best practices SaaS changelog

8 best practices for a successful SaaS changelog

10515
Spencer Coon
Sep 16, 2020

Changelogs are becoming mandatory for SaaS companies to include in their websites for users to reference as you grow and change your product. They are not only an opportunity to show who your team is working but most importantly a way of engaging and retaining users. 

Changelogs can actually be an incredibly valuable sales and engagement tactic. When SaaS companies use changelogs as a way to show the growth of your product and boost engagement with current users, you can bring in new clients as well as reduce churn. 

The old way to update users was to write a blog or send a newsletter. These got little attention from users. Changelogs can be an effective solution to this problem. 

Do you want to know what SaaS successful changelogs have in common? Keep on reading!

 

Here are 8 best practices for a successful SaaS changelog: 

 

1. Make sure where changelog is easy to find:

This seems elementary but think about it. Where are the changelogs normally for SaaS products? They can sometimes be hard to locate, like they’re put out of the way. You’ll find them in the area of the site for developers or in the help section. It’s rare to find changelogs in a place where “normal” users will find it. 

Your changelog is useless like this. Your changelog should be somewhere prevalent, easily accessible, and in context for users who are using your product or exploring it as an option. Your changelog should be accessible from the sales pages of your site and homepage. It should also be clearly accessible from your site and from within your product for signed in users who are already using your product. 

With Beamer, that’s very easy to make happen. Beamer lets you create a changelog that sits within your website and product as a discreet, collapsible sidebar. Users can open it on your site by clicking a “What’s New” tab in your navigation or an icon within your product interface. It looks like a built-in widget native to your site. You can add your own branding and customize with your own CSS to make it look like it was built by your dev team. 

 

With Beamer you can: 

  • Announce new features 
  • Announce product updates and bug fixes
  • Share new content and news 

Beamer allows your team to share these things that would be changelog posts in a place that is visible and in context for users.

SaaS changelog easy to find

2. Make sure your changelog is not a static page:

You don’t want your changelog to be a separate page that users have to access in order to see if you have a new update. It’s very unlikely that users will be checking that page to see what’s new. With Beamer, you can have both. Your Beamer widget allows you to show updates within your product and on your website in a sidebar. When users click on a CTA on an update, they can go to your standalone page and read more. This way, your stand alone page gets engagement and users can stay in the loop without going there. When there are unread updates, you can have a red notification icon appear to remind users that there are updates to check. 

changelog notification

 

3. Add visual elements: images, videos, GIFs: 

There’s nothing worse than an all-text changelog. There is nothing enticing or interesting about that. It will get you no attention and your updates will go unnoticed. You should add visual elements to make your changelog updates interesting and easily understandable. 

For example, if you’re announcing a new feature, including a GIF or screenshot of it in action helps users to understand where and what it is. Even better, including a tutorial video on how to use it will help to get users seeing the value of new features right away. They will learn how to put them to use and be enticed to do so. It makes feature adoption easier and faster. 

With Beamer, you can embed videos, photos, and GIFs to your Beamer updates to make changelog entries get more engagement. 

changelog visual elements

 

4. Always include a clear CTA: 

It’s one thing to get people reading, it’s another to get them to take action.Your changelog can be a great tool for increasing engagement with current users if you get them to do something as a result of checking it out. Include a clear CTA in the form of a link or button. A button is more obvious, of course. But you can add links to get people clicking through like any other body of content. 

Include obvious CTA language as well. For example, if you’re sharing a new feature, invite users to “try it out”. If you’re sharing an update, remind developers they can “read more” about the technical details with a button. Keep your updates short and use CTAs to get users engaging again with your product right away. Learn more about using your changelog to announce new features. 

In Beamer, you can add colored buttons and links to link out from your changelog updates. It’s easy to track click throughs as well so you can improve CTAs. 

 

5. Write updates in a tone that resonates with the users: 

It’s probably not wise to just have your dev team write boring, technical changelog updates all the time. This isn’t going to excite or make any sense, probably, to your end users. You want to write your changelog in a way that is for everyone and gets the most crucial point across. 

It’s all about your audience!

For example, if you’re sharing a technical update or bug fix, your dev team might be able to give a best overview of what’s changed for more technical teams. It makes sense. If you’re sharing a new feature, you might want your sales or marketing team to write from an end users perspective to drive home the value. Your changelog should be the work of all your team as your product is. 

 

6. Personalize your updates as much as possible:  

Have you ever gotten an email from a company that felt really off the mark in terms of what you like? Don’t do that with your emails or your changelog. Not all users are the same. Users will be much more excited to engage with your changelog if it’s made for them.  With Beamer, you can tailor your Beamer changelog feed to users’ interest and engagement with your site and product. You can segment who sees what updates on their changelog by demographic, location, and past behavior on your site. You can also send each user updates in their own language. With this, your changelog can literally be personalized for different users. 

 

 

7. Use push notifications to bring users back with your changelog: 

Everytime you improve your product, it can be an excuse to bring back users or leads who are slipping away. Push notifications can help with that! With Beamer, you can set up push notifications for your changelog. Everytime you post an update, a push notification goes out to users who have opted in. It includes a CTA to come back and check out whatever you’ve added. You can add visual elements to make it more eye catching. What’s great about Beamer is that when they come back, they have a full changelog feed within your product to land on. There are updates for them to read and explore, They’re not dropped off in the middle of your product or website. It’s a great way to make your changelog actionable and alive. Learn more about how to send successful push notifications. 

changelog push notifications

8. Give users the gist and a place to read more:

With that being said, your updates on your changelog should be short, fun, and actionable. Your entire release note update shouldn’t be visible on your feed. That’s not what gets people engaging. Think of it as a literal newsfeed. What catches your attention? The headline and how well they convey the value. Your changelog should do the same. 

 

Changelog updates should include: 

  • A compelling headline
  • Some visual elements (image, GIF, video, et.)
  • A short, to-the-value description of what’s new
  • A CTA to take action or read more

That’s it. 

You’ll still want a place for the “read more” which is why you should also have a standalone page for your changelog updates. With Beamer, you can set up a standalone page to hold more info not needed on your changelog feed. You can add the technical details, documentation, and legal details, if applicable, here. It’s an organized way to keep information available and keep your changelog interesting. 

Prior to Beamer, our changelogs were basically a bin of updates we wrote and never saw again. Our users likely didn’t either. After using Beamer to share updates, we’ve changed the way we update users and show the growth of our product. It’s a sales and engagement tool within itself. 

Again, if you’re going to need to be writing a changelog anyways, you’ll want to make it work for your team. Try Beamer to create a changelog that engages users.