The ProductHunt Effect
Link Texting
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This is being written in response to The ProductHunt Effect, because that’s where we started in preparing for Product Hunt and it’s where you might want to too.


What The Upvotes Mean

A transparent look at the numbers behind a debut on Product Hunt & how Look Up got there

It all started Monday evening in Tokyo. Scratch that, it all started a few months earlier when this Buzzfeed video found it’s way into my Facebook feed…

From that video came the idea of Look Up, a Mac app to improve eye health and productivity using the 20–20–20 rule. A few months of design and development later we were listed on Product Hunt, on a rainy evening in Tokyo.

The Product Hunt and the hunt for #1 also started long before the actual listing as well. It wasn’t a stroke of luck and a super users’ submission that got the ball rolling, but a planned effort. Luckily that’s what the gold star next to Look Up’s name means.

The gold star meant we spent time customizing the Look Up site for Product Hunters with a special offer. Time spent customizing our site’s comic with a glasshole cat and Product Hunt easter eggs. Preparing discounts on the Mac App Store of 50% for the launch on Product Hunt. We also prepared theLook Up app for distribution outside the app store, so we could offer a true Product Hunter only exclusive for our… exclusive.

That, along with a few other easter eggs, meant 2+ days of design and planning for Product Hunt, all in hopes of making it the top of the day.

2 days all for upvotes!?

Okay, if you’ve been living online for the last year, you probably aren’t exclaiming it like that. You know upvotes on Product Hunt mean more than good karma. Still, two days is significant, so first we’ll justify why you should give Product Hunt more than a passive go. Then we’ll cover what can be done to make the most of your day on Product Hunt.

Translating the Upvotes

Into clicks & cash

Look Up sat at just over 500 upvotes in 3 days. Those upvotes translated to 12,715 users. Google Analytics credited 6,600 of those to Product Hunt referrals. Google credited another 6,000 to direct traffic. Truthfully they almost all have to be credited to Product Hunt if you look at our existing traffic.

We had used social advertising to test Look Up’s message before beginning our marketing push. Using this group of facebook ads as a base, those 12,715 visitors would have cost $1,844.

All clicks are not created equal though. One audience is passively fishing for friendly interactions in a social stream, while the other is actively hunting for great products. This speaks in the number of App Store and Gumroad link clicks credited to Product Hunt in Google Analytics…

Since our analytics only credited 6,600 users to Product Hunt, it also only credited them 933 events. This would give Product Hunt users a 14% clickthrough rate to our stores. If all visitors are credited to Product Hunt there were 2,186 events and a 17% clickthrough rate to our storefronts.

Next it’s into App Annie to learn how many of those visitors became users.

In those 3 days there were 794 downloads. This time, all the purchases can’t be directly credited to Product Hunt. After our first day on Product Hunt we became the #1 paid health app, and entered the top 10 apps overall, which surely provided an influx of downloads. Indirectly, Product Hunt still deserves the credit for that too though.

It is safe to say that the first day of 369 downloads was mostly hunters. That would make 50% of the hunters that viewed Look Up’s storefronts purchasers. On that first day Look Up’s site had 8,030 visitors, and achieved a 5% purchase rate from visitors from Product Hunt.

Maybe Look Up could have had a higher purchase rate from Product Hunters if we featured the link directly to the app store. But I’m confident that without the custom landing page our Product Hunt ranking wouldn’t have been as high, translating to lower total visitors.

The primary link went to 96problems.com, while the Apple icon linked direct to the app store.

Still in those first 3 days after debuting on Product Hunt Look Up had 2 downloads for every upvote.

It’s hard to compete with the quality of the audience you’ll get from Product Hunt. They’re not just hunters, but also sneezers, mavens, early adopters, or whatever marketing phrase you want to use to say they’re great. They’re friendly and understanding. When they discover a bug or possible improvement they give constructive feedback.

The Product Hunt community understands the struggles of making a product and that perfection is an unrealistic expectation. Likely because most of the commenting community aren’t only hunters but makers too. A community open to new experiences, ideas, and of course products. They’ve earned their name “Product Hunters,” so start with that name…

How To Have A Happy Hunting

Some of the Answers

How to submit your product to Product Hunt won’t be covered here. Product Hunt has outlined that all where they answer their most frequently asked questions. You don’t need a VC with an inside connection either, just follow their instructions and a friendly community manager like @bramk could be emailing you within hours (and helping you avoid common mistakes). This does mean more than a caps lock tweet asking for an invite…

Before you’re ready to submit, start by making Product Hunters by welcoming product hunters to your landing page by name. Literally just call them out above the fold and say hi.

