Be honest: are you doing everything you can to hype up your app’s users and keep them in the loop?
That's where your product update emails come into play.
Because update messages are prime for engagement. Not only are they perfect for energizing your current customers, but also winning back people you haven’t heard from recently.
The problem, though?
Many brands struggle to get users excited about updates. It’s easy to get lost in the technical details when you should be driving home the benefits of your latest features.
Listen: you can’t afford to let your product email campaigns go to waste. In this guide, you'll learn:
- What types of product emails to write (and whether they're worth sending)
- How top-tier SaaS companies get their subscribers stoked about new products
- Best practices marketers need to know for an effective product update campaign
What types of product update emails should SaaS companies send?
Keep in mind that product update messages aren’t one-size-fits-all. These messages don’t necessarily have to be reserved for massive, ground-breaking announcements, either.
Below we’ve broken down some product update email examples and formats, all of which are fair game for your marketing strategy. This includes:
- New product announcement emails
- New feature emails
- New product plan emails
- Surprise update emails
- Technical update emails
1. New product announcement emails
Product launches are obviously a big deal.
Given the hard work it takes to roll out a new product, these are arguably the most important update emails you can possibly send.
Your job here is to “wow” subscribers with impactful copy and product imagery that reels them in. Emails promoting new products are often presented as an invitation, coupled with a CTA so new users can get started right then and there like this email from asana.
2. New feature emails
If you’ve taken the time to implement a new feature into your product, don’t be shy about letting your subscribers know about it. These messages should be framed as keeping your product fresh, up-and-date, and ready to address your users’ biggest challenges.
For example, a SaaS startup might announce a new feature or product change that’s long-awaited or anticipated (see this “finally here!” feature announcement from Webflow, for reference):
Many product update emails stick to the principle of “show, don’t tell.” With eye-popping screenshots and .gifs, you can give your users a taste of your product while still being economical with your email copy.
3. New product plan emails
Again, not every product announcement needs to be breaking news. That said, changes to your plans, pricing, and subscription tiers should absolutely be announced to your customers via email. The message below from Flow is a great example, framed as a letter from the company’s CEO which announces lower pricing to their “Pro” plan.
This is a brilliant tactic to win back customers that may have been turned off by a price increase or failed to convert to a paid plan in the past.
4. Surprise update emails
Teasers and surprises are typically reserved for eCommerce, but can likewise be used to get app users excited.
For example, you might give your list a sneak peek of something that you’re working on. You can likewise create a drip campaign that concludes with a product announcement (“We’ve got something big coming…”).
5. Technical update emails
These types of messages aren’t exactly thrilling but they’re absolutely necessary.
From bug fixes to terms of service updates and beyond, your job here isn’t to promote yourself. Instead, your goal is to show subscribers that you’re actively working to improve your product and provide a better user experience.
These types of emails are particularly important when it comes to issues related to security, often a huge concern to app users.
6. Product update newsletters
Note that not every update needs to be its own email. In fact, many brands will integrate updates as part of their regularly scheduled email newsletters. For example, companies like Databox rely on a newsletter to highlight their latest features and improvements.
5 steps to build a product update email campaign
Now, let’s say you’ve got some ideas for update messages or you’re itching to tell your users about something you’ve cooked up.
Awesome! Don’t send a blast to your list just yet, though.
Below we’ve broken down five key steps to putting together an update campaign that actually engages your subscribers.
1. Decide Which Updates Are Email-Worthy
We get it. There is a lot of blood, sweat, and tears that went into your latest product update. You want to tell your customers ASAP.
But let’s be real: most customers aren’t exactly eager to learn about updates and improvements all the time. 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. If you want to play it safe, only save ‘em for your biggest rollouts.
Below is a great example of a product update email from InVision that feels big. This message presents itself as buzzworthy and dedicates enough real estate to actually get users excited about the platform’s new features.
