We went to PH three times - in October 2018, August 2019 and October 2019. The first two times gave us good results, and the other actually failed. So we have a bit of understanding and something to compare with.
There are already a lot of instructions and checklists for launching on Product Hunt on the Internet, which we were guided by ourselves. You definitely need to read the Product Hunt guide itself. It is important to take into account that in 2017 the administration denied several myths about its algorithms, and the functions of the system are periodically changed. Therefore, filter information in old publications: not everything is already relevant.
We recommend the articles by Ruslan Nazarenko: “ 11 tips from Pibox ” and “ Why I no longer display products on Product Hunt ”. Ruslan advised us before the first launch and gave us a lot of useful information.
But more on that below. And first ...
Who needs and doesn't need Product Hunt
Product Hunt is a Mecca for startups: a huge audience of the site (about 5 million on SimilarWeb), 400 thousand followers on Twitter, 224 thousand on Facebook and 30 thousand on Instagram, “several hundred thousand” email subscribers.
Every day, the main pain features from a couple of dozen to two hundred launches. Everyday with the Newest, on average 10-20 posts go to Popular.
When does it make little sense to launch your product here? If you have a local business or a specialised niche product for a small audience. The site is not suitable for private solutions and problems faced by a small number of people.
It is important to consider the particular Product Hunt fit of your product. On the one hand, Stripo is an email builder, and email marketing is done by everyone. On the other hand, 10 paid templates got a lot more votes than we did in two launches. Our “fit” is not that good, people are still looking for innovation, fun products or something simpler there.
Many launches of Apple, Google, Microsoft products remain outside the top 5 of the day, because they do not receive support and simply do not surprise (like Pixel 3). Therefore, “good product” is not equal to “good product for PH”.
The second factor that influences “needed / not needed” is goals.
Why launch on Product Hunt
It is important to understand that PH is a huge community of geeks, mainly from the USA, and the site itself is considered one of the most cited in foreign media.
The main reason for launching may be the prospect of getting a lot of traffic and reviews about your product. That being said, don't count on a huge number of paying users: Product Hunt's audience loves testing new things, not buying them.
In case of a successful launch, you get not only traffic, but also the opportunity to publish your promotional material in the media, to receive the “Product of the Day / Week” achievement. And, importantly, quite useful pages in the top of Google.
For example, Product Hunt is in the top 3 for some of our competitors, namely the Alternatives section. When we collected 500+ vouts, we became the first alternative to these competitors, getting very pleasant traffic for us.
For each company, the reason will be different, but in general it is always an increase in brand awareness and achievement “won PH”.
The first time we were preparing for PH for over a month. Yes, we were engaged in other tasks at this time, but still the preparation was very protracted and quite fundamental.
What was included in it:
- Describe what content to prepare for the post, and prepare it (descriptions, screenshots, pictures, and so on). It took us a lot of time to make the video. We made it ourselves, in-house, for the first time. And it came out pretty cool: we were asked more than once after that the contacts of our contractors for installation, although it was our staff member with no experience.
- Prepare PR materials for the press and social networks.
- Prepare user bases to support the launch and write reviews for friends.
- Collect a list of channels, groups and other places where you can ask for support on PH on the day of launch, and first get into these groups.
- Write a list of standard answers and a FAQ.
- Collect a list of collections your product is suitable for, and contacts of authors. Make a schedule. Write a letter; in it, clarify why the creator would add you to the collection.
- Collect a list of all the questions in the Ask section that you need to get into. We saved them in one table for later processing and mentioning our product as a suitable solution for the user's question.
A little more detail ...
What materials to prepare for launch
The publication on RN looks like this:
What to write and prepare in advance?
- The title is just a title, no descriptions, emoji or links.
- Tagline - what your product does, up to 60 characters. Only specifics!
- Links to the website, App Store, Google Play, social networks. It is also better to collect them in advance. You can also launch with a link to the same domain. During launch, we were unable to publish the product with the stripo.email link because someone had already done this before us. That's why we posted stripo.email/en - which is actually the same thing.
- Makers : Links to profiles of people who helped create the product. First, they help to mark the team and give a share of recognition to everyone involved. Secondly, makers' followers receive notifications on launch day.
- Makers : Commentary texts from all makers. In them you can tell about the development of the product by each of the creators: what did you want to achieve, what did you do for this; ask users for feedback.
