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My team and I need a more effective way to communicate important announcements to our users about the web app they use. The announcements contain information about new features and actions within the app users should take to be more successful.

We currently send out email newsletters on a weekly basis. They get a 30% open rate. We've tried making the emails more succinct, changing the subject line, etc with little success.

We also show announcements within the app. The problem is users only need to access the app as-needed. Most users only use the app on a bi-weekly or monthly basis, so they miss some of the announcements. The obvious solution would be to increase engagement with the app, but this is difficult because users simply don't have a need to use the app on a frequent basis.

Are there other ways to communicate announcements effectively?

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    I suspect that a good percentage of your users aren't interested in learning new features and actions. Lots of people just want to use their software the way they've always used it. – Ken Mohnkern Mar 28 '17 at 15:53
  • One thing I should have mentioned is that this is an enterprise app, and users who do not use the app to its full potential may lose revenue or incur disciplinary action by their superiors. So it is in their own best interest to learn new features and actions. – user50599 Mar 28 '17 at 16:59
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By the look of it you did good job how you communicate with your users using email, and you tried various methods to attract more attention.

Saying that you do not mention you user base specifics. I could only assume what could be the issue here, and try to suggest some of the best practices.

One of the factors to consider is value to the end user.

  • Is information useful or overwhelming?
  • Are you re-connecting with the real user, making it personal and engaging, human like?
  • Is "Important announcements" equals to release notes? If so, if your app designed well - users should be able to figure out and use it without any training. If that's not the case, perhaps it's worth revisiting and adjusting design with users in mind.

Most users only use the app on a bi-weekly or monthly basis, so they miss some of the announcements.

Based on the above I could only suggest looking into passive notification, if it course possible to implement.

Passive notifications are informational; they report a system occurrence that does not require any user action. Many notifications in mobile apps are passive: they usually announce an event of potential interest to the user.

  • Passive notifications are typically not urgent and should be less intrusive.
  • A typical implementation of a passive notification may be a badge icon or a small nonmodal popover in a corner of a screen.
  • Passive notifications can easily be missed, since they require no user action.

When the information provided by the notification is key to the understanding of the system, an easy-to-ignore passive notification can be problematic.

enter image description here

Notifications have the design challenge that they are not the immediate and obvious result of a specific user action. On the contrary, the user is likely in the middle of doing something different and may not be thinking about the issue raised by the notification. This requires notifications to establish more context and provide users with sufficient background information to understand what the notification is about.

If a notification is contextual and relates to a specific element in the interface, an icon indicator on the element can communicate where that notification applies and catch the user’s attention. For instance, an indicator badge on a mobile-app icon shows that the user has received a notification from the corresponding app.

enter image description here

Mint.com used an indicator together with a notification to communicate that an account needed attention. The warning indicator (1) appeared in close proximity to the summary of the account that needed attention, while the notification (2) appeared in the central area of the page with other important information. The actual text in the notification message could have been more helpful, though.

https://www.nngroup.com/articles/indicators-validations-notifications/

Also, I would suggest looking into how slack operates they notes.

Why they’re important to us, and how we approach the writing of them at Slack

Few interesting ideas and suggestions which might be useful.

https://slackhq.com/a-little-thing-about-release-notes-997d2e06842d

  • Thanks for the response. I should mention that this is an enterprise web app, and users who do not use the app to its full potential may lose revenue or incur disciplinary action by their superiors. So it is in their own best interest to learn new features and actions. I'm not sure how helpful passive notifications (or in-app notifications in general) would be if users aren't engaging with the app often enough to see them. It seems like like email, texts, or some other channel would be more effective, but it's hard to say. – user50599 Mar 28 '17 at 18:34
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    Right, I see. Perhaps using urgency message would encourage users to start paying attention a little bit more. This is very common technique which is used inside ecommerce websites/apps. Perhaps with time users could be trained to care about those messages. Why use urgency? It's a useful tactic, as it forces customers to come to a faster decision about a purchase (in your case lose of revenue or disciplinary action). If they were planning to go away and think about, a message about low stock levels might change their minds. – Mindaugas Vaiciulis Mar 28 '17 at 19:38

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