All websites should use a combination of strategies to increase traffic. On WordPress websites, using OneSignal’s push notifications are one of the easiest of these tactics.
Readers of your website and fans of your content make up your audience. They want to know when you publish new pages. When you can easily contact them to let them know about your new content, your website will get more traffic.
There’s a service that I use for free called One Signal that makes the entire process extremely simple and automated. I’m going to show you how to set up a web push notification on a WP site in this guide. You could also configure this service to use emails or even SMS to contact your audience, but I’ll just be showing web push in this post.
What are One Signal Push Notifications?
I’m using One Signal on the Side Bacon Blog, so you’ve probably noticed this is action already. When someone visits a page on your site, they’ll be prompted to subscribe to these push notices. A window prompt like the one below will display at the top of the page.
There is also a subscription bell, which is located in the bottom-left by default (location can be changed). If you’re not subscribed to notices on my website, you should see it in the bottom-left corner of this page right now. This can be clicked at any time to subscribe to the notices.
When a reader signs up, they’ll get notified on their desktop browser or mobile device when a new post is published on the site. Here’s what the notification for this post looked like on a desktop computer:
And the same web push notice as seen on a cell phone – this example comes from an Android device:
You can use OneSignal for free on a WordPress website. There aren’t any limits on how many subscribers or how many notifications you can send with the free version either. There are a few membership levels that do cost money to use, but they’re really not necessary for most sites. If you build your business into a very profitable company, it would certainly be worth upgrading to a paid plan for some extra features and branding customization. However, you could also choose to keep using it without ever paying a penny. Here are the various pricing plans available for this service, along with the main benefits of each.
OneSignal & WordPress
Push notifications can actually be set up on any website, mobile apps, and more. I teach WordPress and recommend it for building websites, so I’m going to show you how to use WP with this service.
Create a free account with One Signal here – you’ll need this to be able to proceed through this guide.
Once you have this installed and running on your site, using it is completely automated. You’ll see the box below with the Editor Window when you are creating a new post or page. By default, when you click the Publish button, it will send notices to your subscribers. The default behavior can be changed though. If you don’t want to send a notice when you publish, you can simply uncheck the box for Send notification on post publish. If you click on Customize notification content, you can change the Site Name and Page Title that are used for the notification – without that customization, your site’s default name and the existing page title will be used.
When you edit a page or post that has already been published, you’ll still see a similar notification box. However, a web push won’t be sent by default when you update, but this can still be changed if needed. In most cases, you won’t want to send notices for updates, but there are some situations where it can be useful, especially with a major content update on an existing page. If you want a push notice to go to your audience when you update, click on the checkbox for Send notification on post update before you click the Update button on the post or page.
When you create an account and add your website, you should find a Quick Start Guide that has 7 steps to complete. You actually do NOT need to go through all of those steps. Completing Step #1 is all that is needed to get this running on WordPress. However, feel free to explore the other options available to see what else it can do (web push notifications are just a small piece of what the service can do). To get started, click on the Push Notifications box.
Next, click on the Web box in the top-left and then click on the Continue button at the bottom.
Now click on the WordPress Plugin or Website Builder box. This will give you options to select your CMS – click on WordPress. As you can see, this could also be used with services with Shopify, Wix, and a number of other popular website builders.
You will then be prompted to add some brief details about your site including the name and URL. As long as you’re using HTTPS on your entire website (you should be), your settings will look similar to mine below:
You’ll be shown API information once the site is set up on One Signal. You’re going to need to take the App ID, API Key, and Safari Web ID and input this info into the WordPress plugin to connect your site.
In your WordPress Admin, go to Plugins -> Add New. Search for “OneSignal Web Push Notifications” to find the plugin. Install and Activate it.
With the plugin installed, click on the OneSignal Push menu link.
At the top of this page, you will find three boxes to enter the API credentials. Once you save this account information, set up is technically complete and it should be running on your live website now, ready to start building subscribers.
Everything else you can do in the plugin settings is optional. However, I do recommend going through all of the options available to customize it as much as possible for your site and your brand. I’m going to talk about the most important of these settings below, but I still recommend customizing options that I don’t discuss in this guide.
I consider all the options in the picture below to be important. The first two ensure that the Featured Image set for each post is the image used for the notifications – this helps to customize each notice to make them more interesting and helpful for your readers. The next setting for hiding notifications on Mac OS X is likely necessary to follow their recommended practices. The Notification Title will be the default site name that is used on all notices, although this can be customized for each post. The last setting ensures that cell phones and other devices can use these notifications and not just standard desktop or laptop computers.
The next section covers settings for the prompt and subscription bell that visitors see on your live site. The first two toggle options should be turned on to completely enable this system. You can also set the system to use custom subscription bell text here, which will display the next set of options I’ll discuss. The three drop-down boxes at the bottom control where the bell shows up on your site and it’s size and color.
Some of the default language used by this plugin is a bit too generic and is best customized for your site and your audience. Why does a visitor want to subscribe and what are they going to get notified about? Try to be specific with your custom text for the best results. As an example, take a look at my custom text for the Tip when unsubscribed: “Get notified of new blog posts” is much better than something generic like “Subscribe to notifications”. This Subscription Bell text is just for the red bell in the corner of the site.
The prompt that shows up at the top of the page is controlled by different settings. This section for Customize the Prompt text controls the words shown to visitors.
As soon as someone subscribes, the system can send them a welcome notification. This can let the user know what to expect in the future from these notices, and it can also be an opportunity to provide a special offer or access to content just for your subscribers.
The automatic web push features in WordPress when you publish a new post or page are controlled by this one setting that is enabled below. If you don’t want the checkbox for each post/page automatically selected, you can disable the setting here. You would need to manually choose every page that gets a push notice if you disable this setting though – I prefer to keep it enabled.
As you can see, installing and setting up OneSignal on a WordPress site is pretty simple. Once it’s running, you really don’t have to worry about doing anything to keep it working. Publish new content as normal, as your loyal audience will have an easy way to follow you to find out when you release something new.