June 15, 2022

How to launch #1 on Product Hunt

Sandhya Hegde
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How to launch #1 on Product HuntHow to launch #1 on Product Hunt
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Editor's note: 

Launching your startup in the right community is so important — the best startups do it multiple times on multiple forums. Airbnb famously launched three times, finally taking off at SXSW in 2008. 

Executing a launch well is also great training for a startup in how to run a cross-functional, strategic project because product launches need all key functions of a pre–product market fit startup to align:

  • Does your messaging attract the right users?
  • Does your product deliver on your core message? 
  • Do customers come back to your product and promote it? 

Along with aligning the company behind a clear strategy, an effective launch needs founders to do things that don’t scale. This early muscle of founders reaching out directly to people in their community and bugging users for public testimonials is what builds the foundation of a company’s relationship with its customer base. 

Started in 2013 and now grown to ~5 million tech enthusiasts, Product Hunt has become the go-to platform for startups to launch new products — particularly if you have a low-friction, self-serve experience for early adopters. With the growth of bottom-up SaaS as a business model, enterprise software apps targeting tech users have increasingly found Product Hunt a great launch platform. 

Done well, a successful launch can drive thousands of web visits and trial signups. Equally important, tech reporters and investors also pay attention, and the feedback you can generate from product managers, developers, and marketers will be worth its weight in gold. 

We’ve partnered with Social Growth Labs to help Unusual founders launch their company on Product Hunt. Social Growth Labs (SGL) has helped over 100 startups launch into the top three spots, many to No. 1. Most recently, Unusual portfolio company Relicx launched as No. 1 in April 2022 with support from Unusual Founder Services and SGL. The launch generated thousands of website visits and hundreds of trial signups overnight. So we sat down with Leo Bosuener from SGL to discuss the best practices and steps a founder can take as they prepare for their launch.  

In a nutshell, here’s how a successful Product Hunt launch works:

  • Makers post their product announcements to Product Hunt.
  • The Product Hunt community upvotes their favorites and shares comments and feedback. 
  • The products with the highest quantity and highest quality of engagement rise to the top of the ranks.

What kinds of companies are best suited for Product Hunt?

While Product Hunt may not be ideal for every software product, the platform works best for SaaS companies targeting end-user adoption through self-service free trials or freemium options. The broader your prospective user base, the more users you’ll likely attract. The more niche the product, the fewer signups you’ll get — but those signups could be exactly what you’re looking for. 

Most Product Hunt members are early adopters who are eager to check out products ASAP, so it’s essential to have an easy-to-use trial and onboarding experience setup beforehand. If you have a waitlist or ask people to sign up for a live demo, they likely won’t engage. 

How does Product Hunt ranking work?

Similar to Google Search, few people tend to notice products beyond the first three spots on Product Hunt. For reference, the top spot usually generates up to 5,000 visitors, whereas the bottom front page slot gets ~500 visitors. If your product ranks in the top 10 that day, you’ll also be featured in the Product Hunt newsletter the next day. 

Product Hunt’s ranking algorithm is complex, with several variables to keep in mind:

Number and velocity of upvotes

Product Hunt’s algorithm prefers steady engagement as opposed to front-loaded engagement with significant lulls throughout the day.

Comments and engagement, especially answered questions

This is an easily overlooked part of the ranking. Ideally, someone from the company responds to EVERY comment. Ideally, more than one response. When Relicx launched, we noticed that one comment was worth about 40–50 upvotes!

  • Quality of maker networks
    Don’t rely solely on your nearest and dearest to upvote your product on launch day. If they’re not already active on Product Hunt, their votes won’t be as credible as established Product Hunt members. For this reason, we recommend that you do as much as you can to engage in the Product Hunt community and build a network before your Product Hunt launch. 
  • Product Hunt evaluates a profile’s credibility based upon: 1. the age of their account; 2.Their followers count; 3. Their Karma points (a Product Hunt internal ranking which increases with engagement from the users end over time. A user receives Karma points every time they upvote, comment, or launch a new product themselves. These karma points can be seen on the right hand side of a user’s profile page.

