The Rising Trend of “Releasing” Old Features
We recently noticed an interesting trend that has been popping up of late: SaaS companies are re-introducing old features. More and more product companies are recycling older features and “releasing” them, with no indication that these are not new features.
This smart practice makes so much sense on so many different levels, that it’s surprising it didn’t gain traction earlier.
For starters, it’s a clever marketing move. Advertising your capabilities is one of the most efficient ways to get through to your target audience.
We in the SaaS business would like very much to believe that our work on a new feature is over once it’s released. Finito! We pop out the pink champagne and move on to the next feature. Most companies send out a release note and write a help article for the knowledgebase. That’s often the last bit of promotion that feature will receive.
But software providers are beginning to realize that’s not enough. When support representatives receive the same feature requests over and over for existing features – that means those functionalities simply aren’t visible enough to users.
UX aficionados will be quick to demonstrate how unused features are the result of poor design and bad user experience planning. But that’s not always the case. The more features a product has, the less likely it is that all of them will be known and used.
Microsoft have known this for a long time. In fact the rediscovery of hidden features in MS Office is an old hobby for technology buffs. They were re-releasing Equations and Insert Charts back when the Word doc. toolbar was all text and drop-down menus.
They’re not alone. More and more SaaS platforms are finding it necessary to bring their hidden features to the front and highlight older features. For example: Toggl, a fast growing time management platform, are dealing with the issue head-on, by writing about extremely useful features their users don’t know about.
ProdPad, a product management tool, are recycling their features on social channels. While the tweet was published in August 2017, the original feature was released in November 2016. What’s great about this tactic is that it targets not only users, but potential customers as well.
— ProdPad (@ProdPad) August 11, 2017
Another great example is Intercom, the customer messaging platform, who packaged their re-releases in a blog post, as a list. The ambitious title and highly visual content allowed for long time users to get easily acquainted with the less familiar features in the platform.
The fun really starts when you can analyze user behavior and deliver product “releases” to users according to their usage patterns. The example below is based on one of our clients’ activity on Salesforce: the training team used Iridize to identify users from a sales team who had not accessed the reports dashboard. They then created this tooltip that would pop up twice for users who clicked the Reports tab.
It’s easy to get sidetracked by new features, but software platforms must continuously familiarize their users with the older features, as well. Only this way are power users grown, users can get the maximum out of a software tool and appreciate the full capabilities of a software service.