This guide covers essential elements for creating impactful release notes to enhance your product communication and Product-Led Growth (PLG) strategy.

It’s a cold morning in New York City and you’re walking to your closest coffee shop for a hot latte and a breakfast pastry. Every café you walk has a sign posted outside that teases what new and high-demand items are featured on their menu: 

“NEW! Passion Chai Latte ☕”
“Warm Pistachio Croissants inside 🥐” 

Release notes are like the coffee shop chalkboards that entice customers at your door. They serve as a bridge between product updates and users, providing transparency, building trust, and empowering users to make the most of your product.

For PLG teams, clearly and effectively communicating product releases and updates is a civic duty. Release notes enable communication with users to flow smoothly, not only informing them about new features, improvements, and bug fixes but also reflecting your company’s attention to user feedback and commitment to excellence. Read this article to learn the basics of release notes and FAQs.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into the ins and outs of crafting impactful release notes tailored specifically for PLG companies. But first, let’s set the stage.

Incorporating product release notes into your PLG strategy: What to include?

Product release notes are an essential component of every product launch or update. They are documents that communicate the latest updates, describe enhancements, and outline fixes in a product release. 

You’ve probably come across examples of release notes when updating apps on your phone. Have you ever noticed the short blurbs that describe what changes will occur with the update? Those are release notes.

Creating compelling product release notes involves more than just listing new features or bug fixes. It’s about crafting a message that resonates with your users, providing them with the information they need in a format that’s easy to understand and act upon. 

Let’s dig into the essentials every release note should include.

product-led growth strategy: versions

1. Version Information.

Think of this as setting the stage for the unveiling of your latest software update. Including version information in release notes is crucial for users and developers alike, as it helps in tracking the progress of the software over time and makes it easier to identify and associate releases.

State the version number.

The version number acts as a unique identifier for each release. It helps users identify which version of the software they are using and allows for easy tracking of updates. 

Following a consistent versioning scheme allows users to understand the significance of each update at a glance—major changes, minor improvements, or patches. Semantic versioning is one of the most common types of software versioning schemes. It uses three numbers for each software version, in a Major.Minor.Patch sequence. For example, software version 1.2.1 means that the software is in its first major version, with two additional functionalities added, and one patch fix implemented.

Provide the release date.

The release date provides a timestamp for the release, giving users context about the cadence of releases. The release date also creates a timeline of product updates, which ensures that users always have a clear reference point for when changes are made available.

It’s important to use a consistent date format (e.g., DD/MM/YYYY or MM/DD/YYYY) across all your release notes to avoid any confusion.

By including both the version number and release date in your release notes, you provide users with the necessary context to understand the timing and scope of the update. This transparency fosters trust and confidence in your product and its development process.

product release notes- spotify example

2. Product Highlights.

Product highlights are beacons that illuminate the path forward for users. Including highlights in release notes offers users a glimpse into the exciting updates and improvements awaiting them, capturing their interest and encouraging them to explore your product’s new capabilities. 

When showcasing product highlights, you should aim for clarity, whether you’re showcasing new features or explaining product improvements.

Spotlight key features.

Focusing on key features helps to immediately grab the attention of users and highlight the benefits of the update. It’s like announcing the A-list cast of actors that will be starring in a new film.

Your release notes should succinctly summarize the most significant changes or additions to the product, providing users with a clear understanding of what’s in store. Modify and customize release note templates in your Beamer workspace to include all necessary information for your customers.

  • Use bullet points or bold text: Use bullet points or bolded text to draw attention to the key features or changes. This makes it easy for users to quickly scan and grasp the most important information.
  • Include visual elements: Incorporate visual elements such as icons, graphics, or GIFs to highlight key features. Visuals can help break up text and make the release notes more engaging and memorable.
  • Explain user benefits: Clearly communicate the benefits that users will experience as a result of the updates. Focus on how the new features or changes will improve their experience or address pain points.

Pinpoint improvements.

Improvements are tweaks and optimizations that elevate user experience and should, by all means, be advertised. Pointing out enhancements in release notes signals a commitment to continuous product refinement and helps users appreciate the tangible benefits of the updates.

  • Use short descriptions: Provide concise descriptions of each product highlight, focusing on the most impactful aspects. Avoid technical jargon and use language that resonates with your target audience.
  • Provide before & after comparisons: If applicable, include before and after comparisons to illustrate the impact of the new features or changes. This helps users understand the value they will gain from the update.

product release notes- highlights

3. Bug Fixes.

Addressing and communicating bug fixes in release notes is a testament to a company’s commitment to quality and responsiveness to user feedback. Bug fixes should always be communicated clearly and reassuringly.

List identified issues.

Transparently listing the bugs that have been fixed fosters trust with users and enables them to overcome friction or potential blockers. 

  • Offer brief descriptions: Succinctly describe the issue, as in what is being caused and what will be the solution.
  • Avoid technical jargon: Keep descriptions concise and easy to understand for non-technical users, avoiding technical jargon and over-explaining whenever possible.

Explain the impact on user experience.

