Making the Most of Product Hunt

The complete guide by Mailburn

Inside Mailburn
Jun 29, 2015 · 9 min read

Over the past months, Product Hunt has become ultimate platform to launch new projects and startups. Every day, several dozens of new products are submitted for others to upvote. Many journalists, investors and technology evangelists continuously monitor Product Hunt to find the next big thing.

We will share with you tips on how to become famous on Product Hunt and will take the launch of Mailburn as an example. We have passed 500 upvotes mark and were featured on top of the day, week and month; so you know you can trust our word.

Any launch is like starting your car in the second gear. You need to push manually a bit to reach crowd effect and hit virality loop. Any launch requires about a month of preparation — as long as you don’t prefer so-called 48-hours “catch all” marathon right before the launch — Product Hunt here is not an exception.

Preparation has two main goals: to collect a critical number of friends to start the ball rolling and to prepare a website, application and social networks to welcome new users.

12 actions to take before the launch

1. Make sure your product is not shit

Seriously. Many startups create unnecessary things. Even if you have prepared well and made a decent PR job, you will not be able to achieve good results, as long as nobody is in need of your product.

Do not confound it with ‘complete full version’ or ‘it has no bugs’ situation. Product Hunt community is very loyal and clearly understands that the ideal result is difficult to be gained, especially when it’s just the first version of a product.

2. Create a checklist

No product launch is made without a schedule. Make a list for your team that includes tasks to be made. Distribute the tasks between teammates, follow the checklist daily and avoid throwing off the schedule. Schedule the launch time beforehand and follow it to the minute. Well scheduled work provides noticeable results.

3. Have a clear and good looking landing page

If you don’t have a good landing page, you can lose half of your users. If the launch is a success, your website will get 1–20 thousand visitors a day. And be sure they will be pushing all the buttons and links on it.

Traits of an ideal landing page:

  1. Clean design.
  2. Sharp and short texts.
  3. CTA button with high conversion. Our landing page top button has 9% conversion rate, while at launch time it spiked up to 14%.
  4. Top bar informing about your launch on Product Hunt. Many visitors will come to your website from mass media. This means you have to direct them to Product Hunt, so that they upvote your product. Such a bar can be made using Hellobar or Introbar.
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We created bright top bar with a simple link to PH
  1. Welcome message for visitors from Product Hunt. Even if you have no special offer for them, just welcome them. They will be pleased. Make a referral message with a special greeting:
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Use ?ref=producthunt for that

4. Gather a big waiting list

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Typical BetaList page

We hope you already have your first website visitors, who you conducted a customer development interview with, who alpha/beta tested your product and who are your true fans. If not, this is the time for you to get into guerrilla marketing.

Register on Beta List and Startup List — just these two publications provided our landing page with nearly 500 email addresses.

By the time of launch we got around thousand email addresses and attracted more than hundred active beta users.

5. Up your Twitter and Facebook profiles

Only users registered on Twitter have the right to upvote on Product Hunt, thus give a special priority to this social network. Your Twitter profile should no way be empty.

Make sure you have:

  1. Nice profile picture and cover photo made by designer. The cover photo with news about Product Hunt launch on it is preferred.
  2. Profile information includes relevant hashtags and link that goes to your landing page.
  3. 500+ followers. If you can’t get them by yourself, buy 500 followers on fiverr, it only costs $5. These are bots, but it doesn’t really matter, as you need a number different from zero.
  4. At least 20 relevant tweets during the past 1–2 months.

It is worth of repeating the same for Facebook, LinkedIn and any other social networks important to your business.

6. Up Twitter profiles of all teammates

If nothing else, at least upload profile pictures and add your teammates to the Product Hunt thread.

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7. Have a lot of friends

But don’t ask them to upvote you, it’s against the rules ;).

The bigger your network is the more people will upvote you because they know you and want to support you. And you need those early votes to get to double digit upvote count to stand out.

8. Find a top hunter who will hunt you

You can always hunt your own product, but results will be much better if you get hunted by someone else. The point is each Product Hunt user has followers; when hunter presents a new product, all the followers receive an email with the link to it. For example, Ryan Hoover, founder of Product Hunt, has 16 thousand followers.

You can visit this website. Sort the hunters by #Votes, as the number of #Followers is taken from Twitter and doesn’t show the hunter’s influence in PH community. Choose a top hunter and ask him to hunt you at the certain day and time. For this provide him with a link to your landing page, as well as the name of your product and its description.

We already had Bram Kanstein in our waiting list, so we chose him. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to feature us, but recommended his friend who had successfully hunted us.

