What is Product Hunt? And How to Launch a #1 New Product On it
Product Hunt is where MVPs and startups go to die or thrive.
Which one are you?
If you launch successfully a new product on Product Hunt, you can get thousands of subscribers and customers.
If done wrong, you'll realize you never had a product people wanted or took the time to build an audience. It's a place for creators, solo founder, and co-founders alike to see whether their launch will make it as one of the next top products.
Table of Contents
What is Product Hunt?
Product Hunt is a community where founders, product enthusiasts, and geeks go to check out the best new products and get attention for tech products that they've built. The company was founded by Ryan Hoover and was later acquired in 2016 by Angellist. Many people compare the Product Hunt community to Y Combinator's Hacker News, a similar platform which celebrates product enthusiasts. Product Hunt is available on desktop on the app store via iphone ios.
Which one are you?
If you launch successfully on Product Hunt, you can get thousands of subscribers and customers.
If done wrong, you'll realize you never had a product people wanted or took the time to build an audience.
Ready to Get Upvotes with Your Product Hunt Launch? Listen up!
We did it the right way when launching the book, THE BAMF BIBLE which led to over 4,000 new subscribers and thirty high-quality leads for my agency - all within nine days.
Before reading on, ask yourself:
"Should I launch on Product Hunt?"
If you check off these requirements, then yes:
- You have a product targeted at the early adopter market in the tech startup scene
- You have a product people are willing to pay for
- You're not pitching a pure enterprise product
- You have consistent value once they opt-in
- You have an audience ready to engage
THE BAMF BIBLE is a book with 25+ growth hacking case studies from 2017. It fits the early adopter demographic because growth hacking implies you have a new secret sauce to grow startups. Moreover, people expressed over and again that they'd be willing to pay us for the book. And, most importantly, we had #4 and #5 covered.
This is where most Product Hunt launches fail.
They gather thousands of subscribers.
They get a generic thank-you email, then there's no follow-up.
If you don't have an email or Messenger update that consistently provides value every week - don't launch.
Otherwise, you'll lose the people who visit your website and opt-in. Most people who launch on Product Hunt don't have a valuable follow-up - that's why most fail even with a thousand plus upvotes on their product. Ouch.
You can't guarantee upvotes either.
You need momentum and that comes from a community who will engage with your launch.
"I launched my super awesome AI-driven GIF creator on Product Hunt. I'm guaranteed to go viral." - Said no one ever.
You need to post on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and send out email and Messenger blasts. If you're not active on social or run an engaged subscriber list, then your chances of success on Product Hunt are almost zero.
You can always spam many Facebook Groups and Facebook friends, then ask people to promote you for free, but this will make you look like an asshole and you won't get results 🙂
Rather than rely on bad marketing, let's rely on what works - systems with proven results.
I'll take you step-by-step of how to create an audience, have a successful launch, and take care of your subscribers afterward:
Assemble Your Team & Create Trust
One of the main factors that contributed to my book's success was the people involved. I had many high-level entrepreneurs, marketers, and founders who contributed. As a result, upon release, they'd share it with their communities.
Who's involved in the making of your product?
Whether it's beta testers or a huge community, ensure they're the right people for when you launch. You don't want them pretending to love what you do, then dropping out right before the finish line.
To highlight our contributors, we gave them a dedicated section at the beginning (NOT THE END) of our book. We wanted them to know we genuinely cared about their contribution. Then we used that page as one of the first pictures on Product Hunt.
Did it work?
Each one of them shared.
Plus, it better reflected the vision of those who wanted to engage - a product that represents the communal aspect of Product and Growth.
The second half, I needed people to trust that this would be an epic book of growth hacks. People don't have a reason to upvote unless you've given them tons of value beforehand. Imagine you're on Product Hunt and never heard of Product and Growth.
Would you upvote the book right away?
Of course not.
You haven't even read it.
And we can't expect people to upvote the book a month later once they've finished reading.
We needed people who trusted the value we were providing, so they'd upvote us before reading. This was a critical piece to our success.
By publishing growth hacks over the previous year, we had built that trust. It takes time - there's no way around it.
