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Web Push is an Emarsys channel that lets you send notifications to your customers via their desktop or mobile browser, even if they are not on your website.

With the power to reach 80% of all Internet users, and with an average CTR of 15% (rising as high as 30% in some cases) it is a channel that should be added to your existing marketing mix if it is not already!

However, while this is a hugely powerful marketing channel, there are several nuances that need to be considered before you get started.

Not all devices are created equal

Whilst Web Push will work across most desktop browsers and on Android phones, iOS mobile devices do not support Web Push. (For a full list of Emarsys supported browsers, see our Help Portal.)

Permissions aren’t as simple as a yes or no

As with many other marketing channels Web Push requires an explicit opt-in from the customer.

Examples of how opt in is presented on desktop and mobile

However, unlike other channels, the browsers play a key role in how permission is asked, how a customer is reminded about their choice, and how long that permission lasts.

  • On Firefox and Safari browsers there needs to be some form of interaction prior to the permission prompt being shown (Chrome is likely to follow and require this)

  • Some browsers may remind a user after a period that they do not have Web Push permission and ask whether you would like it – this is sometimes achieved by a ‘vibrating’ bell icon being displayed in the search bar

Example of how a browser shows that notifications are blocked

  • Even after accepting, Web Push permission does not last forever! The browsers will ask you after a while if you still want these permissions active, and this timing is controlled by the browsers

  • If a user closes the dialog by clicking the ‘X’ rather than rejecting the permission prompt explicitly, the browser may ask again. However, if the user repeatedly clicks the ‘X’ the browser will learn and will stop asking for permission

Rich Push and Action Buttons are often at the mercy of browsers

You can never be 100% sure how a Web Push campaign will perform because so much functionality is delegated to the browsers themselves. Here are a few of the most important issues:

  • Banner images are not supported across all combinations of browsers and operating systems – Chrome on Apple Mac, for example, will not display a banner image, which is out of our control

  • Action Buttons are displayed differently depending on the browser

    • Some offer dropdowns

    • Some display buttons directly

  • Not all browsers support Action Buttons (therefore it is important to always include a Default Action when setting up a Web Push campaign)

Browsers can affect sending

  • Web Push messages can be sent even when a browser is closed but the message will be queued

  • Queued messages are held by the browser for some time until a user next opens it –this is dependent on the browser but is typically around one month


Whilst all the above exceptions and idiosyncrasies may seem daunting at first, they shouldn’t be seen as a barrier to start using Web Push, which can have great results when used as part of a wider omnichannel strategy. Keep these three things in mind when you start, and you should be fine:

1. Manage your expectations

Given that you can never accurately predict how every combination of browser and operating system will behave, don’t try to keep up. Test the most common versions (you can easily find up to date lists like this one online) and be prepared that a small percentage of messages simply won’t reach their intended audience.

And in case you’re wondering about the distribution of browsers across your contact database, Emarsys does not currently offer that reporting in the platform; however, if you are using Open Data, you can use the Emarsys Web Extend scripts to pull this data and see how many of your contacts are using which browser, and then target them accordingly.

2. Always include default actions

You can take some measures to mitigate against browser behavior, such as always including a default action for when browsers do not display Action Buttons.

3. Start small and work your way up

Targeted Web Push messages are an essential part of the mix when it comes to personalizing interactions on a truly 1:1 level, but don’t dive straight in with complex, multi-path programs which can’t realistically be tested. Instead, try it out with some low-hanging fruit like abandoned cart campaigns for when a visitor leaves your web shop, or back in stock campaigns for products viewed.

And that’s it for now – if you have any questions please ask them here and we’ll get back to you. We’d also love to hear your experiences with Web Push and any interesting use cases you have tried or would like to try.