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Product marketing in focus: How to get ranked on Product Hunt

by | Oct 12, 2021 | Marketing, Public Relations

After we launched our product, Postaga, on Product Hunt, we ended up being #1 for the day and #2 for the week. That brought in a ton of traffic, visibility, and early traction for our new business. If we were to do a Product Hunt launch again for another product, this is the playbook we would use.

You can think of Product Hunt like social media for tech-based product launches: a place where tech lovers review, upvote, and share new ideas. You can also foster relationships with the early adopters that make or break your success by loving (or hating) your product from the beginning.

But before you become a success, you need to know how to get ranked on Product Hunt. Just having a good idea isn’t enough. You also need to consider presentation, interaction—and, most importantly, preparation.

Why Product Hunt?

Product Hunt is a powerful force in the tech, online publishing, and gaming niches. The site uses community voting and social sharing to propel the day’s best products in front of thousands of visitors. (Read: potential customers and brand marketers.)

And it is thousands. Product Hunt boasts a community of over 500,000 newsletter recipients, including authors, investors, entrepreneurs, and of course, members of the press. If you’re going to make it big, being featured in the newsletter may be the break you need.

Pre-launch checklist

Before you can rank on Product Hunt, you need to post. And before you post, you need to:

  • Research—our product, the market, and the competition
  • Create personal accounts for your team members
  • Link your social media profiles to Product Hunt
  • Prepare your listing, press releases, social media posts, blog posts, and email campaigns
  • Set targets for upvotes, comments, traffic, mentions, and new signups or downloads
  • And most of all, avoid spamming

Of course, some of these are easier said than done—and some require more explanation. Let’s cover the essential tips about ranking on Product Hunt so you don’t flop on Launch Day.

How to get ranked on Product Hunt: Pre-Launch Preparation

The way to win any battle—or in this case, ranking contest—is with preparation.

Make your product worth the price

A lousy concept makes for a lousy product. The market is saturated with millions of tech products, which means even the rarest niche has at least one solution. To stand out, make sure your product clears the triple-question high bar:

  • Is it useful?
  • Does it work?
  • And is it unique?

Pick a launch date

Once you have a solid product in the works, it’s time to pick a date. This gives you an idea of how long you have to develop and test your product (and work your way through the checklist).

Create your profile

If you don’t already have one, make a creator profile for yourself and your team members. While you can sign up as soon as a week before launch (or the same day with newsletter signup), a profile lets you interact with other users ahead of time. Establish yourself on Product Hunt now, and your future self will thank you later.

Reverse engineer other successful hunts

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel when doing a Product Hunt launch.

Doing a Product Hunt launch is a serious marketing strategy that can help your product get a lot of early visibility and traction. And there are many new products launching every day. To best ensure you have the most successful launch possible, you should take notes from other successful launches.

Before putting work into your own product launch page and different assets like images and gifs, see what other successfully launched products have done. In particular, look at launches of successful competitor products in your industry. Scour their product pages. See what they do differently. Compare them with other product pages for products that are not ranked as highly.

Take the things that well-ranked products are doing differently into consideration when building your product launch.

Network with other successful hunts

One thing that helped our Product Hunt launch was by reaching out to other company founders that had successful product launches. In hindsight, this was probably the most important thing we did. We got a lot of great feedback and insights (and all the ones I can remember I included in this article!) that helped us optimize for our launch.

Decide how to hunt your product

Product Hunt sorts every product into two tabs: Newest and Popular. (There’s a third also tab, Recommended, that pulls selections from the other two.) Products start in Newest – but if you seek success, you have to become Popular. And to do that, you need a solid hunting strategy.

There are two ways to get hunted on Product Hunt:

  • Ask someone to hunt your product for you

Working with another hunter can boost your product and give you the comfort that comes with experience. That said, Product Hunt discourages cold-contacting or paying hunters. (Those who do may find their product downgraded or removed.)

Instead, they advise working with hunters you know. But if you don’t know any – yet – many startup- and niche-oriented social media groups provide excellent starting points. You can also build valuable relationships on the Product Hunt community pages.

  • Hunt your own product

If you prefer to launch your own product, hunting yourself comes with several benefits, such as:

  • Connecting to and building relationships with your audience via grassroots marketing
  • Saving more time (and money)
  • Getting those upvotes naturally, which can lead to higher conversions

Plus, who knows your product better than yourself?

