Frank Lagendijk

@franklagendijk

All you need to know for prepping your Product Hunt Launch

Q&As, tips, and resources packed into one article.

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:

☝️ General

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?

  • A significant amount of traffic and sign-ups (this varies wildly, depending on the type of product). It will have its long-tail as well — so you can expect a bit of traffic as time passes, since quite a bunch people search for tools on Product Hunt
  • Possibly: some investors reaching out (don’t be all too distracted by it)
  • Possibly: press, which might lead to additional traffic.
  • A lot of feedback from people trying/signing up for your product (small tip and plug: manage that feedback properly) to learn from

💡Other tips:

  • Set launch goals for your Product Hunt launch. When will your launch be a success? Are you looking at sign-ups? Active usage/retention (‘x’ days and/or weeks after your launch)? Conversions? Putting a line in the sand helps you celebrate and evaluate.
  • Have fun with it! the Product Hunt community is one that loves new products, supporting the people that built them, and celebrating launches. Use this as a chance to celebrate with your team a bit as well 🎉

😬 Pre-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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?

  • Someone with a big following.
  • Someone that maps with the type of product/business you’re building (e.g. we had Chris Messina — former product designer at Google, hunt Shipright. Our tool is helping software businesses track product feedback, so that felt like a good match). This helps since your product will resonate more when you ask for a hunt + chances are their followers also relate better to your offering.

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):

  • Having an audience to support you will get you some initial traction on the Product Hunt platform, which leads to more/new people discovering your product.
  • Additionally: this will help you validate problem/solution fit upfront. It depends on the stage you’re at and your goals. Having validated parts will increase the odds of gaining more customers. If not; Product Hunt could be a great catalyst to learn more about that really fast. Just keep it in mind when setting launch goals and expectations.

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.

  • Look into Product Hunt Ship for gaining beta users. Keep them in the loop on your progress and reach out when you’re about to launch.
  • Try a tool like Growbots (or create a process yourself, like we did initially) to get in touch with a set of people in your target audience for an interview / survey / testing. Often, a sub-set of the people you talk to, might be interested in trying your product.
  • Engage with others by commenting on Product Hunt products and Product Hunt Ask. Follow relevant people and engage with their hunts (you could even share interesting products on Twitter and tag the maker).
  • Find your target user in the bunch of Slack groups out there, and start a quick chat to solicit feedback. Ask them whether they’d like to try it. Keep them in the loop and reach out when you launch.
  • Start blogging (personal / business) for your target audience, bring value, and build your audience/following while building your product/business (I haven’t, really, and regret it. If you’re planning to stay in a similar space, it’ll definitely help you. It’s just not a short-term tactic)

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.

  • E-mail people who trialed before if you have done some major updates before the launch. Ask if they’d like ‘pre-launch access’. Schedule an e-mail again a day before launch and on the day itself. Use tools like Hubspot (with templates/sequences), MailChimp, or Intercom to schedule things.
  • E-mail other users. Use tools like Hubspot (with templates/sequences), MailChimp, or Intercom to schedule things.
  • E-mail/message your mentors / advisors / informal investors.
  • E-mail/(LinkedIn)message your (founder) friends / relatives
  • Use Product Hunt Ship to message beta sign-ups
  • Use Slack groups. I suggest you request access & connect way before your launch. E.g. ask for feedback on your early versions. Use this handy site to find the ones relevant to you (at least use the ones focused on founders/startups). Keep an eye on the rules for each of these groups. It isn’t allowed to share ‘promotional’ content in every group.
  • Use Facebook groups. Request access & connect way before your launch
    A 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 launch
    A 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 Reddit r/startup, r/entrepreneur, r/sideproject, r/trymything. Find the the ones that are relevant to you, and focus on gaining feedback.
  • Use your personal social accounts to share things pre-launch and give them a heads-up on launch day. You probably have Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram etc. Schedule your content by using something like Buffer for all your social channels. Tweet your upvote milestones (100, 200 etc.) in a fun and creative way additionally. The more fun and worthwhile content you can get out, the better (without it feeling like spamming the same message over and over). You never know how many you’ll get, but it might be worth prepping a few visuals for the first 4 milestones.
  • Prepare Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter ads. Don’t direct them to your Product Hunt post, direct them to your homepage, and make sure you have a widget (like this Product Hunt Intercom widget) ready that allows for a vote straight away. Whether that traffic just ends up in a few sign-ups and/or votes; it’s fine either way.
  • Stimulate word of mouth during sign-up E.g. include a one-liner that allows the person to Tweet (make a pre-defined Tweet for lower friction) on the page after they signed up (thank you page / you received your activation mail)
👆Pre-defined Tweet with a single click, after sign-up

💡 Additional tips:

  • Check out similar products to yours and learn about their launch strategies. Spy on titles, taglines, logos, screenshots, comments and general wording.
  • Create a special offer for Product Hunters and add it to the landing page. This stimulates people to sign up. Also state this in your ‘Maker comment’ on your Product Hunt post. See this template, where I included a Maker comment with our offering.
  • If you have a Chrome extension or app, make sure to try and get some reviews from your first set of users. For us, a Chrome extension was a core part of the product and onboarding. To stimulate quick installs, it helps to have some reviews / decent ratings, since this is often shown when the user is about to install the extension / app.
  • Work on a press list and release, and find relevant journalists to cover your launch.

🚀 Launch

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?

  • If you’re multiple co-founders; have some roles in place. We’re with 4, so we had someone dealing with 1. outreach/marketing 2. inviting/onboarding users and doing support 3. 2 ‘firefighters’ in case we’d run into any crucial issues (we didn’t, fortunately, thanks to a period of testing pre-launch)
  • Schedule out your day upfront. Use it for promo during your launch day and things that were hard to schedule upfront, so you can stick to a rough plan / time-line during a (few) day(s) of chaos.

💡 Additional tips:

  • Aim for the top 5. You’ll end up in the Product Hunt daily (newsletter), going out to all Product Hunt users.
  • Refer your tech-savvy friends to the homepage of Product Hunt for your product on launch day, if you’re featured in the top posts. Engagement from the direct URL seems to have less impact on the ranking algorithm compared to users accessing via the homepage (this is a hunch but confirmed by others)
  • Make sure you reply on comments on your Product Hunt post
  • Look up the Twitter handles of people that upvoted you on Product Hunt. Most of the time, the Product Hunt handle of a user, is similar to their Twitter handle. You could at least thank them for supporting you (with a funny GIF e.g.). This might get you some additional retweets which spreads the word to their followers.

🙌 Post-launch

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:

  • Write something about your experiences and lessons learned that can be of value to others. Give it a bit of a unique twist. Like this article 😉

📊 How we did ourselves:

  • #5 of the day with Shipright, a B2B SaaS offering for tracking product feedback to help teams build better products and increase customer satisfaction/loyalty.
  • Shipright is more of a team tool than a simple one-man-band utility. The latter & B2C oriented tech tend to perform a bit better (from what I’ve seen and studied).
  • ~300 upvotes on launch day, 370 over the week
  • 14 reviews (and they were pretty awesome 💝)
  • ~1000 visits on our website on launch day, ~700 the day after, then 500, 300 etc.
  • ~100 teams signed up during the week after launch
  • Investor interest (a hand full)

🧐 What we could have done better:

  • Double checked our sign up flow
    We 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 day
    I 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.

📚 Articles referenced / useful reads:

Topics of interest

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