📂 How to Launch on Product Hunt (Playbook to #1 of the Day)

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Achieving the coveted #1 Product of the Day, or if you do a really exceptional job, #1 Product of the Week or Month, is all about nailing the basics.

I know that’s a boring answer but hear me out…

I’ve launched on Product Hunt several times. SavvyCal (#2 Product of the Month) and Swipe Files (#2 Product of the Day) most recently, but there have been a few others in the past.

Plus, many others have used my advice to launch to #1 of the day like Reform and Potion.

And there is no secret. There is no magic growth hack. There is no silver bullet.

Getting to #1 Product of the Day is not about a fancy strategy. It’s all about execution.

Fortunately for you, most people are terrible at executing a half-decent launch plan.

YOU CAN GET TO #1.

I’ll show you the playbook.

But first, some don’ts:

❌ Buy upvotes

❌ Ask for upvotes on social media

❌ Criticize other launches on your day

❌ Spam / cold outreach

❌ Have people create accounts to upvote you day of

❌ Get people to create second accounts

❌ Attempt to game the system/algorithm

❌ Launch on Product Hunt the day after you announce something

❌ Launch on a Saturday, Sunday, or Monday

This list alone will help you perform much better on Product Hunt.

Avoiding shady tactics should be fairly obvious, but the last two are especially important.

For whatever reason, I’ve noticed that some people launch on Product Hunt the day after they make a big announcement or official launch. Why? I have no idea. But the results are never good. They’ve already used up all their social capital and the buzz is gone.

As a rule of thumb, I also generally recommend avoiding Mondays, when everyone launches, and weekends, when traffic is much lower and it’s harder to get people’s attention.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday are much better days to launch.

Now, let’s get into the best practices.

This is simply the result of reverse-engineering what’s worked for other companies in the past, plus some trial and error of my own.

You can look through years and years of past launches and see where each post ranked for the day and then investigate what they did to get there.

We studied Product Hunt. I looked at what apps were the top ones of the day, top ones of the week. What was their approach and how did that differ from some of the other products? What did they do that help them stand out? — Andy Cabasso of Postaga (#1 on 05/19/20)

What you’ll find is that there are two distinct phases to the strategy: before launch day and launch day.

Here’s an outline of what we’ll cover:

Before launch day

  • Optimize your landing page and onboarding flow
  • Find a hunter
  • Prepare your post media, copy, & offer
  • Announce you’ll be on PH
  • Schedule to post at 12:01am PT
  • Newsletter & social post promo at 12:02am PT

Launch day

  • Build early momentum immediately after posting
  • DM/email your network & communities
  • Publish 3-4 additional posts/newsletters throughout the day
  • Add PH badge to your site and social profiles
  • Respond to and upvote comments
  • DM PH Twitter

Before launch day

Contrary to popular belief, Product Hunt should not be your first marketing effort.

You need to already have an audience that can amplify you.

This’ll make even more sense as we get to launch-day strategies but the essence is that Product Hunt positions are largely won within the first hour. To do so, you’ll need an army of supporters from social media and an email list.

Instead of using Product Hunt to get your first customers, use it to reach the masses.

Think of it as the crescendo of your launch — the final push that accelerates you into escape velocity.

By delaying your Product Hunt launch until later in your product journey, you can be much more confident that you can actually convert traffic into customers.

What’s the point if you get #1 of the day, but your landing page is poorly constructed and you don’t get many new signups?

That’s the last thing you want to happen.

Before we launched SavvyCal, we made some major updates to the landing page copy and some customizations for Product Hunters (only above the fold shown here) that tripled the visitor to signup conversion rate.

Before
After

We also knew that signups were converting into customers since the trial conversion rate was hovering above 50%. Time to amp it up!

Test your onboarding flow and make sure people can actually successfully use the product.

The last thing you want is to be troubleshooting bugs or fixing broken flows while launching.

Now, to find a hunter.

