The Power and Pitfalls of Using Browser Push Notifications

With the advent of browser push notifications, marketers and publishers now have a new channel to directly connect with their audience. Odds are, you’ve encountered browser push opt-in requests many times: browser-generated dialogs asking whether you want to “allow” or “block” notifications from the site you’ve just entered.

With the advent of browser push notifications, marketers and publishers now have a new channel to directly connect with their audience. Odds are, you’ve encountered browser push opt-in requests many times: browser-generated dialogs asking whether you want to “allow” or “block” notifications from the site you’ve just entered.

The ability to reach users immediately, no matter where they are, makes browser push a high potential channel for delivering breaking news or the day’s top articles. By using push to connect users directly with their best content a couple times each day, marketers and publishers can build valuable direct relationships with a broader audience.

That’s not to say browser push success is automatic. In fact, the wrong push approach can cut these relationships short before the first notification is sent. To implement browser push effectively, it’s important to recognize both its power and potential pitfalls so you can craft a strategy that doesn’t push people away.

The Power of Push

Apps for phones and tablets have been around for years, and many publishers use app push notifications to reach their audience and buzz their pockets to drive engagement, all without the algorithm interference of social or the deliverability challenges of email. However, the biggest obstacle here is usually the app itself — getting people to download your app can be tough, assuming you have the resources to build an app in the first place. Less than half of digital publishers have an app, and for those that do, audience penetration averages less than 5%.

With browser push, publishers get the same instantaneous reach of app push without the hurdles. Not everyone will download an app, but everyone uses a browser and browser push notifications are functionally identical to app notifications. They appear on your desktop or phone home screen, even if you are not browsing the web. And with all modern web browsers now supporting push on mobile and desktop, your potential audience is significant.

Even better, you have a good chance of converting this potential audience. Browser push tends to earn higher opt-in rates than other channels because of its low-hurdle opt in.

While some visitors may hesitate to hand over their email address, especially on mobile, you may succeed in asking them to complete a lower-effort action. Opting into push requires nothing more than clicking the mouse, giving publishers access to a sector of their audience that might be wary of giving up personal information.

The Pitfalls of Push

These benefits have led more marketers and publishers to incorporate browser push into their strategy, especially as increased browser support makes it more attractive and companies like OneSignal give them the ability to send unlimited push notifications for free.

Of course, wider use of push doesn’t mean that marketers and publishers are using it the right way. Those push subscribers who refuse to hand over their email address probably wouldn’t be happy to learn that free browser push services make a business of selling their user data. Making a serious push with browser notifications may require publishers to rethink the use of free push services. They’ll also have to rethink their push approach.

Many browser push strategies go awry at the attempt to obtain the opt-in. Often, marketers and publishers rely solely on the browser’s default permissioning request, that dialog box generated natively through the browser as soon as the page loads. While the default dialog does offer a low hurdle for your audience, it creates a high-stakes situation for you. Before visitors even get a chance to view your content, default dialogs hit them with an ultimatum: agree to receive push notifications from this site or block them outright. It’s hardly a way to welcome new visitors.

Without prior knowledge of your content, your invitation will most likely be rejected. And since very few people will dig deep into their browser settings to reverse their decision, your push notifications are essentially blocked forever, robbing you of a chance to connect in the future.

Growing Your Push Audience

The key to growing your browser push audience lies with a more strategic opt-in request. In order to maximize your audience and prevent an immediate block, it’s best to make sure the browser dialog is displayed only at the point when your audience is likely to convert.

To do so, you can present an initial message that lets visitors trigger this allow/block prompt themselves, making it likely that users only see the dialog box when they’re ready to opt in. That way, if they haven’t reached that point yet, you still have a chance to convert them at a later time, after they’ve seen enough of your content to know they’d like to receive alerts about it.

Deploying your own opt-in request also gives you the ability to customize your message, which can make all the difference when it comes to earning an opt-in. Like email newsletter capture forms, you can compel more people to opt in by first telling people what they’re opting into. By clearly communicating the value of receiving your push content, you can earn something more valuable in return: a direct audience relationship.

10 Elements of a Squeeze Page

For those of you who haven’t heard this term, a squeeze page is basically a short landing page with one main purpose — to “squeeze” the email address out of the visitor to that page.

10 Elements of a Squeeze Page
“10,” Creative Commons license. | Credit: Flickr by Paul Downey

For those of you who haven’t heard this term, a squeeze page is basically a short landing page with one main purpose — to “squeeze” the email address out of the visitor to that page.

In other words, it’s a promotional page with the goal of lead generation (or “list-building”).

Smart marketers like to balance their online mixes and do both direct-to-sale efforts (i.e. selling a product) along with list-building (i.e. lead gen) efforts.

But not all squeeze pages are created equal.

Some are very short and pithy, with a headline and call to action … more ideal for mobile phone viewing. While others have longer copy to convey the value proposition of why the prospects need to give their email addresses.

Your target audience, delivery platform, message, offer and other variables will determine which format you may want to test.

But generally speaking, over the many years I have been creating successful squeeze pages for both consulting clients and top publishers alike, I would have to say that I’ve noticed 10 key elements that help make a winning squeeze page and get conversions.

