How we got featured on Product Hunt’s front page for 3 days

Product Hunt launches businesses successfully  — scroll to the bottom for our key takeaways!

Hi, I’m Neil, the CEO of Ramp (we’re trying to make the process of buying custom t-shirts for your team quicker, smarter, simpler and more transparent), and we recently spent three days with a significant presence on the front page of one of the greatest platform for promoting services in Technology. I’d like to share with you what happened, and how we’ve benefited. 

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You can read a million and one blog posts about how to “win” on Product Hunt. This isn’t one of those. This is just putting some simple, honest numbers around what happened to us. I can’t be sure whether our success was down to our, ahem, genius or dumb luck. Or a mix of both.

Product Hunt launches businesses successfully -Shop-now-custom-t-shirts-for-teams-and-events

I’m not trying to suggest a way of gaming Product Hunt. Firstly because I really can’t be sure what worked, and what didn’t work. And secondly because those guys are certainly a lot smarter than us, so will undoubtedly be one step ahead of anything we attempted. But they did help us launch successfully, and bring ourselves to the attention of the world.

Wednesday morning.

We’re advised to list at 7am UK time, and we instantly tweet and Facebook about our listing. Product Hunt strongly discourage asking for votes (which I totally understand, as otherwise it just descends into a popularity competition). So we’re careful to not ask for votes, and just ask people to check out our listing, and perhaps ask us a question.

Because of our good network of friends, we get a bunch of early morning votes, quickly rise to the top few slots of the front page, and traffic starts coming in. There’s about 15–20 people on our site at any given point. We’ve had a successful launch on Product Hunt, but we’ve no idea how long it will last.

If you read the blogs about PH, they’re in no doubt that questions and discussions drive both traffic, and help with their ranking algorithm. Having lots of questions posted in a short space of time appears to help us get the “Trending Right Now” tag. We get it two or three times throughout the day, and it seems to follow periods of question and answer activity.

9am UK time.

Things start to get busier.

30–40 people on the site at any one time. Lots of people using the “LiveChat”. It’s actually been incredible for us, and in retrospect is the best thing about this whole process. We’re getting a load of great insight into where the stumbling blocks are. People asking us simple questions that they wouldn’t ask publicly on Product Hunt. “Can you do X?” “How much is X?”. We’ve only been live a matter of days, and there’s so much we need to improve. But this info is all gold to us.

If you are an early stage product listing on Product Hunt I strongly recommend you use a LiveChat box on your site. You will learn SO much.

As we go through the morning we’re still in the Top 4, and traffic is getting steadily higher. We realise that this is now all about surfing. We’re on a wave, and we need to stay on top of it for as long as possible, at least until the USA comes online, and gets us visibility there. It’s like being on Google, I suppose. If you’re not on the front page, you may as well not exist. And because we’re on the front page, we get seen loads.

We start thinking of hacky ways to get our PH listing even more visibility:

  • I realised there is list of people you may or may not know that follow PH on Twitter. A judicious DM or tweet might work well:https://twitter.com/ProductHunt/followers_you_follow
  • The same is true for FB. Which of our friends are Product Hunt “likers”?
  • We ran some FB and Twitter adverts (targeted at people who like PH — “Hey, we’re trending on Product Hunt”) but they sent traffic direct to PH, so were difficult to measure. Generated about 40 clicks in total, so maybe a handful of upvotes? Possibly worth it very early on, when you’re trying to “get on the wave”.
  • Also, I noticed that when you comment on Product Hunt, you’re encouraged to tweet. I did a search for the standard text used in those tweets. These people are obviously active on PH:https://twitter.com/search?src=typd&q=producthunt%20%22my%20thoughts%20on%22
  • We followed or tweeted all of these people, ensuring that our latest (or pinned) tweet was something about us trending on Product Hunt.

And I obviously posted loads on FB and Twitter throughout the day “Hey look, we’re trending. Check us out!”.

