All website owners want to create a following of enthusiasts that regularly return to read content, interact with their community, and buy products. There are many ways of encouraging visitors to return to your site, from creating an engaging email campaign and maintaining a high presence on social media, to running promotions and competitions, to name but a few. However, more recently we have seen a rise in push notifications being used to connect with an audience.
In this article, we’re going to look at what exactly push notifications are and whether they indeed can be used to increase the number of returning visitors to your site. We will also look at the best WordPress push notification plugins and what you should look for when choosing one.
WordPress Push Notification Plugins Explained
A push notification is a message that is sent to your followers to inform them of a new development on your website. When a new visitor comes to your site a pop-up will ask them if they are happy to receive notifications from your site in the future. If they accept then every time you publish new content or advertise an event or product, they will receive a notification about it.
When a push notification is sent from your site, a message will appear on your participating audience member’s desktop or mobile devices, even if they aren’t currently accessing your site. If they choose to click on the notification they are immediately taken to the content that was promoted in the message.
The Pros and Cons of Push Notifications
There are obvious pros to using push notifications but there can be some serious cons too, if not used correctly.
The Pros of using Push Notifications
Push notifications drive traffic to your site by encouraging visitors to return. Because people have opted in to receiving them you know that they already have an interest in your niche. This is exactly the type of visitor you want returning to your site and should, therefore, help your site convert against its goals, whether they are to build a community of enthusiasts or generate sales.
The Cons of using Push Notifications
There are two main problems with push notifications. The first is that people have to choose to accept the notifications in the first place. Therefore, it is worth promoting push notifications on your site, like you would encourage someone to sign up for a monthly newsletter. Some of the best WordPress push notification plugins allow you to customize the opt-in form, which can help increase the uptake.
Secondly, and possibly more crucially, the number of push notifications that you send out can make a difference between gaining returning visitors and losing your followers. If you send too many notifications you risk annoying your audience with a constant barrage of messages. Too few, and they may forget about your site and find a new favorite. A plugin that provides analytics is helpful with this as you can see what amount of push notifications works best with your audience.
Should You Use Push Notifications Instead of an Email Campaign?
The short answer to this is definitely not! Push notifications differ greatly from email and should be used alongside but not instead of your email campaigns.
Push notifications are just a short blurb of text, taking up little of the recipient’s time. They should be used as a reminder to your audience about your great content or as a quick promotion of a new blog post. On the other hand, a successful email campaign can seduce the reader, building a rapport that a push notification can’t match.
The other important difference between the two is that viewers can’t choose to not open push notifications. Appearing instantly on people’s screens, push notifications display an open message that can’t be missed. This is the opposite of email, which can only be successful if opened. You could be sending the most interesting and relevant content in your emails but if your audience chooses not to open them then you could easily lose potential returning visitors.
Push notifications should, therefore, be seen as a way to remind your viewers about your site, encouraging them to return. Email, however, is more about the long game of relationship building. By using both you should hopefully appeal to a wider range of people, increasing your returning visitor numbers and site following.
What to Look for in a Push Notification Plugin?
When choosing a plugin there are a few key elements worth considering:
- What devices does it send push notifications to?
- Can you customize the optin form and notification?
- How many push notifications does it send?
- What control do you have over the messages sent?
- Does it provide analytics?
Bearing those questions in mind, let’s take a look a the best WordPress push notification plugins.
Push Notifications for WordPress
Push notifications for WordPress (Lite), created by Delite Studio, sends push notifications to iOS, Android, and Fire OS devices. These notifications are sent straight from your site in real-time, whenever you publish a new post. This fairly basic WordPress plugin is a great free option for small personal blogs or for those just starting out in the world of push notifications. It is worth noting, however, that these messages are capped at 1000 per platform for each notification.
The premium version of Push Notifications for WordPress offers unlimited notifications and also supports Safari, Chrome, and Firefox browser notifications. It provides in-depth analytics so you can see how your site is performing and which notifications are converting users into return visitors.
Another impressive feature is that users themselves can select what type of notifications they receive by choosing which categories of posts they want to hear about. This could help prevent users getting fed up with excessive notifications, reducing the risk of you losing subscribers.
OneSignal is a free WordPress plugin that can provide unlimited desktop push notifications. It currently supports Chrome, Firefox, and Safari browsers. This popular feature-rich plugin enables you to customize the opt-in form and decide when and how it is displayed. It also allows you to A/B test your messages to see which ones have a better conversion rate.
Along with automatic push notifications that are sent every time you publish a new post, you can send reminders out to people that haven’t visited your site in a while. Messages can also be scheduled to be delivered in the future, based on the previous time your audience visited your site or their time zone.
Roost Web Push
Roost is a premium service supporting Chrome for desktop and android, Firefox and Safari. Quick and easy to setup, push notifications can be sent within minutes of installing the plugin. Messages can be sent each time a post is published, to selected groups or on a one-to-one basis.
Notifications can also be sent with an article’s title, a custom headline created by you or with an image. These features give you control over what each follower sees and enables you to customize their experience so each subscriber receives messages that are relevant and interesting to them.
The main draw of Roost is a feature called ‘The Bell’.This is a notification center available to each subscriber, letting them view the most important recent notifications and site content. As well as this, visitors can share notifications on social media and control the number and type of messages the receive. Giving your audience autonomy over their push notifications like this should help increase website and social media engagement, helping to secure returning visitors.
When looking at the best WordPress push notification plugins, the right option for you will depend on the needs of your website. All are worthy and exciting prospects although if you are trying push notifications for the first time it may be wiser to start off with one of the free plugins. If you are a bigger business with a large following already then you will probably want to choose one of the premium options from the beginning as they offer many more features and flexibility.
Whichever plugin you choose, monitor your push notifications closely and track the conversions. Make sure the notifications are making a positive difference, and most importantly not losing you followers.
Are you using push notifications on your WordPress website? What solution are you using and have you noticed an increase in returning traffic? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.