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Eyeing the #1 Rank on Product Hunt with our First Ever Launch of Zipy.ai
M S N Karthik
~ 12 min read | Published on Mar 22, 2023
The What and the Where?
Today, we are introducing three revolutionary products.
The first one is a User Behavior Monitor with Session Replays.
The second is a revolutionary Error Debugger.
And the third is a breakthrough Workflow Intelligence Tool.
So, three things — A User Behavior Monitor, a revolutionary Error Debugger, and a breakthrough Workflow Intelligence Tool.
A User Monitor, an Error Debugger, and a Critical Workflow tracker.
A Monitor… A Debugger… Are you getting it?
These are not three separate tools. This is one product, and we are calling it Zipy. Today, Zipy is going to re-invent Customer Observability.
Does that ring a bell?
Remember Steve Jobs launching the first iPhone with a big bang? We wanted to plan something big for Zipy too. However, the only catch was that we were in a post-Covid world with rising infections and many of our team members working remotely. Hence we had to launch of product somewhere else — Online!
And being an early stage product, how do you get traction by launching online? The answer is by doing it on the world’s biggest product launch platform — Product Hunt (PH).
The Why and the How?
Launching on Product Hunt provides you all the visibility your product needs to skyrocket the inbound traffic. But remember, this is temporary. A week or a month after your launch, although you might be getting some traffic from PH recommendations, 90% of the traffic numbers you see on the launch day will vanish. Hence you're advised to launch multiple versions or sub-products of your Company, every 6 months, so that you can spike the traffic every now and then. What matters the most, is how you make the most out of the traffic during the launch day.
On the PH featured homepage, only 5 products are seen before the 1st page fold. Out of them, one is sponsored. So for you to drive more traffic to your website, the goal is to be among the top 4 products for the day. Let's see how to do that.
How to launch on Product hunt?
This is one of the most asked questions on Google from early-stage startups. So we have documented all the planning we had done for our own PH launch, which made Zipy the #1 Product of the day with 252 comments, 80 reviews, and 782 upvotes.
The Pre-Launch Checklist
1. Starting early
You should set aside at least 2 months for preparing for a Product Hunt launch. This time is crucial to plan well for a good launch.
2. Support starts from home
Launching on PH is a team stunt and needs high-level coordination from everyone.
Get all the team members to create accounts on PH and finish their onboarding on the platform.
Follow each other and also other hunters on PH to expand the network.
For the 2 months period prior to the launch, ask your teammates to follow various product launches on a daily basis, support them and engage in comments and discussions of the products they like.
All this improves the PH scores of their profiles, which will help you in your launch when they support and engage with your launch.
Define actionable items and entrust ownership for various tasks among all the team members—one owner for Social Media strategy, one for content creation and awareness, one for PH profile, one for communications, and so on.
On a daily basis, conduct a 15-minute stand-up meeting with all the team members to discuss the progress on action items and also the learnings from other PH launches they might have supported that week. This helps you optimize your launch better.
3. Reaching out to top Hunters
Search for top product hunters in your domain on tools like Upvote Bell and reach out to them at least 1 month in advance to hunt your product.
According to PH, hunting your product yourself has the same weightage as getting it hunted by a top hunter. Having said that, when you bring a top hunter onboard, their network and followers get notified about your product and there’s every possibility to get some more traction to your listing.
Reach out to them on Twitter, Linkedin, or PH itself, but don’t be pushy. Converse with them about what you’re building and ask them politely if they would like to hunt your product.
Make the tagline of the product interesting. You just have 60 characters to explain the months of hard work you've put in. So be specific and elucidate the USP of the product.
An animated GIF thumbnail for your listing and well-designed Gallery Images help in grabbing eyeballs.
People like watching videos more than reading descriptions. So a short, but engaging product video will help them understand the USP of the product and your journey. Here’s the video that we made for our listing:
Update the Social Media Links of your product on the listing page.
It is always better to add multiple Makers on the listing, as that would increase the weightage for the listing.
Each maker can add Maker Comments, but it is advised not to put more than 2 or 3 maker comments. More will just dilute the narrative. Just be natural and genuine while writing the Maker Comments. Tell your story instead of doing a sales pitch — This makes the content resonate with your audience.
Provide a Special Launch Day Discount offer or a Promo Code for all the people trying your product from PH. This increases the chance for more free trials and conversions.
This can be done in 3 ways — reaching out to people via social media, creating awareness campaigns about the launch, and tapping into personal networks on channels like WhatsApp for asking for their support.
Create a list of influencers, mentors, advisors, founders, and your ideal customers in your network to be engaged.
If you are part of a local startup community or funded by a VC or an angel network, don’t shy away from asking for support there.
Reach out to people 2-3 days in advance instead of asking people to support on product hunt after the launch. Keep them informed prior to the launch, so that as soon as your listing is up, you can reach out again with the link for their reviews.
Reach out to people on various channels — WhatsApp, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, or even phone, depending upon your relationship with them.
Share the launch campaign on Social Media so that your followers on LinkedIn/Twitter are also updated about the launch.
Email all Beta Customers you might already be working with prior to the launch. Ask them for their support and reviews on the listing.
If you are part of startup slack groups, you can try posting about the launch there too. It is all about awareness of the launch. More the awareness in your network, the more is the support you get on the D-Day.
