Last week I've launched shipit (a tool for product managers to help plan and manage their product) on Product Hunt for the second time. I hesitated whether I should do it or not, but the results were very unexpected.
I spent nearly two weeks preparing the first round, reading about the timing, the importance of famous hunters, your first comment, and the support of community. I failed to find someone to hunt us, so did it myself. During the day I was asking every single person I know to upvote it, including our clients. As a result, I think it became #2 (or #3) product of the day, brought ~1500 visits to the website, some buzz, and zero conversions. My friends launching Modash and Outfunnel might have had slightly better results, but nothing extraordinary.
The reason for the second post on PH was to just raise some awareness, and hopefully improve some SEO (honestly I've no idea if that helps, but why not). So this time there wasn't much, if any, preparation. I did try to reach out to friends who had help from popular hunters, but in the end launched it myself again on Friday morning. The post wasn't as popular as the first one, but it was way more successful. Why? Short answer: no idea. But here's my poor man's analysis...
Time != success, for me there was actually an inverse correlation between time spent and likes on @ProductHunt.
2/3 of the likes come from launch day on @ProductHunt but many, many will trickle in over the weeks after launch
Don't weight @ProductHunt so heavily, it is only one (albeit a good one) marketing tactic. A dud launch does not equal a dud product.
This is exactly what happened to shipit. After the first campaign there was still quite a lot of traffic coming in during the first few weeks, and I am hopeful the same would happen after the second campaign.
ProductHunt shouldn't be your holy grail given how different their audience is. A lot of traffic that would arrive is irrelevant. People are curious and want to just look at your design, or get a quick glance to see if the app you've built is relevant to them or not. But PH is also a good tool in your marketing arsenal.
I was surprised to see people like my post even 3-6 months after it was published, which means people use PH not only to see the current launches, but also alternative products to something they already use.
Now onto second launch, I thought that a popular hunter == campaign success. But if you look at the profiles of Kevin, Bram, Chris who all have massive followings, you will see that many of the hunts have average or below average number of upvotes. So if you cannot find a good hunter, don't stress about it. I can hunt your app if you want (having just 32 followers 😄).
You don't need to be on top to be successful. You need enough people to vote for you to stay visible. In that case your app will stay on the main page for 2 days. Even though my second campaign was quite lazy, I still asked friends and people on LinkedIn for help. Don't be shy about it.
For reasons completely unknown to me, I got an email from ProductHunt team saying they will include shipit in their email digest. And this has brought another large wave of traffic and signups.
It's very early to say if any of the signups converts to a paying user, but there has definitely been more interest and questions asked via Intercom than throughout the whole lifetime of the project.
In the end I would repeat: do not stress about your PH launch. It's one of the many tools you should use, but not the most important.