Too many great products have flopped because of a lousy release.
After all the work their teams poured into the product, product managers often treat the launch email as an afterthought. Because they know the value of the new version inside out, they presume that users will instantly see its value too. They presume that users will be thrilled to try out this new thing. Well, that's what Cosmopolitan thought when they tried selling yogurt. And what Coors thought when they tried to sell spring water.
In reality, your users are skeptics. They're not going to just blindly try out a new product just because they're loyal customers. You have to prove that you're offering something useful.
With an effective product launch email, you can speak directly to your users and show them that you've built something they need, starting with some user onboarding best practices and continuing through the entire user journey. If you nail it, you'll not only get your users to try the new product, but you'll even re-engage users who were on the edge of churning.
Your email strategy will differ, depending on your brand, your product, and your relationship with your users. So while there's no formula for the perfect product launch email, here are twenty great examples from which you can draw inspiration.
1. Dropbox's feature upsell
A few years ago, Dropbox Pro was little to brag about. Sure, it offered 500 GB of space—half the amount of Google Drive at the time—but it was available for the steep price of $50 per month, or $500 per year.
Dropbox shocked all their users when they released their new version. 1 TB of space for $10 per month. With this drop in price, they made their product accessible to far more users. Specifically, it became an enticing offer to more users who were on the free plan. Here's the email they used to promote the launch of the now bigger and cheaper Dropbox Pro.
This is the product launch email that Dropbox sent to non-Pro customers. But the most effective strategy isn't obvious just from looking at the email. The new Dropbox Pro and pricing plan was released in August, this email was sent in November. Yes, it's not the first. Dropbox capitalizes on the opportunity to upsell to its free users even months after feature release.
2. Evernote's antidote to the 5% problem
Recently, Evernote's infamous 5% problem has shown to be the company's greatest weakness. Their product has so many features that many people use only 5% of what Evernote offers. The catch is that it's always a different 5%. This makes it difficult for Evernote to maintain a core identity and advertise a unified goal to all their customers.
Evernote has taken this problem and turned it into a winning feature. Instead of trying to be everything to everybody, they're releasing features that work together for specific use-cases of the product. Take a look at this product release email for Evernote's Reminders.
In their release email, Evernote doesn't just advertise the three feature releases, they advertise a workflow that ties the three features together. If all their users integrate this into how they're using Evernote, it'll be a great step towards solving their 5% problem.
3. LinkedIn's less-is-more approach
LinkedIn's online platform offers users a ton of options. You can keep up with your old colleagues, network, find sales prospects, research clients, and look for jobs. Instead of using a ton of manpower and spending a fortune on development to create a bloated app, LinkedIn opted for something much simpler.
They took one of the most popular features of their site—job seeking—and built an entire app around that. Here's their product release email.
LinkedIn knew that job seeking is normally an excruciatingly difficult process, so they emphasized the importance of simplicity in a job app. With their value prop in the first line, the rest of the message uses visuals to prove that applying for a job couldn't be easier.
65% of people are visual learners, and illustrations can help get them to hit the ground running and spare you quite a bit of trouble in the feature onboarding process.
4. Quip's focus on the problem
Quip is a collaborative writing app that keeps all your team's documents in one place. But as people have found their checklist and spreadsheet features more and more useful, the need for a separate personal account became apparent. After all, you don't want your dog grooming appointments in the same account as your company's June accounting spreadsheet.
Quip's app doesn't offer users a lot of fancy editing options because their mission is to make writing and sharing as intuitive as possible. Similarly, their feature launch doesn't focus on the nitty-gritty details of the new product, but rather focuses on the problem that the product solves.
Quip's marketing focuses on their customers' issues, instead of bragging about their new features. This makes their users feel like Quip is focused on them, rather than shamelessly self-promoting a new product.
5. Via's call to New Yorkers
Via is a New York-based ride-sharing app that came on the scene a few years ago. For five dollars and some change, you can get anywhere in Manhattan by sharing a ride with people looking to go to the same place. Because of its geographic restrictions, Via is lucky to have a very specific target audience to whom they can speak with directly in their email outreach.
When they sent their feature update email, they made sure to include plenty of details that are specific to their users.
Not only did they make it seasonally appropriate with mentions of the holiday weekend, but they colored it with detail from the reader's city. A New York user can relate to the frustration of having to sit through traffic when they could've been taking the FDR highway.
By adding in details from the users' life, Via is taking advantage of what's known in psychology as the familiarity principle. Basically, people have a natural preference for places and titles that they've been around. So when they hear familiar highway names, they feel like the advertisement is speaking directly to them.
6. CloudApp's tutorial
CloudApp is a product that lets you take screenshots and recordings, and then share them with a team. When they updated their product to include an annotating feature, they faced two issues: 1) annotating doesn't sound all that exciting, and 2) many screenshot apps have overly complicated editing features that users never take advantage of.
