5 Ways to Send Product Update Emails That Engage Your Contacts

Businesses spend a lot of time and resources developing and improving their products.

So, when the time comes to release updates, they want to let customers know what they’ve been working on, which new features just rolled out, and how they can benefit from them.

The only problem is that, often times, customers aren’t as eager to learn about the latest updates and improvements.

But that doesn’t mean you should stop sending out product update emails all together!

In this post, we’ll share some actionable tips to help you create and send better product update emails that’ll generate user engagement and improve your brand’s image.

You’ll find tips on:

  • Deciding which updates you should email contacts about.
  • How to communicate product updates without sounding too boring or too salesy.
  • The best way to draw attention to updates and features and get customers to test them out.

Ready to send out product update emails that generate user engagement instead of getting lost in the inbox? Let’s dive right in then!

1. Decide Which Updates Are Email-Worthy

We totally get it…

You want to inform your customers every time you release a product update. Your team spent weeks on end planning, developing, and deploying new features and you want to share the big news with your contacts.

It’s exciting, isn’t it?!

The truth is: receiving lots of emails about minor product updates is far from ‘exciting’ to your customers. In fact, it can get pretty annoying pretty fast.

This is precisely why it’s important to take a step back and decide which product updates, changes, or improvements are truly email-worthy.

Unless you’re in a high-stakes niche – like finance or security – you should think twice before sending out a mass product updates email to customers.

Here’s how Trello does it:

This is a great example of an email that simply informs recipients about new features added to the collaboration platform. Notice how the updates mentioned in the email are features that users would actually benefit from? In other words, Trello didn’t send out an email for minor UI updates (for example, for when they added label names to card fronts).

While most SaaS and e-commerce companies can send out similar product emails, other businesses – like those in the fashion niche –  can’t send out product update emails as frequently.

And the reason is quite simple, really.

It might be because they don’t need to roll out updates as often. Or perhaps they don’t get new products as frequently. Or because they don’t have an actual ‘product’ that needs to be updated.

It doesn’t make sense for Forever 21 to send out an email every time a new pair of sandals is available in their online store. However, it does make sense for a finance tool to let customers know a new security feature has been added to the platform.

Check out this example from Simple:

Security features are important to customers – especially when they’re concerning finances. Simple’s product update email lets users know what the new security feature is and what they need to do next.

Of course, if product update emails aren’t appropriate for your situation, you might consider exploring other avenues to keep customers in the know, like:

  • On your website. You can use banners, widgets, or pop-ups on your website to announce minor changes or improvements. For example, if you want to let customers know that your tool now supports a new file format, you could create a banner instead of sending out an email.
  • Blog posts. A blog post is a great way of informing users about new features added to your website or app. With blog posts, you also get the freedom to really get into details and include engaging content including infographics and charts to educate your users about the latest updates.
  • Social media posts. You can share new product updates in a fun and engaging way using your social media pages instead of pumping out two-liner emails to your email lists.
  • Release notes. Some businesses have product improvements and updates happening every few days. GitHub, for example, maintains release notes that users can access to get updates on minor product updates that otherwise wouldn’t need to be announced over email.

2. Create Relevant Messages That Speak Directly to Customers

A lot of the time different types of users end up using different product features for different purposes.

Pretty obvious, right?

Keeping this in mind, you need to ensure that you’re crafting messages that speak directly to the recipient. In other words, if project managers and lead developers both use your workflow management tool, you need to make sure your message resonates with both types of users.

So, the first thing you need to do is develop a clear understanding of how customers use your product.

Once you have the first step down, you can begin segmenting contacts based on how they use your product. For example, an insurance company won’t send the same email to their car insurance buyers as they would send to their freight insurance customers.

Take a look at this example from Figma:

Notice how they’re addressing Windows users in the email’s heading? The message is speaking directly to Figma users who use computers running on the Windows operating system. It’s more personal and, therefore, more likely to generate user engagement.

It all boils down to this: sending out the same email to all of your customers isn’t the best course of action.

The way we see it, you should focus on communicating product updates in a way that best resonates with the recipient.

If you’ve made improvements to only a part of the product that’s used by a specific segment of your customers, send the update email to only that email list. You wouldn’t want to overwhelm other customers with features they don’t even use!

Another way to send out personalized product update emails is by segmenting users based on demographics, location, or past interactions with your product.

For example, if you’re a clothing company that sells clothes for both men and women, you might segment contacts based on their gender. Female recipients would receive emails about new women’s clothes added to latest collection whereas male recipients would receive emails about new men’s clothes.

A little personalization goes a long way!

With Sendlane’s Enhanced Behavior Tracking functionality, you’re able to monitor customer activity starting from the moment they arrive at your landing page to when they reach the shopping cart. This way, you’re able to send more personalized emails to your contacts.

