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Is Product Hunt overrated? Insights from Mailmeteor’s launch

A few days ago, Mailmeteor went live on Product Hunt. After a stressful day, Mailmeteor was #1 Product of the Day. It was then featured as the top product of the week. As promised during the launch, I’d like to share with the IH community some insights about launching on Product Hunt.

This post will not be a « how to end #1 on Product Hunt: THE MOST extensive and amazing guide 2019 » but rather a compilation of valuable insights that I hope will help you, fellow makers, to rank high on Product Hunt.

TDLR:
✅What makes a successful launch is a mix of luck, good product, care and a bit of work
✅PH should be considered as one marketing channel among others, not the only traction channel
✅It’s possible to schedule your launch in advance even if you are being hunted
✅The power of comments on Product Hunt during launch. Get as much interaction as you can
✅Your post still generates upvotes, thus visibility, days after the launch
❌Auto Following people in the hope they will follow you back on Product Hunt does not work
❌Beware of the « Newest section trap »
😇The more efforts you spend on the launch, the higher the expectations
😇Being #1 is cool but it’s a vanity metric. The real value of PH is to grow your user base and make some revenue.
😇Even if the launch does not meet expectations, it’s a helpful way to rethink your marketing pitch from ground up

Mailmeteor's Product Hunt page

Starting from the bottom

We began working on the idea of launching on PH back in August. Being in the tech ecosystem, launching our product on this platform was kind of a rite of passage.

Before launching, we’ve made sure that our product was rock solid. I believe there are two kinds of approaches here: (1) either you launch on PH really early, as a way to get feedback quickly, (2) or you launch later on, as we did, to get a boost of traction.

The more efforts you spend on the launch, the higher the expectations

We postponed the launch on several occasions. There is no perfect date to launch, don’t try to over-optimize the day - should I launch on Sunday because there are no tech giants, but less traffic? Should I launch on Wednesday instead…

Set a clear deadline and try not to overthink the launch process. As for us, we’ve just waited for a calmer period in our lives.

Preparing the launch was a step-by-step process. It’s helpful to revise your marketing pitch and brand materials

It took some time to check all the things recommended by the to-do articles online: gather all the content needed, prepare a list of our network, find a Hunter.

We have experimented with a few hacks, such as finding all upvotes on similar products, turn their PH handle into Twitter ones and auto-follow them on both PH and Twitter. I would not recommend you to spend time doing so: people won’t follow you back. At least we could gather a useful bunch of contacts that we will be able to exploit in the future for further growth experiments.

I’ve always been into video editing and motion design. Thus, I wanted a clean animated video to showcase Mailmeteor. Fortunately, we knew a talented young artist able to animate the storyboard, from our Sketch layers to a fully animated video on After Effects. Here is the result if you are curious (ps: if someone needs an intro with this talented guy, I’d be more than happy to make the connection).

Many people wonder if it is still worth being hunted in 2019 if the algorithm favors famous hunters or not anymore. Truth is we don’t know for sure... and we don’t care. We’ve had this amazing opportunity to be hunted by a fellow maker, Joey, a serial maker behind amazing apps like Darwin Mail. At least we had one upvote from someone we admired!

24 stressing hours

As you may know, Product Hunt lives in the PST time zone. Meaning a new day starts at 12:00 am PST.

We’ve scheduled the launch at 12:00 am PST, not necessarily because many articles online recommended this specific time after analyzing 10 million posts. The math was simple: you are featured for 24 hours, the more coverage you’ve got, the better.

We are located in Paris, France. So 12:00 am PST was 9 am for us, perfect timing to get momentum from our friends before they start their day.

We had prepared a fully branded website with a PH banner and a specific pricing offer. A few minutes before launch, we rolled out this new website. But as I’m not a technical guy, I’ve managed to create a merge conflict which made the website look completely broken 2 minutes before the launch. My associate Corentin, who is fortunately way better than I am, managed to get the website back up and running just before Mailmeteor got featured. Phew!

The Newest section trap and how to avoid it

Mailmeteor is eventually published on Product Hunt. But for some reason, we can’t find it anywhere. We start stressing a little bit, did we do something wrong? Was the scheduling time badly set up?

Not at all: we’ve ended in the « Newest section » of Product Hunt. After reading gazillions articles about launching on PH, I didn’t know about this section.

For those who don’t know about this « Newest section » either, it’s a place where your product will end up 99% of the time (the other 1% is a few influencers who got the credentials to be featured immediately). Your product can be stuck there for some minutes or some days! Beware of that, because no one ever checks this section.

To get visibility and make your way to the Featured section, you will have to get some initial upvotes traction from your close network. Once you have around 30-35 upvotes, you will have a chance to end up on the front page.

Now begins the fight for the #1 place

Launch metrics

For us, it took one hour to be featured on the front page. In the meantime, other apps took off and we almost lost hope, thinking: « did we really spend three months working on this launch not to be featured on the home page? » Again, maybe we’ve had too high expectations.

Mailmeteor took first place after 6 hours. We were really close to other apps, it was a boxing fight all day long. With all these notifications, it’s a day of insanity and nervousness.

