But instead of hearing feedback about the new features, all you got are…

…crickets. 

There’s something you need to know about your users.

  1. Users don’t care about your new features. They care about what those new features can do for them.
  2. They’re humans and human brains are hard-wired to follow the easier path with least resistance. Meaning, they’ll only proceed to try out the feature if you show them how.

So to get their attention, you have to anchor your product update from thewhat’s in it for them perspective.

And to get them to use the new feature, show—not tell—how to do it.

Here’s how to do your product updates right.

(You can also jump to the relevant sections below)

  1. Personalize the updates
  2. Leverage the sign-in page
  3. Get your copy right
  4. Do new feature demos—and keep them short
  5. Make it self-discoverable
  6. Use a checklist for your new feature demos
  7. Host a webinar
  8. Don’t forget this
  9. Conclusions 

Personalize the updates

How many product request messages do you get every day?

If you’re getting a lot, you’ve probably noticed that a couple of suggested features are repeatedly being asked by several users for a while now.

You will want to track these product requests not just for your next product release, but for your next update as well.

Like how Groove did.

They began tracking the users who request a certain feature in Trello.

And when the time comes that they finally released that feature, they send a personal note to each and every user who asked for that functionality.

And guess what.

This simple new feature follow up made their users extremely happy.

Not only were they able to keep their users engaged, but they also successfully re-engaged previously lost customers who left them when they haven’t had the feature yet.

Best used when…

You have a set of users who are repeatedly requesting for new features.

Read more about this technique in Groove.

Leverage the sign-in page

A good way to catch your users is when they’re trying to get inside your app.

At that time, they’re usually on their desktops or laptops, getting ready to work.

Relic did a great job of displaying an announcement of their new platform on their sign-in page.

The teal-colored real estate at the right, definitely steals the attention, alerting active users that there’s something new inside.

When you click on the “Learn more” button, you’ll get directed to a landing page where all the new features of that platform are explained thoroughly.

Putting everything in the email alone will not work—it’s overwhelming.

Having all the information in your knowledge base will not work for marketing purposes—it’s too technical.

Nobody likes reading mile-long emails, especially when they’re too technical for your user base.

Best used for 

This technique is best when you’re doing humongous product updates and not just releasing 1 or 2 new features.

And if you notice, app screenshots help demonstrate how this new platform is better compared to the old one by hitting the pain points and highlighting the benefits.

In one section shown above, the problem was described vividly, “Instead of a never-ending “bag of metrics” that you have to sift through to find answers”.

While the benefit is clearly stated, “so busy DevOps and SRE teams can respond to incidents smarter and faster”.

As to the how the new platform does it, it wasn’t explained in detail—which is why it works.

The how was explained in a simple way, “automatically highlight relationships between all your entities and make sense of it all”.

Honestly, these are the only things your users need to hear.

Now this brings up to one essential factor in all your product updates, whatever form they’re in—the copy.

Get your copy right

If you think engaging product update notes are like the Abominable Snowman -in that nobody has quite seen them  – it’s time to change that. Product updates don’t have to be   boring by convention.

But in order for you to make your users care about your new features, they have to know what’s in it for them.

But few people actually do that. Especially if you’re a technical founder – you may fall into the trap of talking features, not benefits.

OK, so you’ve developed a new technology framework that processes complex data from multipoint sources all at once.

Great. Only that…nobody cares.

Quite possibly, your users may simply not be able to appreciate it.

Because they have no clue on what you’re talking about.

Unless your users are technical people like web developers.

Siteground starts their announcement with “Managed Update to PHP 7.3”.

Notice that they switch to a benefit-driven tone towards the middle of the paragraph. And they ended with “All that makes us confident that time has come to switch to 7.3”.

Because developers’ greatest enemies are unstable, buggy updates. This statement eliminates that worry.

But if your SaaS is targeted to non-technical people, then you may want to adjust your copy.

Let’s say that your target users are salespeople.

If your tool is going to eliminate the need to use multiple apps to analyze a never ending “bag of user data” [this is the benefit]…

Then they’re in.

Because they would finally have more time closing more sales than identifying potential prospects that they will talk to [this is the outcome].

So the next time you’re writing your product updates, remember the rule:

Lead with the benefits, entice with the outcome

Notion is good at doing this.

Look at the email they sent out.  

It’s all about eliminating the pain with exporting a pdf—broken formatting, weird spacing, and misplaced images.

Benefit is summed up in the subheadline, better pdf export.

And the outcome is pretty much self-explanatory.

Here’s another example from Intercom.

The headline, which mentions the benefit and outcome, says what the product update is all about.

The way they named the feature (Custom Roles) is direct. It pays to learn more about UX Copywriting and naming your app features too.

Plus, the emojis helped explain what Custom Roles is.

Do new feature demos—and keep them short

Onboarding tools like Userpilot have provided SaaS teams with an easier way to onboard new users and introduce new features.

