How to launch on Product Hunt - Surprising insights from our first launch
We launched the beams beta menu bar app on Product Hunt on Monday, 12. December 2022.
Product Hunt is THE place to discover and launch new tech products. Hundreds of products are launched every day, which attracts close to 5 million visits a month (interestingly only 33% female, source). The platform includes a voting and comments system. Given that the PH audience fits nicely into our target group, it was clear for us that we were going to launch there, too. As product enthusiasts everyone in our team has been a PH member for several years (Mihri since 2015 🏆), but none of us has actually launched a product there before.
We received so many tips and read articles and followed checklists in order to prepare for our launch (while not over-engineering it - we still have a product to build and iterate on). As a result, we got an incredible amount of feedback, love and support from old and new users, followers and supporters - we are so grateful and 💜 our beams community.
But there were also quite some surprising learnings and insights that no one told us before. Instead of writing yet another launch checklist (if you’re looking for one, check out our favourite ones from Typestudio, Softr and SigmaOS), we want to share what worked and what didn’t work for us, including some juicy actionable tips.
Our Product Hunt results
Let us start with transparently sharing the results of our Product Hunt launch week (we struggled finding good benchmarks when we launched, so sharing ours will hopefully benefit others). One thing in advance: We didn’t become #1 product of the day, which was a bummer, because we could have, if we had launched on a different day. But we are very satisfied with the outcome in terms of new signups and users.
- #5 Product of the day
- #1 SaaS Product of the week
- 900+ upvotes
- 300+ comments
- 2,700 website visitors
- 750 new signups
- 350 new users (who connected at least one calendar)
From what we heard from other people who have launched before, for a #5 these are extremely good numbers. On most other days this would have easily brought us to the top 1-3. More about that below.
What worked well for us
Engage with the PH community for several weeks before the launch
PH has a follower system and whenever you launch a product, your followers will be notified about it. Increasing your number of followers before launch, definitely helps to spread the word. One way of achieving this is by actively engaging in the PH community section. You can comment on discussion threads or start one yourself.
- Actionable tip: Start a discussion on a Monday, which is when the ranking of discussion threads is reset, so your chances of your thread showing up on top and getting more attention is higher. It is a good way to do user research on topics relevant to your product.
- Actionable tip: Directly connect with PH members beforehand. While you can’t send direct messages on the platform, we reached out to them on Twitter (many of them don’t accept Twitter dms) and LinkedIn. We got most responses from people who we previously interacted with in the forum and users who ranked highly on the streak ranking. It was a really nice experience interacting with PH community members - they are very supportive and cheerful.
Make sure your existing supporters create a PH account a couple of days before launch
This was especially important for us as the majority of our existing audience wasn’t active on PH before. New users are identifiable as they have a red balloon 🎈 next to their names - apparently their upvotes count less (or maybe not at all 🤷♀️?)
- Actionable tip: Create a coming soon page on PH and ask your supporters to create an account and follow that page already. Everyone who follows this page will get an additional notification email from PH on your launch day.
Get a decent amount of upvotes in the first hour and then a steady amount throughout the rest of the day
We were told 50-100 upvotes in the first hour would be good. So we were surprised and a bit run over when the other products launching on the same day started with 200 upvotes right away.
- Actionable tip: Send calendar invites to your network (users, people on the waitlist, etc.) scattered throughout the day. Make sure to consider the time zones of your supporters.
Engage on all social media channels, all day long
Two LinkedIn posts a day get more attention than just one (the second one could be an update on your position). Make sure to reply to every comment and mention right away.
- Actionable tip: We even did screenshots of some PH comments and thanked the person on Twitter. If the person comments or reshares, it might increase the reach a little more.
Open up your waitlist for the week of the launch
If your Go-to-market also includes a waitlist, it makes sense to open it up for the PH launch. The PH community wants to use the product right away. We saw some other companies succeed by not opening it completely but offering 100 immediate seats to PH users (#FOMO works).
Fair play doesn’t always win in the short run, but hopefully in the long run
Something we really didn’t expect is that before and during the launch we received several offers to purchase upvotes or pay for services that offered to help become a top product of the day. While it honestly was appealing, and we did consider it, we decided against it as we believe in fair play.
There were moments during (and after) launch day were we regretted that decision a bit. Because it seemed like other products that launched on the same day most likely said yes to those offers. PH seems to be aware of those and they try to mitigate and even punish them. In our case this unfortunately only happened in the last hour, which was way too late for us to make up for it. As you can see in the screenshot below (source), nearly everyone who was in front of us got a significant amount of upvotes reduced shortly before the end.
And below (source) you can see that two competitors must have gotten even more upvotes removed after the launch day (they have less upvotes now than us and than on the launch day), but unfortunately the result at the end of the 24 hours what counts.
Optimizing for the best day to launch requires quite a bit of luck as well
We were told that Tue, Wed and Thu are the days with the most traffic on PH and therefore the most competitive days to launch. This is why decided to launch on a Monday. Well who would have thought that untypically, in that week Monday turned out to be the most competitive day. Had we launched on any other day that week, we would have ranked higher with our results. Maybe this was because Monday was the lucky date 12.12. 🤷♀️ who knows…
It was surprisingly easy to win a top hunter, but probably didn’t help much
Chris Messina is the #1 hunter on Product Hunt and he agreed to hunt us. But since PH changed the fact that the followers of hunters don’t receive a notification anymore, it didn’t feel like it helped us much. But still nice to see that he appreciates what we are building, after all the products he has seen before.
And it also didn’t seem to help much that Ryan Hoover (Product Hunt founder) upvoted our product, nor that some people with many Twitter followers (one with 150k followers) tweeted about us.
To sum it up…
Where there are prizes to win, there might also be some dishonest players. We know that Product Hunt is aware of that and that it is their priority to work against it - unfortunately, only partially successfully.
One thing they did recently, is introducing a new “best products of the month” section that is based on qualitative reviews instead of quantitative upvotes. We were in the top 3 until yesterday, when a user gave us a 3-star rating (interestingly a user with a red balloon behind his name who we couldn’t find in our user systems). But maybe we can still make up for a couple of places - if you feel called to review our product you can still do so here 🙏
All in all, we are happy that we stayed true to our values and played it fair. And as said before, so incredibly thankful for the love and feedback from our community!
If you have any other questions about our PH launch or would like to provide feedback, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter.