How to write product updates that customers will love

Tips for presenting the story of your next new feature, for people who already use your product.

Mar 11, 2024

Mar 11, 2024

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0 min read

This advice works for multiple formats, whenever you’re presenting product changes to customers. You can adapt framing in this guide for video recordings, live calls, or writing.

The essentials

You shipped a new feature, and you have to get the word out to customers. What's worth saying?

Before doing anything else, we need to answer two questions:

  1. What’s new?

  2. For who?

Why shouldn't you lead with more detail? A customer needs to understand if the update applies to them (i.e., “Is this for me?”), or if they can skip it. There are many reasons this might happen — requirements for integrations, different plans, or admin vs user functionality.

You may write updates one at a time, but your customers will often read many at once. Your job is to help them filter down which ones matter.

If the feature applies to them, they will continue. Then you can go deeper and share setup guides.

Writing great headlines for features

If you can write a good headline, the remaining content will write itself. Below are a few template for framing your big idea in feature announcements, with examples from "Cosmic Couriers" — a fictional B2B space delivery company.

Two things to keep in mind:

  1. Say the most important things first. The headline and visual should capture 80% of the update. You’ll have plenty of time to add details and show walkthroughs from there.

  2. Customer positioning is different from general marketing content (e.g., press releases, blog posts) because the audience already uses your product. Your mission is to help them navigate a change, and understand the new way your product can help them.

Features vs Benefits

  • Feature = What it is, focused on product (”A new spaceship engine”, “AI chat support”)

  • Benefits = What you get out of it, focused on customer’s result (”Reach the moon in half the time”, “Get expert help in seconds”)

Template #1: Simple update, single subject

Format: [BENEFIT] with [FEATURE]

Good for most updates, especially single feature or product. If you aren’t sure where to start, this one is easy to reuse.

Examples:

  • “Keep your cargo safe with automated asteroid detection”

  • “Find coaching opportunities with AI call summaries”

Template #2: Targeted audience or platform

Format: [BENEFIT OR FEATURE] for [AUDIENCE OR PLATFORM]

Good for updates with specific audience or requirements.

Examples:

  • “Custom security controls for admins”

  • “Screen recording now available for mobile”

  • “Custom branding for Enterprise astronauts”

Template #3: Key features, multiple components

Format: [KEY PRODUCT OR FEATURE]: [FEATURE(S) OR BENEFIT(S)]

Good for updates with multiple components, or key features you’ve decided to name.

Examples:

  • “Teleportation: Instant shipping, anywhere on the planet.”

  • “Analytics v2: Custom dashboards, live benchmarks, and exports”

What should a product update include?

Now that you’ve finished the big idea, we can move on to the content.

  1. What did you make? Include a visual or short video loop. For most updates, a good headline and a single visual will get the point across.

  2. Who is this update for? Target audience, requirements to use it (plan, integrations)

    • Who is eligible to use this feature? “Available with Pro and Enterprise plans” or “Requires Salesforce integration”

  3. Why did you make this change? This is an opportunity to show how you make decisions behind the scenes, or share a quick story about a customer. (e.g., "Earlier this year, we heard from a customer struggling with…").

    • Don't be afraid to tell the story of how challenging things were before you shipped this feature. Your product is improving, and contrasting before vs. after helps folks realize it faster.

  4. What can customers do now that they couldn’t before?

    • Change management: How does it change the way customers already use the product?

    • Timing: Share the release schedule if not available immediately.

Next steps and setting up

Depending on the update, including some help on the next step may improve understanding when sharing general updates with your a mixed audience from your customer base.

  1. How do I get started? Link onboarding guides or directly to the feature in-product. Leave technical details to the support documentation, along with details you expect to change over time.

  2. Who owns setup? For B2B software, certain features may require an admin to set something up first. Let your users know what has to happen, and they can help get adoption faster.

    • “Admins can enable this feature via Account > Add Integrations, or by following this guide: [LINK]”

    • “Once enabled by an admin, you can receive notifications directly in Microsoft Teams. Manage your notification settings via Settings > Notifications, or by following this guide: [LINK]”

Product storytelling is a skill, and it takes practice

This is worth getting good at. Your product will continue to evolve over the coming months. The better you get at this kind of storytelling, the faster your customers will be able to discover new ways your product can help them.

In the next post, we explore how to rethink your story arcs, and develop an ongoing product narrative for updates of all sizes.

Need to tell a better product story?

Learn how Rally makes great storytelling easy for your whole team, sales to customer.