A new product launch is never easy, even if you’re a well-known marketer or entrepreneur. Product Hunt, if used properly, can be an effective way to launch a new product in a crowded market.
If you’ve chosen—or are thinking about choosing—Product Hunt as your platform, here are the steps to improve your chances of success.
What is Product Hunt and who should use it?
Product Hunt is a community-based website that allows makers and marketers to launch their products or services and get in touch with their first real users. The community can jump start products through votes and (honest) reviews, which are essential in the early stages of campaigns.
Product Hunt pairs people working in product development and people interested in testing new products in their infancy. Product Hunt is free, an added benefit for many startups.
Often, makers and influencers are happy to test your product, even if it’s in an MVP stage or has bugs. These early supporters form a base of users and provide valuable feedback regarding your product’s functionality.
Regular users can also discover and test new apps and tools first hand. They can contribute to the final development of their favorite apps and tools via reviews and comments, engage actively with makers, and learn technical details.
One of the most successful stories for a Product Hunt launch is Robinhood, a cost-free and commission-free brokerage app that facilitates investments without additional costs for every closed deal.
What were their numbers? Well, their campaign allowed them to raise $176 million in total funding and spread the word about their app across platforms. They recently hit 2 million users and have enjoyed 17% monthly growth for several months.
Few launches will hit those heights. But here are the keys to increasing your chances of success before, during, and after the launch.
Before the Launch
According to Jeroen Corthout, whose campaign on Product Hunt was a great success:
When you’re launching on Product Hunt, it’s important to understand that you will only get noticed if you manage to hit the front page. That’s why it’s important to build up some support for your launch upfront within the Product Hunt community.
That begs the larger question: What do you want to achieve with this Product Hunt launch?
Do you want your product to be featured on the front page? Do you want to get press coverage? Do you want to attract investors? Do you want 10,000 new users?
Whatever your objective, establish the metrics you want to track in advance to determine whether your launch is a success:
- Comments and reviews received;
- Number of upvotes;
- Number of downloads/active installs;
- Referral traffic from social media and Product Hunt;
- Mentions in the media and on social media platforms.
Once you know what you want—and how you’ll measure it—you can begin preparing your product, site, and supporting materials to achieve your goals.
1. Prepare your product/website for the launch
Product Hunt is ideal for a startup—it connects you with your first real community of users. However, before getting there, test your product with a close community of friends or peers outside the Product Hunt community. Let’s call this the “alpha” test. It’s the first stage of your campaign.
The key is to make sure that everything works before going public. Here are some things you check at this point:
- Your product is ready to be tested. This means that you’ve applied feedback from alpha testers and that your product has no major bugs for its core functionality. Your product is not going to be perfect. That’s perfectly fine. You want to find out which features are worth polishing. A few core features, basic onboarding, nice design, and an intuitive interface are the minimum requirements.
- You have supporting materials to make your product easy to use. Prepare a full list of FAQ-type content for potential customers that covers every technical aspect of the product.
- Your social media profiles are up and running. Create dedicated social media pages and profiles, which can help with market research and spread the word about your product.
- Some aspect of your product is free. If you plan a future commercial/paid plan for your users, implement this option after the launch. You need people to come and test it, review it, and publish their comments on Product Hunt and other channels. Nobody will pay upfront for the privilege. Free trials and freemium models can work, as well as special offers to Product Hunt users (e.g. three months of free access).
- You have a dedicated Product Hunt page on your website. You can welcome Product Hunt users and deliver a custom offer. Here’s an example of such a page from Algolia, which offers two free months of access:
The dedicated page is the go-to place for delivering more information about your product and company to new users. Here’s another example from Video Ask, a simple app launched through Product Hunt a while ago:
The page is easy to understand and gives the visitor an instant idea of what the product is about. You get links to the app, an explainer video and, of course, a link to try Video Ask.
