Your team designed your product’s new features with the customer firmly in mind, so you have great faith that those same customers will receive the changes with open arms… eventually. New features, even those that massively improve the customer experience, are changes, and changes have the potential to irk otherwise contented users. Famously loyal Apple enthusiasts have a long history of “update hesitancy” due to previous rollout snags. Even with a glitch-free delivery, the new features your team worked so hard to create can be resisted by loyal customers with skepticism or outright disdain, potentially slowing adoption or even aggravating churn rates.
Choosing the appropriate message and channel for your new feature announcements can go a long way in easing potential customer friction in feature adoption. Striking the appropriate tone, crafting the right message, and identifying the proper delivery channels can be tricky work. However, with the help of the interwebs, it’s easy to find companies doing new feature announcements right—examples which can serve as inspiration for your company’s next rollout.
Spotify: Capture attention through social media posts
For any company with a sizable following, social media can prove a terrific channel for alerting interested customers to your product’s new features. Your company’s social followers chose to follow your pages, so the odds are that they’re going to want to know more about what’s next for your product.
A new feature announcement done poorly could easily devolve into digital mayhem. (Engagement on social media is great, but not so much when it’s a Mad Max–style free-for-all.) Spotify’s Enhanced Playlist announcement, however, is a case study in highlighting proper features, including:
- A short video well within Facebook’s duration recommendations
- Copy within the video explaining what’s new
- Images within the video that illustrate where within the interface the features have been added
- Brand colors and vivid animations
- Suitably exciting background music
- Concise, direct post copy (with emojis to boot!)
Predicting songs a user might like based on what Spotify knows they like is an exciting feature, and Spotify’s team does a suitable job of packaging its announcement as such. New feature announcements via social channels are an excellent way to build excitement for new features even before they roll out.
Of course, social media isn’t suitable for all kinds of feature announcements. Social posts are often awareness-based and often more appropriate for declaring “Look what you can do!” versus “Here’s exactly how to do it.” Especially since shorter post copy tends to work better on most platforms (even Twitter, which encourages short messaging as a rule), social media isn’t the best channel for new features that require a great deal of explanation.
Facebook: Leverage blogs for new feature announcements
Blogs are a versatile means of conveying a great deal of information in easily consumable ways, making them a perfect choice for new feature announcements rife with instructions, details, or helpful imagery. While social media is perfect for short, awareness-based messaging, blogs enable you to dig deeper on a subject and can be as short or long as you need them to be.
Facebook dives into the features of its new community-building tools through the blog featured above. It’s an exemplary feature announcement blog that follows a number of blog-building best practices, including:
- Short paragraphs of clear text that illustrate the functions of the new tools
- Short, simple instructional videos that show how to use the new features for both mobile and desktop users
- Helpful images that break up lengthier segments of text
- The ability to share to the reader’s network, either through Facebook (of course!) or email
- The date of the announcement
- The estimated time the reader will need to dedicate to read the entire article
Not that Facebook would have trouble finding the resources to build… well, anything, but companies that gross less than the GDP of a small country can typically build blogs inexpensively. Most modern company websites are built with blog publishing tools as a standard feature, allowing product marketers to publish new feature announcements essentially for free. Assuming your website has blog functionality baked in, you wouldn’t need to “build out” a blog like you would a landing page, enabling you to drop your content (including helpful images) directly into pre-existing blog templates.
Blogs are similar to social posts in the sense that they can be buried in a “feed” or overarching hub page as new posts are created. Since most new feature announcements are timely, this isn’t a tragedy. However, blogs focusing on new features aren’t likely to garner overwhelming organic traffic because prospective and existing customers won’t be Googling features that, to their knowledge, don’t yet exist. Because of this, the success of new feature announcement blogs is heavily dependent upon their dissemination through other methods such as product launch emails, paid social campaigns, or broader digital advertisements.
Microsoft: Keep a running list of new features using a landing page
In some cases, landing pages can serve as a “level up” from blogs for products that continually receive new features. Whereas blogs are often built to feel personable and easily accessible, most readers want to “skim” them for the most pertinent details. Landing pages function better as resources for readers wanting exhaustive specs or technical details versus the “highlights” or deep dives on specific features often crafted for blog articles.
