Release notes are a direct method for product teams to communicate with customers and users in a world where sales and marketing teams dominate most of the conversation.
Release notes are a great way to reduce customer churn and convert new visitors to users.
This guide will show you how to write and distribute release notes. We also highlight a few tools that can make it easier.
What are release notes?
Product managers and developers use release notes to inform users about major bug fixes and product enhancements. They are usually kept in a feed or page to make it easier for users to find all the latest updates.
Why should you write release notes?
Release notes are an essential part of the release cycle. They allow you to demonstrate to potential and existing users that your team is constantly improving the product and taking feedback.
The benefits of writing release notes about every important release:
- Increase product utilization Users will know what’s new and what they should be looking out for. They will log in to your app and try new features, which ultimately leads them to use the product more.
- Keep churn at bay. If users have been waiting for new features, it is possible to keep them from getting frustrated by not letting them know as soon as they are available. Release notes can be helpful even if users don’t need a particular feature or improvement. They remind users that you are always aware of what they need and help to reduce churn.
- New customers – Potential customers love to see that your product continues to be improved and innovated. They want something that will be future-proof, lasts for the long term, and doesn’t require them to migrate their data to another tool. You can show your prospects that you are trustworthy by publishing regular release notes in a visible, easily-findable place.
- Reducing support tickets – Users aware of your latest releases will have fewer support requests.
Who is responsible for release notes?
The company’s size and complexity will determine the role of the lead developer in writing and publishing release letters. The lead developer is responsible for writing release notes at startups with one or two employees.
This might be a product manager at medium-sized businesses. Release notes in large companies might be handled jointly by multiple product managers, the head of product, or the chief product officer.
The person responsible for the release note in large teams will be determined by the importance of the release and the product team that created it.
Five tips to help you write release notes
How do you write a release notice? These are our top tips on creating a release note that is easy to understand.
1. Include the title of the release and the body description
Each release note should be written the same way as an article or a blog post but much shorter. The release note should have a title and a body, much like an article. The release note should be as simple as possible to title. It can be the name of the improvement or feature.
Here are some examples of recent titles from our release notes:
- New widget menu types (tabs and dropdown)
- Anonymous authentication
- Importer of bulk ideas
- Announcement reactions
- You can add ideas to the widget
- Roadmap image
Include between 80 and 300 words of text in the body description describing the reason for the update, the impact on specific use cases, and why it was done.
2. Your users’ technical knowledge will be reflected in the content
Saasfe target audience is product managers and developers who have a deep understanding of software building. We do our best to keep the release notes as simple and straightforward as possible. We don’t have to explain all the acronyms that we use. We can put “SSO” in a release without explaining what SSO is and its purpose.
Even if your audience is not technical, it’s important to explain the meaning and significance of technical language in your release note.
3. For clarity, add tags
Because it makes navigating through your announcements feed easier, we recommend adding tags to release notes. Users can scroll down to see more if they are interested in a particular feature.
These are the tags that we frequently use in our announcements feed.
- A new feature
- Release notes (monthly wrap-up)
So that your users don’t get overwhelmed by too many tags, you should limit the number of tags to 2-4.
4. Send ideas to the associate user by linking
It is important to link user submissions to the announcement. You might say, “And thanks to the user who submitted this Idea, which you can see here,” and then link back to that URL. If you use a tool that has features for ideas, release notes, and public roadmaps, you can link that release note to the relevant idea and then show users a preview of your idea.
You can show your users you care about their feedback by linking the idea and the release note. You should be aware that not all release notes will include a user idea. Some release notes may only have internal improvements, but that’s okay. To show that you care, connect them whenever you can.
5. To make it easy to share and publish release notes, you can use a tool
Release notes or changelog tools allow you to publish release notes quickly without needing approval from the digital marketing or content team. Product management and development teams need to be able to communicate with their users. This can be accomplished with a release notes tool.
Here are 4 things you should look out for in a tool to release notes
Different release note tools offer different features. While some tools allow you to publish product updates only, others include the ability for users to provide feedback and manage a public roadmap.
1. Link user ideas submissions to release notes
To show users that you value their feedback and why you have released the update, you will need to be able to connect user suggestion submissions to their release notes.
2. All your release notes, public roadmaps, and user suggestion submissions in one location
You should choose a tool that allows feedback collection and user communication regarding release notes. A tool that allows you to collect feature requests and a public roadmap will be useful.
You can then take an idea from a user and add it to your public road map. Then, later, link the idea in a release notice to show users you are taking their feedback seriously.
