Announcing product updates is one of the most thrilling parts of growing a SaaS business.
The entire team is in an exciting rush:
Your product team is working on last-minute corrections; salespeople are going over all the new functions to answer customer questions; the customer success team is monitoring every bit of the product to see how users react. The marketing team is ready to announce the update in three, two, one…
Aaaand it flops.
But you worked so hard for it ☹️ What could have gone wrong?
Everything, unless you asked yourself three important questions beforehand:
👉 Why does the user need to know about this product update?
👉 How should a user see a product update?
👉 How will the user be guided to benefit from the new product update?
In this guide to product update announcements, we will answer these three crucial questions as we take a look at:
- What a product update is,
- Why announcing product updates matter,
- What defines a successful product update announcement,
- How you can start elevating your product update announcements today
Let’s start with a definition of product updates and then deep dive into the concept of product announcements
What is a product update?
A product update is a change in a product made to fix a problem, satisfy a need, or reveal a new feature. While most product updates aim for active user engagement and an enhanced experience for user journeys, they can also aim to get a chance to re-engage churned users. Thus, be it minor product updates or major ones, they can be announced in different places like blog posts, in-app messages, social media posts, or emails.
Product updates are essentially strong indicators that you care about customer feedback and work on providing users with the best user experience possible.
But you can’t just assume that your users and potential customer will automatically know that.
You need to build a narrative.
And that brings us to:
Why is announcing product updates the right way important?
Let’s start answering our pre-announcement questions 👉 Why do the users need to know about your product update?
Here’s another one: Why should they care?
Let me just answer my own question loud and clear before we start misunderstanding things:
They don’t care.
Most users have things that they would change in your product, but they couldn’t care less unless it is that specific thing that they don’t like that you are changing. It can even annoy them to see product updates where you haven’t changed what annoys them. But here’s another point of view:
Your target audience deserves to see what is new, what user feedback has been considered and resolved, what features have been deactivated, and what has been added.
And you deserve the credit 🤩
But that’s just a common sense approach to the question, “why do product update announcements matter?”
Here are 3 reasons why they actually matter:
1- Increased product adoption
Though it is important not to mistake product update announcements for new feature announcements, which is a part of the new feature onboarding process, update announcements can get users to adopt features and the overall product more easily.
It’s a no-brainer that a well-prepared product update announcement has the potential to increase product adoption AND new feature adoption drastically.
Paired with the right onboarding UX patterns following the announcements in-app and educational content attached to the email and social media announcements, it also brings up the opportunity to quickly educate users as a part of updating the product.
2- Increased customer loyalty
I have already mentioned that product update announcements can get users to trust you more.
This is possible thanks to:
✅ Users feeling heard and seen,
✅ The perception of a business growing and improving,
✅ The ease of use and product adoption naturally going up for users who have interacted with the update announcement,
And many other reasons depending on the different target audiences, public roadmaps, and the specific customer experience that is being offered in the product, do increase customer loyalty as well.
In any case, product update announcements done right can and will create loyal customers no matter where they are located in your user base.
3- Increased customer engagement and re-engagement
In-app or externally, product updates engage not only active users but also inactive users.
Especially through feature updates, users who are not inactive but are slowly losing the depth and breadth of use of a product can also be engaged.
Better yet, email update announcements, as well as social media announcements, can get completely relapsed users to get at least curious, if not enthusiastic about giving your product another chance, given that the update announcement is done right.
But what exactly do I mean when I say “done right”?
What is right and what is wrong when it comes to product update announcements?
Let’s take a look:
What Defines a Good Product Update Announcement? (Best Practices + Examples)
Here’s a common-sense take on good product update announcements:
The announcements, their impact, and their success all depend on the product, the target audience, the user experience, and how you choose to announce them.
Which brings us to the second question 👉 how should a user see an update?
Let’s take a look at some best practices and examples.
1- Never interrupt an in-app task
There is a fine line between annoying users with a bombardment of announcements and satisfying them by announcing updates in the right way and at the right time.
When it comes to the when and where of announcing, keep it in context and non-disruptive by:
👉 Prompting update notes right away or after a period of time in-app with no recorded action,
👉 Meeting the users where the update is relevant/in context,
👉 Using slideout modals or any other modal that doesn’t cover the entire screen,
👉 Making the copy and the overall design of the update short, fun, and worth the users’ time
A good example of this is how Miro announces it’s update using a slideout modal:
With well-formatted, precise copy, a gif to show a review of the update and well-designed buttons, Miro makes sure not to annoy the users while also offering value.
2- Keep the copy clear
This might sound like a continuation of the best practice above, but no matter the medium, a clear copy can function well in any context.
