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Optimized “what’s new” in-app update – part 1


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How to let your users know that you are now even more amazing than before
Every once in a while, you wish to update your users of the app’s improvements. One of the best channels to use (besides the store download page) is the app itself. A “what’s new” pop-up, with the right messages and a good copy, can boostyour app’s usage. Here is how it’s done…

Before we proceed, 3 comments to set expectations :

  1. This free training session focuses on the reasons to share “what’s new” through the app, trains on how it should be done and presents some examples (in part 2).
  2. There are, of course, additional channels available to update users of app improvements (such as app download page, Facebook page, email and more). Those will be discussed in other items.  Here we focus on “what’s new” update from within the app.
  3.  The first part of this training includes theoretical guidance. Practical guidance and examples will be included in part 2.

Why should I invest in “what’s new” in-app updates?

Whether you’ve made some meaningful server side changes (cloud based) in your app, or released an updated client version, it’s important to keep your users in the know. For that you can use a variety of communication channels. Naturally, one of the best ways is through the app itself. Why? 6 main reasons discussed below: Minimize frustration, increase satisfaction, point users to the right place, user interaction opportunity, and call for action.

  • Minimize frustration – Have you ever used an app, then suddenly, without prior notification, things have changed? Now, that’s annoying!  Users might think: “hey! Don’t you change things on my mobile device without at least letting me know”. Prior notification is a must when you change visible features (not backend stuff). It’s important to prepare your users to the changes they are about to experience. It’s also crucial to make sure they understand the value of the improvements. Right, you can use other channels (such as upgrade notification, Facebook, emails etc.) but you can never be sure whether your users got your message, especially with the new auto-updates of iOS 7. The “what’s new” in-app update solves this problem. So reason #1 is to minimize user frustration. 
  • Increase satisfaction: 
  • Updates=taking care of your app. It’s a way to tell users that you are active and investing in the app’s continuous development. It’s good to know.  Make sure to spread the rumor on all your channels including the apps itself. 
  • Updates=desired/asked-for improvements are finally here. Users will be happy to hear the news.  So, chances of them trying out and using the new features increase. 
  • Updates=things have changed. Changes rekindle curiosity. Curiosity is a usage catalyst. Did you know that initial exploration of a new app is usually characterized by sky-rocketing stats? That’s why you can never rely on usage rates recorded in the launch app phase. “Riding” on an update is your chance to rekindle curiosity and to boost usage. 
  • Point users to the right place – among the variety of your app features (core and supportive features), some are naturally more central than others. Regaining focus can be achieved in a number of ways. One good strategy is to refresh the feature you want to focus on (even just the look and feel), and then point users to it, using a feature update popup. Too much of a hassle? Not really. Not if you’ve already developed a “what’s new” screen and the feature improvement is done on the server (no client update) 
  • User interaction opportunity – users, well us, do not like to be bothered. We are rather sensitive to pop ups, aggressive selling, spam, anything that we find intrusive. The distance between what’s ok and what’s annoying change between users. You can’t always tell when you’ve gone over the limit. The “what’s new” feature is a legitimate way to communicate with the user. Even a welcomed one. So, here is a chance to push (very gently) some marketing messages and make a noise without being too annoying. The “What’s new” update is a welcomed “foot in the door”. Don’t miss this opportunity. 
  • Call for action– when you improve/change your app, you might want your users to take some sort of related action. Configure the settings of the new feature is one good example. You could use a variety of tools to ask for their attention, but a “call for action” button right there, in the app will probably be the most effective way, with the highest response rate. The optimal way to do so is to place the call for action button immediately after you’ve explained a bit about the new feature. So the “what’s new” feature can and should be a trigger for action.   

Convinced? Well, great. Knew you would. 

Move on to part 2 to learn exactly how to define the marketing requirements for a “what’s new” pop-up

Tsipi Joseph
Tsipi is one of Co-Founders, a mobile expert and a mentor. Over 10 years of experience in the mobile and marketing industry: Director of Marketing at Telmap, Comverse and marketing professional development director at the American Association of National Advertisers.
Tsipi Joseph
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