Build your audience

Whether you hunt or are hunted, one of the most crucial aspects of ranking on Product Hunt is building a community. To see the most success, you’ll want to start long before you launch.

You can start by using Product Hunt’s “Ship” feature to announce your launch months in advance. This gives you a chance to collect emails and source potential beta users and early adopters. Plus, you can connect with other entrepreneurs in Product Hunt’s communities.

Engaging outside Product Hunt is also beneficial. For instance, sites like Facebook, Slack, and IndieHackers run communities focused on tech niches. Here, you can share your journey, contribute to the conversation, and even improve your product.

You can also write a series of outreach emails to various influencers and high-powered users to cultivate friendships in high places.

Depending on the product that you are planning to launch and the overall strategy—you may just focus on a tight group of decision makers. If you do not have their contacts, find their email address and write a personalized email.

As you build relationships, be sure to mention your upcoming launch. You can even prepare a whitepaper on how it works for users who aren’t in the know. Make it easy for your audience to find you, and they’ll make it easy to get ranked on Product Hunt.

If you have a website for your product, you can build up your email list so you can later share the launch with them. One suggestion would be to have a lead magnet—a free downloadable piece of content that people get in exchange for their email address. Your lead magnet should be relevant to your business and your audience. Examples of good lead magnets are PDF guides, charts, spreadsheets, templates, or other useful assets. You could also have a simple form for people to opt in to your newsletter, but that tends to get less engagement than lead magnets.

Consider the power of PR

Designing an effective public relations marketing strategy can do wonders for a properly leveraged campaign. But remember that public relations is a long game—you’ll want to start weeks, or even months, ahead of Launch Day to generate enough publicity.

At the same time, starting too early means users are likely to forget about you. And if you’re a new product or company with little reach, you may need to shorten your PR time to avoid fading into the background.

Note that you can take advantage of three types of PR in a well-run campaign:

  • Owned media. This is any media you control, including your blog, social media, email newsletters, and website copy. Owned media lets you guide the narrative and generates long-term benefits at relatively little cost.
  • Paid media. Paid media includes advertorials, sponsorships, online and print advertising, and sponsored content marketing. In other words, it’s the content that you paid for.
  • Earned media. You enjoy earned media anytime your brand pops up in word-of-mouth advertising. It’s one of the best PR strategies to build a reputation—and the hardest to obtain. To drum up enough earned media to be meaningful, you’ll need to push your owned and paid media relationships first.

While your product launch is still a ways off, getting the word out now—and drafting Launch Day PR campaigns early—can save you lots of panics later.

How to get ranked on Product Hunt: Asset Preparation

As you near product launch, it’s time to start looking into asset preparations.

  • Create your launch post

The next step is to create a launch kit containing your:

  • Logo
  • Product name
  • Tagline
  • Links
  • Thumbnail
  • Photo gallery
  • Description
  • Maker and creator usernames
  • Social media links

If you need more guidance, Product Hunt lays out some excellent “Product Hunt Pro Tips.” And once you’ve optimized your data, it’s time to prepare the rest of your Launch Day necessities.

For ideas on assets, this is where I would especially recommend examining other successful launches. For example, you will notice that some product icon images are standard images, while others are gifs—yours should be a gif; it will stand out more and be more eye-catching.

For screenshots, videos, and images – you should have a brief, high-quality explainer video. And also, annotated images (not just plain screenshots), that show you what the product does but also has captions explaining what the viewer is looking at, can help you better engage with your audience.

  • Write a blog post

Since you can only post a limited amount of information on Product Hunt, some users write blog posts to link in the comments. Here, you can tell your story, introduce your product and the problem it solves, and personalize your brand content for your audience.

  • Draft your first comment

Makers can also upload a comment with their product post. Take the opportunity to describe your product and the problem it solves, ask for feedback, and create a narrative that makes others relate to you. And if you have a blog post, here’s a place to add a link!

  • Design a freebie or discount

Everyone loves free stuff—and the Product Hunt community is no exception. And since Product Hunt may source the majority of your early adopters, you might throw in extra features, a gift, or even a hefty discount. Anything that paints you in a positive light is a win!

Optimize your distribution process

Having a great product is one thing—maximizing your distribution potential is another.

