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How We Clinched 5th Place on Product Hunt (Until We Lost It)

October 4, 2018 | Amy Strada | | Smartlook

This is our Product Hunt Launch Day Saga. We soared to 5th Product of the Day* and stayed there for hours (until like midnight our time, when “New Google Chrome” swooped in, and, predictably, shoved all other products down — we’re not bitter).

Let’s find out what we did right.

(*Technically, by upvotes, we were 4th. Again — not bitter.)

What should you hunt?

A few years ago, someone outside the company hunted Smartlook. This was before my time, so I don’t know the details, but it’s very unlikely anyone at Smartlook knew about this.

Someone had said, “Hey, Smartlook’s awesome. Let me tell the world about it!”

First off, thanks. And second, we could have helped!

We decided that we needed to maximize the value of this next launch.

But rather than launch Smartlook again, we narrowed the focus. Which is why we decided to go with our recently-launched mobile app features — they were new, unique, and direct, and people would be curious about Smartlook generally. Win all around.

Who should hunt it?

The two schools of thought: to Hunt Yourself or Be Hunted.

I went with the latter for a few reasons:

  1. Not too many people knew the name “Smartlook”;
  2. Our people weren’t active on PH, meaning they wouldn’t have a lot of clout; and
  3. Finding a hunter would be a better way to spread the word about Smartlook.

To find our perfect hunter, I parsed through those who had hunted, upvoted, or followed those first two PH forays. I checked how active they were on both Product Hunt and Twitter, and I wanted to make sure they had a lot of PH followers (since their followers get notified about hunted products).

I found the perfect balance of a hunter, and I reached out to her. She wanted to hear more, and the rest is history.

There were a few backup hunters, in case the first one didn’t pan out. We got lucky.

What do you need to prepare?

A week before a launch date was set, I drafted some emails to send to our user base with a heads up that we’d be on Product Hunt in the coming days (GDPR-friendly and all that). Playing within PH’s rules, we just wanted to keep the launch on everyone’s radar.

We also drafted an email to send on the day of launch (roughly around 1 PM GMT), linking directly to our PH page and, again, asking for feedback. This ended up being the coolest thing for us, because within the hour or two following this email, our numbers started rocketing upwards, and our comments and reviews sections started filling up. The atmosphere in the office was really thrilling.

As for collaterals, I heavily relied on Preview Hunt. This PH launch page generator shows you what everything will look like (approximately) on your own page. I played around with various texts and graphics to ensure the easiest understanding of what this product does. (KISS — don’t expect people to understand your nuanced features.)

I also created social media graphics and texts, which were more fun than necessary, in our experience. Watching the upvotes climb and sharing our successes with Twitter was a rush, but our following on Twitter isn’t sizeable enough for it to have really mattered.

Another thing we did was infiltrate a bunch of LinkedIn and Facebook Groups, as well as some Slack User Groups and Reddit. The first two were easy enough, but make sure you start joining these groups at least two weeks before your launch — the lag between joining and getting accepted varies. Then, we posted slight variations on messages, depending on the group, asking for feedback on our PH page.

Slack User Groups were cool to check out, but you really need to find active ones, and not ones that have upwards of 20K members. At that point, you’re screaming into the void. Reddit, as anyone in social marketing knows, is hellishly dangerous to play with. With the help of one “good karma” account, we managed to post in a few relevant subreddits, but there was next to no traction from them, and two of our posts actually got us punched in the gut. Redditors are serious. Beware.

Lastly, we scraped around for lists of influencers on Twitter, as well as people who’d be interested in us (think keywords like SaaS, startups, UX), and I attempted to reach out to those people on the day of launch with our PH link, asking them to check us out. With a bit more forethought, this might have helped us a lot. Note to self: Spend more time on this next time.

Oh — and we launched around 8 AM GMT.

Any last words?

I’m a content writer, not a campaign manager. My job can be stressful, but I certainly don’t envy the stress that comes with planning and launching a new campaign. Do I have everything? Is it consistent? Will it all work?

That being said, this launch was a cool experience. Sitting around all day, refreshing the page like a lunatic, feeling a surge of adrenaline every time the numbers would increase — it’s not often a marketing campaign can make you feel so energized.

In our experience, this isn’t something that requires tons of prep, but the earlier you start thinking about it, the better. At least, the earlier you start thinking about where and how to promote your PH page, the better.

Look. We got on the featured list pretty early, and we were 5th Product of the Day for a long, long time. 4th, if you’re not using PH’s vague algorithm and just going by upvotes. A lot of interesting leads came in, and we got a steep rise in traffic and interest. It was worth it.

But a word of advice: Don’t get too attached, because Google can swoop in and steal your thunder at midnight.