Idea to Product Hunt Launch in 5 days: Lessons

Dec, 30 2019
4 Minutes

Two weeks ago, I launched Emoji cp on Product Hunt.

It finished the day 13th out of 20 products with 67 upvotes.

Not bad for a 5 day project.

More importantly, I learned a couple things about Product Hunt and I wanted to share:

  1. 60 Character Pitch
  2. Voter Turnout
  3. Be Consistent

60 Character Pitch

The most important asset you'll need for Product Hunt is a tagline - your 60 character pitch.

Yes, the thumbnail can steal the show, but Product Hunt is a battle of taglines.

Let’s break down a Product Hunt Launch widget:

There are six things here:

  1. Thumbnail
  2. Title
  3. Tagline
  4. Categories
  5. Comment count
  6. Upvote count

And you can control 4:



There’s a good chance you’ve already chosen a name (a url is required for submission), and the categories leave little room for creativity. Thus, you’re left to experiment with the thumbnail and the tagline.

I’m no master of the thumbnail, but I have a tip for the tagline.

With the constrained real estate, there’s only space to convey your differentiated value. What makes your product pop?

To jumpstart your brainstorm, here are products with taglines that rock:

  • Superhuman - The fastest email experience ever made
  • Good Eggs - Absurdly fresh groceries, delivered
  • Yellowtail Wines - Great tasting, quality wines for everyone to enjoy
  • DuckDuckGo - The search engine that doesn’t track you (informal tagline)

Notice how they all differentiate themselves:

  • Superhuman is faster ⚡️
  • Good Eggs is fresher 🥬
  • Yellowtail Wines is more approachable 👋
  • DuckDuckGo is more private 😎

When you launch, prepare your hard-hitting, differentiated 60 character pitch.

Voter Turnout

I just lied when I said you can only control 4 sections in your launch widget (sorry!). The upvote count is actually a bit more in your control than you might think.

Product Hunt’s launch guide (here) encourages you to reach out to friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter. They discourage asking for upvotes, but encourage organic, authentic sharing.

For Emoji cp, I made a Twitter post, which 3 friends presumably saw, as they upvoted Emoji cp within an hour. I can’t tell if they enjoyed the product, or if they were showing their support (or both), but their upvotes made a difference! (Thanks guys ❤️)

In the first hour of launch, products jostle for position. In a hierarchical game like Product Hunt, products at the top accrue advantages. This is for a couple reasons:

  1. Traffic - many people never scroll past the 5th product. Furthermore, products in the bottom half are hidden behind a “load more” button. Thus, products at the top receive an unfair amount of traffic compared to products at the bottom. Assuming your widget converts at a fixed percentage: More traffic (🚦) = More upvotes (⬆️).
  2. Influence - when a product has a lot of upvotes, it influences others to give it more of a chance. Some people will upvote only once there are sufficient upvotes. (Subconsciously, I'm kind of like this). So really, More upvotes = Better conversion! The power of the herd is strong 🐮

Early upvotes from friends and followers give you an early boost in the rankings. And then, the benefits of increased traffic and influence start working for you, not against you.

Voter turnout matters - get your constituency behind you.

Btw, if you’re launching a product on Product Hunt, make sure you let me know. Knowing what I now know, I'll help you out!

Be Consistent

Emoji cp’s Product Hunt launch had one big problem.

The tagline on the website and the tagline on Product Hunt were different.

  • Website: Search for emoji. Click (or press Enter) to copy
  • ProductHunt: Find and copy emoji, fast

If customers like your product, they’ll want to tell their friends. When they do that, they’ll use some variation of your tagline. If you have multiple taglines, customers need to decide which one to use - IF they can even remember any of them.

Have one way of talking about your product. Use it as your Product Hunt tagline. Put it on your website. Use it in your tweets. Be consistent.

Caveat: you want to avoid semantic satiation. So on the same page, do not use the tagline 25 times. Rather, the idea here is to keep a consistent tagline across distinct impressions.

Conclusion

A successful Product Hunt launch can accelerate your product's adoption by weeks - and it's useful to get it right. Emoji cp was a fun side project of mine, so I didn't take it as seriously as others on Product Hunt do. That said, I learned some serious lessons:

  1. 60 Character Pitch - differentiate yourself with a value-dense tagline
  2. Voter Turnout - Upvotes beget more upvotes, so get your people out to the polls
  3. Be Consistent - Make it easier for word of mouth to take off and be consistent with your language

Finally, it's important to note that Product Hunt’s greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. Product Hunt drives traffic to you. It’s good at answering the question: “Do a lot of people like this product at least a little bit?”. It does not really give you an answer for the more important question: “Does anyone love this product?”.

For true insights, you need to listen to your fans. The comments section on Product Hunt is helpful (I received two roadmap suggestions that hinted at where Emoji cp should go), but you’ll need to dig for insights.

Funny enough, the most important piece of customer feedback I received wasn’t on Product Hunt at all! It came from a post I made to MakerLog:

Which led to a fellow Maker to send out this tweet:

This singular tweet was arguably just as important to me as the Product Hunt launch. The value proposition was validated (at least by one user), and it made it 💯% clear to me what made Emoji cp different.


A successful Product Hunt launch is great, but remember that it's just a start. Leverage that influx of users to find your true fans - and that's where the real work begins.

Happy Hunting!