There was a turning point when the US woke up around 10 am PST. At that time, it was already 7 pm in our time zone. I was nakered. We were already happy to be #1, even for a brief moment, even though we could not but think that PH was overrated since we did not have so many new customers or traffic on our website.

However, when the US woke up, things really changed. The company in the third position grew quite quickly from that moment because its product appealed more specifically to the US market. As for Mailmeteor, we began seeing more and more payments on our website. All-day long, we kept contacting our network, posting on forums and communities, reaching out to friends living in different timezones to preserve our momentum.

Late in the day, I had to sleep. By that time, the die is cast. I woke up twice, at 2 am and 4 am, fearful that we lost the #1 place (pure madness I know). The story ends well at 9 am the next day: we’ve made it to the first place!

Mailmeteor’s Product Hunt results

The launch brought us an increase in 100% of new paying customers compared to the Black Friday period. We offered a 50% discount during that period, it helped us meet our goals for the month of December.

I would not say Product Hunt was a complete game-changer for Mailmeteor business, nevertheless, it’s really worth it because it’s a day full of interaction with users, potential clients or partners. You are forced to get out of the wood.

We always thought PH as an interesting marketing channel to try in order to expand our brand’s awareness and revenue. Never did we rely on this sole marketing action to get initial traction. We probably spent a little too much effort on it, and I’m still paying the consequences of the launch (I was really exhausted and my Facebook inbox has had over two hundred unread messages for a few days!).

**

I hope this story will inspire you to launch amazing products! Feel free if we can answer a question you may have.

PS: be sure to have some cool and relaxing music in your ears during your launch. I’ll share mine, it’s a French soundtrack from Air 🇫🇷
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4U19zwFENs

  1. 6

    This is an awesome post!

    It's great to triangulate advice on how to use Product Hunt and what to expect. For reference, I posted my own reflections on a tiny side project I launched here https://pliao39.com/idea-to-product-hunt-launch

    Mine was a tiny project but I had similar takeaways - that Product Hunt is about quantity of users. My hunch is that Product Hunt users are always looking at lots of products, and thus the crowd is relatively easy come, easy go (will be interesting to see if that emerges from any cohort analysis)

    🍻 Cheers to sharing about the launch!

  2. 3

    Great post, Jean. Love articles like this. Congrats on the successful launch! I'd love to hear some stats on the overall impact after a week.

  3. 2

    This is an awesome read! The last bullet point is so true “ Even if the launch does not meet expectations, it’s a helpful way to rethink your marketing pitch from ground up”

    I’m also seeing PH as a great place where people exchange opinions, gather improvement feedback, quickly realized a competition and more.

    All the best Mailmeteor!

  4. 2

    Thanks for sharing! Really insightful post. Gives me some motivation to work harder and prepare an awesome PH launch. Cheers and goodluck with Mailmeteor!

  5. 2

    Detailed and helpful. Congrats on the launch @Cuireuncroco!

  6. 2

    Great insights for launching on Product Hunt, Thank you for that! :)

  7. 2

    That is my favorite album of all time. I've listened to it at least 1000 times :) Air Moon Safari - the absolute best!

  8. 2

    The more efforts you spend on the launch, the higher the expectations

    Thisss 🖕🖕🖕🖕🖕

  9. 2

    This is great data, thanks for sharing

  10. 2

    What a post Jean! And what an exciting day we had that day :)

  11. 1

    That's a great post and your insights are excellent!

    Thanks for sharing.

  12. 1

    Hi Jean, fantastic post and thank you for sharing your experience on PH. Would you mind if I ask for the guy that creates the video for you (it's not a immediate project, but it may be useful start talking with him)? Many thanks

  13. 1

    My main benefit from Product Hunt by far is it places Flookup top of the first page for many key Google Search queries.
    Otherwise, congratulations @Cuireuncroco and @Frenchcooc! Nicely done, as usual.

  14. 1

    This is some great info, curious to know how the product video was made and the stack of that.

    1. 1

      Hi @zerotask17, thanks!
      I've made the storyboard on Sketch.
      Then it was animated by the motion designer on After Effects.

  15. 1

    Thanks for sharing! Can someone help me understand what finding "a hunter" means? Are you not allowed to submit your own projects? They need to be endorsed by an impartial 3rd-party or something?

    1. 3

      Hi @tomalley,
      You can either submit your own projects or ask someone, generally who is rather influent, to "hunt" your product, meaning submitting the project for you.

      Back in the days, being hunted was a huge differentiator, Product Hunt tended to favor hunted projects, the hunter's followers got notifications etc. Today, Product Hunt says it no longer makes a difference whether your project is hunted or not.

      Even though we knew this fact from reading PH's guidelines, we've decided to have Mailmeteor hunted by @joeytawadrous, the amazing maker of Darwin Mail and other apps. Joey has strong experience and develops apps in the same ecosystem as Mailmeteor.

      Last but not least: Hunter or not, beware of the "newest section trap" ;-)

      1. 2

        Thank you very much for the kind words.

        The first few votes are crucial in gaining traction and hopefully getting you noticed to be moved from the newest section!

  16. 1

    What did you use to create your video?

    1. 2

      Sketch for the storyboard
      After Effects for the motion design

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