Hey there, 👋
Leonardo here, co-founder at Zefi.ai.
Last week we launched our private beta of Zefi on Product Hunt, the world’s most popular new product community, on July 21st and ranked at the top. We were 1st for almost 23.5 hours and then ranked #2 Product of the Day at the very last minute.
Launching gave us a lot of visibility, allowed us almost to double the number of leads on our waiting lists, connected us with multiple investors and notably increased our SEO.
In this article, I will cover our learnings from the launch, including why to launch, how to prepare for it, how to handle the day of the launch, how to handle the post-launch, and a few extra learnings.
📃 Table of content:
- Why launch on Product Hunt
❓ Why to launch on Product Hunt:
Launching is always good
First things first, launching is always good. Whatever you are launching a feature, a side-project, a public product, or your private beta (our case), exposing yourself to external feedback is precious to validate what you are working on, gives you precious learning and sometimes can bring unexpected results (sometimes positive, sometimes negative - which are still positive because if you launched early, you can iterate or change before it’s too late).
It’s a team-building activity
Launching on PH should be a collective effort. In one day you will have to activate hundreds of people and doing it as a team will make your launch much more effective and, if it goes well, will inject a lot of good morale inside of the team.
It measures the quality of your community
Asking for support from your community will tell you a lot about how much they care about your product, and it’s a great measure of how good you have been in engaging it in the previous months.
It gives you a lot of visibility, users, and potential investors
Within 72 hours we got:
- 800+ upvotes
- 200+ comments
- 4K + visits to our website
- 300+ good signups (keeping only ICPs)
- 4 connections with international VC funds
It improves your SEO, a lot
If you rank to the top of the leaderboard, many platforms and websites will start reporting the news linking back to your domain. In 1 week from the launch, we got 3,2K backlinks, giving our SEO a significant boost.
As mentioned, if the launch goes well, the entire team will be happy, it builds momentum, and it will give you the possibility to get in touch with people you didn’t know or expected to get in touch with.
In some cases, It will also make you discover new industries you didn’t know about or digital experiences you are not used to.
Here are my favourites among the upvoters and companies that signed up to our waiting list:
- Devaseva, redefining faith for Bharat. Participate in pujas from home and receive blessings. Pujas done for 2.5 lakh Devotees.
- Mottodigital.jp, 新しいホームページは作成中です。旧ホームページのブランディングは違いますがサービス内容は同じです。
So, what should you do before the launch?
You can find all the basic information that you need in the great guides made by Product Hunt. Here’s some extra advice.
Decide when to launch
Deciding when to launch it’s crucial for the success of your launch.
At Zefi, in order to decide when to launch, we analysed the launches of all companies made in the 5 weeks before our one.
Here are a few insights that we discovered:
Keep in mind that Friday's average went up after Zefi's launch 😂
Launching in the first 4 days of the week it’s hard. The average number of upvotes that you will require to rank at the top is generally above 1K.
Saturday is apparently (at least in the analyzed period) the day that requires the lowest number of upvotes. However, many people during the weekend are probably not working, so keep in mind that a launch over the weekend could be a risk.
We decided to go on Friday!
Keep also in mind that launching on Friday or Saturday will insert you in the launches of the weekend, which will let you in the Product Hunt newsletter that aggregates the startups that launch during the weekend (different from the ones that mention the startups of the day, during weekdays).
Create a teaser page as early as you can, so that you can develop a pipeline of people interested in your launch.
At Zefi, we launched with a tight schedule and we created a teaser 5 days before launching. If you can, go for 30 days.
Important note: having a pipeline of hundreds of people on your teaser doesn’t mean that hundreds of people will give you an upvote.
Rewind, a very cool product that lets you find anything in your browsing history (in a magic way) is an example of it. I really liked the product so when I saw it in the upcoming launches, I subscribed to the launch. They had more or less 3,6K followers just on the teaser 💥 (I didn't take a screenshot of their teaser page of Rewind, take my word). They launched on the 26th of July the mobile version of their app for iOS. They ranked 3rd with a bit more than 500 upvotes at the end of the launching day. It is still a very cool result but considering that 3,6K people expressed their interest in their teaser, I got surprised by the result.
