This is a guest post from Gabor Papp, the Growth Marketer of Shapr3D an awesome CAD tool designed for iPad pro. This article originally appeared on Gabor's blog in Hungarian and I (Roland, Chief Chamaileon) asked him to come up with an English version and guest post it on our site.

I'm a big fan of Gabor for his very detailed strategic approach to SEO, online marketing, or anything else he's involved in.

I hope this article will be useful for many of you who are before launching your product or service!

Let me give the word to Gabor from now on.

Shapr3D came out with it’s 2.0 version last December, and part of the roll out strategy was submitting the Product on Product Hunt.

This article will show you how to launch your product on Product Hunt and how to make it a successful launch.

Shapr3D - 3D CAD

Product Hunt: the new way to find early adopters

Product Hunt is a daily, voting based popularity contest for startups. The "winners" of the contest get the chance to appear on multiple channels of Product Hunt (Twitter, newsletters).

Ever since it's inception in 2013 Product Hunt became an essential part of every Silicon Valley product launch. Simply this is the easiest way to appear in front of various journalists, tech people and fellow founders and basically anyone who is involved in the tech business.

Every product has a Product Page, where users can comment, upvote and reach the website or app page. The products are grouped across various topics (Tech, Games, Books,…). The most successful ones appear on the Homepage, which refreshes daily, and shows a ranking of the launched products each day. The products are submitted by the Hunters, and is credited to the Makers (Hunters either name the Makers or you have to apply for the Maker title from Product Hunt itself).

After submission, the product will participate in the daily race. The race starts PST 00:00 and finishes PST 23:59. You have to get as many upvotes as you can by the end of the day. Use Product Hunt for getting early testers, and honest feedback from relevant people.

The hierarchy of Users

There are 3 level of users in the PH ecosystem. There are ones who

  • can only upvote
  • those who can comment and upvote and
  • the top of the food-chain are the hunters.

In order to step up, you have to convince someone to invite you to their level. Next to this all these people are given a ranking, which decides the weight of their upvote, interaction with your product.

How does the algorithm work?

The algorithm is not public, but we can narrow it down to a simple rule book based on its behavior. There are things it likes and there are things it doesn’t.

What it likes

  • upvote and hunt of top Hunters
  • organic discovery
  • the help of Product Hunt staff which will elevate your story to the featured page
  • lots of comments, and a growing discussion
  • upvotes right after the hunt, submission

What it doesn't like

  • aggressive upvote generation through multiple platforms
  • upvote, without going to the website
  • vote of new user
  • upvoting coming from a direct link

When to post on Product Hunt?

Data suggests that there are best times for your launch, submission. In terms of days the 2014 data suggests there are more upvotes per day in the middle of the week (Tuesday, Wednesdays, Thursday). In terms of hours you should launch as soon as you can, ideally 00:00 PST, as every hour you start earlier will raise your total upvotes by 8,7%.

When to post on Product Hunt?

Things you can calculate with

Things you can't calculate with

  • Launch of an app by a big company, that easily attracts visitors from your page. E.g.: Amazon Go, Netflix Offline.

How to launch our product? - short version

  1. Get Hunter
  2. Make preparations
  3. Submit the product
  4. Welcome Product Hunters with a comment
  5. Stick to the game-plan
  6. Be responsive to comments, inquiries
  7. Wait for the results

Shapr3D’s Product Hunt story

The preparation phase

This is the most time-consuming part of the whole launch process. The goal is to have everything by your hand on the day of the launch. It is gruesome, but a necessary step. The tasks can be divided into 3 big groups.

  1. Hunter’s Kit
  2. Contact lists
  3. Creating the copy

1. Hunter’s Kit

Before the launch you should search for someone, who has a lot of followers on Product Hunt and Twitter, so when (s)he posts something on the site the followers on both platforms will be notified. This latter characteristic can give you a lot of early, and strong upvotes.

The Hunters Kit has all the necessary copies, settings and visuals, which your hunter needs for a submit. The team at Shapr3D sent this Kit to Patrick Vlaskovits (@pv, little later about him), so he could hunt us. All the instructions were inside. It took him 2 minutes to submit the product. Take a look at the Kit.

product hunt master plan

After this we looked for an insider from Product Hunt, who helped put Shapr3d on the featured page, which would’ve been a hassle if we had to solve it ourselves (more time to get there, and not that many early votes).

2. Creating the contact lists

You need to find the proper people as the ranking depends on the quality of your upvote. Finding the right people takes time. The team compiled the following lists, keeping in mind that you need people, who have a Product Hunt account, and ideally some previous activity:

  • Startup and Marketing Facebook groups
  • Coworking spaces
  • Hungarian Product Pages on product hunt and their founders
  • Twitter of upvoters of Shapr3d 1.0
  • users who upvoted Shapr3D competitors or companies connected to CAD industry on Product Hunt
  • Twitter Mentions and connected Twitter accounts
  • People who have Twitter account from our email list
  • Hungarian Product Hunters
  • Top Hunters (constantly refreshing list here: http://500hunters.com)
  • Team + Investors + Advisors

3. Creating content

On the day of the launch you have to publish your PH specific content to multiple platforms. Create the content ahead of the launch, so when the day comes you only have to push the button and start posting the content.

