Web Push Notifications
Before we dive into an in-depth comparison of the top web push notification tools and their features, let's make sure we all understand what web push notifications are. We have created a quick demo (inside the dialpad on the right) that demonstrates how web push notifications work. If you are already familiar, please scroll further down to see a detail comparison table (based on real data & facts) that compares the best web push vendors side-by-side. Our ranking methodology is based on following factors: Price, Ease of Use & integration, Features, Enterprise Scalability & Customer Reviews.
Below is an indepth analysis and overall rank of the top web push notification services based our latest lab tests. Please view this page on a desktop computer to see a full side-by-side comparison table.
Price for 50K Subscribers$29 [Our Top Recommendation]
Webpushr continues to offer and expand on it's best-in-class features & flexibility to integrate with 3rd party platforms such as WordPress, WooCommerce, Zapier, etc. It's ease of use makes it a great tool for marketers who are just starting out to use web push or for customers who are actively looking to switch to a better push platform. As outlined in the detailed comparison table above, it continues to be the only vendor to offer:
Webpushr does not offer customer support via phone or chat. Currently, customer support related queries can only be initiated and are responded to via e-mail. Other than that, there is very little to not like about this platform.
We are highly impressed by Webpushr's ability to execute on critical features mentioned above. Based on peer review and our extensive lab tests over the last few months, Webpushr clearly stands out as the best push vendor. Please tell us what you think as we continue to provide better insights to our readers.
Webpushr offers a free uptime monitoring service that comes standard with all plans including their standard free plan. This monitoring service basically checks your website from 3 key locations to check for uptime. It also logs and reports the average response time for each location and an overall uptime. You'd normally pay anywhere between $10 to $20 per website for this feature - so getting it for free for all websites is a great bonus feature we thought is worth highlighing as part of this comparison.
Price for 50K Subscribers$149 per month [CAUTION - Not recommended]
Update 3/14: We received an e-mail from OneSignal stating that the tracking code mentioned below has been removed. OneSignal did not explain the purpose of this code, why it was running and what information it was intended to collect. We therefore cannot share any additional information on this other than what we outlined previously:
Why is OneSignal NOT recommended?
⚠️CAUTION⚠️ We have found serious privacy concerns with OneSignal as part of our extensive lab tests. OneSignal has previously actively sold customers' data. While it claims to not sell customers' data any longer, we noticed highly questionable & unauthorized data-collection code getting injected to all of our test sites after we integrated OneSignal. We find this to be absolutely unacceptable. See screenshot below: (dated August 27th, 2020)
The last screenshot above points to a JS file hosted on a seemingly benign domain, tynt.com, but it contains an extensive JS code that is owned by 33Across Inc. which is a data brokerage firm with a focus on Advertising and User Targeting.
Most publishers know of ShareThis.com to be a social widget company, but it also actively sells it's data to Advertisers and third-party data brokerage firms. Source
The tracking code (exposed in the screenshots above) was fully active and making active tracking requests to servers operated by ShareThis and 33Across Inc. Our team was shocked to discover the great lengths OneSignal had gone to hide and obfuscate this data selling code. It was carefully tucked away under multiple layers that a normal developer/customer would not be able to discover. The data-selling code was fully active. The third party servers were fully acknowledging these tracking requests as part of our extensive lab tests.
Based on our analysis highlighted above, we are able to conclude that OneSignal has an active data-selling partnership with various companies such as Sharethis, 33Across Inc. and possibly other data brokerage firms. We find this cheap & sneaky activity by OneSignal to be completely unacceptable and incredibly unfortunate. This also forces us to drop OneSignal from our list of recommended vendors.
We will await a fully detailed (what data is being sold, why and for how much) and honest disclosure from OneSignal about these data selling partnerships. We will inform our readers once this information is made available to us by OneSignal.
It important to note that OneSignal effectively operates like an ad network. This means that OneSignal may provide a somewhat free (only upto 30K subscribers) offering if the user is OK for their data to be sold. Whether this is advantageous or not depends entirely on what a business hopes to achieve with push notifications. If you're looking for a trust-worthy and reliable push provider, it would be best to look elsewhere. Especially when there are many better alternatives. Tell us what you think.
Read more on OneSignal alternatives.
Price for 50K Subscribers$252 per month
VWO, formerly known as PushCrew, is one of the original web push notification platforms. It offers best-in-class user targeting features that can be expanded to add Cookie based attributes.
Compared to Webpushr or OneSignal, it is more expensive for medium sized publishers - something to keep in mind as it is generally very difficult to migrate your subscriber information from one provider to another.
Relatively higher pricing coupled with a lack of advanced features such as conversion tracking and advanced subscriber & campaign analytics puts it in the second tier of available choices. Tell us what you think.