CloudApp was able to address both these issue with this simple email.
This launch announcement is short, but it definitely packs a punch. By sending a gif, CloudApp shows that their new feature is both easy to use, and has practical purposes. Not to mention they're using their own technology to create this eye-catching tutorial, subtly advertising another one of their product offerings.
7. Buffer's radical transparency
Buffer is a social media management platform, but it offers its users much more than just an app. They've created a community hub for marketers and are known for their killer marketing advice. By being totally transparent, they're also able to communicate with their users in a fairly intimate way.
Their no-frills product announcements read as a personal email.
Not only does this email, free of fancy graphics and imagery, come across as personal, it also comes across as genuine. By including a transparent disclaimer about the limits of the new feature—highlighted in yellow— Buffer is setting realistic expectations for the new users.
8. Campaign Monitor leads by example
Campaign Monitor is an email marketing tool that helps marketers easily create eye-catching email campaigns. As a company that promises to improve email design, they have high expectations to meet with every single one of their own email outreaches.
By dogfooding, Campaign Monitor can show rather than tell about their new product launch. They use their new editing capabilities to put together their email so that the screenshot can speak for itself.
While this certainly interests users who are already taking advantage of all Campaign Monitor's features, it accomplishes an even greater task of reminding users why they signed up in the first place. This product release email effectively shows the application of Campaign Monitor at its best.
9. Groove's personal three-line message
Like Atlassian, helpdesk platform Groove also has a customer-centric product development process. They keep track of every feature request in a Trello board, and once they have enough requests, they build it.
When it comes to announcing Groove's new products, they go the extra mile and make sure to personally reach out to each user who put in a request. Here's an example of a typical Groove product announcement.
The Groove team keeps a log of the people who requested the feature, and once it's launched, the head of their customer happiness team writes a personal note to let them know that the feature was built with them in mind.
On the surface, this product launch lacks many aspects of a typical product launch email—no call-to-action, no feature details, not even a sign-off. But the email is successful because it targets the users that Groove knows are interested, so they don't have to rely on marketing tactics to spark interest.
10. Canva's exclusivity
Canva is a design-made-simple platform for marketers. Their core value revolves around opening up the design world to more people. So when they launched their new iPhone app, they were sure to emphasize the benefits of joining the Canva team.
Their email treats users like they're on the in with the Canva design team.
Everyone wants to be the first of their friends to discover a new product, to test the waters for a new technology. That's why people wait in long lines at the Apple store for a product they could easily get a few weeks later. Canva highlights the fact that Canva web users get first dibs on the new product.
11. ProdPad's official launch
Many of the launch emails on this list find sneaky and subtle ways to intrigue users into getting back into their apps, but sometimes cracking open the champagne can work just as well. ProdPad has developed a particular style in its emails—using emojis in subject lines and a peppy selection of links and updates in the body.
ProdPad's firework style works for this launch email because the scale of the update warrants the fuss. It's an all-new version of the product management tool. It shows users that there's a buzz about this new version, by showcasing some of the positive feedback the app has received in the week since it's been live.
ProdPad doubled down on this strategy by pairing their launch email with an in-app announcement too. They were able to hit active users and less active users with both email and in-product announcements.
12. Chubbies' “more to come” email
Chubbies is a shorts brand that is defining itself with witty content, viral videos, and community creation. The brand's mission is to start a “weekend revolution,” so with every interaction Chubbies makes with customers, they have to live up to this carpe diem mentality.
In this email to email subscribers, Chubbies introduces its new swim suits with typical flair, adding a sneaky first person aside (“Hot damn I love my job”) for a personal touch.
But the main reason this email is so effective is that it splits the launch up into installments. Chubbies announces that they will release new styles “EVERY. SINGLE. THURSDAY.” That's not to give Chubbies more time to organize their new line, it means that the customer needs to stay tuned and check back in to see new styles. By rationing the release out like this, Chubbies turns the new shorts into a rarer commodity. Customers are more likely to open subsequent emails, revisit the Chubbies website, and stay engaged on social media.
13. Upthere's bite-size value proposition
Upthere is a cloud storage service that allows you to store, organize, and share all your photos, videos, music and documents with friends and colleagues. Because the crucial core action of Upthere is sharing it with others, the company has dedicated its engineering energy to creating a referral program.
The email works because it succinctly expresses its purpose, and makes it super easy for the user to take action and claim their reward. “Invite friends, get free Upthere,” promises its header. A brief explanation of what both parties have to do to get their rewards follows, and the email is wrapped up with a bold CTA button to give readers the chance to get their value at a single click.
14. Coinbase's curiosity builder
Coinbase is a platform for selling and buying digital currencies, like bitcoin and ethereum. In November 2016, Coinbase unveiled a redesign of its website, but it was more than just an aesthetic update—in fact, Coinbase was redefining its whole offering, becoming a “fully-fledged digital asset platform.”
