When your team is successfully rolling out new features or fixing bugs, it’s essential to share the news with your user base. An effective way to do that is to post release notes.
Release notes allow your company to share the news that:
- A bug has been resolved
- There have been compatibility changes
- A new feature has been added
- There’s new/better functionality within the app
- An item has been moved/removed
Any update to your product that has increased or changed its usability can be included in a release note.
However, the tricky part comes when a company needs to communicate what is sometimes a technical mechanism to a non-technical audience. That’s why it’s best to have your marketing team involved in writing the release notes. If your company already has a marketing strategy with a brand voice and style, it makes it easy to work your release notes into the existing communicative language.
(If your company is new to the release note game, check out this blog about developing a release note style guide)
Grab Your Audience’s Attention
Be sure that the release notes you write are geared towards your intended audience and that they are effectively communicating to your users.
Note that not all users are the same – even if they all use your product. Therefore, to effectively grab attention, while writing your release notes, ask yourself:
Will This Change How My Audience/A Segment of My Audience Interacts With My Product?
If your update, additional feature, or bug fix will materially change how your users (or a specific user segment) will interact with your product (and if they will notice the change), it’s crucial to have a release note. A release note will help explain the tweaks, how they affect your audience, and if they have to do anything to initiate the change.
How important is this news?
Your development team may be rolling out fixes and updates at a rapid clip, depending on your release schedule. If the new changes are small and happen often, it might make sense to roll all changes into one release note. Consider a regular release note schedule (monthly, quarterly, etc.) instead of inundating users with changes daily/weekly.
Similarly, if your adjustments are so minor/often, a regular user won’t even notice the change by constantly making announcements you run the risk of numbing users to release notes in general. This can hurt you in the long run as these constant updates will make big release announcements less impactful.
Who Will My Update Impact?
Not all users will be affected by all changes. Some users might be power-users of a specific feature, for example. If your update or modification affects a particular user segment more than others, you must target your release note to them specifically.
Is My Team Excited?
If your team is getting excited about a particular change or addition, it’s likely a good sign your user base will be too. When your team gets excited, take that as your signal to work your release notes to ensure that passion is getting across. When your team feels optimistic about a change, chances are your audience will too.
Am I Using the Right Delivery System?
While it’s great to have a dedicated/templated way to handle release notes, for significant release details, consider how you alert your users to the changes they are about to experience.
For example, if you are changing sign-on protocols to two-factor identification, it might be a good idea to send a direct email to your user. If you are re-vamping your product and want to use the changes to drive more sign-ups/sales, a press release might be a helpful marketing tool. For more minor in-app changes, a pop-up that appears right beside the item/feature change may be beneficial.
In other words, don’t think of release notes as just some bulleted updates tucked away on a dedicated web page. Make them dynamic, and work to roll them into your greater marketing strategy – and use them to enhance your overall user experience.
Remember, release notes are marketing devices. You can help increase their effectiveness (and their visibility) by considering adding them to other marketing collateral such as:
- Drip campaigns
- Social media
- In-app pop-ups
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