First, you’ll want to optimize your website to handle any uptick in traffic. Writing an announcement about your upcoming product launch isn’t a bad idea, either.

Next, you’ll want to create relevant social media content for Facebook groups, Slack channels, your Twitter feed, and tech-oriented outlets to spread the word. Don’t be afraid to switch up your messaging to personally resonate with each audience!

Additionally, you might consider a social listening tool like Hootsuite to track your mentions on Launch Day. Interacting with your audience is crucial to keeping users engaged.

And if you haven’t already, now is a great time to prepare an email marketing campaign. For example, you might announce your product launch in your weekly newsletter and send out a “special edition” reminder the day before.

Lastly, you should know how not to optimize your distribution. Product Hunt lays out a few rules, including:

  • No asking for upvotes
  • No spamming or cold contacting via tweet or email
  • Don’t rely on tools like Thunderclap to shout your launch from the metaphorical rooftops
  • Link to your product page and @ProductHunt on social media (instead of linking directly to your Product Hunt page)

Wrap up your PR campaign

We noted above that a good PR campaign begins months in advance. But as you near Launch Day, it’s time to put the finishing touches on your PR initiative with:

  • Press releases. A well-done press release can help you feature in local and national news and position yourself as an industry authority. The secret to a great press release is writing a narrative that doesn’t rely on hyperbole, sales praise, or technical jargon.
  • Press kits. Companies use press kits to provide reporters and publishers with the resources they need to learn and write about their product and brand. A good press release includes quality photos, marketing materials, and answers to FAQs.
  • A personal touch. If you know a journalist, you might reach out to see if they’d be willing to write about your upcoming launch. Be sure to adhere to the basic rules of PR, including:
    • Selecting your journalists carefully
    • Writing short, personalized emails
    • Use bullet points to pitch potential angles
    • Only offer a detailed description after they express interest

Note that some companies prefer to contact journalists after their product launch. If you can boast that you made the front page of Product Hunt, you can drum up even more (free) interest.

How to get ranked on Product Hunt: Launch Day!

Product Hunt releases new products at 12:01 am PST, which means the best time to post is roughly 12:01-12:15 am PST to get a full day’s exposure around the globe. It’ll be an early morning (and a long day to follow), but a successful launch is worth the payoff.

Or, if you prefer to get your beauty sleep before engaging with the masses, you can set up an auto-launch a week in advance. Just be sure to gather all your ducks, including your:

  • Post—duh!
  • Personalized emails to friends, colleagues, influencers, and new users
  • Auto-comments on Product Hunt, your social media channels, and your website
  • Press releases and email campaigns

You might also want to check that players like Google, Facebook, and Amazon aren’t releasing products on the same day. Big names attract big attention—which detracts from your own.

Post-launch aftercare

The day of your product launch is a big one. On top of releasing a new product, you’re keeping up with your social media accounts, live chat and support requests from new visitors to your websitetracking your website analytics, and ensuring your team is kept cool, calm, and collected.

An especially important consideration is that, if your launch gets any traction, you are going to have a huge influx of traffic to your website from new potential customers and users. I would recommend blocking off your day to be available to answer live chats and email tickets that come in (and if you don’t yet have live chat support on your website, I would recommend adding it). Providing that personal touch can help you better engage with those Product Hunt visitors.

If your launch is going well, you will want to ensure you best capture and engage with that new audience.

Plus, you’ll want to:

  • Thank your contacts
  • Create a newsletter article about your results to keep your fans in the loop
  • Sift through upvoters and commenters for people of interest
  • Analyze the outcome
  • Onboard new customers

Even if you don’t make the Top 5 of Product Hunt, you deserve a break at the end of the day. You made it! That’s a win in and of itself. (One worth a slice of pizza and a nap, at the least.)

Conclusion

So there you have it. Take your time to prepare for the Product Hunt launch properly. Many companies are competing for the attention of the platform’s audience so it is better to come ready.

Make one or two teaser rounds and send out save the date—but do not overdo it. You can make your audience wait for just so long, after a particular point they will burn out and lose interest.

Apply these tips and hope to see you in the top of Product Hunt soon!

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Andy Cabasso
Andy Cabasso is co-founder of Postaga—the easiest way to build links and traffic, with an all-in-one SEO research, contact finder, and email outreach platform.

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