Refresh Your Product Update Emails for More Engagement & More Customers

Your team is totally excited!

A new product feature just launched, and everyone is ready to share the news.

Now, you need to make sure your customers (and potential customers) are just as excited. And too many product update emails are just kind of boring. Or irrelevant. So, customers skip over them in their inboxes.

Fortunately, you can change that. Your product update emails can do far more than just tell your list that you’ve added something new to your app, SaaS product, or membership site. You can use product update emails as a tool to …

  • Reassure new customers that they made the right choice
  • Help customers complete a milestone
  • Improve customer retention

Make the most of your onboarding campaign with product update emails. To stay organized in the planning process, you can download my Product Update Planning Worksheet. It will help you tailor emails to every audience. Click here to download it now:

Click here to download the free worksheet

The Anatomy of an Irresistible Product Update Email

To build an effective onboarding campaign, let’s first focus on creating the actual product update email. The goal is to motivate customers to try your new product feature without any reservations.

Don’t worry if your first draft isn’t the best. You can transform your email from blah to irresistible with these marketing strategies.

1. Focus on Benefits

You’ve probably heard this mantra before, or even stressed it to your team: benefits over features.

That’s true even in emails that are all about your neat new features.

Customers aren’t usually too concerned about how a specific feature came to life. Instead, they want to know how it will help them achieve their goals.

With the right subject line, you can get them excited about the benefits of your update before they even open the email. Try something like this:

“Shave 3 hours off your morning commute with our latest feature”

or

“Try our new feature to 4X your conversions this month”

The body of the product update email is where the magic happens. Briefly explain why the customer should care about the update. How will this feature give them more value?

By matching the benefit to a specific pain point, you can demonstrate how the feature offers a particular solution.

2. Use Eye-Catching Visuals to Say What Your Copy Can’t

Research shows that 65% more people remember information if it’s paired with a visual.  If you don’t want your product updates placed on a customer’s lengthy to-read-later list, add visuals to your emails—especially if they’ll help demonstrate how the new feature works.

In this feature update email from Leadpages, a header image shows their new evergreen countdown timer with shots of the interface and a page someone’s created with the feature:

You can even help illustrate your new feature’s benefits with an animated GIF. Or, if you’re linking to a page or post with a video update, try including a still from the video to entice people to click through.

3. Aim for More Clicks & Fewer Words

This one can be hard. Your team labored for weeks (maybe months) to pump out a new product feature.

So, it’s no surprise that the first draft of your product update email is way too long for customer consumption. That doesn’t mean you need to trash all the content you’ve written, though—it just means it doesn’t all need to go in the email.

Aim to keep your email copy short and sweet. Don’t include every single detail about the product feature. Rather, tease your customer with short descriptions that will entice to click your call to action (CTA).

Keeping the text simple yet engaging will motivate people to learn more on your blog or product page. In addition to creating a better experience for subscribers, this strategy is also better for you: you can’t tell whether someone has read your entire product update if you put the whole thing in an email. By asking subscribers to click through, you get more accurate information about who’s engaging.

Chat platform Drift is a master of the quick, benefit-focused product update email. Here’s an example:

How to Create the Best Product Update Email for Every Audience

Customers purchase your products to achieve different goals and knowing how to serve every audience leads to better email campaigns.

Product updates aren’t just relevant to your existing customers. However, every product update email isn’t relevant to all your email subscribers. Here are a few ways to get more strategic with your product emails to convert and retain more customers.

For Non-Customers: Spark Curiosity & New Sales

For non-customers, product updates offer a taste of what to expect from your brand. Your update emails must give the potential customer solid reasons to buy your product (or choose yours over a competitor). In fact, in many cases, you may want to send non-customers an entirely different update email than you send to current customers.

Be mindful that non-customers don’t want a how-to guide on using the feature. Right now, you want to stress how the feature will benefit them directly and how they can gain value from it. The CTA in this product update email should get them to buy immediately.

For Existing Customers: Retain Interest & Drive Engagement

Most software companies have a distinct onboarding campaign, but customer engagement and retention are still important after your final onboarding email goes out. Product updates can function as an extension of your onboarding campaign.

For your customers, updates can serve as a roadmap to accomplish new tasks within the product. Their familiarity with the product also allows you to announce “quality of life” improvements that only they would truly appreciate.

Give this group resources to implement the new feature as soon as possible. Link to how-to guides and knowledge base articles. The CTA in this product update email should get them into the product (or to upgrade, if you’re releasing a premium feature).

Different Plan Levels or Personas? Customize Your Update Content

If you’re like many companies, you offer different subscription levels or products that are of interest to slightly different audiences. You’d like to get as personalized as possible—but you also don’t have time to write several different emails for different kinds of subscribers.