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I’ve no idea whether any of these hacks actually drove traffic to PH, or whether they subsequently upvoted us. But it was worth a try.

The question now is how we’re going to make good on all this positive PR potential (hey, alliteration!).

1pm UK time.

It’s now 8am in New York. Things start hotting up, and our LiveChat box has gone wild. We’re juggling 6 or 7 conversations at once. The same questions and statements still keep coming up. There’s some basic things we need to fix that, before today, we just assumed were clear and obvious.

We’ve now been in the top 3 or 4 slot on PH for 6 hours, and I get the sense that it’s now “viral”. My gut feeling is that if you get to this stage, then as long as your product is good, and has wide appeal (we’re custom t-shirts, so we have wide appeal!), then you can ride the wave into shore.

We start making sales. Only the odd one here and there. But seeing as our average basket size is high, we should perhaps have only ever expected to make a handful of sales. As mentioned, we start to realise that our dream of making 10 sales an hour was just silly. We stop thinking about conversion, and start thinking about learning. Every single interaction on the livechat or the Product Hunt listing is teaching us something.

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3pm UK time.

The west coast of the USA is now awake. We expect things to go to another level, but they don’t really. I suppose at this point we’re “losing” most of Europe, which compensates for the new users in the USA.

But it is still very busy. 60–70 users on the site at any moment. The next handful of hours are a blur of us trying to chat to customers, answer PH questions.

And then something weird happens.

We get about 5 or 6 really challenging livechat conversations in the space of 15 minutes. Aggressive questions about how we compare to our competitors, and blunt queries about our plans for the future, and how we plan to implement them.

It massively pings our radar. Something’s not right. Are these competitors? It just feels like someone has “released the hounds”. We query one of them (in a friendly, but clearly suspicious way) about who they are, and where they’re from. And then those challenging livechats suddenly stop. Very odd.

After that, it’s just a very, very slow decline in numbers. We’re still answering livechat conversations from our phones at about midnight, about 17 hours after this all began, but they are now sporadic.

THE NEXT DAY

The following morning, there’s been a few comments and livechat messages overnight, but nothing huge. Traffic yesterday turned out to be about 2.5k uniques, and we’re over 350 points on Product Hunt.

We’re still on the front page as one of the highest ranked posts of the previous day, so we’re still getting good traffic on our custom t-shirts website. And then it noticeably rises about midday – we’ve been featured on the carousel at the top of the page, too.

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About 3pm UK time on the day after, we got a sudden spike in traffic. We’ve just gone out in their daily email. We’re now receiving more traffic than at any point yesterday. This probably demonstrates that PH’s email reach is perhaps more than their daily active users.

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One of our fellow cohort members on the Ignite Accelerator mentions that these numbers seems to be relatively low, and that we might expect more from an equivalent post on Reddit or HN. Maybe. Although that really might be comparing apples with oranges.

DAY THREE

We appear to have been added to the carousel for about 24hrs, and therefore dropped off it, and therefore the front page in all forms, about midday on “day 3”. It still appears that the majority of that traffic is generated by PH, but possibly from the emails that people are only opening now?

DAYS FOUR TO SIX

Product Hunt traffic continues to trickle in, but now it’s also traffic from sites that scrape PH, or aggregate it along with other new product blogs.

We sell some more stuff. We’ve learned a ton. We have some interesting stats and some good revenue figures to take to investors over the coming weeks.

Thanks Product Hunt!

Go check out our listing.

😉

Key takeaways.

  • Get someone good to post you on PH. And post early (7am UK time).
  • Then paddle furiously to get on the wave. Do everything you can to get high in the charts early, and work your ass off until lunchtime, when the US gets online.
  • Get questions asked. Answer them (and all others) honestly and openly. Acknowledge your failings and your competitors strengths.
  • Get livechat on your site. You get so much great insight. People will ask simple questions that they won’t ask on PH. This is the one we’re using. It’s free, and works a treat.
  • We examine every livechat, collate the main queries into a spreadsheet, and look for trends.

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