Also, ensure that you have the ability to comment and upvote ideas in the software you select. This allows you to choose which ideas you want to prioritize.
3. To gauge user response.
You should also consider a platform that allows users to respond to announcements (emojis). You can see which announcements are most popular by doing this. Although the announcements that get the most responses will be those you share most often on social media or email, it is still useful to have a way to gauge how users feel about the release.
4. Excellent UX and simple style customizations
Finally, you will need a great UX and a product which is simple to use right out of the box. Your users won’t be interested in your roadmap, release notes, or idea submission boards if they don’t like it. You can gather more ideas and feedback if you have a better UX.
Make sure you check the platform allows for simple style customizations so that your brand is easily reflected in the release notes feed.
3 release note tools to be considered
Software for publishing release notes quickly without asking the marketing team to do it.
These are three tools that you can use:
Saasfe provides announcements (release notices), a public roadmap, and an idea board. This helps you to streamline your workflow. From collecting user feedback to add it to your public roadmap to announcing the release of a new feature or enhancement, Saasfe can help you to do so in one place. An announcement feed can be added to your website and embedded in an app widget.
You can submit your idea anytime, and others can comment and upvote. This feature lets product managers easily see which ideas are most popular.
Release notes, a public roadmap, and the sideboard are all available in one location, making it easy for customers and users to keep up-to-date with your product.
The Saasfe is well-known for its simple design and great UX. Some enterprise companies may be searching for a more robust platform.
Saasfe’s Free Plan is ideal for small businesses with low monthly users. The Startup plan costs $24 per month. Announcements can contain unlimited numbers of items, roadmaps, and announcements.
AnnounceKit allows product managers and developers to announce product changes via email or an in-app widget. A dedicated feed is available for release notes.
AnnounceKit allows for segmented targeting. This makes it an ideal fit for SaaS products with very different user segments, such as travel managers or business travellers.
AnnounceKit does not offer public roadmap management and user feedback collection. You will need to combine many different tools.
AnnounceKit does not offer a free plan. The first paid plan costs $49 per month. It includes widgets, email notifications, and segmentation. Segmentation will cost $99 per month.
LaunchNotes features include release notes, a public road map, and customer feedback submissions.
These core features can be consolidated in one place to streamline the process of implementing user feedback.
LaunchNotes pricing can be quite expensive for release notes or customer feedback tools.
LaunchNotes does not offer a free plan. However, their lowest-priced plan is $24 per month. This plan allows you to have only one user. You’ll also get a public LaunchNotes Page (no custom branding) as well as a “What’s New” widget for your website. The $249 per-month plan is what most companies will need.
7 clever ways to send release notes to users
The first step in creating release notes is to distribute them. You must distribute your notes to customers and users in order to reap the benefits of your releases.
These are the best ways to do it:
1. In-app widget
An in-app widget can be added to both your public-facing site and your web-based app. You can choose the widget type, location, launcher, section type, Announcements, and appearance if you use Saasfe.
2. RSS feed of release notes
A release note should be created so that site visitors can browse through all the latest announcements. This feed can be added to your website using Saasfe. It can also be pulled into your widget.
3. Banner on the website
A banner might be added to the top of your website to highlight important releases such as new features that are highly sought after or those that significantly impact a large number of users.
4. Subscribe to our email newsletter
Another smart way to get the word out about major releases is via email newsletters. Depending on the release, you can send the email to all your users or just a selected segment.
5. Managers of customer success
Customer success managers should also send individual emails to accounts that are positively affected by the new release. A personal email is a good idea, even if the email newsletter is being sent to the same person.
A customer success manager may write to the customer to verify that they received the update and to ask if they have any questions. They might also request a 15-minute walkthrough to learn more about the new feature. This is not for minor updates that could increase usage or reduce churn.
6. Social media for companies
You can share important information about company releases via company social media accounts. ClickUp’s project management software makes product updates and social media posts engaging, clear, and on-brand.
7. Social media for employees
To post product announcements, employees can use their social media accounts. LinkedIn and Twitter are particularly useful in the B2B industry. Depending on its importance, sales reps, engineers, and customer success managers might be interested in sharing the release.
The product manager can encourage all team members to share the update and give examples and descriptions.
The key takeaways
Product and engineering teams need to communicate regularly with users via release notes. Regular updates to users about what’s new will increase usage and decrease churn among users who are either waiting for the feature or want to see more product developments.
Release notes software makes it easier to publish your notes quickly and make them available via in-app widgets. You can also use email and social media to further distribute your release notes.