No matter if you are a small startup or a huge SaaS platform, launching new features is one of the key ways to add value to your product, differentiate from your competition and keep your existing users engaged. The way you communicate product changes to users is actually a big task and shouldn’t be left up to fate.

Your product and engineering teams spend weeks or even months to finally release product updates and even working on small bug fixes to improve your product. It’s crucial to communicate all of this changes effectively to keep your users engaged and show them your product progresses according to their needs.

In this article we’ll go over how to communicate product changes to your users, why this should be part of your communication strategy and the best way to do it.

Here is how to communicate product changes to users to boost engagement and growth

Why you should announce new features

Even though it seems pretty obvious, announcing new features should be one of the main pillars of your communication strategy. Specially if you are a SaaS product and even more importantly, if you follow a product-led strategy.

In a competitive SaaS environment, with new competitors arising every day, why should users pick YOU?

Announce product changes to engage users

In a subscription-based model, you cannot just rely on your clients’ first purchase. You have the ongoing task of engaging your users month to month.

You want to keep them coming back knowing that your team is listening to what they want and actively working to make changes. Without communicating product changes, they may see your product as stagnant and look for other alternatives. Don’t let your team’s hard work building a great product go to waste and lose users.

Ensure Customer Success and close the feedback loop

Now, think of a user which has a specific feature need or use case.

Even if your product doesn’t have the exact functionality, the first approach to retain that user is to actually listen to their feedback and try to find the best workaround with your current offering.

That will only be useful for a while. But think of how they would feel if their request is added into your product roadmap as an upcoming feature. For sure they would feel their feedback is important and being heard!

One of the main focus for your customer success team is to collect customer feedback to make sure your product’s features and UX are clear, but also to use that feedback to provide inputs to your product roadmap and future releases.

Once that new functionality is released, you need to effectively communicate it to close the feedback loop and ensure your customers are aware of the feature launch.

feedback loop

Increase Product activation and new feature adoption

User engagement is certainly the Holy Grail of SaaS products! But first of all, you need to gain product activation.

For your new users, an effective user onboarding process is vital to show value and encourage them to start using it right away.

But how do you drive product adoption with existing or inactive users? New feature releases are a great way to bring your users back and increase product usage. The secret sauce to actually see results here is to include a call to action to connect to your platform and start using the new feature right away.

Still not sure about this? Check out how GetResponse doubled product activation by announcing their product updates.

double product activation

Build trust by showing your product’s evolution

Another obvious but not so highly-regarded advantage of communicating product changes is building trust in your product. That’s why it’s so important for release notes to be public and easily available to new users and even to your website visitors, that are still in their first steps of their customer journey.

Having a public changelog with all your latest releases it’s a way to build trust in your product, show how it has improved and prove you are working hard and listening to your customers’ feedback.

Another great way to increase reliability and gain loyal customers is to have a public product roadmap to show what you are planning to release next and how your product will evolve.

How should you communicate product changes?

There are several touch points along your SaaS customer journey, and it’s certainly important to be there and use different channels as part of your communication strategy. The traditional ways to communicate new features are emails, newsletters and even blog posts. Of course nowadays, you should also consider social media platforms!

However, it’s even more important to have in app notifications for a new feature announcement. As Aurelia Solomon, Sr Director of Product Marketing from Drift told us recently:

“Customers interact with content in very different ways at different times. Obviously we have emails, blogs, newsletters, but they are also in the product most of the time. So, it’s important that we’re messaging them in the product and allowing them to engage how they want.”

Display your release notes in product and make them easy to find

Release notes sent through a newsletter or blog post have a low open and engagement rate. In addition, their main problem is their lack of context and timing. Most of your users will probably ignore a product update by email: your users’ inbox are already full of tasks to take care of!

A different approach, would be having in app notifications of your latest releases. Having your release notes in app is more engaging, first of all because the feature announcement is in context and your users can start using it right away.

Additional, it’s important for release notes to be easily available, not only for your entire user base, but also for your customer facing teams. Anyone will know exactly where to find the latest news on your product. For example, you can use a changelog tool like Beamer to notify users about your latest new features directly within your interface.

Beamer is a complete feedback loop platform to collect feedback, feature requests, display your upcoming planned releases into a product roadmap and make new feature announcements once developed.

Beamer changelog

Be as visual as possible in your message

If you just send a text email or push notification, it’s really hard for users to really understand what changes they should look out for. To get more engagement in your release notes, they need to be short, straight to the point and specially visual!

