Quieter Web Push Notification UI: When Silence & Delightful User Experiences Are Golden!



Ever since its rapid adoption by digital businesses in 2015, web push notifications have reinforced their standing as an effective channel of user engagement. The instantaneous nature of engagement and minimal opt-in and deployment effort has resulted in marketers leaning on web push notifications, across industries.

But, these same advantages have also seen marketers push the boundaries on seeking opt-ins without delivering any value to website visitors or customers upfront. Nobody likes to see notification prompts the moment they land on the home page! This results in a poor customer experience and is guaranteed to cause greater drop-offs, defeating the entire purpose of deploying web push notifications completely.

To make matters worse, brands also end up targeting users that opt-in with irrelevant notifications that only add to the entire impersonal experience. With this being a regular occurrence, customers are bound to eventually lose patience.

The fallout?

Users are now doing the following:

  • Ignoring the notification opt-in prompt
  • Disabling or blocking web push notifications in the future
  • Lodging complaints with the browsers themselves

Forever focused on delivering superior user experiences, the likes of Google Chrome and Firefox have woken up to this reality and introduced quieter web push notifications as part of their seamless UIs.

What is a Quieter Web Push Notification UI?

The new quieter web push notification UI was first seen on January 7, 2020; with the release of Firefox 72. And, most recently on the Google Chrome 80 release on February 4, 2020. With these releases, users will no longer see notification opt-in prompts.

Users will now instead see an icon in the address bar while browsing the website. Opt-in to receive web push notifications can be secured when users manually click on the icon only. This does away with the earlier intrusive permission prompt that would disrupt the browsing experience.

How Does the New UI Differ Across Browsers?

While both Firefox and Google Chrome have introduced quieter permission prompts, it’s important to see how the interface varies across these most commonly used browsers:

Firefox 72

On accessing a website or mobile site on Firefox now, users will notice a speech/comment bubble icon located on the left-hand side of the address bar. This bubble icon moves subtly to let users know that the opt-in prompt is blocked. If the user chooses to click on this icon, the opt-in prompt reveals itself as a drop-down option.

The user can then decide whether to receive or disallow web push notifications from that particular website. In case, a user wants to enable notifications from a website they have formerly blocked, they can do so manually:

Firefox Preferences > Privacy & Security > Permissions > Notifications > Settings

Essentially, this double opt-in experience puts more power into the hand of users while respecting their privacy and usage experience.

Google Chrome 80

Users who access a website on Google Chrome can now see a bell-shaped icon embedded in the address bar. The decision to opt-in to receiving or blocking web push notifications now lies with individual users who can adjust the settings by simply clicking on the icon.

As is the case with Firefox, users on Google Chrome can also manually change their opt-in decision by adopting the following steps:

Settings > Site Settings > Notifications > Use Quieter Messaging

That’s the manual intervention angle to this.

The quieter web push notification UI also gets auto-enabled on Google Chrome under the following conditions:

  1. For users who block or very rarely accept web push notifications across websites over a period of time
  2. For websites that receive extremely low web push notification opt-in rates. This is likely to change once these opt-in rates improve, driven by better UI/UX

How Does this Impact Marketers?

The new quieter web push notification UI is likely to affect marketers’ offsite web engagement strategy in terms of reduced opt-in rates.

In the absence of the original, explicit permission prompts, opt-in rates are likely to fall from the industry-agnostic range of 6-10%, in the short run. Lower the opt-in rates, lower the off-site engagement rates, CTRs, and traffic/conversions attributed to web push notifications.

While Firefox and Google Chrome’s latest versions empower end users, they consequently challenge marketers to innovatively maintain or uplift their opt-in rates.

How Can Marketers Improve Their Opt-In Rates?

Instead of finding short-term hacks around the user-centric quieter web push notification UI, marketers are best served adopting a set of best practices to elevate their opt-in rates. This will also ensure that websites don’t automatically get included in Google Chrome’s quieter web push notification UI.

Set in this backdrop, marketers need to –

1. Seek permission only when needed:

If web push notifications don’t make strategic sense as a channel of engagement for a brand, marketers should explore other channels instead. Also, a “me-too” approach is only likely to disrupt the user experience and further adversely hit opt-in rates.

2. Optimize the permission prompt timing:

Instead of triggering an opt-in prompt the moment a user lands on the homepage of a website, marketers need to wait for the right time. Without overwhelming users, marketers can choose to secure subscription to web push notifications when they have scrolled a pre-defined percentage of the homepage or other critical webpages.

They can also trigger the prompt after users have browsed through or taken action on a certain number of webpages. This approach ensures that users get a brief experience of the website, before choosing to opt-in, while marketers engage in the most contextually relevant manner possible.

3. Explain opt-in benefit, clearly:

Marketers cannot afford to approach users with a bland opt-in message for subscription. They need to clearly outline what users will benefit from on opt-in.

An e-commerce platform can highlight how they will send real-time updates on flash sales, discounts, “back-in-stock”, delivery details, etc.

A travel website can communicate how users would benefit from their price-drop alerts, flight updates, or latest information on earmarked destination tour packages, etc.

The more genuinely a brand can showcase the value that users would gain be subscribing to web push notifications, the higher the chances of securing an opt-in.

4. Don’t try too hard at the expense of the UX:

Despite marketers’ best efforts, it is very probably that users choose not to opt-in to or even block web push notifications in the future. That should not act as added motivation to secure permission!

Marketers need to focus on delivering the most delightful user experience without resorting to a blanket spam strategy that can be viewed as desperate. This is likely to cause more damage in the long-run.

The Road Ahead

A double opt-in process is clearly the way forward for web push notifications. Users raised their concerns, and the browsers have now responded. The quieter web push notification UI revolution will encourage marketers to dig deep and pursue UX-specific innovation instead of an intrusive, scatter-gun strategy.

To learn how marketers can leverage the power of web push notifications to elevate user engagement and retention – as an effective weapon in their multi-channel marketing arsenal – give us a buzz, today!

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Pradyut Hande

Pradyut Hande

A data-driven marketing strategist with a hard-nosed penchant for frugal innovation, Pradyut is the Senior Growth Marketer & Product Evangelist at Netcore's Smartech.

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