How to Write Engaging Release Notes for SaaS
What’s the “right” way to write engaging release notes for your SaaS product? It depends on your SaaS but at the end of the day they need to be one thing: effective.
Release notes have several purposes:
- Educate about new features
Release notes need to inform all the various users of what your team has changed and updated so they have the relevant information they need. Release notes need to also let your users know that your team is working hard to improve your product and help to boost engagement.
Unless you let users know your product is getting better, they won’t know! How can you use release notes to better communicate and engage with customers?
Here are the dos and don’ts for writing engaging release notes:
Showing value and adapting to your audience:
Your release notes should be informative. But too much information in one place like a text book is not engaging and you’re not going to get users interacting and excited about new features that way. However, full information is necessary for a lot of release notes, especially for technical roles. So how you present information according to who you are presenting it to is important.
- Don’t get too wordy or technical:
Think about your audience when writing release notes and update messages. Do you end users really want to know about the technical details or do they just want to know what’s new? Longer, technical information should have a place but not where you generally present updates. Your users will lose interest.
- Do: be concise and focus on the end value to users:
Make your updates as concise and to the point as possible. Focus on sharing the end value for users. What can they do now with your new feature or update? Let them know how their work has improved and show them how to use it – that’s all you need. Leave the technical details and additional information that is necessary for other users (like developers) somewhere else. It’s best to keep this information in a different part of your website so you don’t lose the interest of your end users. Learn more about how to write release notes for different users.
A good solution: Use Beamer for quick updates and another section on your site for more information:
What you can do is share your quick, interesting update on your Beamer changelog feed and then direct developers or those who want to read more to a longer document to a separate section on your website with all complete technical documentation. This way you can keep Beamer as a place to update your end users in a quick and easy way and have another place for heavier documentation out of the way. You can link to longer documentation in your Beamer posts if necessary like for sweeping updates, terms changes, or technical new features that technical roles may need more specific information on.
What is Beamer? The best way to present updates within your product or on your website as an interactive changelog and release notes tool. To open up your Beamer feed, all users have to do is click “What’s New” in your navigation or an icon in the interface to open your latest release notes as a sidebar. You can share updates for anything: new features, updates, bug fixes, etc. You can include photos, videos, GIFs, and CTAs to direct users to your product and boost engagement. It’s in context, engaging and a great alternative to just throwing all this information on a blog or static page that no one sees.
Including visual elements:
Let’s face it, release notes can be boring! That’s likely why they don’t normally get a ton of attention from users unless they need to find some important information. But you can change this if you write and present release notes in an appealing way.
By adding visual elements, you can make release notes more interesting and engaging as well as help better explain what updates your team has made. However, there’s good and bad ways to do that.
- Don’t include a lot of text without visual elements:
With new releases and updates, there can be a lot to say. But you want to do it in a way that is effective, gets the point across, and is interesting and engaging for your SaaS users. Don’t overload your updates with text that users will just skim through and not get any real value out of. Make sure that the point of the update is clear with visual elements that catch attention.
- Do use clear images, videos, and GIFs:
Instead, clear illustrations, graphics, videos and even GIFs can help you better tell the story of your new feature or update. In a video, you can show a quick tutorial on how to use a new feature. Video is better for more complex features and updates that need more explanation. Screenshots and GIFs are great for simple updates and features. Visual elements can be beneficial in explaining your update and help you keep text to a minimum.
As mentioned before, CTAs can be really helpful in getting users to where they need to be to take a look at your update or to where they can find more information. But being intentional is important for feature discovery and feature adoption. Learn more about feature discovery and using it to improve SaaS user engagement.
- Don’t expect users to take action themselves:
Don’t just make announcements and not include a CTA. Users will often read and even be interested in your new update or feature but a CTA will give them a next actionable step to take.
- Do: direct users to some more information or the new update or feature
When you do include CTAs, make sure they come with an actionable next step and take users to where they need to be to take action. Offer a CTA to more information for developers. Offer a CTA right to the new feature for other users so you can encourage engagement. Users are much more likely to take action if you do.
Emails and push notifications:
You have to get in touch with your users to let them know you’re making changes. Your release notes are basically the landing page for that a lot of the time. How are you using emails and push notifications to keep users updated and are they set up to truly boost engagement?
- Don’t send emails to everyone about every single update:
As mentioned before, don’t send constant emails. You don’t want to bombard your users with update emails and notifications every time you push a change. They will stop being interested and disengage from communication with you. Some discretion is necessary. Excessive communication like this will not bring users back to your product but numb their sentiment towards your brand.
- Do: be selective and segmented about what you send:
You want to be intentional and make the experience personalized. Only send notifications that are going to be interesting to the right users.
With Beamer, you can segment notifications and enable push notifications only for certain announcements.. This way, you can ensure you’re only sending notifications when it’s an update that is going to be relevant to users. You can always put updates on your feed or your stand-alone page but you don’t need to send notifications for everything. This way, notifications stay powerful.
Organizing and presenting release notes:
You want to keep your release notes well organized and easy to explore and search. You don’t want them to just be a heap of documents thrown together on your site. This will not boost engagement or help users find helpful information about the progress of your product.
- Don’t have them hard to find and overwhelming:
You don’t just want a “release notes” section on your site with various long documents and paragraphs of information. This is overwhelming and not friendly or engaging to your end users. It will end up ignored outside of the occasional developer looking for some technical information on a new update you pushed. You want to be more strategic than that.
- Do: have them available in an organized, central place:
The best way to organize release notes is to have an easy, in-context place for quick updates and then a documentation section with access to longer documents, technical details, more information, etc. Beamer is ideal for sharing the quick updates that are interesting for end users. You will also need a separate page for longer documentation with all the technical information and legal notes as well.
Release notes can boost engagement, drive users back to your product, and keep users informed about the progress of your product. Implementing these tips will get you even more user engagement. Try Beamer for an easy way to make release notes engaging updates.