A Product Hunt launch can catapult a product into popularity within the tech community. One of my favorite startups launched this week, here’s how it went
This week, one of my favorite startups launched on Product Hunt – a community where entrepreneurs discover new mobile apps, products, hardware, and websites. Like any form of marketing, a successful launch on Product Hunt is a blend of timing, expertise, community, and communication.
But first, let’s talk about one of my favorite startups. I mentioned them in my 2022 edition of the Best Productivity Apps for Entrepreneurs post. Since then, not only have I grown even more dependent on the tool, but also more involved in the community they are building.
Of course, I am talking about Heyday.
What is Heyday
Heyday is a browser extension that automatically saves the web pages you visit. Think of it as your own personal Google. As you continue to browse the web, Heyday’s artificial intelligence engine recalls similar content that you’ve seen and presents it. Not only that, but it creates a history of your visited websites, notes, highlights, and Tweets. It curates what you’ve read and turns it into your own personal knowledge base.
It is perfect for folks who, like me, have a wide spectrum of interests, research a number of topics (often at the same time), or frequently think, “I know I read about something like this before …“
Now, your personal AI assistant can display exactly what you’re thinking of, exactly when you need it.
B.H. (Before Heyday)
I have a mixed bag of tools, apps, and processes that I’ve accumulated over the years to keep notes, track ideas, recall what I’ve read, or file away information. None of them left me particularly satisfied or made me feel confident that my information was somewhere I could reach it when needed.
I used Evernote for years (it was set to renew last month and I realized that I had been paying for it for more than 8 years), but it brought me little to no joy (I just canceled it). It grew to be bloated, slow, and laborious managing notebooks, tags, and notes. The default Notes app on iOS was a strong contender for a lot of information, it is always there, easy to use, and forces me not to overthink it. Of course, there are bookmark managers for interesting sites – but who really goes back to those? And who will search the whole page a year (or two, or six) later to find the exact quote that sparked the lightbulb moment? Not to mention what happens if the webpage disappears forever – now the bookmark is useless. I use Feedly for my blog RSS feeds. Some people use Feedly to save interesting articles, but it requires the article to already be in a subscribed feed. It doesn’t account for interesting tidbits I may find across the web in other sources. For that, Pocket, Instapaper, or Evernote work well. But who wants to use 7+ apps to “remember” stuff they read?
We haven’t even factored Kindle highlights, yet!
I began looking for something where I could highlight inspiring text across the web and save it in a single repository. This was actually a fusion of two different ideas I had: 1) solve the problem of all of this lost data I wanted to remember, 2) easily share inspiring or thought-provoking text on social media (and include the source of where I found it) in graphic form.
Because most content marketers are either content creators or content curators, I’ve discovered many tools cater to one or the other. My ideal tool would help me do both. Because that is what I do.
Early competitive research led me – as research does – all over the web. Hundreds of web pages visited, 30-40 open browser tabs, countless forums, and a slowly solidifying list of recommended tools that do something similar. Along that journey, I found a reference to Journal*.
Journal, as it turns out, is – let’s call it Heyday v0.1 – and it was shut down.
Oh hey, Heyday
A little more poking around led me to what is now known as Heyday. It satisfied many of the requirements I was looking for in a notetaking / history tracking / research tool. Which, admittedly, is a high bar to meet when I can’t even define what I am looking for. I knew I wanted it to be easy to use and not require extensive administration to manage; it needed to include a highlighter for interesting quotes and ideas (and remember the source); it must group information by topic and/or intelligently suggest similar ideas; and, ideally, it would have some sort of social media integration.
Check, check, check, check, and check.
Heyday did it all.
Now let me sign up.
Their “Try Heyday” CTA (Call-to-Action) lead to a form where I could sign up to join the waitlist.
The waitlist process included a survey about my current notetaking / research process, my ideal solution, etc.
Send and wait.
Not long after I joined the waitlist and completed the survey, something unexpected happened. I had never seen this in my experiences with startup or founders looking to gain traction with their idea.
