Software products are constantly changing with a combination of new features and bug fixes. While most of these changes aren’t groundbreaking for the average user, there’s almost always a small subset of users that are ecstatic to see the changes. There may be other cases where users might benefit from a new feature but may not be aware of it.
Let’s take a look at why and how to build a product announcement page and leverage it to increase engagement, enhance loyalty and boost retention.Software products are constantly changing, but these changes are useless unless they’re communicated with users. Click To Tweet
What Are Product Announcements?
Product announcements communicate new features, bug fixes or other changes to users. For instance, you might send an email to subscribers to let them know about a new feature designed to make their lives easier. Or, you may publish product announcements in the form of release notes through the App Store or other platforms.
There are many ways to update users:
- Email announcements
- Social media posts
- Press releases
- Release notes
- In-app messages
- Dedicated web pages
Of course, each of these strategies has pros and cons to consider. For example, press releases may be effective for large enterprise users, but targeted social media posts may be more appropriate for small businesses or individual consumers.
Example of a Product Announcement – Source: Zesty
There are many reasons to announce updates:
- Reduce churn by re-engaging users that are unsatisfied with existing limitations and are considering alternatives (e.g., potential attrition).
- Improve loyalty by showing existing users that you’re cognizant of their needs and always working on improving the product.
- Boost retention by hooking users on a feature that genuinely helps them become more successful (e.g., boosting stickiness).
The key to success is effectively engaging the right users using the right medium and helping them to see the value of the update in order to ultimately encourage its use.
How to Build a Product Announcement Page
Product announcement pages are similar to status pages, but rather than alerting users to downtime, they provide an ongoing list of changes.
Most companies use their blog to make product announcements. For example, you might have a category for Product Announcements that includes blog posts covering new features and release notes for each month. You can then point to a category page for these blog posts that serves as your dedicated product announcement page.
While blogs are a convenient way to promote new features, they aren’t always the best way to communicate more mundane fixes. A dedicated product announcement page can provide users with an easier way to keep up to date with every change in one place without the need to search for blog posts and attempt to locate the information they need.
Automated Release Notes for Jira, Release Page – Source: Amoeboids
Some best practices to keep in mind include:
- Divide the page into new features and bug fixes in order to help users find the type of change that’s important to them.
- Let users filter changes by importance or at least make the importance obvious by using a colour scheme (e.g., red tags for most important).
- Hire a technical copywriter to synthesise technical changes into accessible information that highlights the benefit to the user.
Many organisations don’t have much bandwidth to keep a product announcement page updated regularly. Fortunately, there are tools that you can use to automate the process of updating the page, such as Automated Release Notes for Jira, which provides an API integration with your Jira instance or even generates HTML.
Tips for Marketing Product Announcement Pages
Product announcement pages—like any other web page—requires marketing effort to engage users. Rather than linking to the page in your footer, you may want to consider incorporating it into wider efforts to get users to try new features.
Try these marketing strategies:
- Link to the product announcement page in dedicated blog posts that talk about new features, email announcements, press releases or other communications. For example, you can mention that users can see other features in the release by visiting the page.
- Use in-app notifications to alert users to changes on the product announcement page. For instance, you could mention that several new features were just launched and provide a quick link to the product announcement page to view them.
- Mention product announcement pages in release notes on different platforms (e.g., app stores) and incorporate them into knowledge base articles or support responses where appropriate to ensure users can always find more information.
Beyond Product Announcement Pages
Product announcement pages shouldn’t be the only way that you promote new features or bug fixes. While blog posts and email campaigns are the most common ways to promote new features, the most effective strategies involve engaging with users on a deeper level to explain how the new feature works and how it benefits their life.
Custom onboarding sequences are one of the most effective ways to promote new features in a compelling way. When a user signs in following a change, these sequences emerge as a modal window that explains how to use the new features. You may even want to consider interactive onboarding that takes users through actions within a live environment.
Webinars are another great way to engage users. While webinars don’t have as much reach as onboarding sequences, they provide a venue to answer individual user questions and provide a more customized tutorial on using new features. You may want to consider holding these webinars regularly to keep your most loyal users informed and up to date.
The Bottom Line
Software products are constantly changing with new features and bug fixes that impact at least a subset of users. While there are many ways to communicate these new features, product announcement pages can be an effective centralised reference. The key is making the reference easy to navigate and effectively marketing it to users to keep them up to date.