In a world of improving technologies and evolving customer needs, product updates are necessary if you must keep up with the times.
Once the update is ready, though, it’s time for an announcement. Whether you’re announcing in-app or via email, this is your time to show existing customers how your product is evolving and improving for their benefit.
In this article, we dive into how you can do just that! We examine the when, why, how, and where of product update announcements. We’ll also highlight some examples to ensure you successfully announce product updates.
- Product updates are changes made to a product that adds a feature or fixes a problem with it.
- To avoid annoying users, not every update needs to be announced. Bigger changes like product redesigns or feature additions need to be announced, while smaller bug fixes do not need announcing.
- Product update announcements help increase user engagement, drive feature discovery and adoption, and improve customer loyalty.
- To ensure successful product announcements, you must consider your target audience and goal. Create user segments to announce updates only to those who need them. Then, define SMART goals to guide your announcement.
- You’ll also need to pick the right channel between in-app messages, push notifications, social media, and other media like Product Hunt or blog posts.
- For in-app announcements, modals are great for major announcements, while tooltips are perfect for smaller ones.
- Likewise, you can use micro-videos, GIFs, webinars, or walkthroughs to educate – and not just announce users about the new feature and how it works.
- As a rule, product updates are continuous. Collect user feedback after the release to determine what users like/dislike about the new feature.
- Whether you’re creating in-app messages, localizing announcements, collecting feedback, or trying to determine how users engage with a new feature, Userpilot is an invaluable tool. Book a demo today to learn more!
What are product updates?
Product updates are major or minor changes to your product designed to satisfy a need, add a feature, or fix a problem. Regardless of the changes made, the goal of every product update is to improve the user experience and better engage users.
When to announce product updates?
Product updates come in different shapes and sizes. When deciding whether to announce a product update, you must consider what makes up the update:
- Product redesign feature upgrades
- New feature launch
- New functionality
- Feature updates
- New product launch
- Bug fixes
However, updates that introduce a new feature/function or alter the product design require updates to inform users.
A simple rule of thumb is that if the update doesn’t change how the app or a feature works, it doesn’t need to be announced.
Why do product announcements matter?
Put differently, why should users care about your product update?
For starters, essential updates may have improved, incorporated, or deactivated features that users have mentioned in their feedback.
Thus, announcing updates helps you to:
- Increase user engagement by making the product easier to use. Users who interact with these announcements perceive that your product is growing and improving, leading to higher engagement levels.
- Improve new feature adoption by informing users of new features and guiding them to make the most of the feature.
- Increase the number of loyal customers by addressing customer concerns. If a customer has complained about (or requested) a feature in the past, an announcement tells them you take their feedback seriously.
- Capture churned users’ attention by adding new features and functions to the product. A good announcement may make a churned user curious enough to try your product again.
- Engage potential users by showcasing your product’s advancements and increasing value. This is especially true of announcements made through social media posts and other public media.
Ultimately, good product update announcements can impact both active, inactive, and potential users. For that to happen, though, you must get the announcement right. How so?
Things to consider before announcing product updates
There are two primary factors you must get right for your product announcements to elicit the desired effect:
- Your target audience
- Your goal
Choose your target audience
Different users come to your product with different goals in mind. As a result, a feature may be useful for one user segment, but not for another. Likewise, some users may have specifically requested the new feature/update.
Creating user segments, thus, enables you to announce product updates to only those who need them. This ensures the update is seen only by those who find it relevant.
You can easily determine the right user segment for an update announcement by examining each user’s JTBD, roles, in-app engagement, feedback, etc.
Define your goal
For your product announcements to be successful, you must have clear goals around them. What is it you aim to achieve? Do you want to…
- re-engage disengaged users?
- get most users to adopt the feature?
- drive overall product adoption?
- boost product awareness and bring in new customers?
- encourage users to upgrade their accounts?
When you have clear goals for your announcements, it becomes easier to plan the announcement and position it for success.
Good goals need to be SMART. This means that they must be specific in their targets, measurable, achievable, and relevant to your overall product marketing goals. It should also be time-bound.
For example, one of your goals may be to convert 100 users from freemium to premium within the first five days of the announcement. Can you identify the SMART characteristics of this goal?
Where to announce product updates
Picking the right channel to announce your product update is essential to its success. When deciding on an appropriate channel, your goal should be to reach your target audience with your announcement wherever they may be.
For this, you’ll have four primary channels:
- In-app announcements: In-app messaging enables you to contextually announce new features to active users.
- Push notifications (mobile apps): App notifications are a great way to reach all users, active or not, with your messaging. However, they’re easy to miss.
- Social media posts: If your goal is to drive new user acquisition with the new feature, you must employ your social media channels to reach potential customers.
- Product Hunt: With over six million users who are tech enthusiasts and investors, gaining traction on Product Hunt helps you generate buzz within the community and attract new users.
Best practices when announcing feature or product updates
So far, we’ve covered the what, when, and where of announcing product updates. It’s now time for the how. What follows are some best practices to ensure your product update announcement succeeds.
Use modals for big product updates
Modals are bold, attention-grabbing UI patterns that sit in the center of the screen. A classic modal is usually so large that it gets in the way of the user journey and separates the user from the product.
Although they may be seen as annoying by some users, their size makes them ideal for expansive and important product announcements.
Before using a modal, always ask yourself if it’s entirely necessary. If the information you want to share can be condensed, you can use smaller embedded patterns instead.
Use in-app messages to announce new features for existing users
One way to communicate product updates in-app without obstructing the user flow is through tooltips. A tooltip is smaller and more subtle than a modal, easily slotting into the user’s workflow.
Thanks to their size, tooltips are better for contextual in-app messaging, as they can point to specific UI elements. You can use them as standalone elements or chain multiple tooltips together.
