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Best Practices for Communicating Software Releases and Product Updates

As a product-led company, you know that product development doesn’t stop once you deliver a product to the customer or end-user. If anything, product development continues well after delivery.

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To keep improving your product, you will make updates to its functionalities. You will fix bugs and add new features. But it’s not enough to simply make these changes. You also need to communicate them!

If customers aren’t notified about the changes, they may not be aware that you implemented new functionality based on customer feedback. Customers may not know they're able to take advantage of new features or improvements. If they’re not sure what’s going on with your product, they may become unhappy and even give up – even if you have a great product.

But many teams struggle with the software release communication process. 

In this post, we'll show you how to communicate software releases in a way that will delight your users and move you closer to your product goals.

Software release notes are a great way to inform customers that you updated their favorite software, fixed the bugs affecting their user experience, or added cool new features.

Well-written, well-formatted updates and release notes will improve their satisfaction without overloading them with information. Further, by creating and communicating these comms consistently and predictably, you can also reduce the pressure on your customer support and customer success teams.

That said, many product organizations face common challenges that prevent them from creating effective release notes.


The release process is complex

The software release and product management processes are complex and involve multiple stakeholders. If your team is constantly busy grappling with these complexities, they may not be able to focus on what should happen after the release is ready.

As a result, they may not pay attention to creating valuable notes. Their output may be too technical, too vague, or simply a careless afterthought that doesn’t address the end user’s needs or challenges.

Lack of experts to write the notes

You have experts to manage your entire release from start to end. But do you have skilled people to create effective release comms that:

  • Are less technical and more “human”
  • Are not boring
  • Specifically communicate value to the user
  • Explain in plain language exactly what was changed and how it will affect users
  • Include feedback options so users can share their opinions, suggestions, or complaints

It takes a mix of technical know-how, writing skills, and customer understanding to meet these critical requirements. Experts with such skills put users at the center of your communication efforts and speak directly to them – thus improving engagement and retention.

Meeting audience expectations

Your audience may consist of different people with different interpretations of what a particular release means for them. Bug-fixes may be the most important for some, while others may be excited about improved UX or a new feature. 

If your release comms don’t address these expectations from the get-go, users simply won’t read them.

A lack of easy-to-use release notes management tools

In the dynamic, ever-evolving world of software development, development teams know that release comms are a crucial part of every release. However, these groups get busy with their core workload and often struggle to create effective customer-oriented release notes.

A user-friendly change communication tool like LaunchNotes can go a long way towards streamlining the comms process to reduce the overwhelm and struggle. The platform makes it easy to communicate product changes and release notifications to customers and users.

Fortunately, it is possible to overcome the challenges highlighted above and create effective comms for software and feature releases. To start, it's essential to have a clear and concise plan for communicating software releases and product updates. This plan should include details about:

  • Who will be responsible for sharing release information
  • What channels will be used for disseminating this information, i.e., email, chat, social media, blog posts, or app notifications

The following is a product launch checklist to help your team create useful software release comms.

Focus on the customer or end-user

Who are you creating these release comms for?

The answer is obvious: your customers.

If you want customers to read your release notes and even anticipate them eagerly, always focus on the value the comms will provide to them. Be specific, talk to them directly (“you”), and explain clearly how they will benefit from the new release. Avoid technical jargon and complex vocabulary wherever possible.

So, instead of saying, “This app now supports 12 languages,” say, “You can now use the app in 12 different languages.”

Or instead of “Bug fixed, and updates applied,” say, “We fixed the bug that was causing unexpected crashes on Mac machines. You can now use this software on your Mac system without worries.”

Other ways to focus on the customer in your release comms:

  • Clearly state the intent of the product changes
  • Highlight essential keywords so users can quickly gauge what has changed and how it will impact them
  • Organize the notes with clear sub-headings, paragraph breaks, and bulleted lists
  • Explain changes with visuals such as videos, gifs, guided walk-throughs, and demos
  • Include links to additional information to encourage further research and engagement

Champion and leverage power users

If your product or application has a group of power users, you can utilize their knowledge, reach, and influence to promote your notes and increase application adoption.

Also, communicate with your power users regularly. Ask them for feedback on your product’s features and functionalities. Leverage their expertise and enthusiasm to understand where you can provide additional value. Encourage them to promote your product and entice them with incentives to influence adoption among other users.

Make communications timely, useful, and non-disruptive

Release notes are a highly effective one-to-many communications tool, so make sure you communicate consistently, predictably, and clearly.

It’s equally important to ensure that the right people receive this information at the right time and through the right channel. 

Do most of your users prefer email communication? Are blog announcements popular with your audience? Or do they show a preference for in-app notifications?

Whichever channel you use, the comms should provide users with a single source of truth for any changes or upgrades. Make them easy to read, easy to find, and actionable.

Describe the updates in a single channel, so users don’t have to switch to a different channel to view what has changed or how it will affect them. All of this will help minimize disruptions and ensure that they can take full advantage of the new product features and functionality.

Maintain your brand’s tone

Your brand has adopted a particular tone and voice while communicating with customers.

Is it playful and quirky? Serious and to-the-point? Witty and humorous? Maintain this voice with every new product update or release comms cycle. 

It can be jarring for users who are used to serious communications from your brand to suddenly see product release notes full of jokes and puns. The same rule applies if your brand’s general communications are light-hearted, but your latest release communications adopt a dry, technical tone.

Identify upsell/cross-Sell opportunities

Communicating change is table stakes for a great customer relationship. Nobody wants to jump into an expanded offering or service if they still feel in the dark about the one they're currently paying for.

Users will be more responsive to hearing a sales pitch from your customer success team after you have nailed your release updates. But again, make sure the communication focuses on them and how they will benefit rather than just what you have done.

Build an effective product ops team

A product ops team understands both your customers and the value of your product. They improve collaboration among software development, product marketing, and customer success teams. They can combine this understanding to help you prioritize and create an effective post-launch strategy for release comms.

The product ops team guides your efforts with data and metrics to help you understand users and hone your messaging. Leverage the product ops role to identify useful product release templates and quickly create compelling and impactful comms.

LaunchNotes is an easy way to streamline all your change notifications and release notes. With this integrated platform, you can bring all your release notes, changelog, and blog posts under one roof. Share product roadmaps publicly, build tighter user feedback loops, and increase user engagement with release comms.

With LaunchNotes, you can easily connect customers to your software with hyper-targeted, timely comms about the things they really care about. Schedule a demo to see why LaunchNotes is the #1 platform for product change communications.

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