If a new feature is released and no one knows about it, does it make an impact on your goals?
A mistake that’s all too common among founders (especially those with more of a technical background than a customer, marketing or sales background) is to get a feature built, release it to the world and… move onto the next feature, perhaps expecting their customers to find it on their own or telling themselves they’ll do “all the other stuff” later, when they get to it. Sometimes, the feature ended up a bit delayed so there’s pressure to just move onto the next thing.
Unfortunately, this is similar to not building the feature at all. After all, you decided to build the feature for a reason - likely to increase signups, revenue, user engagement or even all three. If you never tell the people who are supposed to be using the feature what to do, then how are they going to know to sign up, pay you or use your product more?
The best way to avoid getting into this state is to add a release or launch step to all of your feature planning. This forces you to get more disciplined about giving each feature the launch it deserves, and should make each feature have a much bigger impact.
Here are some ideas for what to include on a launch checklist. Note that many of these items do take some time to do, so you’ll need to figure out who’s going to do them and when during your planning page.
- Create general collateral around the feature
Whether it’s images, gifs or videos, it can be helpful to create a pool of collateral that can be pulled from, both for the launch and in the future.
- Update your marketing website
This includes both updating any relevant feature sections, as well as updating the pricing page and any old blog posts that are now out of date. When updating your marketing website, remember to tell the story of why someone would want or need the feature.
- Update your documentation
While the marketing website should tell the story of why a feature is useful, the documentation needs to explain how to use it.
- Write a blog post
If you keep a blog, a new feature announcement is always a good idea. It can be good for SEO, and makes it easier to share.
- Email customers who requested the feature
If you build your feature because of a customer request, then it’s always a nice touch to send them a quick email letting them know it’s released. It can be a bit tricky to track requests down after the fact, so try to get in the habit of adding customer names to internal tickets, or tagging support messages.
- Send a product update email
Your existing customers likely won’t be as proactively checking your blog or marketing website, so make sure they know about your new feature via an email. Tip: sometimes, this email and the blog can be pretty much the same message. Not only is this a good idea to do for your active users, it can also be a great way to get users who have previously churned to come back and give you another try.
- Add an announcement in your product
If you have a mechanism for announcing new features in your product, make sure to do so there as well. This can be more effective than an email for users who are already pretty active, since you’ll be letting them know right when they’re already in your product and can immediately give the new feature a try.
- Post on social media
Once you’ve crafted all your messaging above, you should try to distill it down into slightly smaller pieces and post on social media - and remember, you can usually get away with posting multiple times over the course of a couple of days or weeks, as long as you mix things up a bit. Maybe one day you post your feature announcement blog, the next you post a tutorial video.