You want to visually explain to users what to expect and what they can do with your product. They are much more likely to interact and use new features and check out updates when they are visually prompted.

Use actual screenshots, videos, GIFs, etc. to show users changes and updates rather than just explain them. You can add photos, videos, and GIFs to your Beamer updates to better explain how to use new updates to users directly within the user interface.

It’s crucial for this visual update to be impactful! Then you can include a link to documentation or a step by step guide, for those who need more details on the feature.

in-app changelog

Give your users the chance to try the new feature right away

It means nothing to users to just announce a new feature and hope that they will start using it regularly. You want a really quick feature adoption, and the best way to achieve this is by inviting your users to try your new feature right away.

Give your users suggestions on how to use new features and what they can do with updates that are relevant and helpful to them. Then, at the bottom of your update have a direct link or other CTA directly to the new feature to get them started.

Be personal in your communication with users

Seemingly generic updates and messages are much more likely to be ignored. Personalization is the key to getting more engagement: 78% of people prefer personalized communication. Make your announcements and updates to users personalized as well.

There are simple ways to do this automatically. Using Beamer, you can segment the perfect target audience for each update. You can segment by demographic, language, user role, and even combine different criteria and create specific groups. By sending a particular change only to the relevant users, you can avoid the alert fatigue effect and make sure your updates have a better open and engagement rate.

Additionally, you can send personalized messages, including your user’s name or company to make the update even more individualized.

Show that you and your team are listening to what users want

A great strategy for showing users that you are taking their feedback seriously and are working to make your product better for them is to specifically mention their feedback and requests in your product change updates. If your users asked for specific functionality, thank them for their suggestion.

Even while you’re working on new features and updates, let users know that you’ve heard their suggestions and you’re working on implementing them. Showing, even on a very small scale, that your team is listening to users and are continually working to improve the product gives your company an overall progressive and evolving image in the face of your users. They are more likely to stay loyal to your product if they know that what they want is on the way and their opinion is taken seriously.

Here’s an example on how we used users’ feedback at Beamer to create a new feature and announce it to our customers. “The much requested beta of Beamer Roadmap is finally here” lets users know how important their suggestions are:

Use data and feedback to measure engagement

You cannot just guess or expect users to be more engaged just by communicating product changes. You need objective and quantitative measurements to prove it.

If you’re not measuring your customer engagement yet, here are some metrics you should be tracking. It’s interesting to check how those indicators change over time and after implementing new features. Are your users connecting more, inviting other users or upgrading more after a new feature announcement?

Another way to analyze the impact of your product changes is by collecting feedback, reaction and comments. On every update in Beamer, users can even leave their feedback, in the way of a emoji reaction and comments, only visible to you. Combined with Beamer analytics, it’s a really simple way to quickly analyze feedback.

Give special attention to your product’s major changes

Your users need to stay informed of different changes and improvements in your product: from small bug fixes to significant product or feature launches. An important aspect of your communication strategy is giving these major changes a special and more appealing announcement.

Let’s say you are launching a brand new feature or product and you need some beta testers to improve the functionalities and get valuable feedback. You really want as many users as possible to be notified and sign up for the test.

Here’s when a more appealing notification is needed is grab your users’ attention. For example, you can use pop-ups, top bars, snippets or tooltips to make those announcements stand out and attract your users.

Besides from in app messaging, you can also use web push notifications to catch the attention of your customers that are not currently signed in.

Don’t underestimate product sunsets or feature deprecation

Your product is an evolving project! Not only your product managers have to take care of the upcoming changes, but also they need to keep your product lean and easy to use.

Sometimes, this mean having to say goodbye to certain features or sub products. It is then very important to start an early communication of a product sunset or feature deprecation to avoid impact in customers that are actually using them.

Make sure you provide an advanced warning to let your users know when to expect a product or feature to be discontinued. In addition, try to provide an alternative way to solve your users’ needs and incorporate their feedback into your product strategy and planning.

In these cases, internal teams should be aligned and most importantly Customer Success should be prepared to anticipate questions and work on the best strategy to retain those users.

feature deprecation

An effective communication strategy of product changes is a huge opportunity to build loyalty, gather customer feedback and keep engagement high as you continue to improve your product. For a whole product marketing platform to announce product updates and close the feedback loop, try Beamer today.