Push Notifications Explained in a Simple Human-Readable Way


If you’re like most people, you probably think of push notifications as those little bubbles that show up at the top of your phone or bottom of your PC screen, begging for your attention. And you are 100% correct, however, there’s a bit more to push notifications than just those pesky little bubbles.

Push notifications are a great way to keep your audience engaged with your content, whether you’re promoting a new blog post, marketing a sale, or just trying to keep your followers up-to-date on what’s going on.

For those who aren’t quite sure what push notifications are or how they work, they can seem a little daunting. This post is here to explain push notifications in a simple human-readable way – no technical jargon necessary! So whether you’re already using push notifications and want to learn more about them, or you’re just curious about what all the fuss is about, read on for a simple explanation.

Why push notifications

• Keep your audience engaged with your content

• Great for keeping followers up-to-date on company news

• Promote new blog posts, marketing deals, and more

• Inform followers of what’s going on in real-time

• Send push notifications to any device, including PC, phone, and tablet

What are push notifications?

In the most basic terms, push notifications are clickable messages that pop up on devices – usually phones or computers – to let the user know about something.

Push Notifications Are A Great Way To Keep Your Audience Engaged With Your Content, Whether You'Re Promoting A New Blog Post, Marketing A Sale, Or Just Trying To Keep Your Followers Up-To-Date On What'S Going On.

Most of the time, push notifications come from apps installed/enabled on your phone or computer. For example, you might get a notification from Facebook when someone comments on your post, or from Twitter when someone mentions you in a tweet.

However, push notifications aren’t just limited to social media apps – you can get them from weather apps, news apps, gaming apps, and more. In fact, pretty much any app that wants to keep you updated on something, offers you push notifications as an opt-in feature.

But of course, you are not here to read what you can get from others. So, the same as Facebook, Twitter, and others, you can use push notifications to send out your own messages to your subscribers. It might be a message about a new blog post, an upcoming sale, or even just a reminder that you’re still alive and kicking!

The great thing about push notifications is that they can be sent to any device – whether it’s a phone, computer, or tablet. And best of all, they don’t require the user to be actively using the app/website to receive them. So even if your subscribers are busy doing other things, they’ll still get your message loud and clear.

How do push notifications work?

In order for push notifications to work, you have to install and configure a plugin or piece of code on your website/app. On the other hand, visitors to your website/application must approve of receiving notifications.

When a user agrees to receive notifications, your website/app will save their device token. A device token is basically a unique identifier that tells your website/app which device the user is using.

Every time you want to send a push notification, your website/app will use the device token to send the message to the right device.

Are the push notifications the same as email marketing?

It’s important to note that push notifications are different from email marketing in a few key ways.

Delivery: push notifications vs email marketing

It’s no secret that email open rates have been declining in recent years. In fact, a recent study shows that the average open rate for emails is less than two percent. That’s pretty dismal when you compare it to the average open rate for mobile push notifications, which is 20 percent.

And it’s not just open rates where email lags behind mobile push – deliverability is also an issue. Email platforms often have trouble getting messages into inboxes, while mobile push notifications almost always go through.

Popular opinion [totally wrong, in my opinion]

Almost every article declares that one major difference between these two communication channels is what they are used for. Emails can be used to directly deliver content to users, while push notifications are generally used to get users to take further action, such as clicking into an app.

While emails can serve as complete pieces of content, push notifications are much more limited in this regard. In most cases, a push notification will only provide a brief message, with the goal of getting the user to take further action.

So, if you’re looking to deliver content directly to your users, email is the way to go. But if you want to encourage users to take action within your app, push notifications are a better option.

My opinion

Email marketing

What happens when you get an email? You get a notification(!) that someone has sent you an email. You can choose to open it now or later, read it or delete it, but the key point is that you got the notification(!) and thus knew that someone had sent you an email.

You click (1) the notification, read the email sales letter, and click (2) on the link or button to see the sales page, product, or whatever. That’s at least two clicks to get to the goal.