And more importantly, it is a must.
The truth is your target users’ attention span is only getting smaller, and your best chance at getting them to get immediate value from a product update announcement is to make the copy clear.
Now here’s an interesting case of perceived value and real-life value in terms of announcement copy:
We are under the impression that in-app announcements always work better since you can educate users too, but let me tell you, it depends.
Here’s how Sendgrid announces their update in light of legal obligation:
The copy is long, and even with the formatting of bold words, it is barely skimmable.
They simply have to show it.
Meanwhile, ClickUp delivers value even just by using the title of an email announcement, sent specifically from the email address they have dedicated to making announcements.
The announcement channel matters, but knowing how to write your update copy and how to serve value from it the best way is even more important.
3- Use the attention for good
Now, if you ticked off the two best practices above, this means your product update announcement will be getting your users’ attention.
Not undivided attention, but the type of attention we can work with for a noble cause:
Starting to educate and train your users.
A new product update, especially if it’s a big one featuring different new features and functions, requires a good user onboarding strategy to make sure your efforts don’t go down the sink just because users won’t use the new additions.
Notion is a natural at squeezing in customer education content:
The full-page modal might be pretty disruptive, but since it is prompted at a non-active time for users and because it features different gifs that also double as education content, it is a great practice.
Same goes for our second example of product update announcement from Notion:
The announcement tooltip doubles as an onboarding UX pattern which is why the copy is so well-formatted; an icon of David is present for a personal feel, and there are 2 steps.
Though it feels disruptive at first glance, it actually gets users to skim and get some value and know how to use the new feature.
There are, of course, many more best practices for a good announcement, but the truth is, even just using these 3 will benefit you tremendously.
And if you don’t?
You will be conditioning your users to skip updates, and they will start skipping important announcements too.
I say don’t risk it because:
👉 Research by Salesforce suggests that 80% of customers believe that the experiences companies provide are equally important to them as its products and services.
“Nobody cares about the thing you’ve designed unless you can get them past the beginning.”Julie Zhuo Product Design VP at Facebook
So then, how?
How do you announce product updates in a way that will make your users care?
It’s time to answer our very last question:
👉 How will the user be guided to benefit from the new product update?
Let’s take a look at:
How to announce product updates (in-app, email, social media)
Product announcements can be done via so many channels, from blog posts to app notifications.
But the most common channels are in-app, emails, and social media.
So, let’s focus on these common channels and take a look at how you can enhance your announcements 🚀
How to announce updates in-app?
Let’s begin with distinguishing in-app messaging from push notifications because push notifications cannot be sent at just the right moment as in-app messages, and they can be easily ignored.
Imagine you are driving and receiving a push notification about a new product update.
It’s not like receiving the update right when you use it, right?
As we’ve discussed above, interrupting users with pop-ups is not really a best practice for in-app messaging.
Instead of pop-ups that interrupt, you can display a button that highlights when a new product update is released. Since your users know that you announce updates that are valuable to them, they will be eager to know about the new announcement.
Here is an example from Slack:
Slack has a simple “?” button to feature their updates as they know that their users would like to know about those valuable updates that will make their work much more efficient.
Upon clicking on “?”, you are directed to the help center.
There, you will see that if they have a new update, there is a little red dot under the gift icon. They don’t interrupt you, but instead, they give you a little notice about the update.
When you click on the gift icon, Slack presents you with the most recent updates, which makes it easier for you to follow those updates that you may have missed. Looking at what’s new in Slack, users are presented with brief information and a guide that helps them learn how to adopt the new update.
You can click on “learn more” and get to learn how to make use of the new product update.
What is also good here is that you can also deselect the option “Notify me about updates.”
And here is Slack explaining how you can make use of the new update step by step:
I deliberately chose an example from Slack because this is the closest to the ideal. However, you can always make it easier for users to adopt the new update.
This is where UserGuiding comes in.
THE right way to announce features: Product Updates 🚀
Now, as much as Slack does a good job keeping a separate log for all their updates, I’ll beg to differ when it comes to the friction of the UX for obvious reasons.
There are simply too many breadcrumbs to follow.
What if you had a complete hub for documenting and announcing your product updates where you can tag each announcement for better navigation, actively collect feedback, and even integrate it with your resource center widget?
Then it would be powered by UserGuiding. Meet Product Updates.
Product Updates is our newest feature here at UserGuiding that lets you tackle user engagement and feature adoption in one by:
👉 Create a hub for all your product announcements,
👉 Engage your users through interactive updates and dynamic UI signals using Booster,
👉 Create a culture of transparency and two-way communication via the user feedback option,
👉 Seamlessly integrate it into the in-app experience through our Resource Center
Whether you wanna do all that or give the core Userguiding experience a try… 👇
How to write a product update email?