Are you ready to launch?

While your product doesn’t have to be 100% perfect, you do need to be prepared for what will happen once people sign up to try your product. If you get 100 or more signups during your Product Hunt launch, can you nurture them all the way through the product experience? Make sure you have thought through the user journey completely.

Product Hunt launch product readiness checklist

Before you start planning your launch, make sure you are fully prepared to make the most of the influx of interest your company will get. In general, you should have:

A delightful onboarding experience 

Can users easily sign up for your product and reach the ‘aha’ moment in five minutes or less?

Ability and bandwidth to act quickly on user feedback and questions

Tip: Make a list of anticipated FAQs and prepare answers in advance.

Detailed documentation and tutorials

Tip: Read this guide to creating software tutorials in The Unusual Field Guide

Slack channel or forum for users to ask questions and interact with fellow users and your team

What’s the best day of the week to launch on Product Hunt?

Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays for traffic and brand awareness

If your goal is to generate high traffic, schedule your launch for Tuesday or Wednesday. Keep in mind that Tuesdays and Wednesdays you’ll be more likely to compete with large established companies such as Asana, Notion, and Shopify, which also use the platform to promote new product updates. This competition makes it more difficult to rank in the top three slots. 

Mondays and Fridays for ranking highly

If you care more about getting into the top three, and particularly the No. 1 spot to claim the coveted Product of the Day award, consider launching on a Monday or Friday. On average, traffic is 20-25% lower but your competition won’t be as steep as on other days of the week. Relicx launched on a Friday and ranked No. 1.

How to top the Product Hunt Leaderboard

While there’s no one way to reach No. 1, there are some best practices for increasing your likelihood of success. Here’s our seven-step guide to prepare for the best launch day possible. 

Step 1. Define your goals

Once you’ve decided that your product is ready to launch, get clear about what you want to achieve. Keep in mind that launch activities will require significant time from your team — it can take about two months to prepare. Ask yourself what outcomes you want to achieve in order to make the launch truly worth your energy.

Here are some suggested goals to consider:

  • Generate brand and product exposure in the tech startup community and potential new investors
  • Garner constructive feedback
  • Drive traffic to your landing page and product signups 

Download the Product Hunt KPI template

Here are some KPIs to consider:

  • 500+ votes. Based on the day, you may need to get up to 1,000 upvotes.
  • 100 comments. For Relicx, we ended at more than 400 comments.
  • 5–10 reviews
  • 1,000+ unique views on your website
  • 300+ sign-ups. This depends on how broad your user base is.
  • 5 actionable insights for your roadmap

Relicx, an Unusual portfolio company, generated ~3,000 website views and ~150 sign-ups in less than 24 hours on Product Hunt. Relicx is a good fit for Product Hunt because they have an easy-to-use developer-focused product with a self-serve trial that provides quick time-to-value. 

Step 2. Get your website, trial, and product ready for prime time

While Product Hunt preparation takes a couple months, the real preparation starts much earlier as it’s essential to first build a great product and “front door” onboarding experience. Before getting ready for your launch, you should:

Polish your website

  • Professional design
  • Simple and compelling user message
  • The primary call-to-action should be a free trial of your product

Make trial sign-ups easy-breezy

  • Collect users’ name and email only 
  • Make the setup process as simple as possible

Make sure your product has an impactful aha moment

  • Conduct a “five-minute test.” Can self-serve users reach the product aha moments in five minutes or less?
    Tip: Read Introduction to PLG (product-led growth)

Prior to the Relicx launch, the team conducted user testing with a dozen developers, launched a new website with clean, engaging design, and worked tirelessly on a simple onboarding experience and supporting docs/tutorials. Their thinking was “start with the end in mind and work backward to create a great self-serve experience.”

