Keeping your customers up to date is a part of running a business. It probably is one of the most important. If you're building a SaaS product, it helps to start this process as early as possible, even before you launch.
Here are a few scenarios when you have to update your customers:
Before you even launch your product, it's good to have an email list of potential customers. Once you have this list, it's crucial to keep in touch. People get lots of emails. They've probably signed up to numerous newsletters, and if you don't email them regularly, they'll forget you. They will forget why they signed up on your website. If you're following or participating in the #buildinpublic movement, you're already doing this right. Building in public is like planting a tree. The best time to start was before you started building. The second best time to start is now. Go the extra mile and email your list too.
Once you have built your minimum viable product, let your customers know that they can try it out. Depending on your product, you can use several different strategies for this scenario:
Test the product within your company and a small group of existing customers. This stage is usually called the alpha testing stage. It will let you test your product in a controlled environment and fix the top issues in your product.
Limit the number of users who can access your product. It allows you to test your product with a small but intimate group of early adopters and is called the closed beta. It tests your product against some real-world use cases and lets you gather feedback for improvements. You can control who has access with invite codes. As you improve your product, you can gradually let more people use it. Clubhouse and Polywork are great examples of this stage.
Open up access to your product, but let your users know that you're still testing. This stage is the open beta stage. It is the closest you will get to real-world usage. The goal is to get a lot more feedback and get your product ready for launch.
This one is pretty obvious. Let your users know that your product is well-tested and ready for them to use for their work. If you're launching on platforms like Product Hunt, feel free to ask them to check out the post and show you some love. If they're happy users, they'll love to talk about your product.
Keeping your customers up-to-date is an ongoing process. Building new features and fixing bugs never stop. It's important to tell your customers what you've updated as you're updating.
Involving your customers in product and feature decisions is also a crucial step in your product lifecycle. Keep a public roadmap, and let your users contribute to it. Tell them what features you're picking up next, what challenges you're facing, and even what you won't be picking up. In the end, it's your product. You should not feel compelled to submit to every whim your customers have. When you're saying no, tell your customers why you made that decision. They'll respect you for your honesty. Customers often think they want a feature, but the real solution to their problem would be something different. Instead of building the feature, you have to find the most effective solution. A good guide on how to talk to customers about your product is The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick.
Let's say you released a major feature that your customers have been asking for. It's good to send an email and update your changelog. You can also use in-app banners to nudge your customers to start using the new feature. You could also use in-app banners to inform them about conferences or events you're organizing.
These are just some examples. Talking to customers is the single most effective way to grow your business, and updates are a crucial part of it. Herald can help you with all of these scenarios with features that include waitlist management, changelogs, and in-app banners.