Prepare the materials for the launch:
To create a teaser you just need a cover but as mentioned it will probably not make such a difference.
The things you really need for your launch are:
JPG or GIF. Square, Recommended size: 240x240. JPG, PNG, GIF. Max size: 2MB.
This is one of the most important pieces of content to prepare for your launch. People on PH like animations and things that move on hover 😅. Create an animated logo in a GIF format!
You don’t need Motion Design skills to do it. A colour change in the background is more than enough to capture people's attention. If you have 0 experience with Motion Design, you can get started with Jitter, a tool that I personally love and can really transform the way you animate your logos and future posts.
Here’s the Zefi example (made in Jitter):
- Product Name:
40 characters or less.
This part should be easy. If you have extra characters, you can leverage classic ASO techniques and include important keywords in your name. In case, avoid redundancies with the tagline. Remember, it will not have an impact on your positioning but it could help you deliver a clearer message to potential upvoters.
Doing this could be particularly useful if you are not at the first launch, to clarify what you are launching compared to the previous ones.
60 characters or less (including spaces).
Be clear, deliver value, and make it shine!
260 characters or less (including spaces).
You know what you do. The same things mentioned in the tagline apply
Choose three that best describe your product (e.g. Productivity, SaaS, Developer Tools).
This part is really important because it will affect the category you will play in. It will also probably suggest Product Hunt algorithm where to position you in the comparable solutions section. Think carefully about it.
Use the full youtube format. com/watch?v= URL format.
As for the Logo, people like things that move. Many companies created super cool videos just for PH launches. Here’s an example that I love:
Again, don’t worry. If you are at your first launch and you don’t have the skills or time to create a dedicated video, not having one will not ruin your launch. At Zefi, we launched without and we still made it into the Products of the Day.
3 or more, Recommended Product Hunt image size: 1270x760px. <3MB.
These are very important. I feel we could have had a great margin for improvement here. Given the short deadline, we decided to reuse some slides that we had ready. If you have time to spend on this part, do it. Keep it simple and try to deliver value in short sentences. Hi-resolution images that tell a story in sequence are best (if animated even better).
Here are a few examples of startups that launched recently that I feel made a great job on them.
Invite all your team and create profiles in advance, if you don’t have them yet.
- Maker's comment:
It's your chance to start the conversation during the launch in the comments section. Be friendly. Little tip (that we didn't know about when launching): use formatting and images
Be an active member in communities, or build your own one.
Be an active member of communities where your product resonates or you find value.
So many people will reach out to you when you make a social post about your launch or create a teaser. Do the same. If possible, use Product Hunt only to upvote and comment on products you like and then use the fact that you did it with the makers to receive the same treatment. Avoid spamming people on Product Hunt, use different channels. Twitter and Linkedin are great ones to do it.
- Slack communities:
I really like Slack communities. At Zefi, we created one with more than 500 Product Managers to build our product from the bottom up. If you can, build your own community, with users that know about your product and are happy to sustain you.
Once you can rely on your community, leverage also other ones.
- IndieHackers, Reddit, Discord or any other community:
I’m not an expert on these platforms. If you have a community on one of those engage them early on.
Prepare CRM and estimate the number of votes
This part takes a long time but it’s really important to estimate how much effort you will need (more or less).
At Zefi, we put together our community and defined who had to contact them, where and how in advance.
Doing a CRM to estimate the number of upvotes is a bit like preparing a well-made financial plan for your early-stage startup. You will never match it 😅.
Still, estimating how many people you can rely on on the day of the launch, gives you a better understanding of what you can accomplish and how much effort you will need to put into it.
Prepare automation to activate communities
Prepare a few automation in advance to help you with the initial reach out.
This is particularly useful to tell in advance to your community that you are going to launch on a particular date and to remind them to upvote your product when you go live, especially if they didn’t follow the teaser launch.
If you have a community on Slack, do the same with Slack messages. You can use multiple tools to do the job. I personally love Make.com. (you can use alternatives such as Zapier and many others, they are generally a bit more expensive).
If you plan to send hundreds of emails, consider using a service such as Sendgrid.
Here’s our email for the day of the launch and a couple of automation that we used to ping people on Slack and by email the days before.
Post on Socials!
