Introducing new features, changes, and updates is essential for the survival of a business. It helps existing users engage, attracts new customers, and improves your position vis-a-vis your competitors.
Not only do the new features and changes matter for the long-term survival of your business, but how you introduce them matters a lot too. The reception of updates and new features depends heavily on how planned and successful the update announcements are.
The update announcements will be the basis on which your existing customers and potential customers will form their first impression of your new features and updates. And a botched announcement could sour your community on otherwise amazing new features.
So, how to successfully announce product updates? How to make your users excited about a new feature or a major update? And how to increase user engagement following the hype? In this blog post, we'll go over several useful tips you can implement in your update announcements to avoid common pitfalls and be more successful.
#1 Build-Up to the Update/Feature Release
Unexpectedly releasing major updates/features is not a good idea. Not only will you miss out on building hype for it, but it can also backfire as your existing user base might be caught off guard and have a hard time adopting.
Announcing updates/new features beforehand is an essential ingredient of a successful launch:
- Building up the hype: Generating media buzz around your products/services can be very difficult, but major product announcements and updates present a golden opportunity for your company to be at the forefront of the news again. If you have important news to share, you should make sure your target audience gets to hear it. In many instances, these act as free publicity for your company, and you shouldn't miss out on it.
- Giving a heads up to existing customers: Major updates/features could fundamentally change how your existing users interact with your product/service, and if not given a proper heads up, this could result in major backlash. There have been many instances of popular and successful companies getting into hot water simply because they failed to communicate changes to existing customers: Usually, with some important caveats, the sooner you announce product updates, the better.
- Encouraging new feature adoption: When you introduce a new feature/major change to your product, you naturally want your users to adopt it. But this can be harder than it seems. People are naturally averse to change and need to be sold on its benefits before they make the effort. This is where building up the update and announcing it beforehand comes in. You'll have ample opportunity to explain the update, the changes, and its benefits to existing base to encourage feature adoption.
#2 Frontload Relevant Information
Inherently, product updates aren't usually fun and engaging. Most people don't read update announcements and fewer still will read the accompanying blog post and the list of bug fixes. So, how can you educate users and attract new users?
Product announcements are as much art as they are science, and companies need to be careful with how they are worded, how they are presented, and what they include.
- Frontload relevant info: What does the new feature bring to the table? What are the most prominent changes introduced through the new update? These are the most important pieces of information for your users, not a list of bug fixes. The announcement should frontload these relevant pieces of information if it wants to capture users' attention.
- Keep announcements engaging: Though accuracy, comprehensiveness, and technical details all matter, you shouldn't forget the purpose of announcements is to be as engaging and entertaining as possible, and this should be reflected in the structure, writing, and tone of the announcement.
- Use all tools at your disposal: Many companies have used innovative methods and approaches to announce product updates successfully. These include using animated clips, voiceovers, gifs, images, and much more. Don't be afraid to think out of the box and use all the tools at your disposal to make sure the announcement is a success. If you don't limit yourself, you'll find you have a lot of options to help you make your announcement engaging and unique.
- Pay attention to release notes: release notes and change logs will be how many of your existing users learn about the details of an update. So, not only do they have to be well-written and comprehensive, but they also need to frontload the relevant information to the users and encourage product adoption. A release note also plays a key role in informing users about a feature launch or major changes to the product. Getting these right is essential, and by relying on effective tools like Releasecat.io, you can make that far more likely.
How It Works with Releasecat
Click here to see an example of a Releasecat's pop-up information that you can use to inform app users about a product update.
#3 Understand What Matters to Your Users
Every line in the announcement, every step in the lead-up to the update release, they all need to have a central focus, and that's what matters most to your users and potential users. Without understanding and taking into account your users' needs, priorities, and wants, you simply can't design a successful product update announcement.
Thankfully, there are a couple of ways you can make sure you understand user sentiment:
- Collect user feedback: Collecting customer feedback is one of the best ways you can understand your user base. Whether it is through surveys, in-app messages, comments, blog posts, or social media posts, there are a variety of ways your users are going to make themselves heard, and by paying attention to this feedback and actively seeking it out, you can understand what your users want from future updates.
- Allow feature requests: Allowing your users to request features and changes is a no-brainer, and most businesses should implement it one way or another. This is a great way to brainstorm ideas, see requests and changes that commonly prop up, and get your users more engaged with your business. Though you should be careful about sample and selection biases, there are no inherent downsides to allowing feature request forums to exist.
- Listen to active users, inactive users, and potential users: If you want to have a holistic image of the situation, you need to listen to all segments of your potential user base. This includes current users, who will be mostly satisfied with your product/service, it includes inactive users who might've fallen off because they are unsatisfied with aspects of your product or think the competition does it better, and potential users who might have not adopted your product for a variety of reasons. Only by listening to all three can you design updates and craft announcements that will have broad-based appeal.
Product update announcements are intricate, and understanding your customer base will give you a distinct advantage you can employ to make sure your updates are better received, your announcements engage users, and the future adoption rate improves. It is a crucial ingredient if you want to successfully plan, design, develop, and announce product updates.
#4 Rely on Multiple Channels to Announce Product Updates Successfully
Depending on the size of the company, a new feature/major update could cost you millions of dollars, and you want to make sure you get a good return on investment. One of the ways you can do that is by ensuring as many people hear about it as possible. Though this could mean expensive marketing campaigns, that's not the only tool at your disposal. There are a variety of ways you can make product announcements visible:
- Use in-app announcements: using in-app messaging is an easy, effective, and free way to make sure new feature announcement reaches its target audience. Whether you use in-app notifications, create unique visual elements, or have a messaging system in-app, you can use it to announce updates in unique and interesting ways, letting your most engaged users know what's coming. Though it has its limitations and should be used in moderation as annoying users invested in your product is a bad idea, it is still one of the premier methods companies use.
- Email announcements are still effective: though emails might seem outdated, they are still an effective method to reach people, and if your app has sign-up forums, and you've received the necessary permission beforehand, you can reach your target audience through emails fairly quickly. Email announcements have a variety of benefits: They can be targeted, you have a lot of real estate to advertise for your products, they are relatively low cost, and they grab your users' attention.
- Gauge if marketing campaigns are worth it: Coming up with a marketing strategy is a must if you want announcing product updates to be successful. Though the size of the marketing campaign, the approach you take, and the prominence of marketing alongside other sorts of strategies all depend on a variety of factors including the size of the update/new feature, your capital, the importance of marketing in your niche, and more. But if you've listened to our prior suggestions, including the importance of customer feedback and targeted messaging, you should be able to craft marketing tactics that will be particularly effective in your space.
Product Update Announcement FAQ
How Do You Announce a Product Update?
Announcing product updates is intricate. Not only does it need to boost user engagement, but it also needs to make sure your existing bases know exactly what's in the product update. To this end, there are a few key things you need to keep in mind:
- Make sure the announcement for product updates is engaging.
- Ensure you put out relevant information and explain how a new feature works.
- Understand what existing and potential users want and emphasize different features based on your audience.
How Do You Send Product Updates to Customers?
One of the hardest parts about product update announcements is making sure the information reaches all relevant stakeholders. Thankfully, developers have a few options they can rely on to increase the visibility of a product update:
- Push notifications and app messaging are excellent and affordable ways to reach your existing users. It is reliable, it is free, and it has very few downsides.
- Emails, blog posts, and forum updates are all traditional, tried and true tactics you can use to get a product update out there.
- Marketing is very effective. You can reach new audiences. You can target people with customized messages based on the stage in the user journey they are in. You can improve product adoption. The only downside is that it can be quite costly.