Find your target personas on PH with good profile scores , connect with them on Linkedin or Twitter and talk about your product. This makes it easier to ask them for support on the day of launch.
Ask your entire team to follow all these steps. More the team members, the more is the network and reach.
6. What not to do?
Remember one thing, never ask for upvotes . This could potentially get you banned from Product Hunt.
Instead of asking for upvotes, ask people for their support and reviews. If they really like the product, they’ll anyway upvote it themselves.
7. Oiling the Data Engine well
Optimize your website and sign up flows to make it easy for people to try the product.
Set up analytics tools like Mixpanel, Google Analytics, or Zipy on your website and app, to track the conversions and analyze user behavior.
We used Zipy on Zipy for our launch, which was like the movie Inception. Zipy is a customer observability tool that has Session Replay and Error Monitoring in one place. Hence we were able to track the actions of each and every user landing on our website or app from Product Hunt and analyze their behavior.
Set up Chatbots on your website, so that people can reach out to you for support easily.
Prepare analytics dashboards to measure conversions in the PH funnel — Product Hunt Listing > Website > Signups / Calendly Demos. This gives you an idea of where people are dropping off. Remember to always stay on top of this data.
The Launch Checklist
1. Choosing the right time to Hunt
PH launch day runs from 12:01 am to 11:59 pm PST (Pacific Standard Time). So it is better to schedule the launch at 12:01 am PST as that gives you 24 hours to get to the top in the race.
In our research, we found out that a mid-week launch on a Wednesday or a Thursday works the best. Hence we launched it on a Wednesday.
Since the launch is at midnight PST, engage with folks in other time zones in your network at the launch time. In our case, we tapped into our network in India and South East Asia for the first 6 hours of the launch as it is mid-day there. Then we shifted our focus to EU before we started running social media campaigns and asking for support in the US, Australia, and New Zealand time zones.
It is important to get consistent engagement and support throughout the day. The More the support, the more is your visibility in the top 4 slots, and more new people stumble upon your listing. It’s a feedback loop, you want to take advantage of.
3. The D-Day Plan
As mentioned before, divide the ownership of various action items among the team members and sync up hourly to check the progress and health of the systems.
In our case, since most of our team was remote, we had created a Google Meet call for 24 hours and at any given point of time, there was 90% attendance in the call throughout the day and 60% during our night. Even though we had divided the availability of the team into 6-hour shifts, the team was so pumped up with energy that everybody stayed on the call for most of the time. At any given point in time, there were at least 1 or 2 people responsible for each area of activity. This was easily the longest call in our lives and was a brilliant one. I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every person on our team and their families for supporting the launch.
The Marketing team was responsible for posting the Product Hunt updates on social media, with quirky memes. We had literally hijacked the LinkedIn feeds of our networks with nothing but Zipy for a period of 24-36 hours. Most importantly, this was all organic!
The Engineering team was constantly on top of all our cloud servers and systems, and looking for any problems to firefight.
The Customer Success and Sales team members were running at 150% capacity showing the product to the folks who booked demos through PH.
There were 4 people assigned to take care of the engagement on the PH listing, by replying to the comments and reviews that were pouring in.
It was all so perfect, it felt like being part of an orchestra.
4. The HackerNews Hack
We had enabled a Product Hunt badge on the landing page of our website, so that anyone landing organically there, can check out our Product Hunt listing and support us.
There were multiple instances when our competitors for the day came very close to dethroning us from #1. It was then that one of the founders from our network gave us a tip about launching Zipy simultaneously on ‘Show’ section of Y-combinator’s HackerNews.
We listed it on HackerNews, and emailed the moderators for support, by explaining our story. But we didn’t hope any good to happen from that as it was not well prepared. And I was burnt out by that moment as it was already 2 AM in the night. So I slept, fearing that we would fall behind in the race by the time I woke up.
When I woke up after 4 hours, I saw that there was a gap of around 200 votes between us and the product at #2. This was an exhilarating moment for me personally!
What happened was that our HN listing appeared on the first page of Hacker News main page for 6 hours. This resulted in a huge traffic boost to the website and some of those people checked out the PH launch through the badge embedded on the landing page. It worked out like magic.
Luckily for Zipy, as a result of this consistent push throughout, we started as Number 1 for the day as soon as we got listed, and remained Number 1 throughout the 24 hrs.
The Post-Launch Notes
Reach out to people who upvoted and supported you and thank to them through respective channels.
A PH launch gets you a spike in traffic for a day or a week and it dies down soon after that. But it is up to you how you use and convert that traffic for good.
It is advisable to repeat the launch every 6 months — to continue creating a buzz in the community. This way your back-linking improves and it adds to SEO and organic traffic in the long run.
Note that you can’t launch the same product in under 6 months, so for repeat launches, you can launch a sub-product or a new feature that redirects to your main product.
Stay on top of Retention Metrics: Try to retain the sign-ups you’ve got through the launch. While you generate a lot of TOFU from the launch, it’s just the beginning of the sales team’s activity.
A lot of product feedback tends to pour in through the comments on the listing. Keep your product hats on to listen to the community and better the product.
Hope this article gives you an idea about how we went about ranking #1 on Product Hunt and general do’s and don’ts for your launch. All the very best. Until next time, may the best product win!