Changelogs are merely an after-thought for many software-as-a-service businesses. But with a little effort, they can be a valuable way to increase customer engagement and retention. While most companies write a blog post or send a newsletter with updates, the most successful companies maintain a dynamic changelog that encourages users to try new features.
Let’s take a look at five best practices that you can use to get the most value out of your changelogs.Changelogs are typically an afterthought for most SaaS businesses, but with a little love and attention, they can boost engagement and retention. Click To Tweet
#1: Improve Visibility
Most SaaS businesses share new features and updates via a blog post or newsletter while others may list updates in the support area or documentation. While these efforts may reach some users, most users will never read them. The lack of a central place to find changes also makes them difficult to track down after the initial promotion.
Intercom’s chat can target feature announcements to specific users. Source: Intercom
The best changelogs are prominent and easy to access for both prospects and users. For example, you might consider promoting updates in a chat window or collapsible sidebar that prompts users to check out the updates as they’re released. You might also create a dedicated “What’s New” page that’s visible for prospects considering a purchase.
#2: Automate the Updates
SaaS Changelogs aren’t very helpful if they aren’t regularly updated. On the other hand, writing manual updates can take up a lot of time and energy that could be better spent working on improving the user experience. Many product managers and developers struggle to find the time to write release notes—much less make them engaging for users.
ARN makes it easy to automate 95% of your changelog. Source: ARN
Fortunately, Automated Release Notes for Jira and other automation tools can integrate with your existing development tools and convert issues and commits into a dynamic changelog that gets you 95% of the way there with regards to updates. You can even segregate updates by audience and customize the delivery formats for different audiences.
#3: Add Visual Elements
Nobody likes reading a wall of text—and SaaS changelogs are no exception. In addition to using bullet points to break up the text, the best changelogs include visual elements that are designed to showcase how new features are used and promote user engagement. A common example is the use of animated GIFs to showcase features in action.
Changelogs or Release notes should also be well-organized. A good way to promote readability is to highlight the most impactful changes and separate features from bugs. You can use color-coded labels next to each bullet point to indicate the type and importance of the change or even provide search and filtering capabilities to help users narrow down changes.
#4: Engage with Users
SaaS changelogs represent progress along the product roadmap. In addition to providing past updates, you may want to consider updating users on what’s coming up or even including them in the process with a public roadmap. Feature suggestion and voting is an excellent way to improve engagement and make users feel in control of the product’s roadmap.
Roadmap Portal for JSD makes it easy to loop in users. Source: Amoeboids
Trello has become the most common way to share a product roadmap with users. While Trello provides basic functionality, Roadmap Portal for Jira Service Desk integrates with your internal roadmap and enables verified users to participate in building out the roadmap. The tool uses JQL queries to automatically populate roadmap items in a customizable board.
#5: Don’t Forget the CTA
SaaS changelogs are an under appreciated way to increase user engagement, but if you don’t make an ask, you might miss an opportunity to benefit from your hard work. Links or buttons can help make the next step obvious, whether it’s a “Try It Today” button for a new feature or a “Read More” button that links to detailed technical documentation.
If you have a lot of features or some features are complex, you may want to create a call to action (CTA) for a webinar or one-on-one training session. These are the best ways to ensure that users are realizing the greatest benefit, and ultimately, increase retention and stickiness required to minimize churn and maximize user satisfaction.
The Bottom Line
Changelogs are an under appreciated way to increase user engagement and retention. In addition to highlighting new features, they can be instrumental in demonstrating that your SaaS is constantly improving and showcasing cutting-edge features to prospects that may be on the fence about subscribing to your service.
Of course, changelogs aren’t the only way to introduce updates to users. It’s equally important to write blog posts, send newsletters and promote changes on social media in order to maximize your reach. You can link to your changelog in these campaigns or make a more direct call to action to sign up and try new features.