Hackernoon logoHow to write better feature announcements by@anniemaguire

How to write better feature announcements

Annie Maguire Hacker Noon profile picture

Annie Maguire

Freelance Conversion Copywriter

http://blog.promoboxx.com/

You just launched a brand new feature.

Your customers have been asking about it for a while now (7 months, 1 week, and 4 hours, to be exact!) and it’s finally live.

WELL, pop the champagne, pour yourself a glass, and spank your own ass!

You, did it.

And you can’t wait to tell the world (or you know, your customers, but same thing, right!?).

You sit down at your computer, pride shooting out your eyeballs and fingertips, and begin typing out the blog post:

“We’re so excited to tell you that…”

“Over the past 7 months, we’ve been working really hard…”

“Our mission is ___ and today, that mission…”

“The team here at ___ is excited to share that today…”

Notice a pattern here?

Feature announcements can quickly become all about you, when they should, in fact, be all about your customer.

Yes, we’re all very impressed that your engineering team managed this insurmountable feat under limited time and resources.

We get it: you want to remind us of your mission and how this feature ties into that.

And then there’s that long-winded story about how this feature came to be, the ah-hah moment at the cafe, and then you did those user tests, and the results were very interesting, and then…

Blehhh just tell us already!

If you stop for a moment and think, like actually put yourself in your customer’s shoes…does he/she really care about those types of details?

Honestly…no. I hate to break it to you, but your customers give zero fucks.

Your customers don’t know you, and even if they do, they don’t care about you, your mission, and they certainly do not care about how this feature fits into the “bigger picture.”

Your customers do care about some things, though, and here’s a list:

  • Their businesses
  • Their success
  • Themselves

Remember, your customers have been paying you a lot of money to give them what they want.

All they care about is what the feature is, and how it’s going to affect their bottom line.

So instead of treating your next feature announcement as your next saga, follow the tips below on how to write an article your audience will actually read.

Tell people a story

If you go back to the beginning of the article, you’ll notice I set it up by immediately making you the center of the story.

I didn’t use ONE “we,” “our,” or “team.”

Instead, I used one simple line that immediately put you front and center.

Then I began painting a picture of something you’ve probably experienced before: a new feature launch.

Since this article is pretty specific, I can make these types of assumptions about who you may be, and use that information to craft a familiar-feeling narrative.

Something that makes you say, “yep, I’ve been there.”

If you don’t agree with this approach, ask yourself this one question:

Would your customer rather read a story about themselves, or a story about you?

Unless it’s your “About page” the answer is always going to be the former.

So instead of crafting that famous “we” statement for your next feature announcement, put yourself in your customer’s shoes.

Think about what this feature means for THEM.

Think about the problems you’re solving by giving them access to this awesome new thing.

Think about situations where your customers would have LOVED to have what you’re about to offer them.

Consider a metaphor that could help paint the picture for how this new feature is going to enhance their lives.

Once you have your fuel, craft a story about your customer, and open with it.

Don’t open with something about you. Or your company. Or your team.

No one is saying you can’t celebrate those wins internally, and use all the “we’s,” “our’s,” and “us’s” you want.

But when it comes to feature announcements (or external language in general), your customers should always come first.

Break it down in a bite-size way

Your customers are busy peeps.

They don’t have time to sift through your saga to find the information that’s most relevant to them.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying people don’t read.

But let’s be real: this is a feature announcement, not a literary masterpiece.

Let me repeat that real quick: this is a FEATURE ANNOUNCEMENT we’re talking about here, people!

It’ll likely be one of the least read pieces you put out there, so get real and write the damn thing in a digestible way.

What helps me is I have ONE outline I use across all feature announcements, so people can easily find the info they’re looking for.

Not only does the outline save me time (when you work for a startup that churns out new features every month, it comes in handy), but it also helps establish a pattern of consistency for our customers.

Here’s the outline I usually follow for feature announcements:

  • Open on a story / hook
  • Explain (briefly) what the feature is
  • Why the feature is good for the customer (or why they should care)
  • What the new feature includes (explain components / screenshots)
  • Next steps for how customer can use the new feature

Obviously, this is just an outline and I adjust it accordingly for whatever we’re launching next, but it’s certainly helpful to have a guide, so I don’t go off on some weird tangent no one cares about.

Show AND tell

As I mentioned above, I like to include product screenshots within feature announcements.

For one, visuals help to break up the article.

Second, they help people connect the dots between “new thing I don’t understand yet” (words) and “ohh, I see what they’re talking about.” (visuals).

Visuals also give people a clear expectation for what they’ll see within the product, so there are no surprises when they login and start poking around.

Lastly, if the reader is feeling lazy, visuals allow for quick scanning, giving them just what they need to paint the picture in their minds.

Make it helpful

The whole point of a new feature is it’s going to help your customers in some way.

As a result, your feature announcement should feel…well, helpful.

One thing I try to do is make every article helpful for customers at all levels.

This means I always include a section that explains what the feature is (in case we have a customer who has never heard of it and/or needs a simple explanation), and links to any resources he/she may find helpful.

I also try to guide specific types of customers in helpful directions, like this type of line for a less experienced customer:

“Now, if you’re new to X, you may want to take a step back and read this article on Y before getting started.”

But I don’t forget about our more advanced customers, often following up with something like:

“If you’re ready to jump right in, sign in here to get started, or check out this article on Z, which was written for those with more experience.”

Before I write a feature announcement, I’ll go through our blog and look for related resources that our customers may find helpful.

If I don’t find anything, I’ll often write a supporting article or two to make sure people have everything they need in order to use the new feature.

When all else fails, write a supporting piece first

When you’re writing a feature announcement, sometimes you get stuck.

You don’t know what to write, where to start, or how to engage your audience, dagnabbit!

This can quickly become “the danger zone” because it’s so easy to fall back onto things you know, like why you created this feature, the story behind it, details no one cares about…etc.

But before you go down that path, take a step back and write something else. Not just anything, but a supporting piece you’ll link to in your announcement post.

By shifting your focus away from the “big announcement,” and onto something that will help your customers AND explain the new feature, you’ll quickly come up with ideas for how to introduce it.

Before I write ANY feature announcement, I first start with a supporting blog post, such as a “step-by-step guide,” which helps me grasp what the feature is before I attempt to “sell it” in an announcement post.

I also end up using a lot of the copy from the supporting pieces IN the announcement post, so you’re really killing two birds with one stone.

It’s honestly the best way to take the pressure off and give yourself exactly what you need to write an engaging announcement post.

Ready to write better feature announcements?

In the throes of “new feature excitement,” it’s easy to get carried away with too many details, tangents, or just stuff your customers don’t care about.

It’s even easier to focus on yourself, and totally forget about your customer altogether.

But as we’ve covered today, feature announcements don’t have to be these boring pieces of content customers hate to read, and you hate to write.

By putting your customer first (and following the tips above), you can create engaging feature announcements your customers will look forward to (well, that may be a stretch, but we’re going for inspiring here, people!).

What are your tips for writing feature announcements? Share by commenting below!

Annie is a New York-based product copywriter who works exclusively with startups and small businesses. Have a question? [email protected]

Tags

Join Hacker Noon

Create your free account to unlock your custom reading experience.