Step 3. Build your social channels 

If you haven’t already, claim your social media handles and get the initial branding ready for launch. Twitter and LinkedIn are the two most important channels for enterprise software products. You may also want to consider Discord, Facebook, and Instagram.

Then start building an audience on your social channels — follow and engage with users and influencers in your space and create a few content pieces to start the discussion.

Step 4. Set up analytics and CRM to manage your adoption funnel

Ideally you can instrument, support, and nurture every step of the user journey.  Start with tracking website usage to optimize signup conversion, then a CRM to enable trial and onboarding, and finally product analytics to track key feature usage:

  • Website: Google Analytics  
  • Sign-up and onboarding: a CRM like Hubspot or Salesforce (Save yourself 40-60 hours of installation time with our free Salesforce install kit, pre-configured for early-stage startups)
  • Product analytics (eg., Segment, Heap, Amplitude)

Think of the product milestones you want every first time and repeat user to hit (eg., your Aha! moments) and then instrument the corresponding events in the product. By connecting product analytics to your CRM, you can then enable event-based vs. time-based nurturing that is much more effective. 

Why is all of this important? After you launch, you’ll need to know where users are getting stuck so you can improve the product experience or fix through better docs and tutorials. 

Tip: Try Relicx to enable session replays of your initial user sessions.

Step 5. Build a supporter base on Product Hunt and other channels

Being active in the Product Hunt community before your launch will help you create connections with other makers and community members who will likely upvote your product and spread the word come launch day.

Check out Product Hunt’s Community — answer questions and chat about topics of interest ranging from fellow founders’ fundraising rounds to goal-setting and event networking. 

In addition to building an audience, you’ll accrue karma points so your launch day engagement will matter even more. But perhaps the most important reason to engage the PH community early is to build longer-term relationships with those who will provide valuable product feedback and evangelize your product long after launch day.

Step 6. T-minus 1 month: Create your Product Hunt brand and marketing assets

Your product is self-serve, you have a snazzy new website, you’ve instrumented the systems you need to track success, and you’ve started building your audience. Now comes the fun part: creating your launch assets!

Here’s a launch asset list to review. In general, we advise the following assets at a minimum:

A simple, snappy tagline and description

Don’t underestimate the value of your icon and tagline on Product Hunt — they are the first things people see. Some companies opt to animate their icon, and you can pack a lot of punch into a handful of words – the tagline character count limit is 60. The tagline does a lot of the initial heavy lifting to entice people to click through to your product page. 

Marketing images to merchandise your product

While you can upload as many as you’d like, try to do 3-5. For the Relicx launch, we did three, one per use case. Try to include product images and some brief copy, sometimes called ‘cereal box’ marketing:

Videos to show ‘why’ and ‘how’

Short videos are a great way to explain your product quickly and in a compelling manner.  For the Relicx launch, we used a short 1 minute explainer video to explain the problem and unique approach.  And we did a 3 minute product demo that showed how the product could be used.  They worked great together and we received several pieces of positive feedback in the comments on launch day.

One more important point during the month leading up to launch, encourage your team to create their Product Hunt accounts. Accounts created fewer than 2 weeks before launch day may not count toward your upvote count. It is not uncommon for upvotes to be removed automatically at the end of the day.

Step 7. T-minus 1 week: Prepare outreach and team for launch day

One of the great parts about a Product Hunt launch is that it’s a great team building experience for the whole company. And every member of the team has a crucial role to play! About one week out is the perfect time to assign roles to every team member and schedule their shift:

  • Who will reply to questions and when (for example, noon–5 pm PST, [Name] will answer questions on Product Hunt.) 

Tip: Schedule team members to work five-hour Product Hunt shifts. Use time zone differences to your benefit. If you have a team in India, for example, they’ll be ‘first up’ in promoting your big day.

  • Who will monitor and engage on social media and send the day of communications?
  • Who is in charge or reporting product issues?
  • Who will write FAQs

Next up is copy for social media that you’ll post throughout launch day to encourage consistent engagement. Product Hunt guidelines require that you don’t actively ask for upvotes but rather feedback on your product and engagement in the discussion.

