By Nate Eldridge. July 1st 2021
We put in countless hours to make Trustpage's Product Hunt launch a success. Given that we finished as the #2 Product of the Day on June 17, 2021, I'd say we got the job done. But Product Hunt is no easy beast to tame—there are so many nuances to the platform. I want to share with you exactly what we did to get to #2, so that you can apply this same strategy to your own app, company, or project's launch, and crush it.
Timing is everything
You only have 24 hours to get to the top, but you have all the time in the world to plan ahead and prepare for that special day. For us, this meant finding the sweet spot when we were finally ready to unveil our new platform to the world. We struggled with this a bit. We had been thinking about Product Hunt for about 6 months, and we had picked and moved our launch date a number of times, before finally settling on June 17th. That date worked out well for us for two reasons: we would be done with some critical product features, and because of where it fell within the general news cycle. There weren't too many big stories we were competing against, and, being a Thursday, it fell on a traditionally less-competitive day in Product Hunt voting.
Build your foundation
You need many arrows in your quiver to win an all-day battle. Your first arrow needs to be your core support group, or what we called Trustpage VIPs. This is your community of friends, family, investors, and advisors who have your company's best interests in mind, and want to see you succeed. For our VIP list, we built an email list, and a private webpage full of all the information they needed to give us a little boost. We recommend building a 50-person VIP list that you can continue to rely on for Product Hunt and other events or requests too.
Get your assets in gear
Your Product Hunt page will require you to prepare some material. In our case, we had the following:
- One animated GIF version of our logo
- Six images for our Product Hunt page
- A tagline and short description of your product
- One 3.5 minute explainer video
- A comment prepared for our Hunter
- A comment prepared for our founder
- A promo code for the Product Hunt community
- Marketing emails to send to your mailing list on and after launch day
- Posts to share in web forums on launch day
If you don't have the design skills to prepare an animated logo, we recommend going to Fiverr. You should be able to get one made in a day or so for around $50.
Your video and images shouldn't require much in the way of professional help. Think of them more as your pitch deck. You likely already have a few slides prepared that you could assemble for your page. If you don't have 6 images, 4 will do. Your video could be as simple as you and your team sitting in front of a camera presenting your product, or it could be a member of your team talking through your pitch deck (we opted for the latter). Either way, just keep it simple and genuine. Product Hunt is about finding the best new products, not those with the biggest ad budgets.
For a successful Product Hunt launch, you need a ready, willing, and able hunter. This is the person who will post your project to producthunt.com, and whose clout you'll rely on for meaningful exposure. If you have someone in your network who's big on Product Hunt, consider asking if they'd be willing to hunt you. We asked our friend Jonathon Triest, and he was happy to oblige. Some top hunters like Chris Messina offer their services online, and you may choose to consider that option as well.
Once you've secured your hunter, it's time to package up your assets along with instructions for them on how to post them and when. You're asking someone a favor—make it as easy for them as possible.
Putting on the finishing touches
This is where you'll make it or break it, as you will not get a top rank without a proper launch day strategy. Product Hunt is its own website, but its community members frequent many different forums around the web. It's your job to find those forums, and spread the word about your launch, so that you can get the most exposure (and upvotes) possible.
So how do you do this? Start by putting together a list of Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit, Slack, and Discord groups that you want to target. Find them by searching for terms like "Product Hunt" or "marketing". Once you have at least 30 groups selected, it's time to prepare your post. Note: Product Hunt does not allow the explicit solicitation of upvotes, and you can't share links to your page prior to launch day, so keep that in mind when writing these. In our case, we prepared this message:
Trustpage is featured on Product Hunt today! Come check us out and spread the love. Our team will be around all day to answer your questions and comments. We'd love to hear what you think! https://www.producthunt.com/posts/trustpage
If you're as excited as we were, you won't get much sleep going into this special day. Your hard work is (hopefully) about to pay off. Here's your agenda for the day:
12:00 AM PST
- Your Product Hunt page is published. Time to post your Maker comment and give yourself an upvote.
- Post your messages to a few forums that focus on time zones several hours ahead of PST. This will give you an early boost in traffic.
First thing in the morning:
- Send an email to your entire marketing list (including VIPs) announcing you're on Product Hunt. Again, be careful with your choice of words! This will give you a bump from your biggest fans. Here's the email we sent:
- Post on your social media accounts, and ask all your employees to like and share. Here's what we posted to our Twitter account:
Throughout the day:
- Keep posting to your targeted communities at peaks hours like mid-morning, lunch, mid-afternoon, early evening, late night. Think about when people take breaks from work or life—that's when you post.
- If you're struggling for upvotes, there are a few things you can do:
- Look for more communities to target and try subtle tweaks to your messaging.
- Go back to your targeted list and start interacting with other posts. Comment by congratulating others on their own launches and then ask them to consider checking out your page. Teamwork goes a long way.
- You'll start to get a lot of comments on your Product Hunt page. It's important to like and reply to every single one of them as it will help with your engagement on the platform. This interaction should come from a Maker account. Don't overthink it. Something as simple as "thanks for your support!" will work just fine. Of course, for more thought-out comments, give equally thought-out replies.
In addition to these tips, there are few tools you can use to manage your war room. We recommend Product Wars 2, which will show momentum for the top products of the day, and a web analytics platform (we use Plausible). Together, these will show traffic, engagement, and conversions from Product Hunt, so you can see how you're performing in comparison to any other day.
The day after (and then some)
You did it! No matter the outcome, you put in all the hard work required to get the best result possible, and that deserves praise and recognition. Let's start by reviewing our web stats for the day. For us, Product Hunt brought us an enormous boost—our biggest day ever. For web traffic, we had 1,300 unique visitors, which was about 10x higher than our second biggest day. We had 53 signups from launch day alone and continue to get more day by day (132 as of June 23rd).
Once you've reviewed your stats, it's time to give a big shout-out to your community for supporting you. We chose to send an email to everyone on our mailing list, including all those new signups we got from launch day. We wanted this to feel like a handwritten card, so that it had a nice personal touch:
If you're lucky, the party won't stop right after launch day. As a top product, we earned a placement in the Product Hunt email newsletter and continued to get a steady stream of traffic for weeks after launch. Here's the newsletter:
Wrapping it all up
And that's it! We hope you found this helpful for crafting your own bulletproof launch strategy. Overall, Product Hunt was a great decision for us, and we'll definitely launch again when we have a new product to share.
Of course, nobody is perfect, and there are a few things we could've done differently to get to #1.
- The first thing we would change for next time is launching earlier in the month. The party doesn't stop after 24 hours, and if you aren't didn't get the rank you wanted, you can still fight for the top Product of the Week or Month if you continue to collect enough votes over time.
- The second thing we would change is to build an even bigger VIP list. We had some fierce competition from larger companies on our launch day that likely had armies of employees and friends/family upvoting them. We need to build a similar base for next time.
- The third thing we'd do is be more active on social media throughout the day. We don't have a terribly large following on Twitter, but we could've made better use of that community to build more traction.
Nate Eldridge is the Senior Marketing Manager at Trustpage. After work, you can find him kayaking. He lives in Connecticut.
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