Push notifications

What happens when you get a push notification? You get a notification that someone has sent you something. You can choose to open it now or later, click on it or delete it, but the key point is that you got the notification and thus knew that someone had sent you something.

You click (1) the notification, and you’re immediately taken to the sales page, product, or whatever. No second click is required!

This is huge because it means that people who get push notifications are much more engaged than people who get email links.

Email marketing vs push notifications

What happens when you send an email

When you send someone an email, there’s a good chance they’ll read your sales letter without taking an action or just delete the email without even opening it. Why? Because if I often get emails from a particular person, I can predict the topic and there’s a big chance that I’m not interested in that topic right now. Another reason – that could simply be spam, because I get hundreds of emails from sources I did not subscribe for.

What happens when you send a push notification

When you send someone a push notification, there’s a good chance they’ll click on it because it’s right there in front of them. Why? Because I know that one click will lead me to the final destination. I don’t have to read some middleman’s blah blah blah. And, when I get a notification, I know that I’ve subscribed to it and it’s something I’m interested in.


To get subscribers to your email list, you must ask them to share at least their email address (often their name and additional information) with you. You must have an email subscription form on your website and use some popups or other techniques to get people to subscribe.

And that’s what people don’t like because of many fraudulent activities. We’ve all been spammed at least once in our lifetime and that’s why we’re now more careful about who we give our email addresses and personal data.

To get subscribers to your push notification list, you must ask them to click on the “Allow,” “Notify” or whatever button when they visit your website or app. That’s it! You don’t need their email address or any other personal data.

And that’s what people like because it’s simple and they know that they won’t get any spam because they’ve subscribed to the notifications themselves.

Why push notifications

• Always stay in touch with your audience

• Keep them updated on new content, products, and sales

• Increase customer engagement and loyalty

• Send notifications directly to their devices for immediate attention

What you can send with push notifications

Literally everything!

You can use push notifications to:

• Notify people about new content, products, or sales;

• Send special offers and discount codes;

• Ask for feedback or reviews;

• And much more.

All you need is to create a post or landing page where you share information you want your subscribers to know about. Then, create a push notification and send it to your subscribers.

How to get started with push notifications

Web developers, coders, and other tech people use Firebase Cloud and probably other thingies to set up push notifications. To do it myself, I have to waste at least a day or two to find out how to do it. And most probably, the result will be far from advanced. So, techie lads and gals, this article is not for you.

This is for those who want to set up push notifications without any headaches. For those who just want to get things done and not waste time on figuring out how to do it themselves.

There are services that will help you set up push notifications in minutes without a single line of code. I not going to give you a long list to choose from. I tested three and one of them I use on my websites. So, here’s the shortlist:

1. Perfecty Push Notifications – 100% free WordPress plugin. Because of 2000+ positive reviews, I believe that it’s a good plugin. But somehow I did not get it to work. Subscription banners appeared and there was no problem subscribing, but it does not send out notifications. I think I am stuck on “Custom REST URL.” Their documentation is useless.

2. OneSignal – one of the most popular apps. Has free and paid options. I used to have it on some of my websites previously. Well documented. What I don’t like is the long setup time. Also, you have to create Firebase API keys and other things, that at one point turn the OneSignal into the paid app for you anyways.

3. WonderPush – the app I use now. Incredibly easy and fast setup. You don’t need any third-party API keys. Paid app with a 14-day free trial. After the free trial, you have to pay €1 for 1000 subscribers. 0 to 1000 subscribers – €1, 1000 to 2000 subscribers – €2, 2000 to 3000 subscribers – €3, and so on.


First of all, make sure to subscribe for MerchArts push notifications:

Push notifications are a great way to keep in touch with your audience and increase customer engagement. And now you know the basics of what they are and how to use them.

If you want to set up push notifications for your website or app, I recommend using WonderPush (see the WonderPush vs OneSignal comparison). It’s an easy and fast way to get started without any headaches. There is no interest of mine in this. They’re just really good at what they do.

Do you have any questions about push notifications? Let me know in the comments below!

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