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What's the most effective way you've found to introduce/launch new features within the product UI?

9 Answers
Marcus Andrews
Marcus Andrews Sr. Director of Product MarketingJune 25

I think you’re asking if it’s behind a pay wall and not just a free product? If that’s the case, you need material (video!) that can act as a demo, people want to see product, not just read about it. Salespeople who can give great demos and free trials are often a really effective a launch tool. 

Christy Roach
Christy Roach
AssemblyAI VP of MarketingNovember 17

There are three main ways that I like to announce features in-product. Please note: I do not recommend you do all three at the same time unless you want your users to find you incredibly annoying. Each has their own time and place, but I find each to be effective in their own way. I've ranked these from least disruptive to the user to most disruptive to the user below: 

  • Contextual announcements: One of the most seamless ways to help customers discover new features is to include the announcements, tool tips, or updates right when they can and should use it. This means that instead of blasting the news right when someone logs in, you think through where you might give the user a bit of a nudge to use or try something new and empower them to take action right away. The pro of this type of announcement is that it seems less marketing-y and more helpful. The drawback is that it’s not seen by as many users since it only shows up when a user goes through that specific product flow. 
  • In product empty states: Not to play favorites, but this is my favorite type of in product marketing. The empty state refers to the first time a user encounters a feature, or the state of the product or feature before any data/information is added to it. For example, the first time you click on Airtable Apps, you see an empty state that gives a hint at it’s value and why you should use it. These empty states give you much more real estate than a modal or tool tip and often you can help the user not just understand that there’s a new feature, but really help them understand the benefit of said feature and why they should use it. The most effective way I’ve seen empty states used has been with in product videos that explain the value of the feature and gets in a bit of user education before the customer dives in. Keep these videos short (under 1:30) and you should see your conversion rate from those empty states spike! 
  • Announcement modals: These are the most ‘in your face’ of all announcements and should be used most sparingly, but they’re often the most effective. These are announcements that pop up for a user as soon as they login to your product, letting them know that you’ve launched something big, new, and impactful. That modal should be short, sweet, and easy to dismiss so you’re not interrupting a user’s workflow too heavily. CTAs on those modals can push a user to start a trial/use the feature or link out to a blog post or landing page that explains more about what’s new.
Anna Wiggins
Anna Wiggins
Bluevine Sr. Director of Product Marketing, Content, Customer ResearchJanuary 18

Product UI real estate is a powerful, contextual tool in introducing new launches. Your customers are most engaged and most likely to take action on your new launch when they are already in the product. And this is especially true for a self-service model because frequently this is the only way customers will find out about a new launch.

Depending on how your product is built or your product and engineering capacity, you have many options to highlight a launch in the UI. You can use “new” feature flags, product tours, contextual nudges, banners, walkthroughs, videos, and even interstitial modals. There are also lots of tools like WalkMe and Intercom to help add touchpoints to your UI.

Your in-product launch strategy will depend on the size of the launch and your customer behavior goals. For a major launch, you could use an interstitial modal during the sign-up process to really capture attention - however, use this one sparingly because it can be really annoying. For a smaller launch, a product banner or a “new” feature flag could work well.

Whatever you do, make sure your strategy is relevant and timely to your target audience. If you annoy your customers, they’ll train themselves to ignore your efforts, or worse they will stop using your product.

Claire Maynard
Claire Maynard
Magical Head Of MarketingFebruary 10

At Atlassian, we've found that in-app feature announcements work really well as you have the ability to reach the user when they are in the context of your product vs perhaps checking email and thinking about something else. Here are some tips to make your in-product announcements more effective:

  • Be highly targeted: Unless you're announcing a major feature or product that is useful to every type of user (which is rare!), it's most effective and definitely less annoying to customers, if you target your message to the users who will value it the most. Start with a specific group of users who have the highest propensity to find value and craft the message to their needs. You can always go wider and open up this targeting later. 
  • Be contextual: Instead of using large banner announcements across every screen of your product UI, think about where and when a user would need to use this feature in their workflow or actions they are taking in the product that indicates a need for this feature. Add the in-app message in context to their user journey and the more likely they will be willing to give it a try or see value in the use-case. 
  • Use clear and concise messaging: In-app is not the place where you want to be long-winded or use too much marketing-speak. Being playful is great but make sure the message is helpful, to-the-point, and delightful. 
  • Experiment! The great part of in-app messaging if you have a larger audience to reach is that you can A/B test different messages, designs, placements, user events, or target audiences. Run experiments in the beginning until you find your sweet spot. 
  • Don't overdo it and allow the user to quickly opt-out: Don't let in-app messages crowd and distract from the user experience. There should be governance over in-app messages to ensure the same user isn't getting many messages on the same day. Make sure you allow a user to skip the message easily. Even better, allow the user to hide the message to read it later or via email. 
Jenna Crane
Jenna Crane
Klaviyo Head of Product MarketingOctober 19

Introducing new features in-product is often the best way to drive awareness and adoption, because it's in context of the user's workflow and timed when they're actually thinking about your product (vs. email, social, etc.). 