Microsoft takes advantage of the more cut-and-dry function of the landing page by keeping a running list of all new features for its Outlook platform on a single landing page. Microsoft uses a to-the-point design that includes:
- A no-frills aesthetic and clear, jargon-free text
- Drop-down menus organizing new feature details by release month and year
- Images and brief explanations of each new feature for clarity
- An easily identifiable CTA above the fold
This last bullet identifies the chief difference between landing pages and blogs: blogs can be built to appeal to both existing customers and prospective customers, while landing pages are typically designed to convert prospective customers. Microsoft’s “landing page as a list” approach saturates the page in high-quality SEO keywords pertaining to new email features. While existing customers could certainly use the landing page as a valuable resource, the clear-cut CTA conveys the page’s true purpose—to convert readers into customers.
Landing pages are capable of garnering more organic traffic than blogs when promoted to a place of prominence on your website’s navigation menu. However, landing pages still function best when part of overarching marketing campaigns such as email announcements and social or digital ads. Also, unlike blogs, these pages often need to be custom built, costing time, money, or both, which can slow down a rollout or add an unwanted expense to the marketing budget.
Zendesk: Eliminate friction for power users with guided webinars
Sometimes, the best way to learn about new features is straight from the horse’s mouth. Apple streams its Apple Events live to announce its newest products and features to its rabid fanbase. Of course, not every company has an Apple Park campus at its disposal, so many opt for a more intimate approach: the webinar.
Zendesk holds a quarterly webinar called What’s New that reveals the latest and greatest feature of its software. What’s New is supported by a landing page complete with:
- A brief introduction to what the webinar will address
- All of the pertinent information above the fold
- An illustration to emphasize the “Super New” status of the features
- Buttons linking both to the registration form itself and a free trial
Webinars are terrific tools for announcing new features, given their multi-functionality. A product expert can guide would-be or existing customers through the new features by sharing their screen and giving live examples of how best to implement the changes. Also, the expert can field questions as they come up instead of after a customer has tried the new features themselves and experienced friction.
Zendesk earns bonus points for hosting a zoomed-in new feature webinar called Spotlight. While What’s New covers the newest feature releases, Spotlight dives into the features in greater detail for further illumination. Just as importantly, Spotlight dedicates time to foreshadow new features coming in the quarter to build anticipation and awareness around Zendesk’s future product updates.
Zendesk takes a democratized approach to webinar-ing. However, some companies may need to hyper-target their highest-value customers preemptively to avoid friction stemming from new feature adoption. Some customers use more, buy more, and stay longer than others, and losing these power users in the midst of a feature rollout could be devastating. Inviting these customers to “priority” webinars provides a way for your top clients to directly communicate questions or concerns—and for you to flip their anxieties into hype.
Zendesk’s adherence to regularly scheduled quarterly webinars addresses the format’s chief drawback: no one magically signs up for a webinar. Email invites must be sent. Social posts must be built to bring awareness to their existence. Using a dedicated landing page like Zendesk can boost organic and SEO traffic, but the success of feature-announcement webinars depends heavily upon dissemination across broader marketing channels.
Venmo: Use in-app announcements to command customer attention
Did you know Venmo lets you buy and sell cryptocurrencies? Venmo customers surely do because the new feature was announced directly within its app.
In-app messaging is the king of addressing existing and active customers. Modals engage mobile and desktop customers as they’re using your product, kindly forcing them to acknowledge your newest features before returning to their regularly scheduled programming.
Venmo’s in-app messages are an excellent example of the delicate balance between relaying exciting new features and disrupting a customer’s experience. Its messages:
- Are colorful, clean, and easy to read
- Are informational but blissfully short and sweet
- Are easily swipeable by interested parties
- Are closable by those uninterested in the new features
- Have to be acknowledged in one way, shape, or form
In-app messages can show interested users exactly where in an app the new features can be accessed to avoid confusion. This makes the format the perfect way to announce UI changes that might otherwise give regular users pause. Additionally, as in Venmo’s example, messages addressing a niche audience can be programmed as short, sweet, or even skippable. While social posts, blogs, landing pages, and webinars are better geared to target prospective users, in-app messaging has the corner on announcing new features to your active users.
You: Knock your next new feature announcement out of the park
For the amount of time and effort you and your team have put into developing your product’s newest features, you deserve as seamless an adoption process as possible. Carefully crafted new feature announcements are a terrific way to build hype for your product and head off customer anxieties—even potentially saving your customer service teams from hiccups and headaches in the future. You know your newest features are exciting—and now it’s time your customers joined in on your enthusiasm.