Make some noise! If possible announce your launch in advance. Posting on socials will activate people you maybe didn’t think about.
We posted 7 days before (mentioning it at the end of something else), 3 days before, the day before as a final reminder and the day of the launch. Here’re our posts.
Adjust your website
Include a banner to announce that you are going live on PH (link it to the teaser before the launch and then to the launch page during the day of it.). Make sure it is responsive.
🪂 Launch day
You did already a good part of the job! Congrats! Now it's showtime!
Publish on Communities and Socials
As already mentioned, publish on every channel and social you have.
If you google “how to launch on Product Hunt”, one of the first results is from Softr, an amazing company that I personally love and a tool that I used a lot as a low-code builder freelance 🙌. In their article “How we got to #1 Product of the Day - luck or hard work?” (https://www.softr.io/blog/producthunt-launch they won a Kitty Award, the highest award you can get on PH), they made a great guide that tells you step-by-step what to do. In their article, they miss to say that publishing on communities and socials is not enough. Be super proactive! Today you are going to text every single person in your community that knows about your product, one by one.
As for every type of outbound communication, make it personal.
If they don’t reply, don’t be scared to be too pushy. Try to understand when it’s too much but don’t be shy, especially with the people and users you know well.
Comments, comments, comments!
This is probably one of the most important things you have to do.
I don’t know how exactly the algorithm of Product Hunt works, but I know that comments are very important for it. Ask your community to leave comments, and every time you receive one, be quick and reply to it. If you can, engage your team and ask them to also reply to comments. Every comment in the section count (your replies included), and it affects heavily your positioning in the leaderboard.
Ask for support from your partners (if you are lucky they will do it by themself)
If you have commercial partners, ask for their support in spreading the news. If you are lucky enough and you work with amazing ones, they will do it by themself. Here’s Zefi’s example with Weaviate 🙌
Cool, you made it! Now what?
Get ready to handle high volumes of inbound
You will receive many inbound requests, your next days are going to be busy. That’s exciting, get ready.
Engage with the people that upvoted and subscribe
Make sure you follow up with all the people that tried to get in touch with you, engage them and include them in your community to grow it!
Leverage the hype
Use these few days to onboard as many customers as you can, close partnerships and if some investors reach out to you, get in touch.
Celebrate with your teammates
Nothing really changed. You are still a very early-stage startup that got a great boost and you will have to keep pushing. That said, celebrate with your team and friends your accomplishment, you deserve it!
Specifically, make sure all your links are fine.
We didn’t notice that the referral link from Product Hunt to our website was initially broken and that our Slack link to the community expired after 400 invites. We fixed it along the way, but we lost some traffic. That can happen but make sure it doesn’t.
Be aware of the competition
Many companies are really good at this game, they have amazing marketing teams and can leverage way bigger communities than yours. Don’t take it personally. If Notion launches a new incredible feature the same day you do, your chances to make it are really low. It’s part of the game.
Play it fair (please)
Ranking first or second, will change the visibility you get out of your launch, but your integrity as a company should be more important.
Respect your competitors for the day and avoid illecit behaviours.
On the day of our launch, 30 minutes before the end of the contest, we started receiving bad reviews (1-star reviews) from people we didn’t know and that never saw or tested our product.
One of them was the founder of the company competing with us for the day. They gave us bad reviews and then deleted them after the closing. We reported the reviews and took some screenshots before they cancelled them.
In the end, after having been 1st for almost 23 hours and a half, we ranked 2nd . As previously mentioned, I’m not fully aware of how the algorithm of Product Hunt works, and I don’t know if this event might have affected the result. Anyway, please respect other companies (and yourself), and play it fair.
If you made it to the end, thanks for reading 🙏
There are certainly many things that we could have done differently, but we got many learnings from the launch on Product Hunt.
I personally had a lot of fun doing it, and in writing about our experience.
I recommend you try it!
- If you want to upvote or follow Zefi on Product Hunt, here's the link: https://www.producthunt.com/posts/zefi-ai
- If you are interested in discovering our product, check it out here: https://www.zefi.ai/
- If you have questions about this article, complaints, or you simply find it useful and you want to let me know, feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good luck to everyone and see you at the next launch! 🍀
Leo & the Zefi team 👋