Reach your users with web apps and push notifications!

by Meike Müller

Interaction is now an important part of the internet. Companies with websites, online stores or blogs try to keep users on their online presence for as long as possible in order to elicit an action from them at the end. In the case of an online store, this could be the purchase of a product or a customer calling a consulting firm. Getting users to absorb the content and interact with it is the challenge that every company faces. One way to encourage interaction is to use push notifications via web apps. And that's what this article is all about! If you need further help with building your individual web app or support with the introduction of push notifications, we at EXWE will be happy to help you and answer all your questions. Feel free to contact us!

Reading time 8 min

What you can expect

We'll explain what a web app and a push notification actually are and then show you what you can use push notifications for in your company and why. Then we won't deprive you of the technical details and will show you how and with which API notifications can be integrated and how sending and receiving works. Last but not least, we'll give you a few tips on the content structure of a notification.

  1. What is a web app?
  2. What are push notifications?
  3. What can push notifications be used for?
  4. Why you should use push notifications for your company
  5. How can push notifications be integrated?
    1. The Notifications API
    2. The Push API
    3. Sending and receiving push notifications
  6. This is how you should set up a push notification
    1. The content of the push notification
    2. Support for creating a push notification
  7. FAQ
    1. What are push notifications?
    2. What is a web application?
    3. What is an API notification?
    4. What is a push service?

What is a web app?

Web app is short for web application. It is a browser-based application. This in turn means that a web app does not have to be downloaded in order to be used. The web application is not saved locally on a PC, smartphone or tablet, but is loaded via a browser such as Google Chrome. For this reason, the web app does not need to be programmed for the various operating systems. However, as it should be usable on all devices, the web app must have a responsive design. It should adapt to the different screen widths so that users enjoy using it. Because the web application does not need to be downloaded or updated, it is always up to date. Some web applications can also be used offline if all the necessary information is saved in the cache.

The function of a web app is always a certain amount of interaction with the user. Depending on the application, users can edit, request and receive data via a web app.

Web applications and websites are merging more and more. They often no longer appear on their own, but in combination. One combination is that of a website and push notifications that are played out via a web app.

What do push notifications do?

Push notifications can be used in the form of web apps. We'll explain why this could be important for you and your company later! First, let's talk about push notifications: These are small messages designed to alert users to a specific interaction. They can be used without the user having to download an app. They receive the notification immediately in the browser or partially on their end device.

They are mainly used to inform users about sales promotions in online stores or upcoming events, for example. They often contain a small symbol and a short text that users can click on to find out more about the message or the advertised promotion. There is also the option of directly inserting a button that invites interaction.

What can push notifications be used for?

Push notifications are a good way to easily reach visitors to your website or online store. You can use the messages to increase your sales, improve your marketing and achieve many other goals. The best thing is that you can send as many push notifications as you like. Because this is completely free. Of course, you should not overdo it and still use this type of web application with caution. Too many notifications could annoy the user and have a negative impact on your goals.

Above all, you should use push notifications to offer your customers and website visitors added value. They should receive additional information through the notification or be reminded of important aspects. You should therefore share content via notifications if it is linked to a specific event. This could be a sale promotion due to the upcoming Black Friday, for example.

Why you should use push notifications for your company

Using push notifications can help you and your business get one step closer to your goals. Depending on the defined goal, you can use the notifications to suit your needs. The notifications give you the chance to reach your users directly and get in touch with them.

Well-placed notifications during and outside the use of your website can promote interaction and encourage your users to return to the web app. This increases app usage, which is always a positive thing.

In addition, with notifications outside of application times, you naturally draw attention to your company again and ensure that users will not forget you. Statista has published an article in which they have once again prepared the analysis of the push software provider Accengage. According to the analysis, around 7.9% of users in the e-commerce sector respond to the notifications they receive via app on their smartphone. That may not sound like much at first. However, almost 8% of your users interact with you and your company again, who would not do so directly without a notification. So you gain 8% more traffic through simple push notifications.

Did you know that using web apps can also have a positive impact on your SEO strategy? Google offers you tools that you can use to check whether your web application is suitable enough, loads fast enough and complies with all security features. If you perform well in all categories, users are much more likely to stay on your website with a web app. It is therefore worth integrating push notifications via web app on your website. Push notifications encourage users to interact more with your website. They also tend to stay on your site longer. Google rates both aspects positively, which will only have a positive effect on your search engine rankings.

How can push notifications be integrated?

Push notifications can be created using the Notification API or the Push API. Both APIs differ from each other in the way they work and can only be used with certain browsers. In order to be able to send and receive push notifications smoothly, three other components are required.

The Notifications API

You can use the Notifications API when users access your website or web app and use Chrome, Firefox, Windows or Safari MacOS. By using this API, it is only possible to send push notifications as long as the browser with the web application is open. You also have to ask users for permission before you can send notifications. Although this is set to be changed in the future, as Mozilla and Google are currently working on a different process, it will be even more cumbersome for you as a website operator or online store owner. There will probably be a small bell icon that the user will first have to click on in order to be able to send notifications.

The Push API

The Push API has the great advantage that, in combination with a Service Worker API, it can also send push notifications when the website with the web app is not open.