  • Tweet and Facebook Post
  • GIF, video, picture
  • easily shareable content (create a viral loop if you can)
  • Product Hunt Twitter and Facebook temporary description change
  • Welcome comment in the name of the CEO
  • Write and organize the first few comments
  • Newsletter: about the 2.0 and the Product Hunt feature
  • Facebook Group + Co-working space posts (Since Hungary is a relatively small market, we have offered to write this blog post in exchange for their vote)

+1: Product Hunt exclusive launch

Product Hunt appreciates if you exclusively build your launch on them and/or each discovery comes with a discount. With a simple overlay or bonus code you can solve this, and the “?ref=Product Hunt” tag makes the Product Hunt crowd easily distinguishable. Register here for the exclusive launch: https://rrhoover.typeform.com/to/ysDOD2

The preparation (research, building lists, creating content) took 4 days in total for a team of 2.

Things to do on the day of the launch

Follow your game plan. Prepare yourself for an early morning/late night as the comments, inquiries will be coming in throughout the day, and it is better if you handle them instantly, as the Product Hunt fever only lasts a few days.

Our experience with launching Shapr3D 2.0

We could have done definitely better, but knowing that the product is not ideal for Product Hunt - since there's a quite high barrier to entry, namely an iPad Pro - we did well and learned a lot that we could improve on next time, if we launch a new version.

The upvotes and the effect

After the submit we waited for the upvotes to roll in. This is how it looked (Central European Timezone; from 4 pm to 9 am). Other than a few upticks, our upvote count increased quite steadily, but only linearly.

product hunt upvotes

At the moment we have 281 upvotes, because we managed to get 100+ votes after our launch date. The growth can be tracked back to the Product Hunt GIF Twitter account, which posted a GIF of the product (so make sure to create sharable images and videos for your submit). This resulted in us being in the all-time top products of our chosen categories.

Website Traffic: we had 600+ visitors from Product Hunt, which is okay, though this was nothing but an uptick, and we wouldn’t have put any effort in it, if we measured our success only based on this metric.

Product Hunt is a Twitter based race, so we also looked at the Twitter traffic since the launch, and we had a 125% growth in the Profile views in December, and had grown our follower base with 10%. The campaign also helped us pick up a few backlinks from websites covering the story, which in general can help with better ranking with Google.

Learnings

1. The quality of the upvote really counts

The outreach was too wide, and it included people, whose first PH activity was our upvote. These votes, though look like a positive thing (+1 upvote), the algorithm punishes you for them. You need around 5 followers in PH if you want your vote to be positive (not confirmed by PH, just urban legend). On the picture below you will see that Projects by Code School had fewer votes, but still ranked higher.

Product hunt - the quality of the upvote counts

2. Starting early is really worth it

We should’ve started earlier. With the early morning start (PST), we lost a lot of upvotes. When we entered the race we were already few hundreds vote behind others.

3. You need friends

You have to know people in order to succeed. A good Hunter and a connection at PH can really help you boost your launch.

4. There are typical PH products, we aren't one of them

Shapr3D is not a classical PH product. 3D modeling is a niche and our users are not on Product Hunt. The silver lining comes when you compare Shapr3D to products with either the iPad or 3DPrinting topic. We are ranked 19th all-time among all iPad tags, and 2nd if you look at iPad-only apps. We also lead the 3D printing category. These rankings can be beneficial in the long run.

5. If you build your product on an existing product you will have more exposure.

A Slack or Google integration has a big viewership by default, as nearly everyone uses these tools. If you have an extension or an integration, PH is definitely the place to go.

6. People have to be able to try your product

Mobile apps can be downloaded, and web apps can be viewed instantly. These type of products will have bigger upvote totals, as compared to e.g. Shapr3D, which runs only an iPad Pro, and only with an Apple Pencil

Why should you try a "Product Hunt"

We asked ourselves two questions at the end of our launch day

  • was it worth for us?
  • who should give it a try?

Was it worth for us?

So-so, yes and no. If terms of traffic generated, no. We did gain a big amount of experience and we can say we are category leaders in a Product Hunt topic. In that sense, yes.

Who should give it a try?

Someone, who

  • has a Product Hunt compatible product
  • has its target market on PH
  • has time to prepare
  • has a Plan B

If you fit this profile, you still have a long way down the road. Put effort into it, and do the preparation phase as diligently as you can.

To help you with the preparation we put together the resources we worked from http://www.scoop.it/t/product-hunt-1

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Bonus

In this game, you can the guess which Product Hunt product got the more votes.

Product hunt bonus

If you use it enough, you will come across Shapr3D as well: http://www.highervslower.com/game/producthunt_votes

Have you had a successful launch on Product Hunt? Please add your learnings in a comment! We would love to learn from your takeaways too.

Author
Gabor Papp

Gabor Papp

Gabor Papp is an online marketing & international SEO expert. He works full time as the Growth Marketer of Shapr3D, the world's first professional CAD designed for iPad Pro.