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How I reached #1 on Product Hunt and spent only $300 on it

Launching a Product Hunt page is a sure and proven way to validate a product with a global audience. Let me tell you how I reached #1 Product of the Day with a two week preparation and a simple budget of $300. You’ll also see why networking is crucial and can even be more important than PR.

Why a Product Hunt launch

First and foremost, make sure a Product Hunt is a right fit for you, for your product and at that time of development. 

I’m the CEO and co-founder of Intch, a unique service for startup founders and executives that helps solve business and career tasks thanks to solid professional networking.

How was a Product Hunt launch going to help our service become successful? We needed to:

  • Validate our positioning
  • Get feedback on the product itself
  • And develop our metrics

The audience of Product Hunt are, generally speaking, innovators and early adopters. They will eagerly tell you if they understand and support your mission/vision (validate the way you position yourself), give honest and direct feedback on the product itself (customer development) and are located around the world, in different professional spheres and beyond your direct contacts (more realistic metrics). 

If this is what you’re after, then this is the page for you.

How to reach #1

Whenever unsure, I consult with people who know best. And that’s exactly what I did here. I’d first like to thank the founder of WeLoveNoCode for all the support. Now, I have a clear understanding of how the process works. I’ve put together a simple To-Do list that I am happy to share:


5 steps to #1 Product of the Day on Product Hunt

  1. Set your launch date

This is crucial. You can do your own research. According to ours at the time, startup publications on a Wednesday generated the best traffic results. That does mean the competition for the #1 slot is fierce. There’s least traffic on Sundays, which makes that #1 slot easier to reach without the help of hunters. 

That #1 slot is important to reach the selections list and get even more traffic. A #1 slot on a Sunday is therefore more valuable than a 3rd or 4th spot on a Wednesday. 

  1. Prepare your content

And it’s no joke. Preparing a launch is essentially preparing content. We thought we had this covered and it proved heavier than we anticipated. Don’t fall in the same trap. We had to delay our launch for a whole week just because the content was not fully ready. The vast majority of our $300 budget was spent on our content.

The content you’re going to need is:

  • A video (with captions!) 

It’s fairly straightforward. You want to make it clear what you’re developing, how it works and what problems/pains it solves, quickly and concisely. And therein lies the difficulty: think of the viewer first and foremost. It needs to be short. It needs to have captions so people can watch it sound-off. Make it about you. And make it about your target audience.

The video is the central part of your storytelling.

We put together a nice short video reel in 3 iterations over 5 days. It was greatly thanks to our CMO’s experience and their network.

  • An animated icon

The strategy you want to implement as soon as you’ve launched is to transfer your users to Product Hunt and gather about 40 to 100 upvotes to get into the “Popular” tab. That provides you with great organic traffic. From there on, everything depends on your product.

And there’s a cunning trick of the trade here. To Product Hunt users, that Popular tab features a bunch of products summarized in one catchy line. You want to be eye-catching to distinguish your product from the others. 

An animated icon easily does the trick. 

We fell short here because ours didn’t meet the Product Hunt standards and they switched ours to a static one. It’s my fair warning to you.

  • A concise product description and message to the community

There are 3 important things to really pay attention to:

  • Make sure you get your text edited and proofread by a professional beforehand
  • Your message must strike home to your audience so pay attention to the emotions you carry there
  • Preferably, you want to adapt your message to the Product Hunt audience. Our target audience is the audience of Product Hunt so there was no need for us but pay attention to that if your product is different

Here’s ours as an example:

Intch is a networking tool based on mutual help and collaboration rather than random meetings.
Join the networking space that allows you to help and get expert assistance, introduce and be introduced to people that matter, and manage your network!

  1. Outline and stick closely to your launch strategy clearly

A Product Hunt launch starts at midnight California time. Make the best of that time!

The outline is quite straightforward: 

  • Launch at 00:00
  • Gather quickly 40 to 100 upvotes from your loyal users and contacts
  • Reach the Popular tab 
  • Grow organically

We took it on ourselves to reach out in advance to our close contacts asking them to vote for us at 00:03 California time. We were very fortunate to have close contacts all over the world in different time zones that could upvote us at the right time. But even with these, we understood the need for a proper funnel. That’s why we set up automated message reminders to set off at 00:03. It was a kindly worded reminder that we had launched on Product Hunt and that we could be found in the Featured section. 

There’s word around that you shouldn’t share a direct link to your Product Hunt page. Apparently, it’s not the way to go. Your contacts should rather find your product from the selected section. We cannot confirm this ourselves but we followed that advice and it worked perfectly. 

  1. Be ready to deal with issues 

Most of the time, we were in first place, but there were some unexpected peculiarities that threw us off guard. For instance, we saw some of our upvotes disappearing. We immediately wrote to the Product Hunt support team and they were great. It so happens that this is a normal aspect of Product Hunt as they deal with bots and such and only keep real upvotes as much as they can. 

I would add another personal tip: do not hesitate to write to their support team. They were of great help to us and I know the day ran much more smoothly than would have been without our regular contact with their support.

We categorically refuse using bots so we were surprised at first. They answered with a ready-made reply, which shows this is a common occurrence. Be aware that your rating is very likely to fluctuate significantly in the first hours after launch.

  1. Answer all comments 

The last but crucial step is to make sure to answer comments from users to build that sense of dialogue. As I stated earlier, one of our goals was to get feedback on our product and our positioning.


Note that you can set times among the team so that there is someone to answer comments from users throughout the whole 24 hours. The faster you answer comments, the more conversions to real users you will make. That even grows the likelihood of Product Hunt users recommending you to others. It’s a feature of Product Hunt. You want to create an active dialogue to generate all that activity and buzz among the Product Hunt crowd. We know our engagement on Product Hunt played a great part in our success. 

We typically update our product once a week. Usually, we test those new releases with our organic traffic. But publications and launches like on Product Hunt give the opportunity to test the current state of things in a very real way, from the moment people learn of your product to the moment they become active users. It’s a gold mine of information for your customer development. 

Product Hunt users love the fact that they are part of a lively discussion with the real team behind the product. That’s why answering in a timely manner creates that dialogue they expect and gets them really involved, energy and time-wise, in your launch. Basically, they’ll give you the answers you seek if you participate as actively as they do in the Product Hunt world.

A significant number of the contacts we made then with Product Hunters are still active in our feedback loops to this day. And it’s already been more than a year since, as I write this. 

Conclusion

This campaign led us to a total of 450 real people upvoting our page. We saw 650 new users registered on the launch day. All in all, this campaign succeeded with 900 new registrations from 28 different countries, mostly from the US, Europe and India. 

We were satisfied with our results, overall. We created a landing page especially for the Product Hunt launch and it’s proven so effective that it’s our main page now. 

The most important conclusion that validated our positioning and our product as we had hoped is that the new people from Product Hunt used our solution the same way users who had previously registered upon personal invitations from their contacts. In general, the metrics were the same and stood their ground.

The one negative thing to come out of this was that, following our launch on Product Hunt, our users started complaining about spammers from Africa, France and Russia appearing. That’s something we simply learnt to deal with, though. It was bound to happen at one point.

It clearly does not overshadow the huge advantage of a successful launch on Product Hunt. A New York based venture fund contacted us with the intention of getting to know us and our business development plans. 

Good luck to you with your own Product Hunt launch! And do feel free to ask me if you’ve still got questions on how to reach that #1 spot. Or reach out if you’d like to share your business story on Intch blog. I’m on Intch.







 

 

Yakov Filippenko

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