This email does a great job of drawing users back into Coinbase, because they're not just selling a new dashboard or a faster page, they're presenting a whole new experience that existing users can take advantage of. They've turned from a “simple bitcoin wallet” into a complete platform, with many facets and new tools. In order to really understand what a “brand new buy/sell experience” is like, the user pretty much has to log back in and explore.
15. Adobe's trial reset
Adobe's Creative Cloud has a suite of apps for individuals and creative professionals. At a high price point, Creative Cloud has a lot of free trial users who don't quite get to the conversion stage.
Adobe uses this email to share the news about feature updates that may change the mind of some churned users. Adobe reached out to users who had signed up for a free trial but hadn't proceeded to subscription, offering a reset of the trial period and giving users a chance to try out the new stuff without any further commitment.
Knowing that its target audience needs to be sold quickly, Adobe focuses the email only on the most relevant information. The first, bolded line focuses completely on what the user can get out of the update while the rest of the email body goes on to give the user all the links and instructions she needs to take advantage of the offer.
16. Customer.io's social proof
Customer.io is a messaging platform, helping users send targeted, triggered emails to customers. In August of 2016, Customer.io announced its new “Actions” feature, which enables users to integrate Customer.io with public APIs, meaning that actions in other tools like Slack or Trello can trigger actions in Customer.io and vice versa.
This launch email leverages the social aspect of Customer.io.
- First the email copy starts off by conjuring the scale of the community—“Over 900 businesses” are using the tool for their email.
- Second, users are invited to register for a real, live event. Yes, it's a webinar, but with a registration link, start time, and timezone, it represents a limited-time opportunity.
- For a third social hit, the email closes with a testimonial from a CEO excited to start using the new feature.
For customers who have been using the mailing tool in a particular routine, and within their own work silos, this email introduces a whole world of connections, giving them the inspiration to use it in a new way.
17. Atlassian's “we heard you”
Atlassian offers a suite of tools for team collaboration. One of these tools is JIRA, which provides service desk software that companies can set up and make their own to serve their customers. After getting feedback from users, Atlassian knew the feature needed some additions.
Atlassian shows off its customer-centric focus with this email. “We listened to your feedback,” it begins, and goes on to describe the new features—grouping customers, customizing emails, and letting customers control the status of tickets.
If you're a JIRA user who has churned because the tool lacked one of these features, this gives specific motivation for re-engaging. The offer of a free trial and a “learn more” CTA then drives any remaining on-the-fence users back into the product to see what they're missing.
18. Calm's by-the-way update
Calm is a meditation app. It has free users and paid subscribers and often uses email to try and bridge that gap.
In this email, Calm invites its free users into a perk of the paid subscription, the Daily Calm. The email announces the free gift right off the bat to intrigue readers. Now that they've got the users' attention, they announce a new feature launch, a “much-requested” walking meditation, showing that they've listened to users' feedback and requests, and are dedicating their product development to new features users actually want.
A product launch doesn't always have to be front and center of your email. By announcing this new feature that users have asked for, even down in the body of the email, Calm makes their app seem like an ever-changing, customer-centric collection of features, an experience users should subscribe to long-term and not just because of this one-off update.
19. Chase’s rule of three
So much goes into a new app that it can be tempting for companies to describe every nut and bolt in their launch email. But Chase shows that focusing on an update’s top 3 features or benefits makes the message clearer and is inherently more convincing than a long list.
Human psychology shows that when things (especially pieces of language) are arranged in sets of three, they’re naturally more satisfying to the ear and more memorable. The “Rule of Three” is especially useful for banking apps, which depend on customers' trust for their success. If a financial app is confusing or overcomplicated for a second, customers will begin to distrust it. So Chase utilizes a three-part value proposition here, checking off the qualities of saving time, managing spending, and protecting payments.
20. Pacemaker 2.0’s personal invitation
Reaching out with personal invitations is a great way to get users committed to trying out your new product. For Pacemaker 2.0, a “DJ app” that lets users take songs from Spotify and make mix tapes for their friends, an invited beta trial allowed them to stand out from Spotify and lay the groundwork for quality feedback.
Pacemaker sent this message only to people who had expressed interest in Pacemaker. Either they’d used the original product or they’d exchanged their email for more information at some point. Building on this established interest, Pacemaker's community manager makes it super simple for invitees to reply and also adds an element of urgency, to further convince users that they're getting an exclusive deal.
The common thread
The element that all these emails have in common isn't apparent at first glance. It's not the copy, or the tone, or even the call-to-action. In fact, it's not visual at all.
Every single one of these companies knows its user base and is able to address them directly. Whether that's through a personal email, like the one Groove sends out, or the quirky, well-designed email that Chubbies sends. Put some thought into your product launch email following some of these user onboarding best practices, so that you don't squander this great opportunity to further connect with your users and get them more engaged with your product.