Finally, a really effective tactic is to identify Product Hunt influencers who helped your direct competitors do well on their launch day. Reach out to each before and during your launch day to ask for their feedback as they have a strong Product Hunt following and can help boost your performance that day.

Step 8. Launch to the top!

Suggested launch day schedule

Eat your Wheaties! Your team will need to be mentally on every minute of the day. It’s a marathon to get to the top, so don’t blast out everything at midnight. Here’s a suggested schedule:

  • 12:01–7am PT launch: Let the hunting begin! 
    If you’re using Slack, create a “Launch Channel” for the team to keep up with everything that’s going on throughout the day. Team members will see questions that don’t have an obvious answer (like “how do you compare to XYZ”), some members will ask for coverage while they take a break, and then there’s just the competitive camaraderie of sharing a company-defining experience! If you have Asia/Europe teams, be sure they are reaching out to their followers and pulling in the votes! Try to get to 100 upvotes as fast as possible to get into the top slots.

  • 7–10 am PT: Engage on social and send an encouraging email blast.
    7am is a good time to send out your email to your user base and request all of the influencers and friends of the firm to reach out through their social channels. You’ll want to get to at least 300 upvotes during this time. There’s natural momentum that kicks in by getting to the top during this time.

  • 10 am–3 pm PT: Respond and extend engagement.
    Continue to reply meaningfully to comments (not just “Thanks!”) but keep in mind that you’ll likely see an engagement dropoff while most U.S. users are working. 

  • 3–7pm PT: Do another round of promotion on social media and email.
    Now that U.S. users are off work, you’re likely to generate engagement from those who didn’t engage in the morning.

  • 7–midnight: Finish strong.
    Keep reaching out to early adopters to post reviews, engaging on every comment, and posting on social media.  Don’t let your competition blow by you at the last minute!

Step 9. Post-launch, capitalize on momentum

Hopefully your launch day has gone well and you’ve topped the leaderboard. But guess what?  The real work now begins — making sure all those hard won users are successful. Since you’ve instrumented your website, product, and onboarding experience, now’s a great time to review your key metrics to see if there has been any big fall-off:

Ensure new users become advocates and brand ambassadors

  • Thank your followers, new users, and PH community!
  • Ensure your homepage-to-sign-up conversions are working. 1-2% is average, anything above is excellent. If below 1%, you may want to revisit your home page messaging and simplify your sign-up flow.
  • Ensure users are hitting your first aha! moment. If less than 50%, you may have an onboarding issue.  Look at the welcome emails, tutorials, and docs for areas to improve.
  • Foster feedback and community discussion. Make sure you’re driving everyone to your forum or Slack channel to get the conversation going.
  • Create some follow-on activities for your new community. Plan a local meetup or webinar, free t-shirt giveaway, bug bounty, new release updates. Keep the buzz going!

Ride the wave

  • Contact the media to boost momentum. You can use your Product Hunt launch as social proof to get the attention of news publications within your industry. Journalists and influencers are often more likely to listen if they know that you have launched successfully on PH before. A top ranking is a great proof point for a trend story or fundraising announcement.
  • Embed the Product of the Day badge on your website close to your CTA as social proof. This should help to convert future website visitors into leads.
  • Consider running a paid Product Hunt sponsorship. For $25K, you can drive hundreds more signups. You’ll show up as the fourth Product of the Day and be included in the newsletter for two to three weeks. You’ve done all the work to create the assets, so it’s a pretty light effort. You may want to time the sponsorship for your next product release as you’ve undoubtedly had quite a bit of product feedback.


Launching on Product Hunt is a great investment for the right target customers. Done well, you can generate hundreds of sign-ups overnight. But the real magic is in finding your audience and kickstarting your community building efforts. 

For further information on Product Hunt, please reach out to leo@socialgrowthlabs.co or visit their website at www.socialgrowthlabs.co.

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