Development teams work hard building new features designed to simplify or improve the lives of users. But unfortunately, many of these features fall flat because users are unaware that they exist or are unwilling to change their behaviors. Releasing new features with a thought through planning & execution can help improve these outcomes.
Let’s take a look at how to plan ahead to release new features, target them toward the right audiences, find the best marketing channels, and ultimately, engage users.Don’t let your new features fall flat! Try these best practices for announcing them to your users. Click To Tweet
Planning is a key part of any marketing effort. Without advance notice, there’s no time to prepare marketing collateral, identify the right target audiences, select the right marketing channels and accomplish everything else needed to be successful. These planning efforts often involve input from both product and marketing teams.
The best way to plan ahead for releasing new features is to maintain an up-to-date product roadmap that shows what features are coming up and when they’re expected to launch. That way, the marketing team has time to prepare for a successful campaign. Roadmap Portal for JSD can both provide an up-to-date roadmap and help keep customers in-the-know.
Amoeboid’s Roadmap Portal for JSD – Source: Amoeboids
Marketing teams should also come prepared with a game plan for releasing new features. For example, Trello, Process.st and other workflow tools make it easy to create repeatable templates or checklists for launching new features and ensure that no pieces get left out. These templates may need slight modifications, but they help eliminate a lot of legwork.
What Matters to Whom?
Most software products have multiple types of users. For example, the popular accounting platform QuickBooks has both solo entrepreneurs and professional accountants as users. Entrepreneurs are interested in invoices, expenses and high-level reports whereas professional accountants may be more interested in individual transactions or tax reports.
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At the same time, many new features only apply to a subset of users. Suppose that QuickBooks launches a feature that enables users to custom design invoices with fonts and images. While solo entrepreneurs may be highly interested in that feature to improve their relationship with clients, professional accountants will probably never use that feature.
Activities surrounding releasing new features should be targeted to specific audiences that will use and/or benefit from them. For example, you should segment your users and email marketing lists based on various types of users (e.g., power users, professions, etc.). These segments can be tremendously helpful when targeting new feature announcements.
Finally, when building marketing campaigns, user personas are a helpful tool for developing specific language that targets specific audiences. This attention to detail can have a significant impact on the performance of your feature launch marketing campaigns.
What Channels Work Best?
Different features and audiences respond best to different marketing channels. For example, a complex new feature might benefit from an ongoing sequence that explains how to use it in a hands-on fashion. Or a power user may prefer to read about a new feature in technical documentation that explores the nuances, rather than a blog post.
Some common marketing channels include:
- Blog Posts: A short blog post is a great way to share a new feature and briefly explain how and why to use it. You can share these blog posts in email newsletters or on social media to reach both existing users and new potential customers.
- Email Marketing: Dedicated emails enable you to reach targeted users if you segment your email lists. In addition to exposing them to the new feature, you can link out to detailed documentation or explainer videos to go a step further.
- Onboarding Sequences: Onboarding sequences are often necessary if a new feature changes an existing workflow. By showing users how to use the new feature, you can avoid any disruptions to their existing workflow patterns.
- Widgets or Live Chat: Small pop-up widgets or live chats are a great way to introduce new features or bug fixes in a relatively unobtrusive way while targeting users based on their account if they are signed into the application.
- Status Pages: Many people are familiar with status pages that show application uptime, but a growing number of companies are using status pages to show development updates and bug fixes in a single location.
Automated Release Notes for Jira – Source: Atlassian
Measuring & Improving
There are many different ways of releasing new features. Communication channels and preferences are always changing over time. If you want to improve steadily, you must measure the success you’re having with different marketing channels and adapt your strategies over time to try new things and double down on what works.
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For example, you can measure the traffic to blog posts and look at the time on page and bounce rate for an idea of how valuable users find the information. Meanwhile, email campaigns can be measured with open rates and click-through rates across different audience segments or marketing tags that you use to segregate them.
The Bottom Line
Releasing new features in a planned fashion is critical to encourage users to try new features and ultimately boost revenue, retention and other KPIs. By planning ahead and properly targeting users, you can maximize the effectiveness of new feature releases and improve user engagement within your applications.
If you use Atlassian products, try Amoeboids’ line of plugins that can help you with roadmaps, release notes and other areas of your business in the Atlassian Marketplace.