- Avatar : 240x240, static picture or gif. It can be a visualisation of the product's work, or a logo - any format to grab the user's attention. You can make several avatars for the test: they change throughout the day and are compared according to the increase in organic votes.
- Gallery : promo video and screenshots of the interface. At least two files. Videos are uploaded via a YouTube link, always appear first, and are automatically included when you open a product card. Screenshots - from visually catchy, interesting pages that motivate users to try your product. PH recommends adding at least one tweetable picture / GIF (2: 1) that looks good on Twitter.
- Description : a couple of phrases that will be shown below the gallery.
- Topics : the most popular products usually have up to four, on average, two or three topics. Theme choices can affect launch results, according to ThinkNum, so be careful when choosing a theme.
- Founder's comment is the first comment to be posted immediately below the post. Describe yourself, your team in it, detail the problem to be solved, advantages, values, methods and situations of use, links to mentions.
What materials to prepare for promotion and support
1. Texts for posts in social networks: the first post, posts for groups with a request for support, a post about the first 100 upvotes, a post about leading positions, a thank you post.
2. Press release for those who are ready to write about your launch (several is better). They are much more willing to help. We did not have enough time to negotiate with the editorial offices, so this must be done in advance and with the editorial offices with which you have already worked.
3. Questions and answers for friends who will support your launch.
4. Review for friends who will be willing to support.
5. Collect quick responses for Twitter users who will mention you.
6. Several standard responses to complimentary comments so that all your remarks do not boil down to "thank you, name". Ideally, comments should develop dialogue to increase engagement - chances are this has a positive impact on ranking.
How to get support
- Set up a push message in Intercom (there is integration) or any other chat you use.
- Consider placing a welcome bar and script with a Product Hunt button. We made such a panel for the second launch (instead of push messages). It didn’t really work for us, although it’s a frequent piece of advice in PH guides.
- Collect contacts of friends who are ready to support you on launch day. Please note that to vote, a person must have a pumped-up (!) Account: new registrations do not positively affect the rating. We saved all contacts in a table for planning.
- Collect a list of groups in which people are willing to support each other's launches (Slack, Facebook, Twitter). Add to them before launching: some of the groups are in our table at the end of the article. In general, there are tens and hundreds of such groups.
- Build a mailing base. We made a mailing list for those who gave us an NPS higher than 8 (and this is almost everyone who gave a rating), and first sent a mailing list for them, then across the entire database.
Also, articles often suggest asking for support from employees. There are three nuances with this:
- New users have little voice value. To increase its "weight", you need to upgrade your account. It is difficult to organise everyone here, so that employees register, fill out profiles, be active... But this could potentially give a little support at the start.
- A dramatic influx of votes from one IP will look suspicious and can do more harm than good. So if you use your own voices, prepare a schedule. Both times we were # 1 while we had support. As soon as it ended, we slipped down due to the poor distribution of support votes.
- The more cheating, the more blurry the effect will be. If your task is to attract new users and assess the real interest in the product, winding up extra votes will not help achieve it.
Run by yourself or through a hunter
A frequent recommendation in the ROP instructions is to collect a list of hunters you would like to start with.
We launched ourselves and consider it quite normal.
We even analysed which hunters helped launch our competitors and how this affected the launch. And according to our observations, in the last two years it hasn't mattered. By launching yourself, you get full control over the launch and do not depend on the hunter's free time. It's not a rare case when a top hunter forgot to publish some of your screenshots, published them in the wrong order, at the wrong time, and so on.
We also collected all the media and bloggers who wrote about launches of similar products, and selected those that were interesting to Stripo.email.
Seems complicated, but. In the third launch, we promoted free email templates for the upcoming Halloween - and decided to do it on our own, without meticulous planning and support from a familiar audience. We failed: we got few votes and didn't make it to the main page.
Why did it happen? This is a potentially powerful product: it is easy to use, it is visually attractive, and it is time-relevant. Usually such content should collect a lot of votes. It is often said that good products do not have to ask for help, they will be voted for. Logically - yes, in fact - not quite.
Planned help helps other people see your good product. And then already vote for him. Therefore, do not neglect the opportunity to tell about the launch to your subscribers in social networks, email-base, site visitors, just friends. But do it with a plan and schedule.
And just as importantly: link directly to your product, not your homepage. Don't make users themselves search for you among all the posts of the day!
