How we got to number 1 on Product Hunt — and stayed there for 24 hours

TL;DR = getting your product featured on the world’s best tech showcase isn’t enough; you gotta plan, plan some more and then plan again

Reputation, attention & discoverability in 2015

You’ve often heard the phrase, “ideas are bullshit, it’s the execution of them that matters,” right?

In late-2015, it’s probably worth taking that one step further: “Great execution of ideas is bullshit. It’s making sure people know about them that matters.

Building a reputation, getting attention and enhancing your discoverability has never been so easy, but yet, never more difficult:

Paradoxically, the internet makes it possible to get anything you’ve ever heard of but also makes it definitively impossible to have heard of everything. It allows anyone to be heard, but how do people hear of you?
— Benedict Evans, Andreesen Horowitz

There’s also the paradox wherein as you master certain channels and start to make them work for you, they begin to stop working, as your successful tactics start to become the diminishing-return strategies of others.

Product Hunt — human curation at massive scale

One place that has bucked this trend, retained the respect of its core audience and exploded in growth to reach the wider world is Product Hunt.

Dedicated to surfacing the best new products every day, it has become the place for people to geek out about the latest in tech — the best mobile apps, websites, hardware projects and other creations.

It’s a brilliant platform, building human curation at scale, constantly tweaking itself to make a great fit between its content and its users.

Having been hunted a year ago when our business had a different guise and approach (and more recently launched a peculiar but useful app we helped develop with our friends at HackerSchool), we knew the impact it could bring, but we also knew the site had become much more popular, complex and that competition would be fierce.

We’d need to plan. Far ahead.

Planning the launch

With the long-planned, somewhat-delayed rebrand and relaunch of our product happening over the course of this year, we knew the earlier we started to think about this, the better. Especially as this would depend on many external factors and parties beyond our control.

With October/November in our sights for a Product Hunt launch, co-founder Pedro Oliveira led the first weekly 15-minute catchups started in July, where a handful of us would report on initial desk research and requests for information from our networks.

Our growth engineer Paulo Teixeira met Paul Kemp (AKA the App Guy) some months before via the Startup Foundation Slack community, who had some experience in launching products on the site before and offered his guidance and assistance as we pieced together a plan.

We read pieces like this and this. We even checked out this manual that itself was upvoted nearly 800 times. #inception. The author of that, Kiki, would become our hunter on the day itself.

Thousands of words were read, dozens of emails dispatched, but it was clear we were in for a very big challenge, and no matter how much attention and effort we put into this, what mattered most was having a great product that people love.

Launch Day — Monday 2nd November 2015

After relaunching our product in October under the new brand we had unveiled in May, we felt like we were in a good place to open ourselves to the exposure that Product Hunt would bring and settled on 2nd November 2015.

Having spoken for some time with Kiki Shirr, CMO and co-founder of Fittr, we asked if she’d be up for hunting us that day. She was a big fan of Landing.jobs, having referred a few friends for roles through our paid referral mechanism, and was happy to help spread the word.

Around 10:45am GMT, we hit the front page of ProductHunt and within 20 minutes, we were in the number 1 slot, where we would stay until the clock reset 20 hours later.

But how to stay at number 1 for 24 hours?

Partly sheer luck (although some say you can plan even that), but our planning and ability to react to new information and ideas on the day played their part. A lot of things were going on behind the scenes.

We had a Trello board so we could reference Google Docs with resources and contact lists and to break down everything about the launch into small tasks that could be checked off one by one. We had enough in the pipeline to play with in case something went wrong or couldn’t be deployed or to combat another product fighting for the top spot.

We created a new Slack channel dedicated to the Product Hunt launch, allowing us to collaborate on detailed planning, asset creation and contact mapping for weeks before.

Come launch day, there was a shared camaraderie and culture around the project itself, and we were able to operate an effective digital war room, reacting to new comments as they were posted, brainstorming new ideas on the fly, asking experts if they thought saying or doing something like an all@ email blast might harm our chances (sending a surge of traffic from one source where many would have to create a new account just to upvote us = it would).

Don’t ignore the comments

One of the best parts of Product Hunt on launch day are all the comments.

Not only was it a great way for us to hear feedback from outside our immediate networks on the world’s premiere tech product destination, we were genuinely surprised to see past clients and customers we’d not heard from in some time posting their own positive reviews of us!

With co-founder Pedro, Head of Product Tiago Moreiras and my moustache fielding answers and asking our own questions throughout the day, it was obvious to any passing observer that we care deeply about what we’re doing, and the feedback we need to do better.

