Our growth is always about development. We should explore the world around us, get used to the huge amount of changes and, hopefully, become better as a person. Your work also adapts to the growing needs of your customers, and your success often depends on this process of adaptation.
Let’s imagine you’ve spent plenty of time on developing your app, considered all your previous shortcomings, and now it’s time to share your experience! Release notes help you to tell your story. But use them wisely – they can either raise you to the top of success or harm your reputation. So let’s figure out how to make the most of the well-written release notes. By the way, such notes are only a part of a post-launch marketing strategy. Read here: How to Start Mobile App Marketing Campaign.
This necessity to tell people what news you have about your product has always existed. The question is how it has changed in course of time, and what lessons we have to learn. Lots of your customers will skip the notes over with a sheer awareness that your app has got some improvements. But how to give something real to those who stop to read?
What one can find in release notes
When thinking about those who eventually read your story (i.e. release notes you’ve published), consider them as people emotionally connected to your product. They truly want to know how you’re doing, what progress you make, and consequently, what opportunities they themselves can get using the new version.
If you clearly see this, you begin to value these precious moments when customers read your release notes. They are in this selected group of people, your most faithful fans, and your task is to write a letter due to their expectations. At this moment you should realize that for your business release notes could improve customer retention communications. And what is more important, it won’t take much of your strength.
The story you’ve written literally sells your update to those who read it. You should define a marketing aspect in release notes, especially at the beginning, when your product is not widely used. Your customer reads the update news - and next, he wants to buy it, to download it. As simple as it is.
Even if for a developer this marketing idea could be uncomfortable at first, don’t be afraid to get familiar with it. With your release notes, you tell about the value. Each product has it, and release notes are a platform which is perfect for your industry. If eventually, you’re able to do this, you complete a so-called “feedback loop” which ensures you that everyone knows about the value you’ve worked on (both the employer and the customer). If you can’t describe the value, it should be a warning for yourself firstly because you don’t know what you’re going to offer your customers (particularly new ones). Strictly speaking, your ability to show the product’s specific features is a part of marketing positioning.
After the market research and finding a place for your app among rivals, informing customers is the third step. Don’t ever skip this opportunity to write a good story about innovations. If you do so, end users, including other developers, will notice your blunder and will point it out the next time. You always deal with people’s needs, so your reputation is about satisfying them. How do customers know your new strong suit and the benefits they have now?
Let’s look at some examples of release notes and try to draw our own conclusions about the approach of their authors.
Some technical details, little words of encouragement and your name in the end of the message – that’s how personalized release notes look like. This detail seems so small but its impact is huge – it helps you to stand out among many other anonymous texts.
Of course, you don’t expect your customers to be gurus in app development, so don’t be too serious with terms and long technical descriptions. Take it easy and imagine talking to a friend or one of your relatives. In what way your product can be useful for them? Next example looks like a manual impossible to understand. But take a closer look…
Ok, now you’re a developer in a huge international organization where regular app updates are extremely important. What would you choose? Are you still ready to write detailed and sincere release notes? Or you want to focus on the quality of each update? This is Facebook’s example. Two years ago the company announced “app updates every 4 weeks”. And since then their release notes have looked quite typical. Well, we may trust Facebook, but not all of us would risk release notes to be that short.
Maybe if your updates are just a row of tiny (but frequent) improvements, it’s too tedious for engineers to describe each of them. Here customers’ loyalty plays the main role.
Spotify was a true expert at putting ridiculous surprises in the end of all release notes. It looks like an absolutely funny and unique line which has no sense but still… can make your day!
Yes, that’s how it was. And little more examples that can make you READ all release notes (you didn’t believe it’s possible?):
At this moment this funny tradition sank into oblivion, but we hope it’s not for long!
Yes, you read such release notes more and more often – app updates become the place where developers perform their writing (we mean storytelling, not technical characteristics). Or they go further and draw pictures! Or they become even more conceptual and put something you don’t expect to see reading release notes. It seems to be a smart way to show your success, but what is the most important thing – your story should be clear to understand.
Developers’ Slack chat surely can surprise you when you look through the updated release notes. That is how Medium demonstrated their new version last year and became a hero of IT news.
Make an effort to read these latest Medium’s updates for iOS! Did you make it? Congrats! You won’t forget about this fixed bug, right?
But sometimes drawing a bug won’t make your user closer to understanding what great things you’ve done for your app’s progress. Is this art? Yes, to some extent. Is it the only thing you want to say? Don’t forget to ask yourself this question.
Or you could gather all great examples and season them with your own spice – just like Guzman y Gomez did, TecSynt’s client and great friend. In these release notes, we see a mix of several features we’ve met before. First of all, the easy language - you won’t find any technically adorned expressions here, only humor and friendly phrases. Secondly, all fixed bugs are specified and explained (again, easily). And, finally, this hint on a concrete person - we see a release notes writer mentioned in the text below. So the feeling of a tete-a-tete conversation was created.
Getting a free burrito? As easy as it sounds! Now those who follow your updates can get bonuses faster and feel that they’re really special! In this way, Guzman y Gomez Team made the services more tangible.
This is the most important thing to remember – with each new version you celebrate your development and growth. You gave your strength and patience to this project, and of course, you want to share it with the whole world! So what are the main rules one should follow to create release notes users want to read?
Eventually, we all work for progress. How you adjust to new circumstances and pay attention to detail will be the litmus test of your work in the end. Release notes are that part where you tell others about adjustments of your app. And those who read them judge your business on the attention to detail. Remember that in several minutes you can make a customer your fan or enemy – depending on what information you give about your update.
Never stop looking for new opportunities or unsatisfied needs of the users. This customer orientation approach has defined the most successful marketing strategies in many countries. In this complex system, your release notes can be a tiny and simple mechanism you can’t neglect. This is a part of your communication activity so easy to bring to life. Work on improvements, discover new markets and don’t forget to tell about it when releasing your next update!