We, at Notesally, are constantly exploring ways to get early adopters. The free Startup School program by Y Combinator insists that we (re)launch again and again. Taking this advice, our Notesally team started planning for a launch at Product Hunt. This blog post describes the playbook we used and the results we got. If this interests you, read on! 😎
Results of our Launch
- Notesally ended up as #11 product of the day 💪
- We got 92 votes on the launch day and 103 votes until now. 🌟
- We got 290 new visitors and 356 sessions on our website on the launch day 📈
- We got 1 new sign up on the day of launch 🙋
- We got 7 leads for early adopters in the days following the launch 🚀
- We got 1 security issue reported by an ethical hacker on the day of launch 🕵
- Notesally team considers this result as a positive outcome 🔥
Here’s the outline of our playbook. After the outline, each step that we took is described in detail, along with the results.
Before the Launch
- Reach out to other launchers asking for advice
- Fix a launch date
- List down target communities
- Go out of your way to be helpful
- Add organically created contacts to list
- Site traffic readiness
- Create an Upcoming page
- Decide and implement D-day analytics strategy
- Polish the copy for scheduled launch
- Ask contacts to subscribe to the upcoming page
- Continue being helpful in communities
- Good sleep the night before launch
During the Launch
- Send message to subscribers of the upcoming page
- Individually reach out to all contacts in spreadsheet
- Post launch analytics in various forums
- Respond to any comments within a few minutes
- Improve whatever you can based on feedback
- Monitor the site’s availability
After the Launch
- Record all early-adopter offers that came your way
- Thank each contact for support
- Share your learnings with the community
- Talk to contacts and take the relationship further
Before the Launch
Reach out to other launchers asking for advice
We reached out to few people who had launched recently on Product Hunt and asked for their advice. There are a lot of helpful people in the makers community. So, it was easy to get advice. We got significant help and advice from Nishith Shah and Deepa Shah of Thursday. They were happy to share tips with us. Their tips formed the basis of our playbook.
Fix a launch date
We fixed a certain date to be the D-day. We set a date one month away since we thought we need one month to finish all the prep work in our playbook. This date (and time) was communicated clearly in our Chanty channels, with all people contributing to the launch. This clear communication helps us to plan our leaves/absences accordingly.
Sometimes, when we communicate this date and time, someone can come back and say they have a leave planned on that day. In this case, we could move the launch date, if their contribution on launch day is necessary.
Fixing the launch date (and time) and getting everyone’s buy-in is the first accomplishment. 💪
List down target communities
We, as a group, created a list of target communities for us. These communities were across the following platforms:
Go out of your way to be helpful
This is the most important thing for us. We decided to be helpful whenever we engage in the chosen communities. In fact, we wanted to go out of our way and be super helpful, wherever possible.
Some ways in which we did this:
- Whenever someone asks for feedback for their product/landing page,
- Put the effort to take a look
- Give a honest, actionable and friendly response. One way to do this was to include a ‘WOW factors’ bullet list and ‘Observations’ bullet list in the response.
- Offer original and honest insights to any conversations
- Ask for feedback for our product/website only in appropriate places
- Do not promote yourself or your product
- No ‘salesy’ language in any posts/comments
Add organically created contacts to the list
When we followed the guidelines about being helpful (the previous point), it was easy for us to send messages to the people who we engage with using one of the formats below.
- Hey X! Thanks for answering my question on Y forum. Can we stay connected on Z? Hope we can add value to each other.
- Hey X! I just answered your question on Y forum. Can we stay connected on Z? If you have any followups, please reach me here.
- Hey X! Thanks for upvoting my content on Y forum. Can we stay connected on Z? Hope we can add value to each other.
- Hey X! I liked your post about ABC on Y forum because DEF. Can we stay connected on Z? Hope we can add value to each other.
Here, Z was typically Linkedin or Twitter or Discord for us. Note that it was only one. We did not send request to our contacts on all possible platforms.
We found that many people accepted our requests to connect (so that we can message them later about our launch) when we used the above formats.
Once a person accepted our request, we added them to a common spreadsheet which had details like:
- Way to contact
- URL of profile - to initiate contact
- URL of initial conversation
- Should we contact on D-day?
- Who owns this contact? - Typically the one who added it after building a relationship
Site Traffic Readiness
We made sure that our site could receive a spike of traffic on the product hunt launch day. The way in which you ensure this for your site could be different. So, not going into details here. Just make sure you can be confident of your site taking the traffic on the launch day.
Create an Upcoming Page
We created an Upcoming page using Product Hunt Ship. When doing this, you need to make sure to credit all the makers of the product.