Always lead with the good news. Explaining how a bug fix improves user experience or solves a specific problem draws attention to the benefits and value of the product update, instead of focusing on the fact that there was a bug in the first place.  

  • Focus on positive impact: The release note should outline the scenarios affected by the bugs and detail the enhancements users can expect after the fix. Assure users that their feedback is valued and that your team is committed to continuously improving the product’s stability and performance.
  • Show gratitude: Take the opportunity to thank users for reporting bugs and providing feedback. Acknowledging their contributions reinforces a sense of partnership and collaboration.

product-led growth strategy: bug fixes updates

4. User Instructions.

Jumping through the hoops of new features and changes in workflows can sometimes feel like entering into uncharted territory. The guidance provided when communicating new releases is a user’s lifeboat, so including clear instructions in your release notes helps users smoothly sail through changes.

Provide guidance on new feature usage.

When introducing new features, it’s essential to guide users through the ins and outs of their functionality. Use in-app tours, detailed guides, and visual aids like screenshots or quick tutorial videos to teach users how to use the new feature.

  • Step-by-step guides: Break down the usage of new features into easy-to-follow steps. This ensures users can quickly grasp how to leverage these additions to their full potential.
  • Interactive demos or tutorials: Consider supplementing written instructions with links to interactive demos or tutorials. This hands-on approach allows users to learn by doing, reinforcing their understanding of the new features.

Changes in workflows.

If updates alter existing workflows, detailed explanations or tutorials can help users adapt without frustration. Including tips, best practices, or even short video demonstrations can be highly effective.

  • Give clear explanations: Concisely explain any modifications to existing processes. Highlight the benefits of these changes to reassure users of their value.
  • Offer transition assistance: Provide tips or suggestions to ease the transition to the new workflows. Address common concerns upfront to minimize confusion and frustration.

By incorporating user instructions into your release notes, you empower users to make the most of new features while adapting smoothly to changes in workflows.

product release notes: user instructions example Atlassian

5. Known Product Issues.

Release notes often bear good news, but they can also be used to communicate not-so-good news that users should be aware of. Acknowledging ongoing issues and outlining planned resolutions serves as a risk management tactic to mitigate negative impacts on the user experience.

Acknowledge issues.

Being upfront about any known limitations or issues still under investigation builds credibility. When addressing known issues in a product release note, honesty and clarity should be the guiding principles.

  • Avoid downplaying issues: Describe each issue clearly and prepare users for impact. Being upfront about issues and cultivating trust can have a better long-term impact than momentarily keeping users in the dark.
  • Keep it simple: Overcomplicating explanations will also not do you and your users any good. Use concise language to focus on what users need to know and what they need to do. Avoid technical jargon.

Outline planned resolutions.

Sharing a timeline or the steps being taken to resolve known issues reassures users that your team is working on solutions. Even if exact timelines can’t be provided, indicating priority levels or next steps can be helpful.

  • Share a public roadmap: A public roadmap helps manage user expectations and demonstrates transparency, making users feel involved in your product team’s decision-making process. In turn, this encourages engagement and fosters an involved user community.
  • Ask for feedback: Users can provide feedback on planned resolutions, suggest additional features or improvements, and prioritize issues based on their impact. For users, this creates a sense of ownership and investment in the product’s development process. For the product team, it helps plan better and more impactful resolutions.

PLG strategy: release notes for Known product issues

6. Share Feedback Channels.

When release notes point users towards feedback channels, they communicate your team’s genuine interest in what users think. It’s all about building a collaborative relationship where user input is not just valued but essential for making the product better. 

When sharing feedback channels, make sure to:

Encourage user feedback.

Encouraging users to share their thoughts and feedback is like inviting them to join the conversation at the product development table. User feedback directly connects users to your team and fuels efforts to improve the product continuously.

  • Gain actionable insight: User feedback leads to deeper insight into user needs, preferences, and pain points. Analyzing feedback is essential for prioritizing feature development, identifying areas for improvement, and ensuring that the product meets the needs of its users.
  • Prompt continuous improvement: Feedback channels enable product teams to iterate and improve the product over time. By actively soliciting feedback from users, teams can identify and address issues more quickly, leading to a faster and more responsive development cycle.

Direct users to support channels.

No matter how comprehensive a product release note might be, questions and issues can still arise. Directing users to support channels within release notes provides a direct pathway to help if users need immediate assistance, reducing time to resolution and ensuring a smoother adoption of product updates.

Offer multiple channels: Using a variety of support channels ensures that all user preferences are catered to, whether they seek immediate assistance, prefer self-service options, or wish to engage in community discussion. 

  • Email Support: Best suited for detailed inquiries that may require back-and-forth communication.
  • Live Chat: Ideal for quick questions or issues that can be resolved in real time.
  • FAQs and Knowledge Bases: These self-service options allow users to find answers to common questions and problems independently, reducing the load on direct support channels.
  • Community Forums: A space where users can share experiences, solutions, and workarounds as peer-to-peer support.
  • Social Media: Can be effective for quick interactions, providing updates, and managing public perceptions.

product-led growth strategy - feedback channels

7. End with a Conclusion.

Every good story needs an ending, and release notes are no different. Concluding your release notes on a positive note leaves users feeling appreciated and excited about the future of your product.

