A brief guide on creating sustainable growth.
Envision this: you’ve been sprinting to the finish to get your product live, you’ve been existing merely on caffeine-fueled benders and Trader Joe’s frozen dinners for the past two weeks, and today is the day that you launch on Product Hunt.
You’ve gotten your friends to upvote your product, you’re replying to the comments in your thread, and you’re getting traction to your site like you’ve never seen before. “The future is bright!” you think to yourself. “I can’t believe it’s this easy to drive traffic to my website!” You reinforce your own beliefs. Then, after some deeper thought, a harrowing voice inside your head says, “Shit. What do I do now?” Sounds familiar?
It has happened to me.
The launch of Product Hunt is just the beginning of your journey.
Creating sustainable growth past the launch is important if your business is to live on.
Some background info: the day my product was on Product Hunt, hunted by Anne-Laure Le Cunff, the creator of Maker Mag, I was a bit taken aback. First of all, I had no idea it would be hunted. Anne-Laure had read some of my Reddit posts on r/entrepreneur, and happened to just “hunt” my product, for reasons still unbeknownst to me.
Second, the launch drove a ton of traffic into our site, traffic I was not anticipating, and sales and conversions of my product were 10x the norm. We had officially opened for business a month prior and were keeping steady with around 2-4 sales per day via Instagram influencer advertisements (an entirely different subject that I may cover in the future), and the most concurrent users I had ever seen on our site was about 15 at the time. Handling the traffic and the order volume for a neophyte business was a challenge, but as people have said to me—a good problem to have.
That was May 29, 2017. Fast forward to today, and we’re still operating and growing. Through the past year and a half of experience, I’ve learned a lot, and I wanted to share some of the key concepts that has helped continue the growth for me personally after launching on Product Hunt. I believe this guide can serve, at the very least, as a helpful read to current and future entrepreneurs alike to continue growth past Product Hunt.
Without further ado…
Outreach via email
Leveraging your Product Hunt launch to reach out to other publications and blogs to cover your website or product can continue your momentum. The window of opportunity for this is right after your launch—that’s when your product is going to be the most relevant. Use this to your advantage.
Compile a list of all the blogs or publications that your product might align with. I personally like to jot down all blog websites or publications that I come across in Google Sheets as I go about my day-to-day. If you’re having trouble compiling a list, you can use a website such as SimilarWeb. Look up the blog you are familiar with on SimilarWeb, and it will output all the other related and similar blogs. For example, if you have a bridal product, and you know one of the blogs is “APracticalWedding.com”, you can search for this URL, and find similar blogs.
Once you have compiled a list of blogs, you need to find the email address of the person who is most likely to cover the niche that your product is in. This may take a bit of effort, but once you have their email, send them a polite note.
Here’s a semi-personalized template I’ve used before, that has had an over 15% response rate (which I thought was pretty good!). You need to tailor it a bit to each person, but having a personalized email will increase your response rates.
Hi Ms. Smith,
I stumbled upon your article about XXX on your blog, YYY. I then realized after researching a bit more about blog YYYY and you, that there might be a potential fit for the business that I run and one of your websites!
My business is Craft & Oak – creates custom posters of the stars, maps, and coordinates for decor and gift-giving purposes. Many of our wedding gift givers, give a map of the stars with a custom caption of “And So It Began” or “The Day Forever Started”.
We’ve been featured in the past on multiple other blogs/sites such as Product Hunt, InsideHook, CoolMaterial, APracticalWedding, etc.
I personally thought our product might be a good fit for one of your roundups on blog YYYY. I wanted to just offer a few photos for you to check out and if you think they’re a good fit, we think it would look great on your site! Let me know if we can make a collaboration of some sort happen.
Keep up the awesome work.
Using this template has worked for me in the past, I’ve connected with people I never thought possible, and not to mention it generated quality links to my website, which improves long-term traffic and search engine rankings, and leverages the recent Product Hunt launch to its fullest potential.
With your Product Hunt launch, you should have comments on your posting, some of which – hopefully will be constructive or critical. Listen to these comments, and regularly ask your customers for feedback on your product. Gathering customer feedback at regular intervals is absolutely necessary for improving growth and iterating upon your business.