Decide and implement a D-Day analytics strategy
Inspired by Thursday, we wanted to expose our analytics to the public on the D-day. Also, we wanted to stay lean by not putting too much effort in this area. Our lean solution was to upload our Google analytics PDF to our website in half-hour intervals.
The launch day analytics will also be a feedback to our team.
Though we started our launch day with this solution, we improvised on this idea on the launch day by using a Google Sheets no-code solution, which we described here.
Polish the copy for scheduled launch
We scheduled our launch on the already decided date and time. We also made sure to take our time to polish our copy for the product launch listing and the first comment. If you are doing this, make sure you don’t explicitly ask for votes anywhere.
Ask contacts to subscribe to the upcoming page
Two weeks before the launch, we reached out to all the contacts created in our spreadsheet (refer this step) and asked them to subscribe to our upcoming page.
The message could be like:
“Hey X! Good to talk to you again :) Wanted to let you know that my team is launching Notesally in next 2 weeks. We have created an upcoming page at https://www.producthunt.com/upcoming/notesally . If this interests you, please subscribe here so that you can know when it launches. Thanks for your support 🙏”
This got a few people to subscribe to our upcoming page.
Continue being helpful in communities
Again, we did not stop being helpful in communities once we got a few contacts in our spreadsheet. Everyday, we tried to engage with as much content as possible in a helpful way. The reason we want to continue this beyond our launch date is that we got meaningful interactions and partners who can be our early adopters from such conversations. So, we are not stopping anytime soon.
Good sleep the night before launch
We expected a lot of activity on the launch day. Hence, we went to bed early so that we get a good sleep on the night before the launch. Whatever was pending on the night before, was considered as ‘not doing anymore’.
This helped us to focus on the launch while it was happening.
During the Launch
Send message to subscribers of the upcoming page
Once the product launch is done and is live on Product Hunt, the first few minutes are the most important. First, we reached out to all the subscribers of our upcoming page using the ‘Email subscribers’ feature. This will hopefully start a trickle of upvotes, from already known subscribers.
Individually reach out to all contacts in spreadsheet
Our contacts spreadsheet had a column with the URL of the social profile. All of us filtered the sheet using the ‘Owner’ column and started messaging our contacts announcing our launch, in the platform of their choice - Linkedin/Twitter/Discord. The message looked something like this:
“Hey X! We just went live on Product Hunt - https://www.producthunt.com/posts/notesally-2-0 Your support would mean a lot 🙏”
Post launch analytics in various forums
It is wrong to post in forums and ask for upvotes. However, we could add value to any forum user by sharing our launch day experience, as it happens. Hence, we posted about our launch day analytics in various forums. The posts were about how we created the analytics system, how our analytics look like and asking people what we need to change.
We also dropped the link to the product hunt launch page in the forum posts (in case the viewer wants to reach our launch page), along with our live analytics page’s URL. This got some people interested in our launch and ended up giving us a few more votes.
Also, in case of tweets, we made sure to use high value hashtags like #buildinpublic or #nocode (since our analytics page was a nocode solution). This led to our tweets being retweeted by accounts with good number of followers and resulted in a trickle of votes.
Respond to any comments within a few minutes
We made sure that any new comments that appear on our launch dashboard were responded to within a few minutes. Also, we tried adding a question to the responses but they didn’t seem to create any additional dialogue. Hence, we stopped adding questions to the end of the responses.
Improve whatever you can based on feedback
We got a few feedbacks offline and also on our Product Hunt launch page. Whatever was very small to improve, we made that change in the site/app on the same day and dropped a reply to the feedback saying ‘Done :)’. Whatever took more time or thought, we parked it separately so that we can look after the launch day.
Monitor the site’s availability
After the Launch
Record all early-adopter offers that came your way
During the launch and for a few days after, we noticed that a few people reached out asking us to be an early adopter of their product. We made sure we collated all such requests in a spreadsheet so that we can talk to them and make a decision.
More often than not, the people who ask us to be their early-adopters can be our early adopters too. Hence, this will give us more number of early adopters just by talking to all these people.
Thank each contact for support
We went through all our messages and thanked anyone who supported us. Gratitude goes a long way in building human relationships.
Share your learnings with the community
Share your learnings by creating a blog post (like this 😜) or note or video. Someone else can benefit from your learnings.
Talk to contacts and take the relationship further]
Talk to your contacts in the spreadsheet often and take the relationship further. If you come across anything that may interest a contact, share it with them. If you know your contact has launched a product, upvote it without them asking for it and drop a kind note on their inbox. In short, stand by your community like they stood for you. More importantly, treat them like the human that you are, not like some email list. Don’t EVER spam them.
Picture Credit: Ian Dooley