The service worker stands between the website and the internet when the website requests data from the internet. It then decides whether this data can be taken from the cache or must be loaded from the Internet. This function also allows the web application to be used offline. As the Service Worker runs separately from the website with the web app, it can also send push notifications when the website is not open. You can think of this as being similar to the background services of a native app.

The Push API is supported by the Chrome, Firefox and Windows browsers. It does not yet work in Safari and it does not look as if it will be possible at some point in the future.

Sending and receiving push notifications

Three parties are required for push notifications to be sent without any problems. Firstly, there is a sender, usually a server that can generate the push notifications. Secondly, a so-called push notification service is required. This is the intermediary for the messages and distributes them at the specified time with previously defined parameters. And last but not least, the user's end device is of course required, which can receive the push notification.

The process can only run properly once you have set up your server and the web app for the push notification service. You do this by registering the app with the service. When a user calls up your web application, the notification service is also started accordingly. The service creates an ID number that is assigned to the user and filled with personal data such as the first app call. Depending on what personal data can be collected about the user, this can also be used for individualized push notifications. If a notification is then to be sent, the server can forward this message to the notification service. This will then send the message to all existing ID numbers.

Some third-party systems are already available for using a push notification service. These save you the effort of programming your own service, but this is of course also an option. The services from other providers already provide you with many functions that you can use to make better use of push notifications. This is because there are often already tools for analyzing, scheduling the notification and selecting the target group.

This is how you should set up a push notification

To ensure that your push notification is successful, you should consider in advance what you want to achieve with the notification. The following questions will help you with this:

  • Which people do you want to address?
  • What is the goal behind the notification?
  • What content should be sent to the user?
  • When is the best time for the notification?
  • Should the notification be sent more often? If so, how often?

Once you have answered these questions, you already have the framework conditions for the push notification that you want to create for your web application. You should always bear in mind that the more personalized your message is, the more likely it is to be successful. This is because your users will really feel addressed. If you don't have enough information, you can also ask users directly which notification they are interested in. For example, let them decide in an initial notification which topics they are interested in. If you run an online store, for example, you can ask them whether they want to be notified about sales, discounts or new products.

It may not be so easy to decide when the best time is for your push notification. You should always remember that you don't want to disturb or annoy your users with notifications. It therefore makes no sense to send messages at times when your users are asleep. It also doesn't make sense during the day, when most people are probably at work. Afternoons are therefore probably the best time. Depending on the content of the notification, it may of course not be the best choice in the afternoon.

The content of the push notification

When it comes to the content of a push notification, you should really limit yourself to the most important things. The message should come across clearly so that the user knows directly what it is about. For example, you can use keywords that make it clear what the message is intended to achieve. If there is a discount campaign in your online store, then use words such as sale, save or discount code. Is there a short, funny saying or rhyme that matches your intention? Then you can use that too.

If you can, include as many personalized details as possible. This will draw attention to the push message.

Support with creating a push notification

Do you need help setting up push notifications via a web app or do you still have questions about web apps? We will be happy to help you install a suitable web application that will finally allow you to send notifications to your users and provide you with comprehensive advice on the topic of web applications. If you wish, we can also develop your own web application for you. For more information, we recommend our page on web development.

FAQ on the topic of notifications & web apps

To conclude this article, we'll take a look at some of the questions that arise. If you have any questions yourself, we at EXWE will be happy to answer them over the phone.

  • What are push notifications?

    A push notification is a type of message that is sent from an application or service to a mobile device to inform a user of certain events or updates. Push notifications are usually displayed as short messages that appear on the device's screen, even if the application that sent them is not currently running. They can be used to provide users with information they might otherwise miss, such as new messages on a social network or changes to an appointment scheduler. Push notifications can also be used to encourage users to open an application or perform certain actions.

  • What is a web application?

    A web application is an application that runs in a web browser and allows users to access various services and functions via the internet. Web applications can be developed in various formats, including HTML, CSS and JavaScript. They are usually accessed via a web browser and do not require any special software or plug-ins on the user's computer. An example of a web application is an online store that opens in a web browser and allows users to browse and purchase products without having to download a separate application. The advantage of web applications is that they can be accessed from anywhere as long as there is an internet connection.

  • What is an API notification?

    An API notification is a type of message sent by an application programming interface (API) to inform about an event or change in the API. The API can send notifications to one or more recipients, who can then respond accordingly. This type of notification is particularly useful when it comes to informing about changes to the API or important events in the application that uses the API.

  • What is push service?

    Push services are a type of service provided by a server that sends notifications to an end device when certain events or changes occur. These notifications can be in the form of text messages, emails, SMS or even notifications in the user interface of an application or operating system. Push services are often used by applications that rely on real-time data, such as social networks, weather apps or news apps. They can also be used by companies to inform customers about new products, services or offers. In order to use push services, the end device must have an internet connection and register to receive notifications. Registration usually takes place via an application or the operating system of the end device. Once registered, the end device can receive notifications from the push service, even if the application using the service is not active.

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from 08.11.2021

Hello, my name is Meike. I take care of the EXWE back office and am responsible for our social media channels. All of our articles are meant to make your life easier and help you make decisions. Nevertheless, it can happen that something remains unclear, so: If you have questions about this article you can easily reach me at +49 231 93149827.

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