How to schedule a launch
1. Launch day . Usually hunters do not recommend launching on Friday and weekends because user activity is lower. Tuesday is considered a competitive day. But our second launch was on Friday - and it was a success. The advantage of this launch is that you get into the mailing list on Monday, it comes with weekend and Friday projects, and it has a lot more reach.
2. Start time . On PH, a new day starts at 00:00 New York time, it's 9:00 am UTC + 2. We advise you to start just at 01:00, that is, at 10 in the morning. This is unconfirmed information, but earlier there were rumors that the first 15 minutes of moderation was automatic and it was easier to get to the main page. In any case, you will have 24 hours to promote, not half a day. Although when we launched once, Github appeared on the main page only at 19 in our time, but confidently bypassed us and pushed us out of the top five to the sixth position.
3. Planning . Make a step-by-step to-do list and checklist; clearly write down what is published and in what order, on which platforms, check if the content is ready for each of them. On launch day, you will have to constantly monitor the Internet and respond to comments: decide who will do it during the day, who will do it in the evening, who can communicate at night, when it will be day in the United States. Be sure to plan your promotion assistance: it should be plus or minus evenly and organically distributed throughout the day. A sharp surge in votes (if then the excitement does not continue, but quickly falls and passes) can worsen the ranking.
What tables did we prepare for launch
Tables can save you quite a lot of time: we have already collected collections, support groups and much more in them.
- Hunters - a list of hunters.
- Collections - Collections that Stripo could have gotten into.
- Schedule - a step-by-step list of tasks on the day of launch.
- Instruction for friends - instructions on how to vote for friends.
- Contacts for votes (friends) - a list of friends whom we asked to support us.
- Places for publications - Social media groups and publishing sites.
- Recommendations (ASKs) - PH questions where we could recommend Stripo.
- Competitors research - research of competitors on the launch vehicle.
- Media - links to publications that write about launches.
- Popular community members - pages of popular users within the community.
It is assumed that on the day of launch, you have everything ready and have a step-by-step plan, so the main thing here is to adhere to it, promptly respond to all events and be constantly in touch. The last point is especially true for Twitter. This is the main source of traffic for Product Hunt, so it is important to work as well as possible with this site on launch day. And then continue to monitor it, since after successful launches the discussions don't subside soon.
Once our friends from the Ukrainian project scored as many vouts (even a little more!) As we did, but they did it faster. At the same time, we reached the top 5, while they stayed 15-16. And this is an important insight into the first launch: if you ask for support, distribute it evenly. Votes rise too quickly may look odd and affect the results.
Both of our successful launches - in November 2018 and August 2019 - received almost the same number of votes, but the first launch brought us three times more traffic, almost all paid subscriptions that came from all launches, and a lot more registrations.
At the same time, for the second time, we still entered the top 5, received a badge and collected more feedback. After that, we realized that much less time could be spent on preparation. The main thing is to follow the basic rules and not bother too much.
In total, more than 4300 came to the site from the RN and about 1000 registrations were made. This is much less than we expected, but this channel continues to give registrations every month. Since its last launch, it brought in 17 paid subscriptions (which fully recouped the launch costs), and we've gotten great feedback from new and existing users.
- Product Hunt should not be regarded as an opportunity to get a one-time traffic flow to the site. This is a community with which it is worth building relationships and working on the recognition of your product in the future. Then you can really get the result.
- Not every product is suitable for a Product Hunt audience. You can make a very cool niche SaaS, but the Christmas GIF set will get around you.
- Ask the community for feedback. It will help you refine the idea, fix bugs and improve product performance based on constant feedback from users.
- If all the voices and comments are from friends, you will not understand the real response from the audience. In this case, there is no point in planning a re-launch, since you will again collect comments from the same people and receive the same upvotes.
- Be active on social media: Twitter, Reddit, Quora, Facebook, PH itself. Track mentions of your company, respond to comments, get involved in discussions - give people a reason to remember you, give feedback, and maybe come back to you and become a user of the product.
- The schedule is the most important. If you have thousands of friends ready to support you, plan to send you a vote throughout the day. Don't expect Millions of traffic from PH, Business Insider mentions, or even a return on startup time. Product Hunt is changing - and it's not the same site that it used to be.
Ruslan is the Chief Marketing Officer at Stripo.email, a Ukranian startup on the mission to "Make every email beautiful and anticipated". Strip provides a Drag-n-Drop and HTML email template builder which helps create professional and responsive email templates fast without any HTML skills.