Push notifications for Campaigning

Imagine your phone buzzes, you unlock the screen and see an urgent ask to participate in an online protest. A tap on the notification leads you straight to a website with further information and the option to take action now.

That's what push notifications will look like for mobilising supporters in the era of the smart phone.

Everyone gets notifications from apps such as Facebook, their favorite newspaper and incoming emails. Imagine the same potential for attention for your campaigning efforts. On top of that it's much easier for people subscribe and remain in control over these updates than, for instance, SMS.

Push Notifications on a tablet screen with a Call To Action

The Push notification on desktop

But that's just half of the story. Push notifications are evolving. All modern browsers are building push notifications right into their system and in a year from now it will be as integrated as bookmarks and your browsing history.

Don't just take my word for it, here is Apple's page on web push notifications, here is Google's documentation and this is the Firefox announcement.

Push notifications will be everywhere. And did I mention there is already a standard supporting this technology? What's particularly exciting about this is that you have a direct relationship with your supporter through this channel - like email. Users can choose the browser they use, but there is no corporation in-between, like Facebook, who limit your reach.

How to use Push notifications for your campaigning

Well, here at Campaignion we have a few features that will allow our users to put this technology to use very soon. At this stage we've built prototypes and are still working on tests to see how effective push notifications are for campaigning.

However, if your organisation does not use Campaignion or you want to get started right away you can turn to one of the many startups popping up around this, such as GoRoost, Xtremepush, Pushcrew or Jeapie.

With a few tricks, such as plugging RSS feeds into these apps, you can build an automated notification center.

Time for SOME wild speculation

Will web push notifications kill email as the dominant channel?

Er, no. Maybe in 20 years email will be replaced and the first space ships will land on mars. Predictions like this are not helpful and email is still a very important channel. Push notifications will only be available for smart phones and the most modern browsers so expect another year or two for this stuff to really hit the masses.

Will Push notifications be the final puzzle piece that means HTML5 Apps on smart phones will replace native apps? Some people argue yes, but I personally think there will always be room for both for various reasons.

Are push notifications going to be perceived as annoying or helpful? The cynic in me wants to add a comment about how spammy notifications can feel. I wonder how much users will understand how to subscribe and unsubscribe from these notifications - after all, the smart phone operating systems have not made this easy enough. At the same time a lot of companies have used push notifications without asking for explicit consent which is outrageous.

I guess along with the technology we will have to find best practices around the usage of push. Do supporters want notifications on individual campaigns, all notifications from an organisation or only super urgent actions?

We'll have to find out.

Anyhow, if you happen to be interested in a pilot project testing push notifications for your organisation feel free to get in touch with our team here at more onion!