As product experts, we know a thing or two about how to release new product features and drive their adoption. So today, on the Goji Blog, we’ve compiled a handy dandy guide on some pointers of how to do precisely that.
The two most important components here are keeping things user-centric and unifying the vision across your teams.
Your teams need to understand why you’re releasing new product features. Additionally, they need to know how your new releases play into the customer experience (CX.) This applies to your product, engineering, and product marketing teams, as well as to operations, finance, sales, customer success, and customer service.
Let’s get into it, shall we?
Decide on Your Goals
Ah, goals. We all have them. And, some of us are better at sticking to them than others. However, with product releases, it’s super important to know the “why” behind your releases and learn with which metrics you’re going to measure your success.
In order to unify your teams under one vision-centric umbrella, it’s essential to establish exactly what you’re aiming to accomplish with your new feature.
So, your goals could be anything from increasing conversion of new users or freemium users to paying customers, to reducing churn and boosting customer loyalty and retention.
Additionally, there’s another big one that’s kind of ubiquitous: demonstrating to your users that you pay attention to feedback and act on it—that you care about CX.
Your users want to know you are listening—and if you’re providing them with an opportunity to give feedback (which you always should), this is your chance to implement their suggestions.
Establish Your Target User Persona
Keeping your customers and users in mind requires you to know them well.
And so, this is where establishing target user personas comes into play. Just as with initial product launching, releasing new product features means you must know (not theorize—but know, based on robust research) for whom your new product features are created.
Therefore, constructing a target user persona—using questionnaires, surveys, focus groups, testing, and interviews—will help you understand which users will benefit the most from your new features. Basically, you’ll realize which users will harness the most success from your iterations.
Moreover, knowing your target market will inform everything from your product launch plan, what your new features should function and look like, and your go-to-market strategy.
Create a Product Launch Plan (based on goals/user personas)
So, based on your pre-established objectives and user personas, your product launch plan puts your goals into action. It should incorporate learnings from previous launches—i.e., feedback on collaboration across teams, what went well, what went slightly sideways.
Essentially, your launch plan should break down all of the work entailed in the launch into defined and delegated tasks; who’s in charge of what, in what timeline. Therefore, it’ll help organize the collaboration between your teams and track progress, deliverables, and blockers.
Common Elements of a Product Launch Plan
Your product launch plan should include tasks for your product development (engineering and product teams), go-to-market strategy (product marketing and marketing teams), systems development (ops and finance teams), and sales and support building.
We found a great checklist template by Aha.io here:
QA + Ops
Pricing + Packaging
Sales Strategy + Training
Priority, Timing, and Timeline
Another key part of establishing goals and a product launch plan is to incorporate elements of scheduling: priority, timing, and timeline.
Or, how important are these new product features to your target user persona? Are they vital to improved functionality or a bonus?
By knowing (again, based on robust research) the criticality of your new product features, you’ll be able to establish your messaging strategy. For example, is the feature so important it’s worth bothering your whole customer base with an email update, or maybe just important enough for an in-app pop-up tutorial to target users? Is it worth investing in press releases and reaching out to press contacts?
These are important things to consider to wisely allocate resources and avoid bombarding your users with those marketing and push notifications that we all love oh-so-much.
The question of when to release your new product features will dictate your entire product launch strategy.
But generally, the consensus is that you should release your new product features once you have an excellent MLP (minimum lovable product.) An MLP differs from an MVP (minimum viable product) in that you invest in its UI in addition to its functionality.
Additionally, all of your teams, including product marketing, sales, and customer service, need to be trained and on the same page to provide a seamless user experience. That means docs, tutorials, pitches, and internal training must be established before the new product features release.
Your timeline, embedded into your product launch plan, needs to be realistic, ambitious and based on previous new product feature launches.
However, positioning, feature testing, and development strategies need to be established way before the big day to ensure a smooth and well-informed launch. No one likes scrambling—and while it can be sort of inevitable, it’s better to keep it at a minimum for the sake of everyone’s blood pressure and mental health.
Training for sales, ops, and customer support teams should also start well in advance. However, it should undoubtedly begin at least a few weeks before delivering the new product features to the customer. No one likes calling an uninformed sales or customer service rep.
In fact, 68% of customers are willing to pay for a more expensive product with an excellent service reputation. Moreover, 62% of customers consider product insight and knowledge as an important part of good service.
Basically, with great customer service comes great responsibility.
So, given that customer support is such a critical component of CX, thorough training on your new product features is essential for loyalty and, therefore, sales (i.e., revenue).
Development obviously plays a massive part in driving the adoption of new product features. I mean, it’s kind of the crux of the whole thing. But once your product and engineering teams have built the thing and done their quality assurance (QA), there are two crucial components to the development process that you shouldn’t skimp on.