One of the brilliant early marketing moves Sam and Samiur made when launching Heyday is to gate access behind a live 1:1 Zoom session with them. Anyone requesting access to their launch was required to talk with the founders and discuss their needs, expectations, and struggles with competing products. Not only did this give the guys an opportunity to connect with their prospective users, but it gave them an incredible amount of insight into how their target audience would use their product.
This method is not scalable – in fact, I call it Unscalable – it is a tactic that reaches an efficiency limit. It is required to grow a company, but cannot be sustained once that company reaches critical mass. But for this SaaS, meeting virtually with their first 150+ customers saved thousands of manhours in wasted development, hundreds of thousands of dollars in wasted labor costs and marketing, and provided a perfect roadmap for where to take their product. This exemplifies the Talk To Your Customer principle.
Eventually, I became a Trial user of their product and became a paid user exactly 13 days later. The amount of time Heyday saved me was worth paying for an entire year upfront. Not only that, but the 1:1 talk, their nearly-instant support replies, activity in the Slack community, and willingness to listen to early customer feedback cemented in my mind that these guys were building something special.
I love getting into products early, I love trying new things, pushing the limits, breaking it, creating interesting use cases. All of this is infinitely more fun when the founders are excited to build a better product. Sam and Samiur were just that.
*This is important – and something I only remembered while writing this piece. During my initial
interrogation onboarding interview with Sam, he’d asked (smartly) where I heard about Heyday. I could not remember how I came upon it. I now recall that I first saw the rebrand from Journal to Heyday on UnderConsideration.com (membership required) where the team was highlighted for their new logo and brand identity. That is where I also learned about Journal and their pivot to Heyday.
Product Hunt Launch Template
Whether they knew it or not, I think Sam and Samiur laid out an excellent template for launching on Product Hunt:
- Plan Ahead
- Content Creation
- Activate Your Community
- Partner with the Right Product Hunter
- Launch Day strategy
- The Day After strategy
- Debrief and Follow-up
Launching on Product Hunt
About two weeks before they launched on Product Hunt, Sam emailed me to give me the heads up. These are the first three keys to a successful Product Hunt launch:
- Early Planning
- Content Creation
- Activating Your Community
Early Planning & Content Creation
By planning ahead, Sam spread out the work. He pre-wrote the launch content to reduce the amount of work needed on Launch Day. The day of the launch will be hectic, so plan ahead and do as much as possible before.
Some content to consider before the launch:
- The copy, images, screenshots, and videos on the Product Hunt page (make sure you show the product in action)
- The “Maker’s Message” (more below)
- Landing page content on your own website
- Presumed frequently asked questions
- Common support ticket answers and resources
- Prelaunch emails and launch strategy shared with raving fans (2 weeks before actual launch)
- Text messages to friends, family, and mentors
- Announcement and strategy shared with your Slack community or Facebook Group
- Launch Day Announcements
- Website banner and/or hero image announcing your launch
- Email notification to existing customers and/or trial customers
- Share on your social media channels
An aside: One concern I have about announcing your product launch too soon is the potential for someone to snipe your launch. I’ve wondered about this but don’t have enough knowledge to give an articulate answer.
Launching on Product Hunt requires some coordination and timing, what happens if a well-intentioned fan of the product Hunts you too soon? In fact, I almost inadvertently did this to Arrived Homes. Thankfully I contacted them before Hunting them to give them a heads up. Their founder replied and asked that I not since they had a launch campaign already in the works for a week later.
Does anyone have more context to add to this kind of situation? I’d love to learn more.
Product Hunt’s Maker’s Message
Sam described the Maker’s Message as a chance to relate to potential users personally. He says, “The Maker Message is the first opportunity to connect with potential users.” He cites @harrydry of @GoodMarketingHQ and @_darioroa who encouraged Heyday to share the founding story, not a sales pitch. They were open about the previous four years and the journey with Journal.
Activate Your Community
By giving me two weeks to plan for the launch, I was able to work it into my existing content plans. I put it on my calendar and scheduled some content specifically around their launch. The Heyday team gave their community time to prepare and plan – good on them.
Next, they recognized that a day is a full 24 hours. The Product Hunt “day” starts at 12:01am Pacific (Product Hunt is based in San Francisco), so to best leverage this, they launched at 12:01am and began messaging international users, raving fans, and dedicated supporters to boost their position early on. They recognized that most of Product Hunt’s viewership is “above the fold”, so a product must jump the rankings quickly for its best shot of success.