Here they are:

  1. Gets Your Attention. It’s very important for a good squeeze page to have a strong headline, coupled with an eye-catching masthead image. This is when good persuasive copywriting skills comes into play with creative design.
  2. The Offer. You need to show the reader why they need to sign up and give you their email address … WHAT are they getting out of it? Typically it’s some kind of bonus, such as a free .pdf report, free white paper, free e-newsletter … free something. And that freebie needs to answer a question the prospect may have, solve a problem and teach them something they don’t know. All of the bonus benefits and the value proposition need to be outlined in the body copy in a clear, easy-to-read format (usually bullets).
  3. Why Listen to You? It’s also important to briefly outline WHY the prospect should listen to you. What makes you the expert? Why you are uniquely qualified? In a paragraph or less, it’s a good idea to introduce yourself and your credentials to the reader. Again, strong copywriting comes into play here to persuade the reader that it’s imperative to hear what you have to say and give you their email address.
  4. Visually Appealing. Call-to-action buttons that are bright and catch your attention (i.e. orange, yellow, red), a thumbnail of a free bonus report, a starburst showing the $ value of the free report, a headshot of the expert, and other relevant graphic enhancements are great ways to keep the reader engaged and move the eye down the page.
  5. If you have testimonials that speak to your expertise, use quote boxes and add short, strong testimonials. One or two that have a “wow” factor are best.
  6. No Distractions. As mentioned earlier, squeeze pages have one simple goal: to collect an email address. So it’s important not to have other clickable links on the page or navigation. You want to keep the readers focused on only giving you their emails and clicking “submit.” Don’t have background noise.
  7. Contact Information. At the bottom of the squeeze page, I like to add a brick-and-mortar physical address of the business, as well as the business Web address — that’s un-clickable. If you have a BBB logo or other logo that represents an award, accolade or accomplishment, it helps adds prestige, authenticity and promotes consumer confidence.
  8. Legal Mumbo-Jumbo. It’s important to remember, especially if you’re in the health or financial publishing space, to add the necessary disclaimers specific for that industry. In general, you may want to add something along the lines of: “The information and material provided on this site are for educational purposes only.”
  9. Anti-Spam Pledge. Under the email collection fields and above the call-to-action button, it’s a best practice to add some anti-spam verbiage to alleviate any concerns to the reader that the email may be sold or rented. Some even have a text hyperlink to their privacy policy.
  10. The More You Ask, The Less You Get. It’s a general rule of thumb that for each information field you ask the prospect to give, i.e. first name, email address, etc., you will get fewer responders. Some people ask for mailing address, age and other demographic information. That will deter some prospects and dampen response. However, the ones who do answer have demonstrated a real interest and are more qualified than just visitors who gave their email. So think about your ultimate goal for the squeeze page when determining how much information you’re going to ask for.

The squeeze page is only the beginning.

A good, strategic list-building campaign will have many elements that all work together to get a prospect’s attention (the ad); get them to sign up (the squeeze page); help them bond with the guru or editor; become educated in the publication’s mission; and, ultimately, get the subscriber to convert to a buyer of a paid product.

This is called the onboarding process. And an effective onboarding process is the beginning of the sales funnel that should end with more voluminous conversions in a shorter time-frame than if you don’t have an onboarding process in place.

So evaluate your business. See how many leads (#) you’re bringing in on a monthly basis, at how much ($) per lead, and how quickly these leads are converting to buyers.

Then decide if squeeze pages and setting up an onboarding process are right for you.

Good luck and happy prospecting!

The Most Effective Webinar Follow-up Email

“Was it helpful?”

That’s what your webinar should have been. Helpful in an actionable way. If it wasn’t? Sales representatives should gather intelligence and report their findings to the marketing department.

Thus, “Was it helpful?” is a very effective subject line when sending your webinar follow-up email message — I use it with my own business and clients successfully. Try it.

Will Slack Replace Email?“Was it helpful?”

That’s what your webinar should have been. Helpful in an actionable way. If it wasn’t? Sales representatives should gather intelligence and report their findings to the marketing department.

Thus, “Was it helpful?” is a very effective subject line when sending your webinar follow-up email message — I use it with my own business and clients successfully. Try it for yourself.

“I used this technique on a webinar follow-up yesterday and WOW, that really worked,” says Linda Simonsen of DigitalEd.

“I have never got such quick feedback (less than one hour).”

Following up With Attendees

“Did the   [insert title]    class last week help you   [insert goal of your customer]  ?”

Boom. Done. That’s your message. Nothing else.

No long-winded yackity-yack reminding the attendee about content of the webinar. You know they attended, now get to the point. They’re on a mobile device, pressed for time. Your buyers are deleting, deleting, deleting.

Stop them. Provoke them.

Give your customer a reason to hit reply and tell you — yes or no. It was helpful or it was not. In most cases they’ll even tell you why.

And they’ll tell you that crucial why because you asked in a way that provoked a response. Your approach style was brief, blunt and right to the point. In fact, your email really stood out because it was so darned short!

Why it works

Because it’s atypical. It’s not an awful template!

The best inbound lead follow up messages avoid standard templates found on Google.

This tactic helps you get in the discussion with prospects about their world, objectives, pains, fears and pressures. This approach helps them develop and act on the urge to hit reply and start the conversation.

Additionally, avoid calling your webinar a webinar. Make it a class, make it actionable. Classes have homework, did your webinar? Or was it typical — overloading attendees with information, overwhelming them to the point of preventing them from taking action on any of it?

What About Non-Attendees?

Since most webinars offer video replays, the same question applies. “Was it helpful?” Within the copy of your message simply adjust to include proper context. Segment your list and mail non-attendees a slightly different, equally provocative, message.

“Did the video replay of last week’s   [insert title]   class help you   [insert goal of your customer]  ?”

Ask the Question, Bluntly

Even if the goal of your webinar class is to shift a mindset, ask the question.

“Did the content marketing class help you see the challenge of empowering sellers with content differently … in a way you can act on?”

Yes or no.

The bluntness of this approach is why it works. Being direct (and brief!) gives customers freedom to share candid thoughts.

Rather than responding how customers typically do — hitting the delete button — they hit reply and let you know, quickly. That is what unsolicited email demands.

Being effective requires you to use short bursts of communications.