I say at regular intervals, because as time goes on—the needs of your customers may shift—and as a business owner, it’s up to you to keep up with your customers and understand what their needs and wants are. Without the customer, there is no sales of products, or use of product; so many businesses forget this key principle.
One of the ways I like to gather feedback is to run a survey, offer some sort of incentive for completing the survey, and keep the survey short. I find that anything more than 3 pages, or 20+ questions, is a bit too much. I have found that around 10-15 questions is the sweet spot for gathering customer input and having them actually complete the survey.
This constant feedback loop of reaching out to your customers → listening to them → making changes based on feedback → testing → observing results → repeat, will be a key driver in sustaining growth for the long term. You’ll need to make judgment calls on what you want to implement or what feedback to listen to, but having the ability to set your ego aside is important and try to view all comments as objectively as possible. I will say though, if there is one comment that is recurring or prevalent, it’s likely a signal that something needs to change.
Continue define your target audience and what it means to win them over
When you launch on Product Hunt, you likely have an idea of who your audience is that you’d like to target. Sometimes, that audience may be too broad, or it might be too narrow. Continue to refine your audience and figure out exactly who they are. What their age is, what their gender is, where they live, what they’re interested in. You want to put yourself in their shoes and identify what YOUR target audience needs, then you need to brand, demonstrate value, and create products or use-cases for this target audience.
You also want to define what exactly winning someone over in your target audience looks like. Is it someone using your product? Someone being on your website for longer than 2 minutes? Someone converting? Someone converting multiple times? A larger % of conversions per visitor? Unfortunately, it’s not the easiest to get comparables data on your product or industry, but if you can establish a baseline to start with, you can work on improving some of the key metrics that may or may not define success in your world.
Here is an example: let’s say you sell a precision laser-mouse for your computer, and that’s your flagship product. You start to find that young men between the ages of 18-24 are buying your product mostly in the United States. You then discover that they’re buying them for online gaming. So initially, while you were just trying to iterate on a product (the mouse), and your target demographic was someone who worked in architecture or engineering, now you’re discovering that your audience is a completely different than what you launched with. With this information in mind, and the fact that you love gaming, you start to cater the mouse to the gaming crowd. But what does it mean to win them over?
One of my favorite books is Playing to Win by A.G. Lafley. In it, he asks, What is your winning aspiration? I would argue that winning a gamer over in this case is that he or she chooses your product over competitors, and uses them in hardcore online gaming, perhaps at an online gaming tournament, or when he or she streams. To cater to that audience more, you can start to broaden your product range—what else do gamers need? Is it an energy drink? Is it a gaming headset, a new monitor, or keyboard? In any case, these are all decisions that need to be made by examining the current landscape of your industry and making decisions based on market size, your target audience, and your current capabilities.
But one thing here is for certain, understanding and refining your audience will help contribute to your success over time.
It is no surprise that email newsletters account for a large portion of e-commerce revenues. While my only experience is with e-commerce when it comes email, the same method (keeping in touch with customers) was instrumental in one of my previous roles working on a mobile game for keeping users engaged and interactive.
Keeping in touch, or having an email list where you send updates at regular intervals, can help increase your overall conversion rate and re-target some traffic back to your site. I would suggest creating entry points on your own website or product’s page for email collection. Having someone’s email is important to stay in touch with them, and it’s a gentle way for you to stay in the front or back of someone’s mind.
Just be careful, you shouldn’t be spamming your list—keep the emails informational and well-natured. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes, what types of emails would you like to see from companies? We all are all too familiar with those companies that seemingly send a “Sale!” email every other day. Personally, I become numb and unresponsive to these emails. But those businesses that offer something of value? Something I find enjoyable, or educational? I’ll read their newsletters and support them over the mega-corp who is pushing sales down their email list 24/7.
Launching a business is hard enough as it is. If you’ve made it far enough to have your product on Product Hunt, you’re already doing, in my opinion, amazing. The future is, and can be bright—if you take the right steps to ensure growth and to sustain it. It’s a constant iteration, consistently learning from your own experiences, and growing as an entrepreneur and product-owner.