Poornima Vijayashanker is the founder of Femgineer, helping entrepreneurs and tech professionals (especially women) level up their careers. This post originally appeared on the Femgineer blog.
Back in 2007 I was working on my first startup, Mint.com, and in our efforts to be scrappy, we explored a variety of marketing platforms to acquire our first set of users.
“This event was off the charts”
Gary Vaynerchuk was so impressed with TNW Conference 2016 he paused mid-talk to applaud us.
A few of the folks on our marketing team mentioned that they wanted to leverage the content from our blog on Digg. Instead of just putting it out there, they took the time to understand how to use Digg effectively, through a combination of infographics and high-quality content. This ended up being one of the most cost-effective channels for us to acquire our first set of users.
When a new marketing platform comes out, we all clamor to understand how to make the best use of it, and Product Hunt is no exception.
Nearly five months ago I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. I posted a link to my free email course on Product Hunt and waited for it to be hunted.
The results were paltry. I wound up with about 25 votes and roughly 100 email signups. I was disappointed, and thought Product Hunt was essentially useless.
Then a few weeks after I had promoted my course on Product Hunt, I noticed that both Noah Kagan and David Kadavy posted their email courses and had much better results. Yes, they’re more notable than I am, but I also noticed that they each had a killer landing page that clearly demonstrated the value of their email courses. I had sorta slapped mine together hastily.
That’s when I realized that while Product Hunt may be a popular platform, I still needed to direct voters to a high-quality landing page if I wanted to see results.
I also asked Ryan and Erik, Product Hunt’s founders, about doing a pre-order campaign for my book. Their suggestion was to just wait until I launched my book fully, so I decided to heed their advice.
For the next several months I worked on my book and spent nearly one month designing my landing page so it would perform well on ProductHunt.
I’m no Peter Thiel, but I can still take a page from his playbook
About a month before I was set to launch my book, I noticed that Peter Thiel posted his book on Product Hunt and got over 400 votes!
Clearly I’m not Peter Thiel, but I figured what he had going for him was an audience.
I decided that I could recreate a similar audience by launching my book to my email list first and develop awareness that would boost the book’s performance on ProductHunt later.
So, I launched my book, How to Transform Your Ideas into Software Products, on September 30th to my email list. Then on October 15th, nearly two weeks later, I posted it on ProductHunt. This proved to be a worthwhile strategy.
Here’s the final breakdown of results in the 2 weeks since I posted
- 300+ votes
- 10K+ visitors to my landing page
- 1K+ email signups
- $4K of books + courses sold
I was pretty pleased with the results for a marketing platform that I hadn’t really spent any money on.
In fact, it had the highest ROI compared to other channels I pursued. Here are the breakdowns for the other channels I used to promote my book:
- $1,000 in Facebook Ads => 1,300 email signups over a 3-month period
- $2,000 in conference sponsorships => $1,339 sales
The only channel it didn’t beat out in sales was my own email list, but that’s because I’ve been growing and nurturing it for nearly 2+ years. My own email list resulted in a little over 3X the revenue of Product Hunt, which is to be expected.
3 takeaways that helped my product succeed on Product Hunt:
- Make a great product landing page that will convert visitors from Produc tHunt.
- Create a bit of awareness and an audience before posting on Product Hunt for a helpful push in the right direction.
- Don’t just post and walk away—you have to engage. The folks on Product Hunt want to engage with the product’s maker. Knowing this, I dedicated the whole day to answering emails, replying to folks on Twitter, and responding to comments in the Product Hunt post. This made the post come alive!
I’m definitely a PH fangirl now, and as for next steps, I’m thinking of running a sponsored ad later this year on Product Hunt and seeing how it fares.
What have your experiences been like? I’d love to hear more in the comments below.