Founder of Alcamine
Every so often, my team and I set two weeks aside to work on a passion project. Regardless of the final state we launch our product into the market to get feedback and refine if there’s enough interest. Our latest product, Guess the Throne, was no different until we decided to try something new: launch it with only $100 (went a tinge over budget 😇).
Guess the Throne is an online death pool for the final season of Game of Thrones. Create your group, submit your picks, and invite your friends. We handle the scoring, rules, and everything else for free!
You may be asking yourself, “What’s a death pool?” Much like it sounds, it’s a bracket that lets you predict if a character lives or dies. Each correct guess is worth a point, and the most points win!
It’s hard to launch a product, especially without money, but I hope our story shows you the results you can see by focusing on product with a solid ground game. Armed with DM slides, one cat picture, and a good user experience we were able to capture thousands of users within 24 hours of launching.
Before spending cash we exhausted all of the free routes. We determined Product Hunt would be a great place to make our splash on the internet. After reading how to make it happen we were finished in around 20 minutes. On launch day, over 7,000 people viewed our website and 1,200 users signed up. We battled for a top five spot all day before falling short to eighth.
This was awesome! One thing we noticed was that even though we converted over 1,200 people we didn’t get very many upvotes on Product Hunt in comparison. To battle that, we decided to personalize the experience if you came from Product Hunt by giving you a little nudge to direct you back to the site after making a group and entry.
Since we didn’t network before launching on Product Hunt or use the platform beforehand I found myself going to other people’s products commenting, interacting, and following. Don’t do this! Every time I did we would drop in the rankings which was unfortunate because I wasn’t being spammy. Of course I wanted them to come back and check out our cool new thing. 😆
Overall, Product Hunt seems like a no brainer in a $100 launch. We still get referrals from their site each day. I don’t know if we were super lucky of not, but for all future products they’ll be on there.
Perhaps one of the more sketchy ideas was to slide into the DMs of influencers on Twitter and politely ask for a shout out. No one gave us one for free 😭, but you can normally negotiate a way for them to promote you in a tweet. We put our trust in the internet here and it panned out great.
Within five minutes of the tweet going out we had over 80 people on our home page simultaneously and based off our analytics we converted over 250 people within two hours. The cost per acquisition was 20 cents 🙌🏻. Influencer marketing is the move.
We scoured the internet for mentions of death pool and Game of Thrones together. If there was an article written about it we commented on the post. Game of Thrones Discord channel, we’re there. Facebook Groups? You got it. Reddit? Yep. If you’ve tweeted about Game of Thrones and death pool in the past three years you received a message from us.
I cannot overstate the importance of this. You need to be everywhere someone looks for your product and available to answer questions. There is a certain way to go about it though. Don’t mindlessly spam your product everywhere and say it’s the greatest thing ever. Most groups have moderators and it’s always best to confirm with them that you can share your product before doing so.
A lot of people I’ve spoken to doesn’t know this, but you can write for publications on Medium and it’s super easy to do. Write your article as a draft, find the publication that it aligns with closest, and reach out to them to asking it to be published. I’ve never been denied from publishing content, and it performs 100x better (no exaggeration) than without submitting it to one.
From our Medium post in Hacker Noon we estimate over 1,100 users joined. It took us an hour to write and was completely free to do!
Everyone that worked on the product found one gig on Fiverr to help us promote.
This was pretty awesome. An iHeartRadio host advertised us on his talk show. The commercial is an instant classic!
Impact: Hard to measure. Worth the cost because you never know who is listening.
You give this guy your Twitter handle and he floods it with “real” people that like, follow, and retweet you.
Impact: Little to none. Though it was nice to get over the hump of 75 followers on our Twitter even if the accounts were fake.
Type up a tweet and off it goes onto this guys account (he’s a cool guy — it’s in his bio).
Bracket busted? Create a 100% free Game of Thrones death pool instead! Create your group, add your friends, and submit your picks. We handle the scoring and everything else! #guessthethrone #winterishere https://t.co/Hla661Czsd
Impact: I’d say we converted about 60 users from it. Not bad!
Once we saw this one it had to happen.
Impact: Not too much. Links on Instagram are hard.
You type up a press release and it’s immediately published on over 100 websites. This was more of a curiosity to us than anything because we can never get press on product (more on that below). Don’t do this. This is an example of the quality you get 😂…
Cost: $52.50 🙄
Impact: It was shared everywhere, but we couldn’t measure any impact at all. Most of the websites were sketchy and probably hurt our SEO.
You may be asking, “What about press?” We tried so hard to get this in the news and thought it would for sure get coverage after seeing blogs like this. Out of 110 DM slides only six people responded. All said they weren’t interested. Not even Game of Thrones blogs would write about it. We sent a press kit, personalized messages, and followed up three times with updates on how we were doing. If anyone reading this has insights on how we can connect better with the press I would love to hear it.
Grand total spent was $130.50. Now to the numbers. We are up to 5,058 users on the app twelve days after launching. Here’s a snap of our Google Analytics.
We’re overjoyed with the success that we’ve seen and feel like we’re one piece of press away from taking this to a new level. We’re projecting to hit 20,000 users by the start of the show, and would love for you to join us!
We’re actively looking for a partner to help promote Guess the Throne and create content. If this is something you’d be interested in shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I think the most important lesson we’ve learned is the power of product and timing. Having a timely idea with a good product makes marketing easier. And remember, as the co-founder of Airbnb once said…
If you launch and no one notices, launch again. We launched 3 times.
My name is Marcus Wood. I am the founder of Caldera, a product company focused on creating great user experiences through cutting edge tech.