We worked hard throughout the day to not only acknowledge and engage with others, but to provoke, question and lead other discussion threads so that there would be plenty of empty hooks waiting to be snagged by new members coming across our hunt.

And it won’t surprise you to know that more comments = more upvotes = more traffic.

Something we overlooked in our planning, but did almost immediately: co-founder Pedro Oliveira offered a 15% discount on our lower pricing tier — it became the most upvoted comment on our page, and helped sign-up some curious employers.

That and other top tips came in to our inboxes from Product Hunt cofounder Erik Torenberg.

The Impact

It had an immediate and huge impact in our growth:

  • 70% increase in average traffic to our site on the day;
  • 65% increase in average traffic on the following day after being featured in the daily Product Hunt newsletter;
  • New talent user registrations performed 5 times better compared to our October average;
  • Three times as many companies registered in the 48 hour period following launch than average;
  • Four companies who already had an account published new jobs in the week of launch;
  • We reached many new audiences, mostly in the US and Canada, many of whom were interested in our core offer of European tech jobs

Top Tips for a successful Product Hunt launch

  • Reach out to influencers in the Product Hunt community, especially ones who have expressed an interest in your sector/vertical/market — develop relationships with them weeks or months in advance
  • Getting hunted by someone with a larger following will help with the initial burst of upvotes to keep you on the homepage on launch day
  • Getting hunted @ 6am Pacific Time (the site grew up in California) on a weekday is your best chance of getting as many votes as possible on launch day — you’ve got 18 hours to jump to the top of the listings, and then get included as one of a handful on the daily newsletter the following day
  • Make sure you give a heads-up to those you know who already have a Product Hunt account a day or two before and let them know when you’ve launched; especially customers you may already have so they can give some great testimonials
  • Ensure you have all media assets (including an animated GIF as your first thumbnail) and copy tested in mockups and prepared to upload; as soon as you’ve been hunted, you’ll be assigned as a “maker” on the page and be able to customise your page
  • Make a custom referral page to greet those clicking through from PH; makes it all the more personal and shows you’ve gone out of your way for this community. In our case, most of our business is in Western Europe, compared to the mostly American traffic from PH. So we pitched our custom banner message using Introbar to account for this.
  • Resist encouraging your people to sign up for new PH accounts on your launch day in order to just upvote you. That will be frowned upon by moderators who want to see their existing community engage with new content, not marketing-driven accounts that will be abandoned after your launch day
  • If you have relatively large comms channels like we do (tens of thousands) with our marketplace, email databases and social media followings, then you may have to resist activating one or all on launch day as a surge of link clicks from an email newsletter or a paid boost on Facebook might well result in moderators hitting the kill switch on your rise to the top
  • Make sure everyone on your team knows about the launch and is properly briefed and understands what role they have to play on the day
  • Last but not least. Never, EVER, solicit for upvotes. The smallest infraction in a private channel could have you penalised by moderators

Conclusion — have a good product; play by the rules

So what does it really take to land #1 on Product Hunt?

Well, you obviously need a great product, with a great story, made by great people like Tiago, Moreira, Rodrigues, Mafalda and Gustavo. We’ve been hard at work at ours for some time, and have many success stories from bringing together candidates and employers, but we know we have so much further to go. Being open to criticism and feedback and then acting on it is crucial.

Starting and nurturing relationships with those in a position to help you (often by helping them with their issues) is another big part of it.

Having a switched-on, passionate userbase (as we’re lucky to have) definitely helps. We are in constant contact with our users with community tools like Intercom (on-site live messaging with all users), Facebook (the infamous Landing.party group) and now Slack (because everyone’s on it all day every day).

A final word from Pedro:

“For those who are considering a ProductHunt launch, treat it like a serious project. Respect it, learn about it. Read, read, read all about it. See what others have done and learn from it. Make sure you have everything ready to go on the day, including your supporters ready to mobilise on your behalf, and to make sure everyone plays by the rules. And then just enjoy it. It’s over before you know it.”

We’re so proud to have done this together. Thanks again to everyone who helped make this a success, including Jamahl McMurran who was there from day 1 and Paul Kemp, who had Pedro and I on The App Guy podcast to talk about this very topic.

What’s next? Well, hopefully it’s not too long before we hit the 1,000 Upvote Club, and we’re looking into how we can get added to relevant collections. In the meantime, tell us what you think over on Product Hunt.

Matthew Carrozo
Head of Marketing
Landing.jobs


Originally published at blog.landing.jobs on November 30, 2015.