On launch day, the team used their email lists to drive more traffic to the product launch page. They used clear directions on exactly what they wanted us to do: “Support us, leave a review, congratulate us on the launch, etc.”
Partner with the Right Product Hunter
Another key to success on Product Hunt is to partner with a well-known hunter. This is another area I am not well-versed in, but my experience has shown that the person who “hunts” the product (that is, to be the one who posts it) has a strong correlation to the chances of success. One influential hunter that I follow seems to launch a product every couple of days. This has given him a huge audience and, as a result, more reach and clout within the community.
Find a Hunter that has an established following and aligns with your ideal audience. This is social proof within the community and lends credibility to your product.
Day-of Launch Strategy
One thing I learned when following the Heyday launch is some days are better to launch than others … well, I could have guessed that, but what I would not have guessed is which days are better than others. Product Hunt traffic is lower on weekends (naturally), but they chose a Monday for their launch because … well, I don’t know. But it paid off. Monday is a good day to launch!
Next, they responded to every comment, question, review, and mention for almost 24 hours. When calculating for the coveted Product of the Day title, the Product Hunt algorithm presumably looks beyond the number of Upvotes. It likely factors who is voting and weighs votes from established users more than votes from new accounts. Additionally, it probably factors velocity within the comments section. This means engagement is key. Replying to comments encourages more comments; active engagement spurs conversation; conversation generates interest and visibility.
None of this is rocket surgery, it is old-fashioned growth hacking. Or, in pre-internet terms: community engagement.
In addition to responding to every comment and mention, the Heyday team leveraged partners and affiliates. In this case, Sam asked influencers within his network to mention it on their social media channels. Those partners shared a personal message and a direct link to the Product Hunt page.
Finally, Launch Day is an exciting day! Celebrate it! Communicate this in each message (Hint, emojis are all the rage right now and definitely welcome on PH). 🚀
The Day After
Launch Day is a high, not only does it generate excitement and press around the product, but it creates a flood of new signups, downloads, or customers. As founders, we can’t sit back and think the hard work is done. We have to plan for a wave of support requests, questions from new customers, missed expectations, and feedback. It is important to have a plan in place to handle this (the humans who have invested in your product) and leverage the excitement and press.
Heyday launched a Twitter thread (brilliant) to announce how the day went, tell the story about what they did, thank supporters and super fans, and share advice they’d received along the day. This juices the socials even more (especially because they @mentioned a number of their mentors and supporters). They didn’t let Launch Day come and go, they planned for before, during, and after.
Remember the Thank Yous! A ton of work goes into the build up of a launch, remember to reverse the process and directly thank your supporters, friends, and influencers who helped the launch. It is easy to set something in motion, but hard to remember who contributed to building momentum.
Debrief & Follow-up
I’m a huge fan of AAR (After-Action Reviews), Debriefs, and Follow-ups. I think they are critically important to learn from and improve our performance. I have not talked to the team much since their launch (since, at the time of this writing, their launch was only two days ago), I don’t know if they debriefed as a team or conducted an after-action review. I hope they did. I’m very interested in hearing what they learned, are most excited about, or would do differently.
SUCCESS! Product of The Day
Heyday was officially named Product of the Day for their launch day, April 4th. I’m sure I’ll regret writing this, but at the time of this post, they had been upvoted 1,230… no, 1,231… no, 1,232 times. I told you I’d regret it, it is already outdated.
Being crowned Product of the Day is a big deal in the tech product world. It is the first step in Product Hunt’s ladder of achievements (Product of the Day, Product of the Week, and Product of the Month, and Golden Kitty award).
Key Takeaways: How to Launch on Product Hunt
It is not enough to just have an exciting product or an awesome product. Planning ahead for your content needs, partnering with the right Hunter, leveraging your existing network and raving fans, scheduling social media posts, and taking advantage of the Product Hunt algorithms are key factors in a successful launch.
If you’re on Product Hunt, let’s connect! I can be found here: https://www.producthunt.com/@shaunnestor