Making updates and changes to your product, or announcing new features and product lines to your customer base is exciting. Unfortunately, there are good and bad ways to make these announcements.

We want to help you craft and send the most impactful and useful product update emails. So below, you’ll find some great tips about when to email an update to your customers, what those updates should be about, and how you should be addressing your recipients. For inspiration, we’ve also included some amazing examples of product update emails that we love.

What updates are “email worthy”?

We understand, you’re eager to announce every new change and improvement to your product to your entire customer base, but that isn’t the best thing to do. That being said, some industries, like ecommerce, can get away with sending more emails about changes to their products than others.

Below is a really great email from Goby about a new color of toothbrush that they’re releasing. Goby benefits from having a consumer product that might get a facelift or update that consumers want to know about in a marketing email. Other consumer goods companies might send similar announcements if their products are released in updated versions or colors.

Other industries, like software as a service (SAAS), travel, or education don’t have the luxury of sending product update emails like this. For some industries, updates like this happen rarely, and for others, there’s no real “product” to be updated. When product update emails aren’t an option, there’s some other good ways to let customers or users know about changes:

  • Blog posts – For small changes to a user interface, a blog post might be the best way to educate users. With a blog post, you have the luxury of providing more content and context about what changes have been implemented, and what benefits they provide the users.
  • Website banner – Smaller website changes that don’t need much explanation, or even promotions that are running for a limited time can be highlights with website banners, rather than sending an email to all your recipients.
  • In-app messaging – If your website allows for it, in-app messaging is a great tool that you can use to inform very specific users about changes made to small parts of your product. If you make a change that may only affect specific users, an in-app message may be the right way to inform them.
  • Release notes – For many companies, small changes and updates are made to their products throughout the year. If that’s the case, document all the changes (big and small) and include them in a semi-annual email to your users so that they can learn all about the ways you’ve improved things for them.

Don’t make revenue the (entire) focus of your product updates

This can be a difficult concept to explain to people in your organization who are focused on ROI, but it’s important to the recipient, and that’s who you should be thinking about.

A product update speaks mostly to your biggest fans, the ones who are already interested in, and use, your product, so asking them to give you more money doesn’t always make sense. Obviously, this isn’t the case for new product announcements, but when you can, leave the cross-sell or upsell for another email marketing campaign.

The product update email from FitBit below is a great example of how they updated their app, and the email is simply encouraging people to check out the functionality, not necessarily buy a new product. This is a nice soft sell that sets prospects up for a future purchase instead of an immediate one. Your email program should think about the long term and not always the right now.

Who should be getting these updates?

For many companies (SendGrid included!), there are different types of users and personas using different portions of your product in a variety of ways. Make sure you’re connecting with those people as personally as possible.

  • Different content for different recipients – Sending out a mass email that’s the exact same for all of recipients isn’t ideal. Make sure you’re creating different lists for the different types of users who will be affected by this product update. Then, create content specifically for them so that it resonates and is more personal. If your company has multiple products or types of users, make sure you’re creating content for each audience. A car company wouldn’t send content about minivans to their sports car customers, right?   
  • Segment, segment, segment – If you’re making a change to only one aspect of your product that’s only used by a small portion of your customers, segment those people and send them the product update instead of sending to all users. Marketing Campaigns is an excellent tool for these types of emails because it allows you to easily segment a portion of your email list and send a one-off email easily.

This marketing email from Strava is an excellent example of good segmentation. Not only did they include a cycling image (I ride bikes a lot more than I run), but the content is also targeted at me because I already had a Premium account. The email is simply telling me about the name change and is pointing me back to the app.

Our friends over at Really Good Emails have a different version of this email. You can tell it’s been targeted at a user that probably runs more, and doesn’t have a Premium account, because the call to action is to get Summit or assemble their Summit pack (a new benefit). This is a great example of smart segmentation.

What visuals can you add?

Getting a product update email that’s all text isn’t the most engaging email for recipients to open and isn’t the best way for them to engage. If you can, include screenshots or gifs of what your new product looks like or how a new feature works. The more they feel a part of your product, the more likely they are to open your email.

Another great tactic you can implement is to include support chats or emails from customers who have expressed a desire for this change to be made to your product. This shows your recipients that you not only listen to what they want, but you’re happy to make those changes when you can!

This email from Readdle not only uses a screenshot of their YouTube video that recipients can watch for more information, it also includes examples of how the app looks on your phone. In fact, those phones are actually gifs, you can check out a live version of the email here.

Focus on the value it adds to customers

Unfortunately, your customers aren’t going to be blown away by all the people who contributed to the development of your new product feature, nor will they care about how many iterations the update went through. Those are great things to include in an all-company, internal email about the release, but leave those things off of a product announcement email.

Your customers are busy, and they’re hungry for anything that will make their life easier or better, so get to the point! Give them the biggest benefits of using the new feature or update up front, in an obvious manner so that they can quickly decide if they want to engage with the email or not.

When Nest announced their new security camera, they did away with lengthy explanations of the tech specs, and kept the email extremely brief and to the point:

Too much content is never a bad thing!

If the product marketers at your company have drafted a marketing email that’s way too long to send, don’t worry. A lot of times you can use that email content elsewhere on the site by updating the product page with more information. You can also pull that content into other emails in the future to convey the benefits of this product to new users or other segments that might not get your original announcement.

When Marvel announced their new Handoff feature, they sent the email below. Rather than include paragraphs about all the benefits that Handoff provides users, they link to a video of the feature and to the page itself where people can learn more. This prevents redundant content from the email appearing on the page and improves the recipient experience.

Beta releases

Betas are pre-releases that many companies put out as a way to kick the tires on a new product, service, or feature before releasing it to the public. Like other product update emails, you want to be careful about who and how many people receive the invite.

One of the ways you can make a beta release successful is by incrementally inviting people until you have the right number of users testing the new product. You should also make sure invites are going to users that like and use your product enough to give you feedback if they uncover any bugs.

Airtable sent out this beta release email about a new feature they released to their Pro plan customers. Rather than include a ton of content in the email, Airtable does a good job of providing links so that people can go learn more about their beta on the website.

Summary

These tips are all important to keep in mind regardless of which type of email marketing campaign you’re sending. Product updates, seasonal marketing emails, monthly marketing email newsletters, and other campaigns can all benefit from:

  • Thoughtfully created email marketing campaigns
  • Concise messaging
  • Personalized content targeted at specific personas
  • Segmented lists of people who will be interested in your message
  • Engaging visuals that delight recipients

For more tips and great information to make your next email marketing campaign the best one you’ve sent, visit the SendGrid Blog, or if you’re ready to create and send your next product email, check out our Marketing Campaigns email solution.



Warren Duff
Warren is the Sr. Content Marketing Manager at SendGrid, specializing in email and content best practices, he develops many of the new guides you see SendGrid release as well as other pieces of content, including blogs, videos, case studies, and emails.