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Improve customer retention with software announcements

A software release announcement shows users you’re listening. Find out how to improve SaaS user adoption, which in turn increases customer retention.

If you're planning a software release announcement, you hope your users are as excited as you are.

Have you ever found long-time customers are left confused by new features and changes? Alternatively, did you get “new feature requests”, only to explain you already have that feature? When you announce new software features, it’s a chance to demonstrate to your customers that you’re listening and responsive.

Your software release plan will include marketing communications across several channels. The problem is engagement. Email open rates are low. Social media click rates are dismal. Where and when is the best way to get the message across to the right users at the right time? It's when they're already logged in and using your application and engaged in a related activity. That’s the best time tell them about a new feature.

Many people start using Inline Manual to launch onboarding for new users to ensure conversion and adoption. Later, they learn they can apply the same techniques to keep users engaged and informed. In this article, we’ll look at how to apply user onboarding processes for software release announcements.

Create software announcements that your users will definitely see.

Users might find out about new features through newsletters, social media, and your blog. That is, as long as they are opening your emails, checking their feeds when you post or visiting your blog. To help make sure people see your announcement, add Inline Manual to your multichannel marketing plan. The more channels you use, the stronger the multiplier effect will be.

Because you're concerned about customer retention, it’s likely you’re investing in customer support to keep two-way communication flowing. You’re probably using multiple channels to communicate with your users, and specifically to tell them about new features.

However, the engagement levels for getting users to engage with announcements is a dodgy bet at the best of times. Typical email open rates hover around 20%, and even a 5% click-through rate would be awesome. The click-through rates on social media such as Twitter are around 1.64%.

The most natural place to show existing users about new software features is right within your application. Inline Manual can help you do this in four ways.

  1. Add walkthroughs to announce features
  2. Use compelling CTAs (calls to action)
  3. Target your messages to specific segments.
  4. Use tooltips and launchers in trouble spots.

1. Add interactive walkthroughs

Your application is always adapting and changing. Why put all that effort into attracting new customers, and then not use the same tools to keep users engaged as your product evolves? Customer retention is crucial to the success of your application. 70% of companies find it’s cheaper to retain a customer than to gain a new one. Repeat the success you found in new onboarding for your entire user base.

As Marc Saunders of Coniq explains, “We have a 3-week release cycle which often comes with new or updated UI features. Inline Manual helps us promote these features and gives us an interactive way of showcasing these to our customers.” Coniq’s users love to see a vibrant application and active development.

When you add new features, it’s another opportunity to communicate that you listen, and a product tour is another chance to demonstrate how you’re making the user experience better.

Follow this tutorial on creating in-app announcements using Inline Manual.

2. Spark curiosity with prompts

Use Inline Manual to create announcements for new users, which they can quickly dismiss or engage with depending on their needs.

Pique users’ curiosity with prompts, and invite them to opt-in to the tour.

Using prompts gives all users a hint of what they can expect while sparking their curiosity. Next, your users can opt-in for to see how they can make the most of your software. Make your walkthrough tours quick and punchy.

Read more about writing great calls to action

3. Target your message

The most important part of effective user onboarding is to make sure the message focuses on benefits and not functionality.

Users don't need to know how you built the tools, they need to know why. Focus your message on how the experience just got better for users.

Next, you can use our Analytics tool to show you who is missing out on your new walkthroughs. Then you can retarget them with another message.

A walkthrough could contain the key message that helps them discover the benefits of a new feature. Use a convincing nudge to get them started, or even buy an upgrade.

Read how you can tailor your messages to user segments

4. Use tooltips or launchers

It’s natural to be optimistic, and hope everything is going to go smoothly with a new feature release. Each new software release usually means bug reports and user feedback.

When things don’t go smoothly, many companies put on more support staff, extend their hours and wait for the improvements which can take weeks or months.

The great thing is, you can respond quickly by creating a launcher in a trouble spot in your application. The marketing and support teams can be fully in charge of building tooltips and launchers. They don’t have to wait until a new version of the application is deployed. The development team can focus on critical bug fixes and meanwhile,the users can have a better experience. Inline Manual runs independently.

When you roll out a new version of your application, users can get lost in a new workflow. If your application is not working as they expected, you'll know when they start sending support tickets. And those are just the users who contact you. There will be many users who don't even reach out for help and stay frustrated in silence.

Our customer, Bannersnack, recently relaunched a new UI design. Their development team had researched user needs to improve the UI to help their users create compelling ad banners even without graphic design experience. Of course, the loyal users did love the new UI because it addressed each one of their concerns in the new design. They needed additional help, and it’s no wonder. What had become automatic actions were now interrupted. On the other hand, new users would have no built-in expectations, and they took to it easily. “Most support requests about the redesign came from existing users,” said Andrew Tiburca, Marketing at Bannersnack. So they decided they wanted to have a tool to explain new features to their users. That is where Inline Manual comes in.

Here are some ideas of how to add tutorials in potential trouble spots in a new redesign.

Find out how to plan your in-app help by identifying trouble spots in your application.

Conclusion

Marketing teams want to improve feature adoption to ensure users experience the growing benefits of their products. Support teams want to reduce the many “how do I do X?” support requests. And even product teams want to avoid the unnerving experience of users requesting a feature that already exists. Onboarding doesn’t just end at some arbitrary point. User onboarding is a continual process.

Each time you have a key update or improvement, implement the same strategies you use for new users across your entire user base.

It’s ideal to design “a perfect user experience” which tests well with new users and is clearly going to be a major improvement to your UI. However, it might not be perfect for everyone. With in-app launchers and tooltips, you can quickly help people with temporary issues.

Inline Manual makes it easier to share your message of great service and vibrant development to your user base. It's integrated directly with your application to make sure the right users see your message.

Watch this Video: How to Keep Users Engaged with Feature Announcements.

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