Improving your product is an essential component of sustainable competitiveness in software as a service industry. Product updates are necessary to keep customers excited and satisfied. Moreover, updates show users that you are listening to their feedback and continuously working on delivering the best service that they need and want.
The challenge is to deliver the right message to your audience. Announcing updates is a tricky task, and unfortunately, a lot of startups and even enterprises do it wrong.
Have you ever been bombarded with billion new notifications, pop-up windows, telling you that some SaaS tool improved X feature and fixed Z bug? It takes a good couple of click and waiting to close windows to actually start using the product.
Marketers, developers, product managers need to respect users and use smart ways to announce updates.
Updates can bring a tremendous amount of excitements and praise from customers, or can easily annoy them. Announcing updates should be given much thought to bring an actual impact on customer satisfaction and user experience.
Find the most attention-grabbing ways to promote your update. The smartest way to announce an update requires an effective message delivered at the right time, through the right medium, where your audience is more likely to hear your announcement. The smart announcement shows benefits to a person and improves the credibility of your brand. Be aware that the medium that sends the message is just as important and the message itself.
If you think that crafting an effective message is impossible, and you feel lost, don't worry. We got you.
Answer these questions first:
1. How important an update is?
Don't notify your users about all small improvements one a time. Show your customer some care by bundling up small bug fixes and frame them in the right way and announce them periodically.
2. How many customers does an update impact?
Not everybody will care about an update, and that's alright. Go find and segment people and tell them specifically the updates they would be interested in. It is the best way to build connections with users and make them loyal customers.
If you know that they are the ones who are using the specific feature you've updated, create a personalized message to that specific segment of your audience. Tell them that you care.
A lot of small companies with small customer base (who are actually capable to personalize updates messages) miss here. Create an excel sheet with all customers and features they used the most, and add their feedback. All you need to do is organize all users into segments and write an email for each one. What may sound like a hard task, in reality, requires a few hours of work. Especially if your customer base if small.
3. How proud are you about an update?
Announce to the world how excited you are about the new update, that involved a huge amount of effort. If it is something worth sharing, then do it, but smartly.
Choose the right medium
With billions of emails being sent each day, you don't want your important announcement to be buried and sent to spam folder. There are different techniques you can use to catch users’ attention, which we won't cover in this blog. But please use them. The era of mass emails is gone. And as we mentioned earlier, businesses have to learn to respect customers and stop annoying them with non-beneficiary junk.
Email can serve as a great meaningful touchpoint of interaction with a user. Make it clickable, nicely designed and simply interesting.
Bundle up all small bug fixes and emphasize important additions in the features list. Don't just tell what you did, explain how the update will actually affect users’ experience.
If you redid the whole software interface prepare a guidebook, videos, appropriate tour to avoid confusing a customer.
But most importantly, personalize your emails. Leverage subscribers data to create more dynamic, clickable emails.
A great example would be " What we have accomplished in 2018" or "What we have been working on this month".
Just like in real life, no one wants to hear news they are not interested in. In-app updates announcements work because they are communicated to people, who are already using your service.
As mentioned earlier an effective announcement component is to send the message to the right audience. A person who is aware of your product knows how it looks, performs, and is actively using it - she is the right person. Then talk to her and tell her about all the effort you’ve done!
AnnounceKit believes in giving people space to decide whether or not to click on flashing colorful dot. It is a non-interruptive widget and welcoming at the same time. Moreover, the widget disappears after you clicked on it and doesn’t bother a user anymore. Check it out yourself.
Updates page should be welcoming, caring and be there in case somebody would be interested in.
Organize the page as an archive. Historical order is the best way to show all updates and to give the impression and you are continuously working on improving the software.
Will everybody see the page? Absolutely not.
But do you need the page? Absolutely yes.
Our customer Hasan Toprakkaya, Founder of Sociality.io shared his opinion:
"We've started to use Announcekit a few months ago. There two main reasons why we need the tool. Firstly, our customers are asking us so many new features, but most of these feature requests have already been developed by us. So we need to inform our customers about them. Secondly, we want to show our development process to potential customers when they are visiting our website. It creates trust between us."
Your customer follows you on social media because they want to know about the news they care about and to have an opportunity to engage with your brand.
Taking a customer-first approach to your communication strategy will get your followers excited about updates and be aware of them. The way social media works is fascinating, and not using it the right way is simply wrong.
Social media allows information to spread across the globe in seconds, and it is the fastest way to make people know.
But first, we highly recommend you to determine whether or not to share an announcement on social media. Ask yourself if the information (both positive and negative) will have an impact on your customers and followers. Is your update announcement going to be just another noisy tweet or post? If yes, then reframe the message or bundle it up with other less important bug fixes.
Slack gave customers a bite-sized preview of the coming news.
Replies are hilarious. It is a positive indicator that Slack was able to build a community of people, who cared about the company and was indeed excited to see the news.
An announcing tweet is funny, modified for the Twitter community. Look closely to the engagement rates! Impressive isn't it?
Blog, news post announcement
Coming back to question: "How proud are you about an update?". In situations where you are tremendously proud about the work being done to release a new feature or did something that will impact all customers, it is advisable to take one more extra step and summarize announcement in a blog.
In contrast to social media, where you are limited in words like Twitter, (or in general the message is expected to be short), creating a blog is a smart way to announce product update. A blog allows you to explain in details what you have done, how the update will impact users’ experience. Also, a blog gives you more space to be creative.
In contrast to a website updates page, a blog allows you to add personal notes. Let the CEO or head of Marketing or Development explain why the update is important for your business. Add extra information on why it was hard to release it. By emphasizing the importance of an update and how you have accomplished it, you first build the credibility of your brand, second give value to readers by entertaining them and explaining pro tips and what could have been avoided.
For example, Crypterium is a top writer in Finance on Medium. It's been bringing innovations to financial market since 2013, so blogging works for them because they are able to explain complicated news and announcements more effectively.
Crypterium's latest blog "Crypterium 2018 RoundUp" is a great example of smart updates summary. The blog answers to 3 main questions "What we have accomplished in 2018?", "New important releases and how to use them?", " All important news that happened in 2018".
To wrap it all up,
Your biggest fans are likely to get excited about a new product update announcement regardless of how it is delivered. Unfortunately, they are a small portion of a customer base. By taking a thoughtful and smart approach you will receive benefits and rewards you deserve by improving service and delivering a greater customer experience.
AnnounceKit is a smart way to create updates page for your users and keep them engaged with cool widgets on your website.
Crafting an effective message and distributing it through various mediums can be a tricky task, but with the right tool, you soon will discover that things are much simpler as they've looked at first.
It doesn't matter how hard developers and product managers are working on creating perfect software, if your customers don't know about it, then well, they don't know about it. Not every update is noticeable, but every update should be communicated to a user in a smart and the right way.