Or, you can create an entirely new section on your website, one dedicated solely to your Product Hunt launch:
2. Prepare yourself for the Product Hunt community
Create your own Product Hunt account and get added as a maker. Then, browse the website, see what pages look like, what people are talking about, and how makers respond to user comments and reviews.
Learn everything you can about the ecosystem. Be active:
- Discover new tools that you may be interested in;
- Upvote those that you find useful;
- Leave comments and reviews.
Identify a few super-active Product Hunters and connect with them. These people will be able to paint an accurate picture of the community and how to approach it when you launch.
3. Get your team to create Product Hunt accounts
Teach your team about Product Hunt. Inform them about the benefits and what you require from them post-launch. Advise them to create free hunter accounts (at least) one to two weeks before the actual launch.
For your alpha testing community, prepare a newsletter explaining your plans to work with Product Hunt and encourage them to create hunter accounts as well. (Product Hunt is less than 5 years old. Not all your testers—or even members of your team—will know what it’s about.)
Many won’t sign up, but if you convince a few, you’ll gain a lot. Any existing community is better than none.
4. Prepare an article or FAQ page in which you explain your product in detail
A highly visual website alone may not convey enough information. Prepare an article and, if necessary, a press release. You don’t have to send it to the press but it should be there, available on your website, if your visitors want more information regarding your launch.
Prepare an FAQ page, too. Answer your alpha testers’ most common questions about your product. Teach people about what your product is good for, how it can help them, and so on.
If your product is better seen in action, you can include screenshots or videos (which can be used in other ways, too, as detailed below).
5. Create an entertaining explainer video or GIF
Almost all businesses use videos for their marketing campaigns, and 91% of marketers consider videos an important part of their strategy.
Share explainer videos on YouTube, on your website, and on other social media channels. You can also post videos on your Product Hunt page. Here’s an example of a Product Hunt page that features a video description:
GIF animations that show your product in action are a great addition to press releases and write-ups on third-party blogs and websites.
6. Prepare screenshots that show your product in action
You’ll need screenshots to present your product and to use for tutorials and related articles.
Screenshots also make great assets for your support team to aid text-based explanations to alpha testers, Product Hunt users, and, down the road, paying customers.
Here’s a solid example of screenshots for a dedicated Product Hunt page. It comes from Poker via Slack:
Here’s another example from Kony Quantum, which uses screenshots on its official Product Hunt launch page:
7. Prepare visuals for a social media campaign
If the product launch goes well, you’ll support the Product Hunt campaign across all channels, social media included.
You’ll need attractive posts, banners, and designs to help persuade your target audience to try your product. Online design tools such as Bannersnack allow you to create full sets of visuals for all social media platforms at once.
Here are examples of social media posts on Facebook and Twitter that announced the start of a Product Hunt campaign:
A second example comes from Sunlight:
8. Prepare explainer text/short description about the product
You’ll need the following:
- Tag Name;
- Meta Tags;
- Website URL;
- Description (150–300 characters).
The description is an opportunity to provide more detailed information about your product and connect it to your unique value proposition. Try to keep it short (3–4 sentences) and avoid using buzzwords.
This will give you basic information to share about your product with third-party websites, blogs, and online digital catalogs.
It’ll also give you the details you need later to fill out the information for your Product Hunt launch:
As you can see, you need a name, a tagline, a couple of tags/keywords, a thumbnail, and, of course, a download link (for an app) or a link to the landing page dedicated to the Product Hunt launch.
9. Rest before the launch
Take at least a day or two to prepare yourself for launch day. It’s going to be stressful, and you’ll have a lot of work to do when you finally get to launch on Product Hunt.
The Launch Day
You’ve finally gotten to the big day. What steps should you take now?
For starters, make sure there’s no other activity planned for the day. It’s important to monitor the Product Hunt account and respond quickly and thoroughly to comments, reviews, and questions.
