How to announce new product updates to your customers

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Announcing product updates and adding new features is exciting. Isn’t it? As a product manager, you’ve gone through a hell of research on what is the right feature to build; to announce a new release, every quarter.

You have worked hard, and you’ve finally decided to put it all out there.

Now comes the hard part. We tend to believe that every release will take off with a big bang because it’s new and exciting. Right?

But the reality is, even though you’re super excited about something that you’ve decided to release, you can’t expect the same in return from all.

For a few customers who have been waiting for particular features or product updates for a while, it is a piece of great news for them, well, others aren’t going to know about your upgrade until you reach them with the information.

And even then, they might not needly care about it.

What is a need for customers to care about product updates?

Notifying everything about new releases is something of an art. It’s something you should spend time to plan for.

Product announcements will help raise feature awareness and engage users with exciting new functionality. Just like creating a product strategy for your public roadmap, it’s also a better way to let your customers see that you’re constantly doing something to improve your products.

Here are certain things to keep in mind when announcing features releases or updates.

Be a proactive planner and set goals

Improper planning will the worst thing that's going to put you in vain when it comes to announcing the product releases. If you don’t have a proper plan and a clear goal on what you’re doing, you’ll end up spamming your product instead of announcing it.

Three factors you should never hesitate to think before you announce something “new”:

  1. Who are all your target audience?
  2. What are the end goals with the new release announcement?
  3. Which channels should you use for announcing?

Let’s have a brief look at above-mentioned questions:

1. Who are all your target audience?

Your target audience is not going to be everyone.

Yes, in an optimal world, everyone wouldn’t instantly start supporting your new feature release.

The reality is that there are a certain group of customers you need to consider to communicate with them first, like:

  • People who have demanded a particular feature you have planned to release.
  • People who are actively using something and your upgrade will change those functionalities and will affect the way of their working.

Begin with them, and then you can concentrate on everyone else.

“Prioritizing your target audience” is crucial for building the correct messaging:

  • Customers who’ve demanded a change in a feature will be happy about it.
  • Customer who has not might be disturbing when something is changing.

This means that your content should be different when explaining to these groups of people.

You will also want to ensure that every target customer gets the announcement that is most important for them to know. You might want to highlight various features or aspects of a feature update to various users.

2. What are the end goals with the new release announcement?

Same as, any marketing activity, product release announcements should have clear end goals.

Set through what exactly you’re trying to achieve:

  • Are you targeting new customers by releasing a new feature?
  • Are you trying to get people to upgrade the old version to improve their experience?
  • Are you trying to make everyone get to know about the change?
  • Are you trying to build your product network?

Once you figure out the answer to these questions planning for it will become easier.

You’ll be able to ensure your precious time is not consumed on heading to unnecessary tasks, and focusing which helps you to achieve your goal.

For example:

  • If you aim to get more people to use a new feature, you’ll probably want to concentrate on product announcements that they can take once the feature has been released.
  • If you’re trying to ensure everyone is aware of a change, you’ll want to plan for a conversation with the group of people before the product update happens.
  • If you’re targeting new customers, you have to pay more attention to the external conversation…..and so on.

You can set various goals at the same time. The crucial part is still that you were able to figure out what you’re trying to achieve.

Setting a measurable goal will also help to assess the success of a release/update, and improving better in the future.

3. Which channels should you use for announcing?

There are plenty of communication channels you can use for product updates or releases:

  • Email marketing strategies
  • Social media like Facebook, Twitter, Forums, LinkedIn, etc..
  • In-app notifications
  • Related blog posts
  • Online Webinars

Choosing the correct channels for announcements lies in your target audience. It also lies in the type of announcement.

For example, if it’s a software or UI update, it doesn’t matter much to that the outside world. Just an email and in-app notifications to the customers will work.

If it’s a new feature update that might bring in new users, it's advisable to use social media and preferred content marketing like blog posts, too.

Categorize pieces of information in your product announcements

A common mistake most of the companies will make is “announcing them, not the customer.”

I’ve seen most of the blog and social media posts that start with explaining things that customers probably don’t need to know like “we’ve spent this and that long on this particular thing.” Think deep! Your users don’t need to pay attention to what you went through to create that feature to use your new feature.

No one cares about how many extra hours you had to spend on this new feature and how long it took you to build this update. Ultimately, improving and adding features on a product is your job.

Users don’t lend their ears to know about you; they need to know about them. They are eager to know how this new thing is going to give a meaningful change that they’re expecting to solve the problem with your product.

Here’s a better information framework to use for an announcement:

  • What exactly is it?
  • How does it value the customer?
  • How to use it?
  • Do any extra information or sources for further understanding if needed?

Here are nuggets of information on how Hellonext announces “new features announcement every 15 days” on the website.

Crucial to release product updates and roadmap

For instance, let us take our changelogs feature

  • What is it? - Changelogs.
  • Why is it good? - You can publish the updates you’ve done for your product by this feature
  • How does it work? - Check here to know more about the changelog and it is also included in the announcement.

Don’t add any of your features life stories out of it. The audience’s attention span is short, make use of it wisely. It’s overwhelming to tell your life story, just filter out the important stuff out of it for an announcement. Concentrate on the customer and how the new feature helps them, not yourself.

Pro tip: You can also catch more of how we announce product updates in the Hellonext Roadmap and widget.*

Try not to annoy your customers

There are plenty of channels you can use to announce product updates.

Mostly, you can use which platform you feel comfortable or use all of them if you want, but ensure you keep conversation recurrently on an acceptable level for one customer (ensure you’re not spamming them)

Not all of your customers are obsessed with all of your channels, so it’s your job to ensure they get the sync. However, there should be a constant line between ensuring that someone hears about it, and not bombarded with it.

If anyone is already getting an email or an in-app notification, don’t send a repeating pop-up when they log in. It feels annoying for them.

Always provide the option to opt-out of any announcement.

If they’re not willing to check out your new feature or sign up for the webinar, let them close the window and leave them alone.

Create attractive visuals that grab people to check your product updates

Some people prefer reading a bunch of text to learn about a new feature or a product update. Always visuals serve as great people attention grabbers. They will explain better about the functionality than words can if they add an appropriate visual.

Visuals that helps to grab the attention of people include:

  • Video related to the new feature
  • GIFs related to the new feature
  • Screenshots of your product

A correct video about your update helps you stand out and grab the attention of your audience.

Here’s our demo about the embed feature voting system, our latest big feature.

Videos serve strong storytelling abilities and can be a lot more engaging than other types of content.

To make product releases/update more effective, focus on your target customers and the way you communicate

Product release announcements aren’t something, you can do “just like that” without pre-planning.

New releases without prior or proper announcement is completely a wasted opportunity. Your team would work too hard to release the new features they deserve strong attention among the target customers for their work.

Ensure you have a clear idea of why, to whom, and for what purpose you’re announcing something. So that you will be able to grab your target audience and converse with them in the most efficient way for them.

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