Collect Emails & Subscribers
I took a different approach than many Product Hunt launches. Rather than building my email list beforehand, I built my Messenger list.
A small two-hundred person sample size on Messenger gave me ridiculously-awesome results:
An eight-times higher click-through rate and three-times higher open rate than email.
Looking at the data, my 1,000-person Messenger list before launch engaged as powerfully as a 10,000-person email list. To build my Messenger list, I used ManyChat because they have many landing page features that enable me to catch subscribers.
Not ready to jump one hundred percent into using Messenger, I promoted both my email and Messenger list. First, I promoted my Messenger list on my email list. This got me an initial several hundred subscribers.
Then I turned the home page of my website into a Messenger opt-in. I also created a Messenger opt-in specifically for my Quora following.
Within a month, I had seven hundred subscribers.
Next stop: LinkedIn.
For four months, I'd been publishing many engaging statuses on LinkedIn to build a following. Then I began to promote my upcoming book with teasers. For instance, I took a screenshot of possible book covers and posted it on LinkedIn asking which one they liked the most.
I kept a low barrier to entry to comment and made sure my audience knew I valued their opinion. All they had to do was type "1," "2," or "3" to select a book cover.
As predicted, the post took off.
I ended up not using any of these covers, but I did get several hundred subscribers interested in keeping up with the launch. (A huge thank-you to Patrick Lyver for the final book cover).
Then I promoted my Messenger list in my Facebook Group by giving away viral LinkedIn outlines. This gave me three-hundred-and-fifty Messenger subscribers. A nice jolt to get my list above a thousand people.
I felt confident the launch would go well if I continued collecting subscribers.
The problem: I didn't have much time left.
I needed to create the hype train.
Start the Product Hunt Hype-Train Announcements
The book had been planned for a year, but I wanted the extra push to finish it. I also wanted to gauge the demand for the book.
After the announcement, it was clear people wanted it - and they wanted it now. Many were excited to pay for it and didn't realize I was releasing it for free.
I got a lot of engagement on the announcement because I'd been documenting my growth hacks online for an entire year while connecting to people in the industry. People knew, liked, and trusted me.
Many times I had talked about publishing a growth hacking book, but it never happened. Growth hacks get outdated fast. I had enormous pressure to keep the book current which meant replacing thirty-page chapters with up-to-date growth hacks. A four-month hype-train writing process turned into an entire year.
Find a Product Hunter
Having an invested Hunter will help drive more engagement.
If you're new to Product Hunt, know that Hunter is someone who uploads your product to the site with images, a link to your website, and tags the Makers (creators of the product). Once he hits publish, the product is officially live.
Jack Smith, one of the top hunters on Product Hunt, had been a part of my community for awhile. As a result, he had an incentive to spread the launch via word-of-mouth or sharing online. I'm not sure how much of a difference this made, but anyone who has a loyal startup following and loves what you do will help make a dent in engagement.
When I reached out to ask him if he would hunt our book, he gave the okay. We did change the date several times, but he stuck with us. Thanks, Jack!
Oil the Hype-Train with Pre-Announcements
The day before the launch, I wanted everyone to know when the launch would go live.
We didn't have the book entirely finished. It took us until 7 a.m. in the morning - an hour before launch.
Still, we decided to go all in and put pressure on ourselves to perform. With that said, it's better to launch right after midnight because you only get one day on the front page. At midnight - every night - the front page of Product Hunt refreshes with new launches. By waiting until 8 a.m. to post, we lost eight hours of being live on the front page.
The good news: We still kicked ass.
We had the first pre-announcement in our Facebook Group. We tagged all the book contributors and I used a live stream to make sure I hit as many people in my community as possible with the message.
Ten minutes later, I announced it on my Facebook profile. This drove an insane amount of engagement.
And, of course, I posted on LinkedIn to keep the hype wheels moving.
Then came the Messenger blast which had a glaring typo (see if you can find it):
"Hey [First Name],
Tomorrow @ 8 a.m. PT we're launching our free eBook on Product Hunt with 25+ growth hacking case studies from the best marketers and founders.
