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What we learnt from launching (successfully) on Product Hunt

How We Got To #4 On Product Hunt, while having the #1 engagement and # 2 upvote count. Lessons and mistakes we learned from launching ApyHub on Product Hunt
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NI
Nikolas Dimitroulakis
Last updated on November 28, 2022
The background:
We started planning for our Product Hunt launch around August 2022. At the time, our platform, ApyHub, had just been released, we were working on redesigning our UI and looking for ways to go public.
As a platform primarily intended for developers, the “traditional” approaches for reaching users have been proven to not be as effective. For example, paid advertising is something that is not recommended (as developers often have ad blockers). We therefore had to think both strategically (long term) and tactically (short- medium term).
This is where Product Hunt came into the picture - as a great way for some short -mid term wins, by creating some initial visibility into the platform and bringing some key users to try it. Especially if these users are entrepreneurs, innovators and makers, we thought that ApyHub would be relevant and useful. We were right.
Our goals:
One could say that the answer to this is straightforward: to be #1 product of the day or at least to be in the top 5. Right?
Well, sort of. As we said, our goal was to get to the doors of possible users, makers and developers who would find our platform useful and thus, help them build more awesome stuff. While we didn't have specific numbers in mind, we were clear that our goal was connected with KPIs like the traffic we are able to generate and, ultimately, the users we are able to convert, rather than the ranking itself. The ranking will always be a comparative thingy: You could be #1 easily if you launch on a calmer day than for example a Tuesday or a Wednesday when there is more competition. But more competition is there because there is more traffic. You get the point.
So, lesson #1 is: try to resist going for vanity targets, metrics and badges. Go for goals that are meaningful to your platform: Visits, registered users, community engagement.
In terms of our results, we ended up being #4 product of the day overall, while being #2 in upvotes (we will explain later how this can happen). And that translated to a 200% increase in registered users on our platform and several users joining our discord community.
Preparation:
One of the first things we did was to reach out to possible hunters to help us with the launch. No one in the team had used Product Hunt before so it was clear from the beginning that a hunter would be key to our possible success. Nothing crazy here in terms of tips: In our case, we were lucky enough to have Kevin William David accept to be the hunter of our product. Kevin had just hunted another cool developer platform (Adadot) and with over 13k followers and many successful product launches, Kevin certainly boosted our confidence and lent the desired “legitimacy” to our upcoming launch.
Lesson #2 : Having a hunter certainly helps especially if you are new on Product Hunt. Make sure that you reach out early enough (at least 6 weeks before the launch so you have enough time to prepare and align with the hunter).
Lesson #3: Prepare some nice collateral: There is no right or wrong here but what we saw working really well was to have at least a short video, along with some key slides with advantages, benefits and key value prop of the product.
During this exercise, we found out that what we had as key messaging could take some improvement, so we did internal workshops and optimized it before the launch.
We also debated over creating an upcoming page. Creating an upcoming page enables you to showcase your product and get some initial interest in the launch. Which brings me to mistake #1: Not creating an upcoming page as soon as possible. We created ours a couple of weeks before the launch but looking back, I think that making it available even earlier would have brought more benefits, more interest and better engagement.
We also worked hard in making sure we built some engagement with the Product Hunt community and in discussions, in advance of the release. Talking about the product, promoting our upcoming page and “advertising” the launch allowed us to build some confidence that our launch would be a success.
Launch:
I won't lie: launch days at Product Hunt are quite fun. I enjoyed the outreach, seeing the comments pop up, seeing the visitors converting to users, seeing everything come alive. There is a certain adrenaline and excitement that is absolutely unique.
Lesson #4 : Enjoy that day. Really.
It's a great opportunity to meetup with the team, discuss the progress, and celebrate all small successes. At ApyHub, we had a call every time we hit 100 users and it was very cool to see everyone being engaged and excited.
Launch day can also be tiring and exhausting. Outreach, discussions, groups, subgroups, emails and most of all: Availability in all timezones. Looking back, one of the reasons that we dropped from #2 was that we didn't have a strong presence in the US time zones. This is what cost us 2 places in the ranking. mistake #2: Relied on certain regions and mistake #3: Relied on new users. While we did a pretty good job in creating a buzz and engaging in discussions, we understood that many of the juicers we reached out to, had not actually made their product hunt profile. This approach penalizes the ranking - this is why we were #4 instead of #2.
Conclusion:
Launching on Product Hunt is as helpful as you allow it to be. Paying for upvotes and comments (surprise , yes some companies do that) is not a strategy that you want to adopt if your goal is the organic and natural growth of your platform. Product Hunt does have its hacks and shortcuts, but at its core, it's a community of folks who want to learn about new products that will improve their lives and/or businesses.
Overall, after our launch on product hunt, we observed:
  • High increase in site visits
  • 200x increase in registered users
  • Tremendous engagement and cool ideas around our roadmap
Lesson 5#: Focus on growth targets, give the right urgency for signups (perhaps an exclusive promotional coupon for your plans) and engage in sincere discussions.
Thats all for now: Stay tuned for more posts around launching on Product Hunt and other platforms.