This makes it very useful when you need to educate users on how the new feature works. As part of a flow, each tooltip explains how an element is used and helps users figure out the next step.
Host a product updates webinar for big product releases
For larger product updates, you need more than a static modal or tooltip announcement. Product updates that change so much in how an app works can cause friction and uncertainty if they aren’t presented correctly.
Likewise, an update that introduces a complex new feature may need more than a simple announcement.
Your users deserve to see the update working in more detail and ask follow-up questions. The easiest way to do this is through a free webinar.
Use micro-videos in your release notes to drive more engagement among existing customers
A good feature announcement is more like a social media post than a blog post. Once it pops on your user’s feed, it should immediately capture their attention and memorably communicate the information they need.
Visual elements like micro-videos and GIFs help you do just that. Where lengthy blocks of text can get tiring to read, a GIF or video can showcase your new feature in seconds, providing the user with a quick tutorial to get started.
For instance, in this example, Slack uses a GIF to showcase what its new messaging interface looks like.
And if you need to communicate more information, a detailed release note or blog post can serve that purpose.
Pair your update announcements with interactive walkthroughs to drive new feature adoption
Sometimes, product updates are simply too big and complex for a short explainer video/GIF. In such cases, users can benefit from a more detailed walkthrough that shows them exactly how the feature works.
An interactive walkthrough is a series of sequential tooltips and modals that educate users on how to use a product or feature. You can launch a walkthrough contextually to show a user the different features of your update and get them to interact with it.
Thanks to their interactive nature, walkthroughs create a useful learning experience that builds user knowledge and drives feature adoption.
Take the example of the interactive walkthrough of Rocketbots (now Respond.io) made in Userpilot. It walks its users through the product step-by-step, which guides them toward activation and later, adoption.
Have an easily accessible “What’s New” button
The easiest way to ensure your users never miss update announcements is to create an easily accessible repository for it. This page should capture everything from bug fixes to improvements, new features, etc.
A “What’s New” page enables you to share product updates quickly and easily, while also providing enough information for each update. You can clearly articulate the benefit of each update and the most efficient way of using it.
To be effective, though, this page should be visible and appealing, not tucked away in a dusty corner of your website.
SurferSEO, for example, uses a “What’s NEW?” button with a gift icon to encourage user engagement. Clicking this button opens an in-app modal with release notes.
Collect user feedback regarding recent updates and improve accordingly
The loop doesn’t end after your announcement, though. Instead, this is your time to go back to your users. Collect customer feedback using in-app surveys regarding the changes.
The feedback should tell you what they like/dislike and how well the update meets their need. If there’s a common reason for dislike in different users’ answers, address it immediately to avoid dissatisfaction.
Send product update email announcements to win back customers
Churn surveys are an excellent tool for discovering why users abandon your product. But they can give you more than just information.
When announcing product updates, you can target churned users who need the feature through email announcements. This is a good opportunity to show them you’ve listened to their complaints and addressed their concerns.
Promote a big product update with a Product Hunt launch
Product Hunt has a thriving community of tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, and investors, making it a great source of traffic from potential customers.
Take your time to write an engaging pitch that clearly articulates the benefit of your new feature and how it works. As users upvote your product, it generates a buzz that resonates well beyond the Product Hunt community.
How to launch successful product updates with Userpilot
Thankfully, with Userpilot, you don’t need a technical team to implement the above suggestions. Userpilot empowers you to announce product updates successfully without writing any code.
It helps you to…
Create in-app notifications using different UI patterns
Userpilot provides six UI patterns for in-app messaging and communications, including:
- Modals: For unmissable global announcements and webinar invites.
- Tooltips: To draw attention to a specific UI element and provide contextual guidance.
- Hotspots: Small beacons that grab user attention.
- Driven actions: To direct the user’s attention to an element and drive a specific action, such as a click or an input.
- Slideout: For capturing users’ attention in a less disruptive manner.
- Banners: An even less intrusive method for announcing updates.
Localize your product announcements
If your customer base includes users from different nationalities, you should consider localizing your product updates in their native languages. This will help them understand your message more clearly and make them feel appreciated that you personalized their experiences.
Content localization is no rocket science if you’re using Userpilot. All you need to do is enable your chosen language and then click on auto-translate – your message will be localized in a matter of seconds.
Optimize the copy of in-app product updates with AI writing assistant
You can’t expect your product updates to be successful if your copy is lacking.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to hire a copywriter for this. Just use Userpilot’s AI writing assistant feature to create new copy, improve existing copy, adjust its length, and summarize your message. You can even use it as a spelling and grammar check.
Collect customer feedback with in-app surveys
Create and launch a variety of feedback surveys for new feature requests, satisfaction surveys, new update surveys, etc.
Userpilot provides an extensive library of customizable ready-made survey templates. You can select your desired template and adjust it to your needs or create one from scratch code-free.
Analyze how users interact with new features with feature tags
In addition to collecting feedback, Userpilot enables you to see things directly from the user’s perspective.
Tag your new features and track how users interact with them. Do they locate it easily? Are engagement levels high or low? Is there an unusual drop-off at some point in the flow?
Depending on your findings, you can then prompt an interactive walkthrough to promote the feature and properly educate users.
Keep users updated with a resource center
Userpilot’s resource center editor can be used in a number of ways. Add a What’s New widget, offer assistance for your new launch, and include a customer feedback widget.
You can customize the resource center per your company’s branding and even, localize it.
Ultimately, effective product update announcements reach the right customers with the right information. Your announcement should consider the user’s needs as well as your own marketing goals and choose the right channel for both.
Ready to begin? Book a demo call with our team right away and learn how Userpilot can help you create product updates.