Price for 50K Subscribers$400 per month
iZooto offers easy to use web console and basic features such as user targeting, automated push notifications and cross-browser support.
One of the most expensive web push platforms. Advanced features such as conversion tracking are not offered. Limited customer support options. iZooto is also affiliated with advertising companies to help you "monetize" your push subscribers. We do not recommend that you send ads to your Push subscribers or help push platforms track your users.
Please continue to use it if you are happy - for new customers, there are plenty of better options out there that will not break the bank. Tell us what you think.
What are Web Push Notifications?
Web push notifications are notifications that can be sent to a website visitor on desktop or mobile device. These are alert style messages that slide in at the top or bottom right hand corner of a desktop screen, depending on the operating system, or appear on a mobile device in a manner nearly identical to push notifications delivered from apps. Web push notifications are delivered on a user’s desktop or mobile device anytime they are connected to internet and have their browser open. Users do not need to be on any website, per se, to receive these push messages. These messages are therefore a powerful way for website owners to stay connected with their visitors. Keep in mind that users MUST first opt-in to receive push notifications from the website before any push message can be sent to them.
What is meant by "Load Shield" and why is it listed as a ranking criterion?
In our lab tests, we noticed that with some service providers, such as OneSignal, our website would experience a significant slow down right after sending a web push notification to a large number of subscribers (more than 10K subscribers).
This really boggled our minds for two reasons: 1- we were only getting a few hundred clicks as a result of the push messages and our servers were sized to adequately handle those additional visitors who clicked on the messages, 2- Our site was not doing any additional work to send the push notifications per se.
To root-cause this, we decided to monitor server logs. What we found was eye opening: logs clearly showed that our test site's server was getting bombarded with requests for images that we had defined to be contained inside the push message.
Further investigation lead us to the following understanding that we feel our readers will benefit immensely from: every single push notification carries a payload with it that defines the content of the message. The payload contains the Title, Body, Click URL and the Image URLs. The image URLs are for three possible type of images contained inside a push message: 1- Android Badge Image, 2- Site Logo image, & 3- Larger Feature Image. It is important to know that the payload only carries the URL to the image and not the image itself. This means that once a user receives the push message, their device will send multiple fetch requests in order to display images. For larger sites like our test website, this can result in signicantly higher load right after the push message is sent out. If your site experiences a slow-down after sending push messages, it is probably because your site is getting thousands of Image fetch requests in a very short time window.
Some service providers such as Webpushr preload all images to their own CDN before the push messages are sent out. This feature is not only critical but an absolute must-have for medium to large publishers.
Is web push notification a more effective marketing tool than e-mail?
Based on our internal research, (comparing efficacy in terms of click-through-rates between web push notification campaign & e-mail marketing campaign on a set of similar topics), we have found web push notifications to be atleast twice more effective than traditional e-mail marketing. Below is how we came to this conclusion.
We ran 5 daily campaigns to target visitors on a one very high volume (in terms of daily traffic & numbe rof subscribers) website. 5 different but niche-related push notifications were sent to the subscribers of this website every day for 4 consesutive week days. The charts below show how effective these notifications were. The first chart shows the number of push messages that were delivered or received by subscribers. Second chart show the number of unique subscribers who clicked on the notifications. The last shows the click rate.
Please note that we are using the number of deliveries as our starting point. Most vendors (including OneSignal) that are ranked in this month's report DO NOT show you the number of deliveres. They only show you the number of attempts made to deliver. There is a huge difference in the two metrics. The number of attempts represents the number of active subscribers that SHOULD receive push. The number of deliveries represents the number of active subscribers that RECEIVED the push.
Keep in mind that push notifications are also more cost effective than e-mails. Our research shows web push notifications cost over 70% less on a cost-per-click basis.
Can we see a web push notification example?
The best way to see Web Push API in action is to try our demo contained inside the dialpad on top section of this page (scroll up please). Inside the dialpad, you will see 4 buttons - each corresponding to a demonstrative use case. The idea essentially is that your site visitors actively opt in to receive push notifications from you. Once, they opt in, they become your "push subscribers". You can then send them a short message (with an image) at a later time. Your subscribers do not need to be on your site to receive the push message. As long as there browser is open and they are connected to internet, they will be able to receive your web push message. You can see additional HTML5 Push Notification Demo & Examples here.
How are Web Push Notifications different from native App Push Notifications?
Web push notifications are very similar to native App push notifications. There are subtle differences such as:
- Native app push messages can only be sent to mobile devices running Android or iOS. Web push notifications can be sent to both mobile and desktop devices. iOS, however, does not currently support web push notifications.
- For developers, integrating native app push requires addition of code inside the native app. For web push, the code must be added to the website.