It took us an entire year to create!
Please share the book upon its release. We'll notify you via Messenger. Let's make the world a better place for marketers and founders."
The message received a 95.2% open rate!
In total, thousands of people knew about the launch. We were ready for takeoff.
Build out a Product Hunt Funnel
I have this labeled as step six because we didn't build the funnel until after the pre-announcements.
Not the best idea, but it worked.
At around 1 a.m., we finished the GIF for the preview image.
This preview image needed to stand out - hence why we created a GIF (thanks for the tip, Gilles De Clerck). We also included the benefit in the GIF, "25+ Growth Hacks You Can Use Today." This helped us catch people's attention to drive them to our Product Hunt landing page.
We did have to select a few categories for the book. I didn't have any bright ideas, so I copied what other successful campaigns did. No point in reinventing the wheel.
The first step included writing the copy for the pinned post. I had no idea what to write, so I asked myself: "What's the opposite of my book?" Well, it's Hacking Growth by Morgan Brown and Sean Ellis.
I saw Morgan's pinned post for their launch and wrote something similar while focusing on everything they wanted to stay away from.
He writes, "It's not a recipe book of hacks..."
I write, "This is the complete recipe book of growth hacks..."
Here's where I took the risk: I directed the "GET IT" button to a landing page where people could get the book by subscribing to my Messenger list. I made sure to include Product Hunt in the headline copy, so people visiting felt extra special.
I also focused on the benefits in the sub-headline, added a few testimonials by influencers, and a clear call to action. This page was A/B tested with other campaigns, so we had confidence in it. The result: 36% conversion rate.
Using Messenger led to two huge unforeseen benefits:
1. We didn't get fake email addresses.
Product Hunt is notoriously known for people plugging in fake email addresses to get free offers. By using Messenger, they couldn't use a workaround. They had to subscribe.
2. We had free PR
People thought our use of Messenger was innovative, so they shared the landing page in many relevant communities online. This led to a huge influx of subscribers.
Once they opted-in to get THE BAMF BIBLE, we sent them this message via Messenger:
"Hey [First Name]!
Thank you for requesting THE BAMF BIBLE.
Here you go: [insert book link]
In the meantime, feel free to join our startup community of over 15,000 marketers & founders: https://www.facebook.com/groups/growthmarketers/
P.S. If you ever want to unsubscribe just type "stop.'"
This is what a new request to join our community looks like:
We had over one thousand people request access to my Facebook Group over a period of nine days since the launch. Even if they unsubscribed from Messenger, they'd still see us in their Facebook notifications and Facebook feed every time we post in the group.
The best part: I require their LinkedIn URL to gain group access.
I have my assistant add all the high-level professionals who request access to my LinkedIn network. This way they'll see my updates there. In a few steps, they went from Product Hunt to become fully entrenched in my marketing ecosystem.
We're not looking to market to everyone - only the people who want to play ball where we play ball - Facebook. If they don't want to connect further on Facebook, then we don't mind them jumping out of the group or subscriber list. You don't need everyone to be a part of your community - only enough people to make it worthwhile investing in.
Launch day is rather easy compared to creating the product.
We had one goal in mine and it wasn't upvotes.
We wanted comments.
Comments stir people's attention, and people who comment will likely upvote. By switching the call-to-action, we found this to be a huge driver of our campaign's success. Within all our copy, we had a call-to-action to comment in exchange for a bonus growth hack.
Here are all the announcements we made the day of our launch:
We posted on my Facebook profile with a link directly to the Product Hunt BAMF BIBLE page:
Then we posted on LinkedIn using a link in the first comment to improve click-through rates:
And lastly, in our Facebook Group:
The icing on the cake was sending out a blast to our Messenger and email list subscribers.
Subject: A little help
Have you ever wanted to write a book?
Most of us do.
We don't because it's painful.
After I wrote my first book about Facebook marketing, I swore I'd never do it again.
It felt like dragging my fingers through gravel.
But it also opened up one of the best opportunities in my life - a head of growth position in San Francisco.