A hunter is someone who posts on your behalf and is listed as a “Hunter” in the post.

This site has a whole bunch of prominent hunters.

Hunters used to be a lot more important because Product Hunt would send a notification to all their followers.

That still happens, but it’s much less effective these days.

Now, think of it more as influencer marketing.

Find someone with overlap in your industry and who brings some credibility. They don’t even have to be a “hunter” per se. That site has a list of folks who’ve been known to hunt in the past, but if you have a prominent investor, friend, or influencer that you’d like to leverage for their audience, go for it.

Even then, you don’t need a hunter. You can hunt it yourself. But a hunter is definitely a bonus.

I occasionally hunt products myself. DM me on Twitter if you want me hunt for you.

Once you’ve recruited a hunter or decided to hunt it yourself, it’s time to begin preparing your post.

Preview Hunt is a free site that allows you to test out your post.

Since updating their UI, it’s not an exact match anymore. But still helpful when putting everything together so that you can confidently send off all your post assets to the hunter.

Think of your Product Hunt post just like you would your landing page. You want to optimize it to convert into two things:

  1. Upvotes
  2. Visits to your site

The thumbnail, name, and tagline are what visitors will see when they’re scrolling the front page of the site, so it’s absolutely essential that you draw visitors into clicking on your post.

You can choose up to 5 product categories applicable to your posting. This is mostly for Product Hunt to help group you with similar products and competitors, and to come up in search results.

I always recommend uploading a video walkthrough in addition to high fidelity, annotated screenshots.

The video should be no longer than 2 minutes long and should introduce the founder, the major product differentiators, and clean, seamless transitions between pages.

The images are absolutely critical to show off your product.

Visitors will spare just a few seconds to make a judgment of your post mainly based on scrolling through your product imagery. Upload at least two images at a minimum .

The order is important. The first image will be used as a preview card on Twitter, Facebook, etc, so give extra effort to it.

Preview Hunt will help you crop your pictures to a preferred ratio after uploading.

You can also add a short description underneath the images. It’s very short and should be straight to the point about what your product does.

Think of it as an extended tagline.

And if you have a coupon code to offer, the description is a great place to offer it since it’s high up on the page.

Next up is the first comment.

Make it personable, detailed, and easy to read.

This is your elevator pitch. Talk about the origin story and the super distilled version of why people should check it out.

Think about the PR headline.

If you do have a hunter, package up all your assets for them in a Google Drive folder or Notion page.

Now we start getting to the fun stuff.

In the old days, you didn’t talk about how you were planning on launching on Product Hunt for fear that someone else would hunt you ahead of schedule and screw up your plans.

These days, the Product Hunt team is exceptionally gracious about launching when you want to and delisting if that were to happen.

So there’s nothing to fear! Which means that you can build up some hype ahead of time to make sure your audience is anticipating your launch.

If you’re really cunning, you can use your upcoming Product Hunt launch as a strategy to get more users before a whole bunch more sign up and exploit a scarce resource like a username.

Launch day

Here we go.

Read carefully because this is the most important part.

Everyone is always skeptical when I tell them that this is the most important tip of all.

But after they do it, it clicks.

Make sure to schedule your post to go live right at 12:01am PST, as soon as the clock resets and a new day starts for posts.

Then, promote it IMMEDIATELY once it is live.

Stay up late. Schedule it. Pull an all-nighter. Whatever you need to do.

But please hear me: Drive traffic to your post immediately after posting so you can start building upvote momentum.

You want to get 30-100 upvotes within the first hour of posting.

The best way to do this is to post on social media asking for “support” and to send out an email (yes, at midnight PST) to your audience. Send it to your personal list, your user list, your mom, your friends… everyone.

Remember, Product Hunt has a global audience.

Midnight PST is 8am in the UK, so they’re just starting their workday, and 5pm in Australia, so they’re just wrapping up their workday.

