We recently launched our SaaS offering Shipright on Product Hunt. Obviously, we did a bit of research to increase the odds of having a successful launch. I encountered a couple dozen articles with elaborate stories of success/failure. Valuable, but it took me some time to comb through. Eventually you’re just looking for the answers to your questions and the actionable tips, right?
Therefore; I decided to create a list answering most of the questions you might have for your Product Hunt launch in more of a Q&A style / a bulleted list of actionable tips. With the help of the following makers that ended up in the top 5 of the day on Product Hunt as well, I tried to make it as all-encompassing as possible. So feel free to say hi and thank Fletcher from Halp, Joe from NuCode, Sammy from Lito, and Peter (several projects, check his profile) as well 🙌
If you’re curious about how we did with Shipright, and how we could have done better, read the end of this post.
Since you’re here for the list, here we go — feel free to cmd + F to search through it:
What’s Product Hunt?
You most likely wouldn’t have jumped into this article if you hadn’t heard of Product Hunt. Let’s skip this one 😉
**How useful is launching on Product Hunt?**Before diving to all of the prep-work, ask yourself who your target audience is, and whether that fits the Product Hunt audience (typically techies, product enthusiasts, founders, investors, reporters, engineers, designers, marketers and early adopters from small startups to fortune 500 companies).
If that’s a fit, give it a go. Think about your goals though. E.g. Do you mainly want to learn fast about your problem/solution? Or have you already validated crucial parts of your business, and you’re mainly looking for a spark in traction and customers? Get the expectations right.
**Is my product ready? I’m afraid I’m launching too early…**That’s how everyone feels. And as Reid Hofmann said:
‘If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late’.
Know that you can always re-submit and launch again. Either because you’ve overhauled a huge part, or because you’re introducing substantial additions –that’s what the Product Hunt FAQ said. They give you two examples: “the launch of a mobile app” or “complete product redesign with new functionality.”
After all, a lot of companies use Product Hunt to introduce major updates / new features on the platform, so you can too.
What can I expect from a Product Hunt Launch?
**Is my product good enough to be on Product Hunt?**If you care about learning fast on whether a product or idea might work for a set of people: the answer is almost always yes (given that your target audience is present). Carefully track for whom the solution works and for whom it doesn’t though, so you’ll learn more about your exact target user.
If you’re looking for traction/customers; you obviously increase your odds of success by validating parts of your business upfront (e.g. do cold outreach to your assumed target audience and see whether the problem/solution resonates. Let them use it. See if they convert/keep using it. You know the drill.).
A few things to keep in mind regarding the product you’ll launch:
_Have a simple offering_An easy-to-understand value prop. and product. If things looks good and the branding is on-point, this definitely helps to get attention. It doesn’t say a whole lot about whether your product will be successful though.
_Have solid onboarding_What’s the primary value users get from your product? Make it clear and lead them to it. Tip: think it through as a core part of your product, don’t see it as an ‘after-the-fact’ thingy. Read this.
_Have tracking in place_Make sure you track user behavior (e.g. use Mixpanel), and have a way of tracking all the qualitative product feedback. It’ll help you evaluate and learn from your launch.
**Does it matter who’s ‘hunting’ my product?**Kind of. Product Hunt seems to take a lot of things into account when ranking products. The advantage of an influential Product Hunt user hunting your product is that all of his/her followers will get a notification on the platform. This will provide you with more exposure.
In some articles it’s also said that when influential hunters hunt your product, they end up on the front page of Product Hunt straight away (which is crucial, because no presence on the homepage = no upvotes = no eyeballs = no signups = nothing to learn from). I’m unsure on whether that’s actually true…
Who’s a suitable Hunter for my product?
**How do I find my Hunter?**Use this list (top 500 hunters) to find a top 5 to reach out to. Don’t spam them with a vanilla message. Make it personal and follow up a few times if they don’t respond (they probably have a lot of other things on their plate). If Chris Messina is a match for you: ask him to hunt you right here.
💡_Tip_: use a tool like Hubspot or anything else that allows you to use e-mail templates and sequences, so follow-ups can be scheduled and will go out automatically (there are also a bunch of Chrome extensions that let you that with Gmail).
**When do I contact these potential hunters?**Get in touch with a few hunters at least 1 month before you’re planning to launch to gauge interest. If they agree, follow up two weeks before your launch with the necessary info. Confirm whether they’ve scheduled your product a few days before.
**What do I need for the Product Hunt post itself?**This (use it as a template, if you like). You can share something like that with your hunter as well. Use something like Dropbox Paper / Google Docs to share the post details (like the example) and add a link to a Dropbox / Google Drive folder for your assets. It’ll allow you to tweak things later on without the hassle of sending your hunter new assets/info.
You’ll find some additional tips within the template that I linked up as well.
**Do I need an audience before my launch?**I suggest you do. The main reason(s):
**How do I build an audience before my launch?**This can be a post all by itself. We mostly did cold outreach and a bunch of surveys to learn about our problem space and then re-connect to test (parts of) a solution(s). This allowed us to build up a first user/customer-base, learn things (what works/doesn’t work), and have an audience to reach out to for our launch.
It basically comes down to evaluating all the possible channels that you’d use to build a more sustainable customer acquisition strategy for your business anyway. Use Julian Shapiro’s guide on evaluating these channels (based on your type of business/product), it’s amazing.
What channels and means can I use to promote my Product Hunt post on launch day?
A lot. Make sure you prep and pre-schedule most of it upfront (and add the exact Product Hunt post URL to it on launch day), and/or create a promo schedule for things you have to do on the day itself.
Use Facebook groups. Request access & connect way before your launchA few you can use (depends on your product, obviously):Keep an eye on the rules for each of these groups. It isn’t allowed to share ‘promotional’ content in every group.
Use LinkedIn groups. Request access & connect way before your launchA few you can use (depends on your product, obviously):Keep an eye on the rules for each of these groups. It isn’t allowed to share ‘promotional’ content in every group.
👆Pre-defined Tweet with a single click, after sign-up
💡 Additional tips:
**What day and time should I launch on Product Hunt?**From what I’ve read in multiple articles: Tuesday, and Wednesday work best. We’ve heard Thursday as well. More important is: don’t launch when Apple, Google, or any other huge company launches something new. Double check it.
Time to post: it’s best to post 12:01AM PST. If you’re located in Europe, or get a lot of support from folks in Europe e.g., this will give you head-start. You’ll be higher up the list before people in the US start to wake up and are ready to take a peek.
What should my schedule look like on launch day?
💡 Additional tips:
**What happens after launch-day?**You’ll still get quite a bit of traffic after day one. This lasts about a week. It’s important to keep a close eye on your users and support them where needed. While connecting, try to solicit some feedback by asking how they like your product. What are the likes and dislikes? What are they missing? Does the product live up to their expectations? Why/why not?
💡 Additional tips:
Double checked our sign up flowWe had experienced a bot continuously signing up for Shipright just a few days before launch. We quickly added a reCAPTCHA but didn’t extensively test it. Turned out it gave trouble on iOS Safari browsers. We discovered it when launch day was almost over 🤯 (luckily most people came through desktop, so we probably just missed out on a few)
Given a heads-up to our support network the day before launch dayI had given some people a heads-up a week before, and others weren’t informed upfront at all. We had people support us, but also a lot of people responding the day after I sent them an e-mail or (LinkedIn ) message.