Although email-updated users are not as easy to call to action as in-app updated users, it is still very important to know how to write a product update email.
As in in-app messaging, you should respect your users’ valuable time and try to present them with an informative and guiding email that will help them learn about the product in the most efficient way.
By following some key points, you can both inform and encourage users about the new product updates.
1- Keep it to your user persona’s taste
Now I can’t just tell you to be funny, serious, sleek, cool, or knowledgeable when writing the copy for your product update announcement emails.
What I can tell you, though, is to know your voice and talk with it.
And you can find your voice as a brand only by understanding how your main user persona wants to be addressed.
Are your users millennials and Gen Zers? Keep it fun and animated.
Are your users serious people with mostly corporate jobs? Don’t go dropping an emoji every other sentence.
Even when you don’t know the answer to who your users are or what they need, the least you can do is to keep the copy short, concise, and friendly.
Around’s dedicated emails are a good example of this:
Around still has the liberty to use fun gifs, a colorful layout, and some emojis (in the title too!)
2- Offer value everywhere
Just as ClickUp and Around successfully does, value can be offered in any part of your announcement email.
The truth is, when writing emails for announcements, you HAVE TO make users get any sort of value or get in any type of engagement with your product.
Be it a glimpse of the new features in a gif, a skimmed look at a list of new integrations, or just the fact that you have a new update, unless your users recognize something in your email consciously or subconsciously, it means you have failed.
3- Turn it into a ritual
I know I have overused it by now, but ClickUp’s email announcements are truly something.
Especially the fact that they use a dedicated email address just to send updates.
And mind you, users get frequent messages from the email address, even when it is a small update.
Knowing that most users are conditioned to overlook most update announcements and almost all email announcements (we are users too, we should know), it is not only possible but also favorable to try and turn your updates into a ritual between you and your users.
How to announce updates on social media?
A form of product update announcement that is often overlooked but definitely worth your time is social media announcements.
And though it seems easy enough to sprinkle some emojis on copy and call it a day, it can get complicated.
Here are some good practices for announcing product updates on social media:
1- Grow your fans
However perfect your copy and your update might be, unless you have some followers, your social media announcement won’t be getting too much traction.
The first thing to do is to get your users and potential users to follow you on the channels you are active on with actually good content and not just announcements.
Here’s the sad truth:
Your users don’t care about your product or your update; they want to know how it benefits them.
Make sure to at least try to get people to follow you.
2- Make frequent and timely posts
After getting followers, it is time to move onto the second stage: keeping them.
You can’t just expect people to follow you for nothing.
Even if you aren’t offering extra value with tailored content or different types of post that your user persona would be interested in, there is one good way of getting users to engage with your update announcements.
Turn them into rituals.
Pocket Universe seems to get the idea:
Especially when you are a growing business, there are many updates due.
Let the people know how you are growing.
3- Mind the copy & design
Of course, like in any other type of update announcement, it is important to mind the copy and design on social media too.
And by that, I mean:
✅ Good formatting – plenty of space, bolds, and italics where possible, emojis if the tone is right
✅ Use of visuals – visuals draw attention immediately; it is wise always to feature an image or gif and make them as relevant and valuable to the post as possible
✅ Friendly tone – using a funny or serious tone can depend on the product, but it is always okay to keep a friendly tone when writing copy for announcement posts
Making sure that you cover all three best practices might not guarantee a huge turnout in product adoption, but social media announcements are known for not only promoting your new features to existing users but also marketing your product to potential users.
Don’t 👏 overlook 👏 social media’s 👏 impact 👏
To Wrap Up
Now that we’ve answered the three essential questions, you are ready for a successful product update announcement!
Throughout the whole article, I wanted to emphasize, from a user’s perspective, that you should do whatever it is that you need to do to make things easier and more efficient for the user.
Well, isn’t it why you come up with these updates?
If the answer is yes, then coming up with these product updates is not enough to make it easier for the users, you should also make it easier for them to understand and learn how to benefit from these updates.
And a friendly suggestion before you go:
If you don’t know which type of announcement to go with, the answer is… all.
Use all types of product update announcements, and thank me later!
How do you write a product release note?
Though being a technical piece of information, a product release note can and should be written with clear, understandable copy. It can also feature visuals and other supplementary media to increase efficiency.
How can you communicate product updates?
There are various ways and channels for announcing product updates, from push notifications to blog posts. However, the most common and important types are in-app messages, emails, and social media posts. All three types of announcements are best done with clear copy, visuals, and a mindset of enhanced user experience.