Here’s what we sent out for SavvyCal:

So why am I putting so much emphasis on promoting at midnight?

💡 The top 5 positions are won and lost between 12:01 – 1:00am.

Take the #1 position by building upvotes immediately after midnight → visitors come to the site and click on the #1 position → a percentage of those upvote → #1 position stays #1 by getting upvotes from random visitors.

It’s a virtuous cycle.

The Product Hunt front page is like the front page of Google. The top 3 positions take the lion share of the traffic. But unlike Google, you’re not at the mercy of an opaque algorithm to get to the top of the page.

If, for whatever reason, your post isn’t showing on the front page, DM the Product Hunt team to ask to be featured.

I usually DM them regardless just to make sure I’m seeing the same thing as everyone else.

Product Hunt still does a good amount of curation so you want to make sure you’re visible on the site.

This way, they may even tweet about you as well. Later in the day, they usually tweet about a few of the top-ranking products of the day.

Once you build that early momentum and secure a top position, you just have to play defense the other 23 hours of the day.

Add a link to your personal and corporate profiles to drive traffic to the post from folks who pass by your profile.

Keep momentum by continuing to post on social and even sending an additional 1-2 emails.

Other ideas:

  • Host a Twitter Space
  • Livestream product demo
  • Thread about what you’ve learned thus far
  • Thread about the timeline
  • Thread about how you’ve built the product
  • Thread about ways customers use the product

Add Product Hunt badges to your site.

If someone doesn’t upvote and then comes to the site, this is your chance to convert them into an upvote.

Also, anyone who didn’t come from Product Hunt can now also give you an upvote.

Upvote and reply to every comment.

I have no data to prove this but I’m 99% sure that comments influence the ranking algorithm as it creates more activity to draw people to the Product Hunt post.

You can also post or ask friends to post in other communities for you.

DM/email friends to:

  • Upvote
  • Leave a comment/review
  • Like/comment/RT

Post in:

  • Facebook groups
  • Slack groups
  • Circle groups
  • Indie Hackers
  • Entrepreneur groups

You really want to be spending the entire day dedicated to promoting your Product Hunt post.

Hustle. Scrape and claw for every single upvote.

All of these seemingly insignificant tactics add up. The difference between finishing #1 and #2 can be just a few upvotes.

You don’t want to lose steam late in the day only to have your #1 spot stripped away at the 11th hour (literally).

SavvyCal had the #1 position all day until about 11pm PST in which another post overtook us. We learned that lesson the hard way!

If you’re really lucky, you might even get featured in the Product Hunt newsletter the next day.

This newsletter feature sent 3x more traffic to SavvyCal than the actual site posting itself.

Post-launch:

  • Thank your supporters for helping out
  • Add your Product Hunt badge to your footer for social proof
  • Link to your Product Hunt post in automated emails for continued upvotes

To recap…

  1. Nail the fundamentals of the post
  2. Build early momentum as soon as you launch

The rest will take care of itself.

Product Hunt has the potential to be an inflection point for your MRR growth.

Don’t take it for granted!

For more, you can listen to a podcast interview I did for Creative Elements and watch this workshop I recorded.

—Corey

p.s. do you want to be able to compare your marketing metrics with other SaaS companies? Fill out the State of SaaS Marketing Survey →

Thanks again to our featured sponsors:

  1. Agorapulse: “The Zappos of social media management platforms” helps you plan, schedule, and report on your social presence.
  2. Ahrefs: Ahrefs Webmaster Tools is a free SEO toolset to help you build backlinks, improve your site, and rank for keywords.
  3. The Juice: “Spotify for marketing & sales content” to discover blogs, podcasts, and videos to help you grow your business.
  4. 42/Agency: My #1 recommended demand generation agency for SaaS to help you drive demos and signups.
  5. Supermetrics: Get all your marketing data into your reporting tool of choice. Push data from 70+ integrations into Google Data Studio, Sheets, and more.

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