RealtimeBoard learned how easy it is to fail if you don’t pay attention to your Product Hunt campaign. I encourage you to read about their experience, but there were two key takeaways:
- Product Hunt is all about two-way communication.
- No one will mention your product (regardless of how good it is) if you don’t respond to the community.
Once you’re able to give the launch your full attention, here are the next steps.
1. Publish your product on Product Hunt
This is probably the most important step. You get only one chance, which leaves no room for error.
To post the product, you need a personal account on Product Hunt. (We’ve already covered this step.) Now, access the Submit page and post your link:
Add your primary link, whether it links to the product, website, or official blog. Later, you’ll get to post other links, such as links to the App Store or Google Play, if necessary.
The next step requires you to add a tagline. You get to describe your product in 60 characters or less. The tagline should clearly state what makes your product different and focus on the value it offers your audience.
Sheet2Site blends text and emojis—adding a bit of flair without undermining clarity:
Other things you need to take care of when you launch your product:
- A thumbnail picture. A small visual description of your product. It can be a static image or an animated GIF.
- A gallery of images. Here, you can add more visuals—describe your product or show it in action. If you have a video, you can add it to the gallery. It will show up first.
- Media. Add a few links from around the web, if you have them (e.g. an early profile of your startup or founders).
- Description. While the tagline is limited, you can a few more phrases to describe your product in this section.
- Topics: Choose 3 or 4 topics for your product.
- Social Links. Add your official Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts.
Here’s a simple yet effective example from Sublime’s new version launch, one of the most popular code editors:
2. Respond with high-quality comments
People who like your product will upvote it. Some will leave comments with questions or suggestions. Others will just congratulate you. You may get negative comments as well.
What’s important is how you respond to those comments. Be specific. Give details. Answer the questions as well as you can. If you receive negative comments, avoid being defensive.
Product Hunt is a community based on trust, where people help each other. Negative comments help you understand what you may have gotten wrong with your product (or how you’re marketing it).
Here’s an example of a great response from Buffer to a critical comment:
Communication and dialogue are keys to a successful launch. As long as the feedback is honest and reciprocal, you’ll have a lot to gain from the community and better understand your product.
3. Shout out on social media that you’re on Product Hunt
Let everybody know of your Product Hunt launch. Engage with your community on social media. Let them know what Product Hunt is, why you chose it for your official launch, and how they can contribute if they’re not members.
Also, respond to all the comments, questions, and reviews you receive. Here’s an example of a simple social media callout that includes a Product Hunt link but also solicits feedback on social media:
4. Don’t ask for upvotes
Do not ask for upvotes. Ask for feedback but never for upvotes. Feedback is honest and constructive. Upvotes should come only from those who like your product.
Can you earn honest upvotes? According to Olga Smirnova, Product Marketing Manager at SEMrush, the system works:
We’ve surfed Product Hunt in advance to find products that target a similar audience. We’ve tried their products, wrote an honest review and connected with them. That helped us to get some useful tips, discuss cross-promotion options and get new connections.
The same thing we did on Facebook communities. Some companies run a Facebook group specifically for Product Hunt Campaign, so there you can also find your early adopters.
5. Add a widget on your site to highlight your live launch on Product Hunt
Some visitors will come to your website without knowing about your launch on Product Hunt.
A widget (or banner or other announcement) can drive traffic to your launch page and earn more comments, reviews, and upvotes.
Here’s a simple and effective upvote badge on Cleanmock’s website:
You don’t need any special tools to create a similar button. You can embed it right from your Product Hunt account.
6. Send an email newsletter to your community
If you have an existing community or list of potential clients, you can announce your Product Hunt launch via an email newsletter. Later, if your product gets featured as the “Product of the Day” or “Product of the Week” on Product Hunt, you can send another update.
Make sure your email newsletter is worth reading. Include new product information and valuable articles or tips about your tool. Other elements that influence success for any email newsletter apply, too:
- Create a compelling subject line. People receive dozens of emails each day. Most never get opened.
