When it comes to marketing your product or service online there are plenty of options. You can go with AdWords, you can try Facebook Ads, maybe you’ll want to sponsor a tweet, or perhaps you’ll head straight to YouTube and get your video ad on. All of these will cost you something – maybe a little, maybe a lot – but they might not be able to create the buzz that appearing on a single, curated list will deliver.
I’m talking, of course, about Product Hunt.
Launched in November 2013 as an email-only list, Product Hunt was quickly developed into the Hacker News-style curated list that it is today. Ryan Hoover’s small project quickly ballooned into one of the web’s go-to sites for new products, hot startups, and launches that were just days or even hours away from going viral.
As well as the consistent stream of new products that were published each day, Product Hunt also spent time building and engaging with their community. Unlike similar curated link sites like Reddit, Product Hunt did not allow all comers to comment on submissions. Instead, Product Hunt offered the chance to comment on hunted items to a select few who made accounts on the site. This had the advantage of reducing the spam, noise, and general self-promotion that open-slather sites suffer from, while concurrently lifting the standard of comments made, especially in threads where product makers engaged with the constructive positive and negative feedback they received.
More than just a hub for Valley tech heads, Product Hunt has gone global. The site is now among the most popular in the world (a global Alexa rank in the top 3000 and still rising) and half of their visitors each day now originate from outside of the United States. Among the more than 150,000 users who have created an account, all but 3% are located outside of the San Francisco/Silicon Valley area. Indeed, if you are seeking to market your product to early adopters worldwide, Product Hunt is perfectly placed to aid in your success.
While many – if not most – of the products that make it to Product Hunt are American in origin, there is a growing number of non-US products that are found, added, and upvoted by Product Hunt users each day. These are often grouped into collections by avid users, allowing visitors to quickly peruse the maker and startup scenes in a variety of countries, including places as diverse as France, Ukraine, Australia and Russia. A simple search is enough to reveal a country, a city, or even an incubator that has had its product listed on Product Hunt, and collections keep the marketing juice flowing long after the product has fallen from the Product Hunt front page.
With such exposure and a community of makers, believers, supporters, and even investors, a listing on Product Hunt has led to success in more than a few cases. Like finding your company linked by reddit’s front page, the traffic spike is usually of an order of magnitude and, as early adopters on Product hunt abound, sales, downloads, and conversions typically shoot through the roof. For cash-strapped startups and individual entrepreneurs, even a few dozen sales through Product Hunt can be enough to be significant in the short term. Coupled with the long term benefits of such broad publicity, it’s no surprise to find featured Product Hunt companies reporting big wins.
Take Kuhcoon, for example. Their own website welcomes the visitor by stating that they provide “Fully Automated, Performance-Driven Facebook Ad Campaigns”. Like many of the products that make their way onto the Product Hunt page, Kuhcoon is at the nexus of useful and simple, functional and well-designed. No surprise, then, that Kuhcoon found itself quickly upvoted by the community and began to experience the sort of click-through that developers dream about.
Andrew Torba, CEO of Kuhcoon, recalled:
Kuhcoon was posted on PH at midnight on Thursday, February 19th. By launching at midnight we had the opportunity to hit the international audience on PH and stay on the front page for a full 24 hours. Within seconds of going live we instantly had 40 people on the site…
At 9am PST our Techcrunch article was published. 9am PST = 12pm EST, aka the perfect time slot. On the West Coast everyone is checking Techrunch and Product Hunt on their way to work. On the East Coast everyone is checking TC and PH at lunch. Our traffic surged, but the data was clear: Product Hunt was the rocket fuel behind our successful launch.
Turba and Kuhcoon were able to convert nearly 20% of the thousands of visitors into paying customers, and this despite a product that the the CEO admits is rather niche and focused on the B2B side of the business world, and not the higher profile B2C sector.
Kuhcoon is by no means alone. Courseloads got themselves seeded through Product Hunt, and engineer saw his Facebook Page Unliker plugin shoot to the top of both Product Hunt and Hacker News with acclaim, Design Hunt saw thousands of apps downloads, and even the joke site ShipYourEnemiesGlitter exploded with a million page views and five figure sales in just a day. But while the money flowing in for envelopes full of glitter might be great, there are other good reasons you’d want to find yourself listed on Product Hunt.
3 Reasons You Should Hope to be Hunted
Let’s start with the most basic reason, and the one we’ve already mentioned.
Getting hunted will deliver visitors to your site.
Like a reddit avalanche or a Fark-inspired inundation, a listing on Product Hunt will see your traffic spike as community members click through to see what you’re all about. This is your shot to make an impact on a desirable group of consumers and decision makers. With everyone from lone developers and solo entrepreneurs through to Silicon Valley VCs browsing Product Hunt every day, this is usually a one-time traffic spike you will enjoy the opportunity to take advantage of.
Getting hunted will expose your product to criticism.
Sound like a negative rather than a positive? It shouldn’t. Products get better when they are subject to constructive criticism and that’s what you’ll find in the comments threads at Product Hunt. Recall that most Product Hunt users can’t comment – it’s reserved for a certain few (around 1 in 25) who are trusted by the Product Hunt team and who are largely makers, entrepreneurs, and creatives themselves, too. The criticism you’ll receive is targeted, valuable, and takes us to the third reason you’ll hope to be hunted.
Getting hunted opens you and your team to a wonderful, connected community.
A lot of sites use the term community without spending much time investing in or engaging with the people who use their site or product. Product Hunt is different: they take the extra strides to connect with their users, congratulate successfully featured makers and creatives, and to connect with those who have similar or complementary projects. In addition, the chance to meet, interact, and connect with investors and thought leaders in the community is real, and companies are already befitting from the exposure.
No one – save perhaps Ryan Hoover – can guarantee your product finds its way on to Product Hunt, and even he can’t help you find your way your place at the top of the daily list. But with a little luck, some good networking, and a fantastic product, there’s a chance you’ll make it and reap all the benefits that arrive with doing so.
Here’s to being hunted!
Found a great product on Product Hunt? Did your product make the daily list? Let us know on Twitter!