9. Write texts to be posted during launch

Prepare the following material:

  1. 3–5 different “Thank you for upvoting us” credits for Ctrl+С Ctrl+V.
  2. Short posts on Facebook for you and your teammates informing that you are now featured on Product Hunt.
  3. Posts for relevant Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit (/r/entrepreneur) and Slack, post on HackerNews.
  4. Newsletter to engaged users from your waiting list.
  5. Newsletter to the rest of users from your waiting list.

10. Set up analytics and support

Make sure you have Google Analytics set up with goals, analytics in application is set, and you have ticket system ready. Users will want to be in communication with you, so do not ignore them. As for us, we use Google Analytics, Localytics, Helpshift and Mixpanel for Mailburn.

11. Make sure everything works well

No kidding, test everything two more times. Even three times.

Launch day

Let’s decide upon a launch time right away.

The best time to launch is
12:10 AM San Francisco Time

In this way you will span the whole calendar day on Product Hunt and will receive the maximum amount of upvotes.

The best day to launch is Tuesday or Wednesday. Product Hunt activity on Monday is rather low. If you choose Thursday or Friday, journalists and bloggers will not have time to write articles about you.

The launch goal is to be on top 3 and remain there all the time.

There will be two active periods — during business hours in Europe and during business hours in America. 2–4 hours gap between them will give you time to recover your breath and grab a bite.

So, at 12:10 AM top hunter will post about you on Product Hunt. Don’t forget to indicate launch as an Exclusive Launch — in this way your product will be outlined with a star icon.

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When posting on Product Hunt, mention people who made this product, share the link to App Store, to landing page, etc.

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Switch landing page into Product Hunt bar or splash screen.

Message to all your friends that you have officially launched and let them upvote, share and repost.

Send out a “We are featured on Product Hunt!” email to engaged people from waiting list. Do not ask for upvotes, it’s against the rules of Product Hunt, and you can be blocked for this. Just provide a link your product.

Reply to every new upvoter during the launch with a personal message on Twitter and follow him/her, as well.

CEO should reply to all comments on Product Hunt as promptly as possible. Try not to be offended at criticism and reply in a friendly way hint of humor. Product Hunt respects when founders are the ones who are involved in communication, but not PR-managers who usually write messages as dry as dust. If nobody adds comments, ping your friends to ask some questions.

Try to involve the whole team into reply process, so that CTO replies to tech questions, designer replies to usability questions and so on.

As soon as you pass 30 upvotes mark, feel free to post to social networks: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, HackerNews, Reddit, Slack, etc.

When you get over 70 upvotes, send out emails to the rest of your users from waiting list. Don’t forget to insert screenshot to show that you are on top of Product Hunt.

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Once you have more than 150 upvotes and you are #1, send out emails to mass media — startup accelerators, where you were studying, business incubators, local business communities, etc. Ask them to tweet about your product or to send out a newsletter. They usually gladly support promising startups.

When you reach 500 upvotes, consider it as a success. Feel free to send out pitches to big mass media (TechCrunch, PandoDaily, TNW, Wired, Business Insider).

If you finally pass a thousand number mark, leave it and focus on user support. Be at rest, now nobody will miss your product launch.

After the launch

Go to bed. Next day you will dive into tons of information, so you need fresh mind to estimate the scale of success (or failure).

If the launch was successful, you will be featured in mass media. Leave a comment on behalf of CEO and thank the publisher for the article. Contribute to discussions there — it enhances confidence of users in your product. We were mentioned in publications in Brazil, Germany, France and the Netherlands. Be ready to show your mad skills of Google Translate.

Make a list of publications and journals that wrote articles about your product and send them a personal thank you email or message on Twitter. They helped you a lot. In return you will be sending them press releases about your new updates every quarter :).

Reply to emails, tweets and support tickets — you should not leave any messages unreplied. If are too swamped, ask your teammates to fill in.

And of course sum up results and enjoy. You deserve it.

If your launch was successful it is a good idea to sum up it on Medium. Share your launch process, what results you got and what plans you have for the future. Try to write a compelling story, not a boring protocol of your launch.

Stats and results of Mailburn launch

  • We were #1 half of day on Product Hunt and finished in top 3.
  • We hit weekly and monthly top products.
  • 504 upvotes, 44 comments on PH
  • 10,000 website page views during launch (24 hours).
  • 5,000 installs.
  • 28 publications in mass media.
  • 512 tweets and more than 100 new followers on Twitter and likes on Facebook.

I can safely say that our launch was a blast. Not every product reaches 500 upvotes. Our application was far from ideal but it didn’t stop us from rising to top, and we got a great amount of feedback.

After launch our negotiations with investors significantly improved. Many investors and experts in Silicon Valley recognized us and said: “Ah, yes, I remember your; I saw you on Product Hunt.”

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