By using Liquid shortcodes in your Drip emails, you can create one product update email with different content for each group.

Let’s say your subscription list contains both customers and non-customers for a specific product. To give the latter group an opportunity to try your product, your team can add the following P.S. to product update emails:

{% unless subscriber.tags contains “Started a trial” %}P.S. Ready to get started with these new features? Start a 15-day free trial by following this link. {% endunless %}

Now, your customers aren’t pushed to try a product they already own.

What if you sell the same product to two completely different customer segments with contrasting goals? No problem. As long as you’ve tagged subscribers with this information, you can use the same kind of Liquid markup to serve different messages in one email. For example, let’s say your main product is a productivity app with an “at work” mode and an “at home” mode, and you know that most customers use just one mode or the other.

First, you’d want to identify each group in your email automation platform. If you use Drip, you could do this in several different ways, such as:

  • Sending a trigger-link survey that tags new subscribers with their primary interest
  • Tagging people who visit your main page for each audience
  • Tagging people who submit opt-in forms for lead magnets relevant to each audience

Then, the next time you send a product update, you could use Liquid tags like this:

Hi there!

We’ve just released a new update to help you get even more done this week. Check out our latest blog post to see what’s new.

{% if subscriber.tags contains “at-work” %}Gunning for a promotion this year? You’ll want to check out our new Achievement Tracker to remind yourself of all you’ve accomplished (so you can remind your boss).{% endif %}

{% if subscriber.tags contains “at-home” %}On the homefront, we’ve released a much-requested update. Our new DIY Home feature helps you plan and conquer home repair and improvement projects quickly.{% endif %}

This strategy is very useful when you want to tweak product updates emails to fit the specific benefits of each customer segment.

Timing Is Everything

The occasional, one-off email isn’t sufficient for educating customers about your product’s benefits. Go beyond broadcasting by thinking about how to repurpose product update emails in the following situations:

During Onboarding

Every time you make a major update to your product, ask yourself: should customers be educated about this during onboarding?

If so, you can either add a version of your product update email to your onboarding campaign, or simply add some of the content to an existing onboarding email.

In either case, consider the timing. You don’t want to overwhelm new users with tons of product information. If a customer needs a certain amount of context to make good use of a feature, try triggering your product email only after a customer completes a milestone. Customers will be more willing to embrace the feature because they are actively using your product.

After a Major Action

Active participation is one sign that customers possess a connection with your brand. These want to know more about your company, and a product-focused email can prompt them to buy or upgrade while they’re engaged.

For instance, say someone has joined a mastery webinar or downloaded a comprehensive ebook. These actions signify that this person is ready to move from beginner to advanced with your product.

When this happens, consider emailing an evergreen version of your biggest product update email to further engage the customer. Show them an advanced technique with the feature, and use your CTA to tell them how to implement it by buying or upgrading.

When Someone’s Ready to Upgrade

Do you have a free and a paid version of your product? Or a basic and a premium version?

Usually, feature sets make the difference between your different plan levels. So any time you add a feature to just one level, you can reuse your product update email as an incentive to get upgrades.

If you’ve set up your app to send certain important user actions to Drip, you can automatically send an email about your advanced features when someone’s activity suggests they’re ready to upgrade.

Let’s go back to the productivity-app example from above. Let’s say that you require an upgrade to store more than 10 to-do lists at a time. In the workflow below, I’ve created a trigger to pull in people who are almost at the limit for their plan level. As soon as they create their 9th to-do list, they’ll automatically get a product email showcasing one of the coolest advanced features.

When a User Goes Inactive

As time passes from the initial signup date, some subscribers—and even buyers—may stop opening your emails.

Many of them just need a good reason to pay attention to your brand again. You can lure them back to with product update emails. Drip allows you to segment subscribers who haven’t engaged with your emails in a time period or number of emails of your choice. That means you can reach out to inactive users on a regular basis with a “See what you’ve missed” email highlighting the product updates they didn’t engage with.

Show how new features can provide additional value, and you have a great shot at regaining their attention.

How Will You Improve Your Next Product Update Email?

If you use even a couple of the ideas in this post, I predict you’ll start seeing a much better return on the effort you put into your product update emails.

That said, I know I’ve covered a lot here, so I’ve also put together a Product Update Planning Worksheet you can download to keep all the pieces straight. We use a very similar framework on the Drip and Leadpages team, and it’s helped us get a lot more focused and effective when we have something new to announce.

Click here to download the free worksheet

Ready to apply one of these tips to your own product update emails? Tell us which one you’ll use next in the comments!