In your release note conclusion, you can:

Express gratitude.

A simple thank you can go a long way in showing appreciation for users’ ongoing support and feedback.

Personalize the message: Further enhance the connection with the user base with personalized messages. Leverage profile data like the user’s name, company, or role to customize your goodbye-and-thank-you message.

Tease feature updates.

Without revealing too much, hinting at upcoming features or areas of focus can keep users engaged and looking forward to future releases. This should be done in a way that builds anticipation without setting unrealistic expectations.

Add a call-to-action: Nurture engaged users by encouraging them to take a next step, like following your company on social media for more updates or answering an NPS survey.

Share additional resources.

Lastly, leave users with resources that they can explore on their own to navigate new releases.

Providing users with additional resources can enhance their understanding of product updates and help them adapt to changes.

Add release documentation: Linking to more comprehensive release notes or detailed documentation allows users who seek deeper insights into the updates to find the information they need easily.

Embed a release video: Including a release video can offer an engaging overview of the updates. These videos should be concise, focusing on demonstrating new features or improvements and how they benefit the user.

product-led growth strategy - how to end release notes

How to make release notes user-friendly?

One of the imperative goals of every PLG team is to build a user-friendly product that is intuitive and easy to use. So publishing user-friendly release notes is not just a courtesy; it’s a strategic move that ensures that users are informed, engaged, and satisfied with your product’s continuous evolution. 

If you’ve been paying attention, you might have already caught some tips to make release notes engaging and approachable from the list above. Let’s break them down.

  1. Keep it simple and clear: Use plain language and avoid technical jargon to ensure that all users, regardless of their technical expertise, can understand the updates.
  2. Structure for accessibility: Organize the release notes with headings, bullet points, and numbered lists to make them easy to scan and find relevant information quickly.
  3. Highlight key features: Clearly identify new features and improvements, and explain their benefits to the user to grab attention and encourage usage.
  4. Include visual aids: Use screenshots, GIFs, and videos to visually demonstrate what’s new or changed, enhancing comprehension and engagement.
  5. Provide step-by-step instructions: For more complex updates, include concise step-by-step guides or link to detailed tutorials to help users take full advantage of new features.
  6. Be transparent about bugs & fixes: List resolved issues and acknowledge ongoing problems, showing a commitment to transparency and building trust with users.
  7. Offer direct links to additional resources: Include links to more detailed documentation, how-to guides, or FAQs for users who seek deeper insights.
  8. Solicit feedback: Encourage users to share their thoughts on the updates and provide easy access to feedback channels, fostering a two-way communication street.
  9. Test for understanding: Before publishing, test the release notes with a small segment of your audience to ensure they are clear and the instructions are easy to follow.

product-led growth strategy

Deep-dive: Using visuals to enhance understanding.

Visuals can demonstrate the impact of updates more effectively than descriptions alone, so it’s worth exploring them in more detail. 

Incorporating screenshots, GIFs, or videos can significantly improve the comprehensibility of your release notes, helping users quickly grasp what’s new or changed without wading through dense text. 

  • Screenshots: Use annotated screenshots to highlight new features or significant changes. Arrows or circles can direct attention to the most important parts.
  • GIFs: Short GIFs are perfect for showing small changes or simple feature additions. They can make the release notes more engaging and less monotonous.
  • Videos: A brief video walkthrough of major updates or features can provide a comprehensive overview and guide users on how to make the most of new functionalities.

product-led growth strategy

How can Beamer help you create product release notes?

Beamer is a platform built for PLG companies looking to streamline communication for product releases. Beamer Changelog helps product teams at companies like Tripadvisor, Atlassian, and Hotjar create, manage, and distribute release notes that capture user attention and drive engagement.

Here’s why over 20,000 product teams love Beamer:

  • Easy to create & customize: Beamer’s editor is user-friendly and intuitive. It allows you to easily add text, images, and videos to your release notes, customizing the look and feel to match your brand and ensure a consistent user experience.
  • Centralized platform: It’s a centralized platform where product teams can easily create, manage, and distribute product release notes. This eliminates the need for multiple tools or platforms, saving time and reducing complexity.
  • Targeted distribution: With Beamer, you can segment your audience and target specific user groups with tailored release notes, ensuring that users only receive relevant updates.
  • Feedback & Analytics: Beamer not only enables you to collect user feedback directly through your release notes but also provides analytics on how your notes are performing. This insight can help you refine your approach and better meet your users’ needs.

Crafting effective product release notes is a cornerstone of a successful product-led growth strategy. By providing clear, comprehensive, and user-friendly updates, you can enhance user engagement, encourage feedback, and build a loyal user base. 

With tools like Beamer, creating and distributing impactful release notes becomes a seamless part of your product development cycle, ensuring your users are always informed, engaged, and excited about your product’s evolution.Try Beamer for free and make your next product release a homerun.

Read “The Guide to Agile Release Planning” to learn the best practices for a successful release.