In a previous Goji Blog, we touched on different kinds of user testing you should do around launching.
Testing—such as prototype, usability, alpha, and beta testing—will give you insights into how your users actually will use your new product features (and even uncover desire paths). Additionally, it’ll illuminate issues before you release your new features to a wide audience.
By conducting surveys, interviews, and focus groups, you’ll learn about discrepancies between how you envisioned and designed your new features and how your target audience perceives them.
The beta launch is a wise thing to do because, as we said earlier, you want to uncover any potential problems before releasing the product to a greater audience. Consequently, you’ll be able to (as much as possible) ensure that if there are any bugs or design flaws, your reputation will still be upheld and intact with your wider set of users.
Beta launch will give space to test and investigate the truth (or not) behind any assumptions you may have made about your new product features, their functionality, and how a broader (but not broadest) pool of users will see and use them.
User onboarding is a critical component of driving adoption. If a tree falls in the forest, but no one knows how to cut it up and make use of it, did it really fall?
Okay, yes, that was an overstretched analogy. But you get the point.
More than just showing your user how to use your new features, your onboarding process should demonstrate why they need your new features and how they can benefit from them.
There are a few components of a good onboarding process:
Your user onboarding should follow a tailored approach, depending on who uses your product and for what reasons. That way, what you teach them will be directly relevant to what they’re aiming to accomplish with your product and help them get the most value out of it.
Interactive Tutorial and Product Tour
Let’s face it—rarely does one sit and watch a video tutorial on how to use a product. That requires focus, patience, and memorization.
Most people are actually much better at learning through an interactive process. For you, that means creating a product tour that should pop up and highlight different features and pops up as the user pokes around and clicks on new features they haven’t used before.
This style harnesses active learning rather than passive learning, making it a more practical, faster, and easier-to-follow learning experience. Plus, it allows you to tailor your tutorial further and highlight your product’s most relevant features to the user.
Progress Indicators and Gamification
We all like a sense of orientation and accomplishment. This is why displaying a progress visual helps the user know where they stand in learning the new product features and how much more there is to go.
If it’s relevant to your target user, you can also gamify the tutorial process—awarding a badge or reward at certain milestones to encourage them along in the process.
When it comes to maintaining a user’s attention—if the new product feature is complex and the tutorial process is lengthy—push notifications can remind them to complete the process.
Of course, it’s important to use this feature sparingly so as not to irk your users, but it could help get them to complete training and learn all of the value the feature has to offer.
Announcement and Press
When it comes down to publicizing your new product feature, it’s good to establish a strategy in how exactly you might pique the curiosity of as many current and potential new users as possible.
The product marketing’s role in this is to fully understand the new product features, how they work, and their benefits to the user. In addition, the product marketing team is the one that explains the integration of the new features into the existing product, as well as their functionalities and purpose.
This team also creates and internally markets docs and training to the rest of your company’s teams (ops, finance, sales, marketing, and customer support) so that they are best equipped to handle the launch and maintenance of the new product features.
Using a Rolling Launch
A rolling launch entails creating a consistent stream of pre-announcements and press releases that will keep your new product features atop the industry and users’ minds. And, this process does not stop at launch.
There should be a persistent and pervasive amount of coverage of your new product features in the media outlets that are most relevant to your target persona. This could include influencers relatable to your users, subject-specific and local press outlets, and customer testimonials.
Simply, it’s essential to use high-quality (i.e., trusted) press outlets that are relevant to your target users. So whether you’re contacting local news outlets, subject-relevant online magazines, or trusted influencers—remember that quality matters.
Using a Personal Touch
When it comes to releasing new product features, testimonials are critical for adoption. So how do you get testimonials and success case studies? By personally reaching out to existing partners and potential new feature adopters.
You’ll be able to curate their introduction to the feature, get feedback, and even a testimonial or case study. Of course, this tactic won’t work with large numbers of users—but a personal touch for especially enthusiastic existing users could be an excellent strategy.
Social Media Engagement
Another, faster way to reach a larger quantity of your most engaged users? Social media. Your brand’s social media is the most efficient way to communicate with your most zealous followers—so using this tool is imperative to organic adoption, word-of-mouth, and feedback.
Well, this was a lot. We know. So, it could be beneficial to consult product strategy experts who’ll help you put the theory to the rubber.
Coincidentally, hi, we’re Goji Labs—a product and software development consultancy with experience in designing, “rescuing,” and deploying hundreds of products.
Looking to develop a new app or revamp an existing one?
Reach us at GojiLabs.com.
– Goji Labs