- Show how your product can help them. Tell your audience what problem you’re solving and how. Include a couple of screenshots that show your product in action.
- Give them something in return for their attention. A free subscription for testers can be a good idea. Choose your offers based on your strategy and product.
7. Send the link to your friends, family, and colleagues
Remember that we’ve talked about inviting your colleagues and friends to sign up for Product Hunt? Now, they can really help you with their upvotes and reviews.
Send them the link to your page—but don’t send it to all of them at the same time. It may seem suspicious to have instant upvotes and reviews from people who’ve never published anything else on Product Hunt.
What can they do for you?
- Upvote your product.
- Submit a well-written review with pros and cons.
- Leave a comment.
- Upvote comments and mark reviews as Helpful. (This is important especially for comments posted by the maker.)
- Reply to others’ comments and start a discussion.
As Smirnova detailed,
Our team members have reached their friends from the professional area (experts, writers, editors, digital or content marketers). We’ve told them about the tool and about our plans for Product Hunt. At the day X we’ve sent a reminder and a public invitation to check out page and leave their feedback.
Product Hunt values not only the number of upvotes but also the speed of collecting upvotes. So it is important to gain upvotes as fast as you can. And people that are doubting whether they want to upvote or not are more likely to upvote if the campaign already has many points. So our close friends from the professional area helped us to generate the initial push.
The initial push—often catalyzed by friends, family, and colleagues—helps make your campaign visible to the larger Product Hunt community.
After the Launch
Your product is published on Product Hunt. Is there anything else to do? Here are three things:
1. Show off your badge on your site or social media
If you get featured on Product Hunt or earn lots of good reviews, you can add that badge to your site and social media accounts to keep the momentum going.
You can also announce your campaign’s success on social media:
2. Thank your community
Thank your community for their votes and comments. Let them know that they were helpful and important to you. Be sure to do it on social media, too, where these interactions can give added life to an ongoing, broader product launch campaign.
Here’s an example from Nevercode:
3. Analyze your launch
Analyze your stats. Measure referral traffic from Product Hunt, newly acquired customers, number of comments received—all the metrics that you established in the pre-launch phase.
Web Traffic. How many referral visits did the Product Hunt launch generate? Launch day will spike traffic, but do you still see an increase in Direct visits in the days and weeks afterward? That may help let you know whether the launch was a one-time blip or if it’s generating real traction.
Social media mentions. How many new followers did you gain? Are they engaging with your social media posts after the launch? Can you use your larger following to build a better demographic profile of your core supporters.
Feedback received on Product Hunt. All the comments and reviews posted on your product page should give you the clues to improve your product or marketing strategy.
If you have lots of responses, you can code the qualitative comment data to categorize responses and prioritize product development.
The same data is also valuable for a voice of customer analysis to align marketing copy with how potential customers think and talk about your product.
New users and conversions. This is also an important metric, especially if you launched an MVP version and want to see if there’s enough demand to continue to create something bigger and better.
Product Hunt can add momentum to your product launch, put you in touch with new customers, and earn feedback from others interested in what you do.
This article walked through the process to launch a campaign on Product Hunt. Here are five points to remember:
- Preparation is key. Launching on Product Hunt is not a walk in the park. Without a proper plan in place, you have little chance of success.
- Real-time communication is critical. Responding immediately to comments can greatly influence your success. Allocate a full day (you and your team) to be active and engaging.
- Product Hunt is a community. Product Hunt is full of like-minded people who are passionate about tech and startups. They can provide exceptionally valuable feedback.
- Know your why. Even though the platform is extremely popular in the tech market, you still need to ask yourself why it’s important for you to launch your product on Product Hunt and how it’s going to benefit you.
- Differentiate yourself. Dozens of products are launched every single day on Product Hunt, which is why you need supporting text and images that stand out from the crowd. Stay away from generic descriptions, buzzwords, or mediocre visuals.