Out of my labor of love to help others, I did it one more time.
After getting zero sleep last night, we officially launched THE BAMF BIBLE on Product Hunt.
It took us over a year to create with contributions from the top marketers and founders in the world.
It includes 25+ growth hacking case studies across every major traction channel.
All these growth hacks still work today!
Go here to grab your free copy in seconds: https://www.producthunt.com/posts/the-bamf-bible
If you comment with feedback on our Product Hunt page, then we'll DM you a surprise growth hack tomorrow 🙂
I appreciate all your help.
Looking at the stats, the push from this email paled in comparison to the Messenger blast.
Here's the copy from the Messenger message:
"Hey [First Name]
We're live on Product Hunt 🙂
We stayed up all night perfecting THE BAMF BIBLE with 25+ growth hacks.
Here it is: https://www.producthunt.com/search?q=bamf+bible
If you comment on our Product Hunt page with feedback, we'll toss you a surprise growth hack tomorrow 😉
Just respond to this message with "done" after you comment."
Results: 94% open rate
Click-through rate: Unkown
ManyChat only measures the click-through if you include a button.
After we sent the message, we realized our mistake of not using a Bitly link. Still, we've seen on average a 46% click-through rate, so we know this sent a ton of traffic.
The results from the call-to-actions for comments?
No other book launched on Product Hunt has received more than 100 comments. We crushed our competition by stirring the pot with conversation rather than upvotes.
Avoid Hiccups Unless They Help You
Finishing the book the night before had its downsides.
All of the links broke during the export process. That night after the launch, I had to spend several hours manually replacing them. Then I followed up with a message the next day to calm everyone down. It also happened to be the perfect opportunity to send people the extra growth hack to reward those who commented:
"Hey [First Name]
Thank you for your support on Product Hunt.
The original book we gave out had many broken links - a problem during the exporting process.
Here's the updated version with working links: http://bit.ly/2w9IUbw
Plus!!! An extra growth hack because you guys engaged with the campaign: http://growth.chat/hack
Any questions? Hit reply - I'll answer :)"
At the time, I didn't even know what this extra growth hack would be. I sent out a prayer for some inspiration to hit me and it did.
Celebrate to Create FOMO
A day later, we began celebrating to create FOMO.
If people missed out, this would be their second opportunity to jump on board.
I posted a celebration status on my Facebook profile linking directly to the Product Hunt page. This drove a wave of traffic from people who didn't take the campaign seriously.
Notice how I mentioned we got featured in Product Hunt's newsletter?
This was key to driving another hundred to two hundred upvotes from their audience. It also gave the book a huge amount of validation.
Getting featured in the newsletter only happens if you drive enough engagement on the first day to where they deem you're worthy.
We continued to ride the momentum with a tactic post in the Facebook Group. This helped drive more traffic, but we made a mistake by not including a link directly to the Product Hunt page.
Because we were strapped on time, we didn't post a celebration status on LinkedIn. Another mistake.
If you write the copy ahead of time, then you won't run into the same problems 🙂
Drive them Back to Product Hunt
It's bigger and better!
Over the coming weekend, we made updates to the book based on reader feedback. We announced a new version via a Messenger blast that sent people back to the Product Hunt page. We also included a brand new guide on growth hacking LinkedIn.
The plan: Drive more upvotes and comments.
This is the message copy:
"Hey [First Name],
Big update. We recently wrote a growth hacking guide on how I went from 1.5K followers to 26K followers on LinkedIn in 4 months.
You can read it here: http://bit.ly/2xt1es
We also updated the BAMF BIBLE on Product Hunt with a new version (feel free to leave us feedback).
The old link now re-directs to the new one as of an hour ago: https://www.producthunt.com/posts/the-bamf-bible"
As long as you keep updating the product, you can keep pushing people back to your Product Hunt page. It works wonders.
Nurture Your Product Hunt Leads
If your campaign performs as well as mine, then you'll have a wave of traffic, 4,000+ more Messenger subscribers, and new customers.
99% of your success will come from how well you follow-up with your leads.
Don't let them sit there.