5 Pillars to Successful Product Release Adoption

January 26, 2018

Pat yourself on the back, you’ve done it! You’re about to launch a new product capability that you’re sure your customers are going to love. You’ve done all the hard work to validate the product idea, gathered feedback from your target customers, built a compelling business case, set measurable goals and advocated cross-functionally throughout the organization to get approvals to start development. You wrote up the spec and worked with your development team to overcome hurdles and made trade-off decisions you couldn’t have imagined. You’ve accepted the final sprint deliverables and your new product capability has been in the hands of a few trusted beta customers.

You’re ready to move to general availability and claim success in creating the hottest thing since sliced bread. All you need to do is draft up your release notes and email them out to all your customers and you’re done. Right???

Wrong! All the hard work until this point is for nothing unless your customers adopt the new capability and find value in what you and your team have created.

Contrary to what you may think, your customers aren’t just sitting around waiting for your next product update. Yeah, sure…there may be a few super enthusiastic customers chomping at the bit, but for the most part they’re busy – really busy. Their email inboxes are pouring over them already, and if you think your release notes are going to cut through the noise and be the most important thing they read, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.

The pressure is on. Your credibility within the organization will be lost if you don’t hit the expected goals you set out to achieve with this feature. So, what can you do to increase your chance of success?

Go beyond release notes and create a release experience

A release experience consists of a number of touch points and interactions with your customer to guide them along a journey to become aware of the feature, adopt it and incorporate it in their use of your application. We’ve put together five pillars that we’ve found to create a top-notch release experiences:

1. Let them know something is coming

It all starts here, letting the right people know that a new release with exciting new features is on the way. Making sure to get champions as well as other practitioners and business leaders included is paramount to maintaining top of mind visibility and showing value.

2. Use your product as a marketing channel

One of the most overlooked aspects to driving adoption for new releases is getting people to know they are there when they log back in. To accomplish this effectively and efficiently requires using your product as a channel and engaging different customer segments using different messaging based on their role when their attention is focused on a task your product can help them complete.

3. Provide a persistent place to learn more

You’re customer may not be ready at the time they learn of a new product capability to begin using it immediately. Providing a persistent location, such as a customer community, or documentation portal lets your customers know that you’re there to help them when they’re ready. Another benefit with this pillar is that you have an opportunity to go into greater detail than what you would do within an email or other notification.

4. Make it easy to get started with in-product onboarding

When we talk about onboarding, many people tend to think of just initial customer onboarding. However, onboarding is a continual process that happens with your product. As new releases are delivered, onboarding customers onto those features and encouraging adoption is a key component to release success.

5. Measure your engagements to personalize post release follow ups

Finally, you want to be able to track towards your release goals and report back to your teams how many and which customers are taking advantage of the new feature. Measuring your engagements isn’t just a feel good exercise. It also allows you to follow up with your customers differently depending on who they are and what they’ve done in relation to adopting the new features.

Knowing what information your customer has read, and what they have done in the product is a critical component to successfully manage this step. For example; you will want to solicit feedback from customers who have started using the feature, whereas for customers who have yet to use the new feature, you may want to invite them to a webinar where you can present the feature and provide deeper Q&A.

Why don’t all product teams create release experiences?

Historically, this has been hard to do as it requires a combination of engagement solutions for different channels and data that is scattered across the organization. You need to be able to email specific people, present in-app notifications, offer customized guides in-app and follow up notifications based on who has yet to use the feature. And it must all be coordinated so that you’re not over communicating and annoying your customers.

Sound impossible? It’s not.

Join us on January 31st for a webinar where we’ll share practical advice, tools and techniques on how to create release experiences for your next product launch. Register for your free ticket here.

Founder & CEO

Nick is the CEO of Aptrinsic, Inc. <a href="">Aptrinsic</a> provides a personalized product experience platform to help companies acquire, retain, and grow customers by creating real-time, personalized engagements driven by product usage data. With Aptrinsic, companies can effectively implement a product-led go-to-market strategy to increase product adoption and customer lifetime value. Most recently, Nick was EVP of Global Product for Marketo and responsible for engineering, product management, cloud operations and technical support, including privacy services. Nick brings over 25 years of experience in product development, information technologies and customer service.