Generally speaking, you want to:

1. Make users aware there's something new

2. Provide a product usage fast-lane to users who already 'get it' and want to try

3. Provide additional detail to users who need more hand-holding

Here's what that looks like:

  •  Make users aware that there's something new. This could look like a highlight of that product area in the navigation (an icon next to it, a modal pointing to it, etc.), a general modal on the start page, or a highlight on a designated spot where you always talk about new features (a What's New page or modal, for example). Keep this short and sweet.
  •  Link to that area of the product. You want to make it easy for users to jump in and try. 
  •  Share more detail about what's new and how / why to use it. If you can, keep this in product, alongside the feature. It can be just a couple sentences, or if you have the real estate you can add a GIF and some step-by-step instructions.
  •  Link to more detail. A help center article is generally a better destination from inside the product than a blog post. 

Also important — here's what not to do:

  1. Have intrusive modals that get in the way of product usage 
  2. Use language that feels too much like marketing- or sales-speak
  3. Always have some kind of promo or call-out running — users get tired of seeing it and will automatically close out of it even if they would have found something valuable 
Anjali T. Cameron
Anjali T. Cameron
Landed Head of MarketingOctober 4

We typically use one of two options, depending on the business and customer impact of the feature.

For new features with huge upside or the potential to cause a lot of customer confusion if not explained carefully, a more disruptive, in product modal is effective. Design it with a strong headline and a visual element and show it to customers upon login. Customers will be "forced" to engage with the modal and any subsequent pages before taking an action or closing out. Modals provide a reasonably large piece of real estate so you can include a compelling graphic or screenshot and plenty of info on the benefits.

For features that are "nice to haves" or that require little explanation, a feature tour works well. We've used small colored dots and questions marks in the past to indicate what's new on the page, with an on hover tool tip displaying next to each dot to explain what's new. This is a nice, non-disruptive way to catch people's attention and introduce a new feature.

Pulkit Agrawal
Pulkit Agrawal
Chameleon Co-founder & CEOJuly 4

My one piece of advice on this though is to make the announcement about the WHY and not the HOW.

Too often teams focus on showing people the feature (through a feature tour or tooltip etc.) but that really misses a key step, which is to get someone excited about how the change can add value to their life and work. 

Here is my suggested framework for in-product announcements (having worked on this for many years):

  1. 2-3 weeks before launch: provide a heads-up / short teaser to let a user know a change is coming and why they should be excited by it. This also helps quell any anxiety when the change arrives. 
  2. Announce the change and why you put the effort into making it (and how it'll add value to the user). Encourage them to explore and play (don't take the fun out of self-discovery by handholding them through it)
  3. If they haven't used it in a couple weeks, offer a tour or walkthrough
  4. Once they've seen it / used it, do a quick in-product survey to understand whether it met their expectations and how easy it is to use (this will help you relay info to the product team on whether the feature needs more work)

You can do a bunch of this stuff with Chameleon and there are a bunch of examples of what others have done here

Good luck!

Esben Friis-Jensen
Esben Friis-Jensen
Userflow Chief Growth OfficerJanuary 18

Great question.

  • For bigger features I think it is okay and also effective to be very much in the face of the user, with e.g. a modal that the user actively have to close. One can even add a product tour of the feature and/or a video.
  • With smaller features I would use more subtle hotspots with tooltips or similar.

All of this can be build with Userflow by the way.

Madison Leonard
Madison Leonard
Marketing & GTM ConsultantDecember 7

I'm a big fan of in-app guides and tours. And from my personal experience, it usually outperforms email.

Everything should be crafted with the best user experience in-mind. After you come up with a wireframe for the flow, ask yourself these questions:

  1. How does the user discover this in-app tour? (is it hidden behind a trigger, such as navigating to a certain page?)
  2. Does this guide/tour compete with or compliment other tours?
  3. Is the tour broken up into bite-size pieces? (I recommend less than 6 guides in a tour)
  4. Is it annoying or interrupting my workflow?

It's all contextual, too! If you're launching a tier 1 new product, you probably want to draw attention to that when the user first logs in. However, improvements and lower tier features don't require something as flashy. I love contextual tooltips and badges to nudge the user when it's convenient for them and doesn't disrupt their workflow.

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