The best part is you don’t have to ask your dev team to work on these in-app tutorials—anybody on your team can do it.

You won’t also need your designer to help. The design is fully customizable.

Here’s how these demos can help you announce your updates.

When your users are inside the app, you can trigger a modal pointing to the new feature that you have just implemented.

In the modal, you can do a short description of what that feature is and include links to a blog post or your “What’s New” page.

To boost product adoption of your new feature, you can add a quick tutorial of how to use it. You can experiment with the flow and optimize for your success goals.

Udemy does modals on their minor releases inside their app.

Be cautious though when using new feature in-app announcements.

Don’t overdo it.

The worst case that I’ve seen so far is a 5-step product announcement. Remember how humans tend to use our lizard brains a lot?

Here’s what’s going to happen with long product tours.

By the time users are on the 3rd step, they have already forgotten about what you said on step 1.

Here are a few tips on how to make engaging feature walkthroughs:

  1. Keep it short. The optimum number of steps is 3-4.
  2. Leave room for discovery. It’s tempting to show all the cool parts of your new feature, but trust me. You’ll just drive engagement away if you do that. People don’t like being lectured. When you have get them started, your job is done. Let them do the rest of the exploration. 😉
  3. Separate the walkthroughs. When you have a lot of features to show, make separate tours for each. Break them into smaller, more digestible tours.
  4. Try not to sell. The goal is always to make more money, that’s why you created new features. But when introducing it, you might wanna tone down the market-y voice. Instead, show users how they can get value from it. The upgrade will follow.

For more inspiration, you can check out 5 Inspiring Interactive Walkthroughs To Reduce Time to Value.

Best Used for…

Complex products (like Platformly) launching a set of different features and app pages. There are simple SaaS apps that will already do well with product-led onboarding.

Make it self-discoverable

On top of your big announcements, you can also embed a new feature demo inside your app for a while.

The reason is there might be users who have missed your announcements.

You can introduce to them the new feature when they log in the following week.

And you can do that by making discoverable product demos like what EmailMeForm has.

This is the help button from the upper right portion of their app.

From the dropdown, there’s a Step-by-Step Guides which will trigger a feature demo shown below.

Best Used for…

New and evergreen features that your users will use

Use a checklist for your new feature demos

Now, if you have released a couple of bundled features at once, here’s a tip.

For your in-app product demos, you can use a checklist of the new features. So that users won’t miss out on any of the latest additions.

Here’s how it looks inside the software. The example below is Troi.

When Troi used Userpilot to automate their software demos, they were able to show off their product without any man-hours required, saving them 50-100 man-hours of their sales team.

Here’s how the checklist looks up-close.

Best used for

You can use the same technique if you’re releasing a bundle of new features.

Host a webinar

Webinars are everywhere nowadays.

 

On a weekly basis, I get at least 3 webinar invitations from the software I’m signed up to, the communities I’m joining, and the courses I’m in.

And surprise, surprise.

29% of all webinars are produced by software technology companies.

That’s because webinars are a great avenue for:

  • Putting a face to your company (helpful for building customer relationship)
  • Showcasing the value of your SaaS
  • Establishing your authority in your industry

Zendesk has this “What’s New” webinar where they cover the new features that they have built into their product.

They use mainly emails to invite their users.

If no-show subscribers are what’s keeping you from doing webinars, that’s totally normal. The average webinar attendance rate is 44%.

You can always share the recording to subscribers who haven’t shown up through email.

Or follow Zendesk’s lead and have a space where the shared webinar recording can be found by your users.

Best used for

If you have a complex feature update or you have a lot of new features to show, a webinar will be your best option.

Don’t forget this

With all the tips that we have shared, I’m sure you’re going to nail your next product update.

Your existing users will easily find and use your new feature. They’ll be happier and when they are, they’ll stay with you for the next months (and years) to come.

But remember this.

Treat your new product update like any marketing launch—measure its effectiveness by keeping track of your ROI metrics.

Here are some things that you’d like to record:

  • How many users saw the in-app announcement?
  • How many clicked through?
  • How long did they stay inside the blog update?
  • Are users opening your email updates?
  • Were there free users who converted because of the new feature?
  • Did existing users upgrade to a higher plan?
  • Were you able to drive inactive leads back to your app?

When you use Userpilot modals and tool tips, you can easily record engagement, completion and feature adoption of the new features automatically.

You can even A/B test your flows to optimize your success goals.

Do this and you’ll get better at doing product updates.

Conclusions 

Creating new features is just half the battle.

Churning out new features without strategizing a plan to market it to your users is planning to fail.

Users will not magically find their way to your new features. You have to do the work.

Think about how you’re going to roll it out so your existing users will actually use them—and your inactive users will fall in love with your SaaS again.

About the Author

Aiza writes onboarding emails that help SaaS teams get their users from sign up to success. She’s currently a marketer and copywriter at EmailMeForm. Connect with her on LinkedIn.