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How to Launch on Product Hunt

Bootstrapping
Marketing
Startups
Strategy

Our Strategy:

Before I get into talking about our strategy, I want to briefly mention our goals. After all, you can't talk about strategy without talking about goals. We wanted to achieve 2 things; get on the front page and get on the newsletter. GradSchool necessarily has a pretty low effort conversion goal. To enter our funnel, we want people to sign up to the public community. There's no cost, and it's as simple as signing up for any newsletter, so there's really no friction. What does this mean? Well for one, we believed we could convert website traffic pretty well to public community users. Given that we could almost guarantee a conversion rate, we chose our goals because they would allow for the most exposure to the largest amount of people.


So, how are we going to get on to the front page AND on the newsletter of Product Hunt? For one, we wanted to work within the rules that Product Hunt sets. Those are:


1. don't ask for upvotes to your post

2. don't use bots to upvote your post


This is a pretty simple ask since Product Hunt wants products that their users think are cool, not some bot. Additionally, there seemed to be some interaction between Product Hunt employees and the products themselves. More on this later.


The Product Hunt Post

Our Product Hunt strategy was to make an optimized listing that showed the true value of our product. We spent close to 6 hours reviewing the copy of our post, this was probably our biggest focus on the post itself. Our copy was designed to explain our product and value without any noise at all. No lingo, jargon, or mumbo-jumbo. Our images were clean and had copy that we wrote in the same style as our post. We eliminated some whitespace with some cool gradient figures. I made them in Canva (which I strongly recommend) and used previewedapp to make mockups. Everything about our post explained GradSchool in the clearest terms so that people could easily understand our value. 


You can view our post here: https://www.producthunt.com/posts/gradschool


Marketing Strategy

On social media, we chose to focus on outwards gratification for everything that helped us on our way to the launch. We used Webflow templates, various no-code tools, and read content from well known people in the startup space. We either thanked them directly or involved them in the "our story" tweet. This makes for content that others will engage with directly by retweeting, quote tweeting, or responding to since they’re mentioned in it.


Timing

Launch date and time are also important factors in your Product Hunt launch. According to some articles, the best days to launch are Tuesday/ Thursday. There are other accounts that say Saturday/Sunday is the best day. I have a feeling there’s no “best” day. People also argue about whether you should post at 12:01 AM. 8:00AM, or 12:00PM. This depends on your strategy, If you want to get featured today, posting at 12:01 AM is probably the best option as you get the most time on the platform (remember, people across the world use Product Hunt). There's other ideas out there that Product Hunt helps those posts that have less hours of the day.


Our initial plan was to launch on Thursday, but we got delayed as we wanted to dial in our post a little bit more. We ended up launching on Friday, and we didn't do very well. We never got featured on the front page, and we didn't make it in the newsletter. But we learned something super interesting; It seems like Product Hunt subsidizes days with lower posts with posts that were promising from the previous day, but didn't get attention. Since we posted late


The people at Product Hunt identified GradSchool, as well as some other posts from Friday, to post on Saturday. When this happens you get to keep all of the upvotes and comments from the initial launch. Essentially you get a head start on the next day. I'm tempted to say that posts that had less time on the platform (i.e. posts that were made later in the day) fall in this category of posts that can subsidize the following day, but there’s nothing out there that confirms this. We launched at 3:00 AM PST on Friday Aug 7th, got taken off around 11:00 AM PST, and we "re-launched" on Saturday around 12:01 AM PST. 


I don’t recommend posting later in the day with the hope that you’ll get reposted with all your upvotes and comments the next day. Product Hunt recommends posting at 12:01 AM, I’d follow that and get as much exposure on the day you launch as possible. 


Our Results:

In sum, our strategy worked. We got top product of the day on Aug 8th and made it in the Monday newsletter. We drove over 2,000 unique site visits and converted 6.4% of traffic into community members + 2 paid members. Our monetization strategy wasn't fully formed yet, so a bit of a wasted opportunity there, but all-in-all we felt it was successful.


The only thing we would have changed is scheduling our post for 12:01 AM so we can have the maximum time on the platform. Taking a risk and posting later in the day, with the hope that you get bumped to the following day with all your votes/comments, is risky. 

Takeaways:

Form your launch strategy around your product's growth strategy

Think about how people purchase/sign up for your product. What is the goal you want visitors to reach? If you have a product high ticket prices or long sales cycles it may not do too well conversion wise. No one buys a $2,000 product or service off of product hunt on first sight. Make a conversion event that's low effort and low friction. Examples are: newsletter subscription, eBook download, community invite.

Product Hunt is the very first stage of your funnel. If you want to capture conversions, make it simple and offer the visitor real value.

 

Don't cheat the system, the Product Hunt team is filled with smart people who can see what you're doing

Your marketing towards the Product Hunt team as much as you are to the Product Hunt users. They're the gatekeepers of the newsletter and what products get re-launched. Don’t give them reasons to disregard your product, give them reasons to engage with your launch as well.

 

Engage on and off platform

This goes for both on and off Product Hunt. If people comment on your post, be quick to reply. If you have an email list, twitter following, facebook group, or other online audience - push your message out to them. One of the best ways to get other people to share your message is through the gratitude strategy that we used on twitter. Mention people or resources that helped you get to launch, they’ll pay it back by spreading the message. 


Final note

The products that do well on product hunt are the products the Product Hunt users like. Remember, Product Hunt has a target user. By launching on product hunt, you're reaching their target audience. You don't have control over who sees your product, the general hope is that your target user is also a user of Product Hunt. Don't get down if your launch doesn't go well. Odds are, you're launching to the wrong audience and should rethink your overall launch strategy.



This article was written by Brent Jensen, the Head of Product and Growth at GradSchool

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