktop and mobile devices

Web notifications come up on both desktop (laptops, PCs) and mobile devices (tablets, smartphones). Here is an example of what a push notification from a website looks like on a PC:

And let’s look at the notification on a smartphone:

Browser push notifications look different depending on the operating system. For example, a web push sent to a device running Windows 10 will look different from, say, one sent to a device running Windows 7.

Browsers: Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Safari

The notification appearance varies depending on the browser of a subscriber’s device. 

Here are some examples of notifications in popular browsers:

Chrome (Windows 10)

Chrome Mobile (Android)

Opera (Windows 10)

Opera Mobile (Android)

Firefox (Windows 10)

Safari (Mac OS)

iOS doesn’t support web push technology today.

How are Push Notifications Different From Text Messages?

Push notifications, unlike SMS text messages, come not only on mobile but also on desktop devices. Besides, they use entirely different data transmission technology.

Let’s compare the main features of different marketing channels to clear up their benefits.

AdvantagesSpeedy database acquisition Delivery guaranteeNo text length limits
What do you need to start?Connect to the serviceA contact baseEmail address database

The main advantage of SMS is guaranteed delivery if the mobile network is stable. However, you need a contact base to send mass text messages to your customers, but in general, people are reluctant to share personal information.

Read more about the differences between SMS and Web Push.

Push notifications are ready to be sent as soon as you get your first subscriber. The push service collects a subscriber base for marketing campaigns automatically. It’s easy for users to subscribe, so the base proliferates. In the first month, push technology customers typically get a significant number of subscribers.

To receive push notifications, all that a subscriber needs is an Internet connection for a mobile device. For desktop devices, subscribers also need an open web browser.  Since Wi-Fi is available in most places, even on airplanes, access to the Internet is never an issue for most subscribers.

Why Use Push Notifications?

Push notifications help businesses to engage with loyal subscribers. They make it easier to build a sustainable relationship with your clients and provide numerous benefits

They can be used for various purposes, like:

  • building a subscriber base
  • segmenting a customer base
  • stimulate subscriber engagement
  • analyze consumer behavior
  • guide subscribers through the different stages of the sales funnel
  • providing real-time updates
  • increase their purchase conversion rate
  • retaining customers
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