Do make sure to call them out within Product Hunt’s brand guidelines. Afterall, that’s not just any orange, it’s actually red #da552f. If I hadn’t used the guidelines everything would have been spoiled with orange…

You don’t want to put the effort in and then have the capitalization wrong on their name. That will likely undo the goodwill you’ve worked to earn, although the team at Product Hunt is likely to just politely point it out.

We went beyond just welcoming hunters to our site and welcomed them in our App Store listing. This isn’t as customizable as your site, so everyone will see it, but during your launch it’s likely the majority will be hunters. Changing your listing for 24 hours isn’t going to hurt anyone.

Go beyond the name though and be creative mixing in some of Product Hunt’s iconography. Include the Product Hunt mascot, in our case we replaced our nyan cat filled nightmares with a comic version of the glasshole kitten, along with some additional easter eggs.

It doesn’t have to be as time consuming as making illustrating a talking cat. You could mix in some of Product Hunt’s favorite emoji, using them in a similar way as they do on their site.

Hopefully no RIP’s are necessary, but take a look at your activity page for more

Show you’re a part of the community, make hunters know you’re already on the same team. If when I visit your site that may be enough reason for me to answer Simon Sinek’s “Why?” After all, if we’re already on the same team, why wouldn’t I want you to win?

Then start the hunt with a bang! Create something special for the first hunters to your page. In our case we gave the first 10 hunters to our page a free copy of Look Up. This likely equated to a few quick upvotes and early momentum. If they enjoyed what they got and were in the in crowd it might have lead to a few comments in the Product Hunt listing. If I had to do it all again, I may try to find a way to ensure half of the prizes went to Product Hunters that are on the inside.

Many of the tips here are just basics that go back to my experience with doing blogger outreach, and in the end that was all about just approaching the relationship as that, a relationship, and trying to make a new friend.

Once you’ve started with a bang get involved for the full time of your first day on Product Hunt. You’ll want to be ready to be there in case an early commenter posts a wrong price. If I’d been asleep, as I should have on Tokyo time, the first couple thousand hunters might have thought Look Up cost 10 times its price.

Interact off Product Hunt as well, as Link Texting suggest in their post The Product Hunt Effect.

2. Send tweets to people who upvote you. They’re doing a huge favor to you, be thankful and they’ll remember you.

Be genuine about it and there’s many benefits to it…

Like possible promo codes for Gym Hero

And love…

And possibly some more DL’s too ☺

Don’t send your new friends SPAM though. Send them something organic that you know they might like like, from having taken the time to read their profile. Don’t send a PRocessed mass tweet. I’m sure the chances of @JasonJasonStein responding with a download had he been hit with a mass tweet with many users tagged. Don’t get lazy just cause you alreay got an upvote, impress them…

And take advantage of milestones to thank them again. Probably not one-by-one again, but a thank you with the strength of an entire army!

Just because you’re doing something with motives, doesn’t mean it has to be cold or disingenuous. It just means you can be more motivated to do it proper. Some of my longest lasting online friendships come from what began as PR. When your PR is more focused on Personal Relationships than Public Relations.

Sidenote: If you want more tips on just establishing relationships online, read Alison’s summary of our relationship in her blog “How To Pitch A Blogger.” Most of the tips will help you with your pitching to Product Hunt.

In the end if it’s not genuine, if you’re not enjoying the hunt and it’s going to be evident. So go sign up for Product Hunt today and get involved if you’re not already. Become a part of the community before you need the community. You’ll also find lots more great products and tools like Startup Stash to help you in your hunt of making a great product. In this post, I’ve talked a lot about “they,” but it should have been “we,” because I’m a product hunter as well — I’m not just showing up to promote my own product.

Go get involved, and even if you can’t comment, tweet about your thoughts on your favorite hunts. You’ll be amazed at how involved their team is. You’ll be surprised how many replies and RT’s you’ll get from their team including their founder @rrhoover. Your involvement could end up with you as the #1 hunt of the day!

As for Look Up, 24 hours after debuting we ended up at #2 on Product Hunt. It can be tough to rise above Helium. But thanks to Product Hunt it was possible to rise to the top 10 apps in the Mac App Store though and the very top of the health apps, at #1, with Product Hunt’s help.

Now it’s time to make the most of the momentum that we’ve gotten from Product Hunt, iterate on the great feedback from their community, and spread Look Up’s eye relief. That and more hunting… ☺



If anything is unclear or you’ve got any questions feel free to tweet me @benWTNB