3. Focus on Communicating the Benefits

It’s easy to understand that most of your customers won’t be thrilled to learn about the really cool product update your team released or about how your product evolved into its current version.

Here’s the deal: you need to save the technical details for your release notes!

Emailing contacts every few days about the latest update or bug fix will only land you in the spam folder. Ouch!

Here’s a quick exercise you can use to make sure your product update emails are engaging and impactful:

When you’re writing product update emails, ask yourself if the messaging is feature-focused or benefit-focused.

What’s that, you ask?

Feature-focused messaging revolves around what your product does whereas benefit-focused messaging tells customers what’s in it for them.

For example, informing customers about recent support staff hires is feature-focused messaging. But telling them they don’t need to worry about running into issues “because professional support is only a phone call away” is benefit-focused messaging.

Get it?

So, depending on the types of products, services, or subscriptions you sell, you might want to let customers know how they’ll benefit from the latest product update.

Here are some quick ideas to get you thinking:

  • How does the latest update save customers time and improve their workflow?
  • Does it make their interactions and data more secure?
  • Will they be able to meet their goals faster?

For example, an e-commerce platform may send product update emails to inform users about their app’s new lite version which consumes less mobile internet data.

In a scenario like this, instead of saying, we’ve developed a progressive web app they might say something along the lines of save mobile internet data by installing our latest app!.

See how that turns features into benefits?

Check out this example from Spotify:

Notice how they’ve divided the product update email up into three different sections that communicate the benefits? It lets users know that they can get to their music faster, add songs to their Favorites playlist, and search for new music to listen to. It’s benefit-focused.

Of course, if you really must announce technical updates, you might want to set up a release notes page on your website and link to it from your emails instead of including them inline.

This way, you’ll get the best of both worlds.

For example, a food supplement company wanting to inform their customers about nutritional facts in their latest product should only mention the nutrients and leave the quantitative information to the product’s web page.

4. Add Visuals to Boost Engagement

It’s no secret that all-text emails come off as boring and dull. No one wants to read those!

In contrast, emails with engaging visuals like GIFs, images, and screenshots generate user interest.

Use images, graphics, illustrations, and videos in your email messages to inform your customers about how new features in your product work. In other words, encourage them to check out the latest updates by showing them how it’s done!

Here’s another way to generate more user interest: include screenshots of poll results that show which features were requested by your customers.

Aside from getting contacts to learn more about the new feature, this is a great way of letting customers know that you appreciate their suggestions. It’s a win-win scenario!

Take a look at this visually-appealing email from Jetty:

See how they’ve announced that they’re bringing their services to four more states? The company uses a map as a visual depiction to announce their new geographical areas of business presence.

5. Invite Customers to Try Out the Beta Release

You already know that companies use beta releases to test products or tools that are under development before releasing it for everyone to use, right?

Well, then you also know it’s important to plan it out properly. You’ll need to decide several different things:

  • How many people should you send the invite to?
  • Who will receive the invite?
  • How will you ask for their input and feedback?

Take a look at how Timeline does it:

Start by asking a small number of people to test your product and then slowly increase the number of beta testers until you reach an optimal number.

Here’s some more quick advice: make sure that you’re sending emails to people who are really interested in your product and would be willing to send you useful feedback about any bugs they discover.

Isn’t that the point of beta-testing, anyway?

When SwiftKey announced their new beta release, they sent customers this email:

It lets recipients know how they can download the software and how to give feedback. It’s simple, clear, and to the point.

Also, it’s important to clearly inform recipients that it’s a beta-release and not a stable version. You wouldn’t want your inbox totally cramped with customer complaints!

Are You Ready to Launch?

Sending product update emails is all about speaking directly to your customers and making sure you’re communicating the benefits of the latest update instead of simply stating what it does.

It’s all quite simple, really.

If your goal is to get customers to check out the new update, use visuals (like images, GIFs, and videos) to illustrate how they can get started. If you want them to read more about the update, link to a blog post.

There’s so much room for creativity when it comes to generating user interest and engagement from product update emails!

Follow the tips we shared above to get started with a step in the right direction!

Are you guilty of sending out product update emails too frequently? We’d love to hear from you so let us know by commenting below!

Caitlin Hutchinson

Caitlin Hutchinson

A native of San Diego, California, Caitlin has a passion for developing creative and engaging marketing content. She is primarily responsible for overseeing the development, execution and delivery of digital content across all of Sendlane’s channels as well as maintaining an online presence of Sendlane's team culture. She has enjoyed being a part of a powerhouse team where she has had the opportunity to wear a variety of hats and take her knowledge and creativity to the next level. When not focusing on increasing Sendlane's online presence you'll find Caitlin playing music on her guitar or piano and spending time with her Husband and their rescue dog, Piper.
Caitlin Hutchinson