See how that works? When in doubt, we recommend adopting a “less is more” mentality when it comes to update emails.
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.
Why, though? Maybe they don’t need to roll out updates as often. Or perhaps they don’t introduce new products or have an actual product that’s, well, updatable.
For example, 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.
Also, you can “bundle” multiple updates and new features into a single email so your messages pack a punch without overwhelming your subscribers. For example, this update email from Figma could have been a series of seven emails but is arguably more effective by presenting all of their updates in a single, easy-to-read package.
On that note, not every product update necessarily warrants an email at all. Especially if you find that your list responds poorly to them, you might consider exploring other avenues to keep customers in the know, such as:
- 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
Not all of your users behave the same way. Some are absolutely glued to your product while others just use it every once in a while.
Pretty obvious, right?
Minding this, you need to ensure that you’re crafting messages that speak directly to the recipient based on how they actually engage with your service. 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.
This message from SEMrush is a good example of doing exactly that. Pulling from actual user data, the message recommends other relevant features that would be of interest to that specific recipient.
Again, notice how they’re addressing users based on what features they’re using. 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!
Let’s look at another example. You probably have freemium and paid users. For free or freemium users, coupling your launch and announcement emails with options to upgrade is the right move (see Grammarly’s message below).
Oh, and don’t forget about using product update emails to reactivate customers that have gone totally dormant! For example, this message from Sleeknote directly addresses folks who haven’t logged in recently and need to be brought up to speed on the platform’s latest features.
The takeaway here? 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. With the help of automation and workflows, you can create and send campaigns to your users in a way that makes sense based on their unique behavior.
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?
This product update email from Kajabi is a prime example. The message manages to hype up new features while also using screenshots and customer reviews to highlight how those features translate into a memorable experience for their course-creators.
Oh, and another ideal place to communicate the benefits of an update is in your message’s subject line.
That’s because the correlation between higher open rates and strong subject lines is well-documented. Here are some examples of how to use benefits in an email subject line (bolded):
- “Productivity boost: improved Gmail collaboration is here ⚡️” (Copper)
- “A New Tool to Drive Traffic and 15 More for Marketing Automation” (SEMrush)
- [NEW] Edit long-form videos faster, customize layouts and more (Wave.video)
In short, the end-result of what your users get is more important than the features themselves. Whether that’s saved time, more revenue, or something in-between, you need to put those benefits front-and-center.
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!
Something as simple as a series of screenshots can do the trick as Visme does in this email below.
Beyond screenshots, .gifs are a great way to catch your readers’ eyes and show off your updates in action. This email from copper is a great example.
In short, product update emails shouldn’t be text-only. Coupling your messages with some sort of visual (whether that’s a screenshot, testimonial, or .gif) should be a top priority before you hit “send.”
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 them for everyone to use, right?
Well, then you also know it’s crucial 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?
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. Below is an invitation example from Trello:
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?
And finally, make sure to always follow up with folks that beta tested your products! They’ve already shown interest by signing up in the first place, so don’t that attention and goodwill fall by the wayside. Stripe does a great job in this email here.
How to Send Your Product Update Email
Now that we've covered how to create a product update email, it's time to send! The best way to send your product update emails is through a drip email or an automated email workflow with your eCommerce email automation software.
There are many ways to set up an automated workflow, and the emails you end up including will vary depending on your company. Here's is a look at what a product update email sequence might include:
- Email 1: Product Teaser 5-7 days before launch
- Email 2: Product Announcement 2-3 days before launch
- Email 3: Product Launch day of
- Email 4: Follow-up 2-3 days after launch
Here's how that sequence would be built inside Sendlane:
Are You Making the Most of Your Product Update Emails?
Mastering update emails should be a top priority for any SaaS brand looking for long-term subscribers.
And at the end of the day, 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 really that simple.
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!
If you're ready to put your email marketing on autopilot, start your 14-day free trial of Sendlane right here!