The Notifications Strategy that Put Us in the Product Hunt Newsletter
Getting noticed on Product Hunt is a start-up founder's dream, but it’s not an easy task. There’s only one chance at listing a specific domain, so it can’t be a short sighted attempt. The internet is a web of communication, and depending on how it is used, teams can effectively notify their communities about their Product Hunt launch. We realized that the best route forward would be using a sophisticated notification strategy to increase timely engagement with the brand via the Product Hunt page. We were able to execute that strategy which helped us get noticed as we ranked #5 on our launch day and were the featured story in the Product Hunt newsletter the next day. Here is how we did it.
Notifications that Don't Suck: Making it into the Newsletter
If you are trying to make it into the newsletter, understand that Product Hunt is looking for a story, and they have no issues with an edgy one. In our case, we referenced WUPHF.com, a fake social network from the TV show The Office (US). It was our CEO Troy’s idea to take that route. We had bumped into jokes about our likeness to the idea in the past but thought it was a great opportunity to embrace it. It was one of The Office's funniest bits, but was also surprisingly relevant.
As users, we don't want to miss important notifications. The concept WUPHF triggered alerts to your cell phone, home phone, email, Facebook, Twitter, and fax. Being plugged into every provider is the correct next step, but where they got it jokingly wrong was sending it to every provider at the same time. We wanted to highlight how our platform helps ensure notifications are sent through the right channel at the right time, minimizing distracting and annoying notifications and maximizing user delight. Here is the relevant clip from one of the episodes.
Building an Engaged Audience
Our first step was to identify where our community is concentrated and who they are. This includes social networks, chat servers, and email lists. Our goal here is to not burn the farm, but pick the appropriate connections to make the most of our databases and networks. There is a life after the launch to think about. We want to identify an audience that is engaged, likely to give feedback, and possibly is already a product hunt member.
To start, we went into our Hubspot CRM, cleaned out a lot of dead data, and made a focused email list of people we thought would be most likely interested in this event. We did the same for our Intercom user base, recognizing we only wanted to interact with some users. This is a crucial step for launch day if you want to minimize unsubscribes or negative reactions as well as get the most impact from your audience. We planned an email notification scheduled from a single time zone from Hubspot and we hosted a banner on our marketing site from Intercom that said, “We're launching on Product Hunt today. If you're a product hunter, we'd love your feedback 💜 Share your feedback.”
Social Media Engagement
After we had our internal communications strategy, we moved on to our social platforms. We used Hubspot’s social media feature to schedule posts leading up to the event. We made sure to tag Product Hunt in every post. Understanding that our company page posting wasn’t going to be enough, we built out a Google Doc with full instructions for our employees on how they could participate in the days leading up to and on launch day. An effective tool to send notifications to your employees is Google Calendar. We published an event on the calendar that they could voluntarily (we believe in opt-in/opt-out communication) subscribe to notifying them of each day’s activities. A powerful tool that allows employees to easily distribute tweets via Twitter is Clicktotweet.com. Here, you can have a pipeline of tweets embedded in easy-to-click links ready and loaded just waiting for someone to tweet from their profile.
This is a great way to mass distribute your message. Notice the way the link preview looks as well.
First image on your hunt page is displayed. [Name of the product] - [tagline] [description]
The link is how most people will be introduced to your hunt page, so it’s important to keep formatting in mind.
Syncing the LinkedIn Event with LinkedIn Live
This is where we used our love for and understanding of LinkedIn’s Air Traffic Controller. We made a LinkedIn Event synced to a LinkedIn Live broadcast. This is how we were able to funnel all of our first degree LinkedIn connections as a company. Many people have a LinkedIn account, at least in the US, and this helps to easily invite people to an event. Product Hunt does offer a service called Ship that collects emails and allows you to send messages, but we wanted the path that requested the least information possible. LinkedIn event invitations send a notification to the My Followers section in the app.
When a user accepts the invite, LinkedIn then depends on the their notification preferences to send them a series of emails, in-app, or push notifications reminding them of the event: one week before, the Monday before, and the day of.
As the event admin, you have the option to maintain an event chat that attendees can join like a group conversation. You can also start by posting a poll to get engagement rolling leading up to the event.
When you post in this event, you have the option to notify all attendees. We had an initial post that greeted attendees and introduced them to Courier if they were unfamiliar and we posted a video the day of our launch as an introduction to let our community know that the hunt page was live and they were welcome to interact as they pleased, and this is where we used the "notify attendees" button.
Half way through launch day, we finally went live on our LinkedIn Event and talked about the experience, thanking everyone for their participation.
Outside of the LinkedIn event, we also had a banner placed on our marketing website on the day of the launch using Intercom and we posted in our Discord community. Members of our team, including the CEO, also reached out to their extended Slack groups and Discord servers with a soft invite to check out the hunt page.
Fortunately we have a lot of support from our funding network. We were able to have a representative from our accelerator “hunt” the page for us. Our accelerator relationship has also forged a network of users and soon-to-be users that enjoy being a part of the fun of the day, sometimes re-tweeting posts and sharing to support us.
By the end of launch day, we ranked in the Top 5 with around 280 upvotes and collected around 70 positive comments and 10 reviews from the community. I'm not going to lie, I kind of went to bed feeling a little defeated. When I woke up the next morning, I did my usual routine and sat down to write a fairly somber and introspective post mortem, when all of a sudden at 7:52 am, I received the newsletter. Notifications that don’t suck was the subject line! I thought it was a joke. I opened it up, and there we were, the featured story. The rest of the day was full of a bunch more traffic, another 150+ upvotes, 20 more comments, and one of our best sign-up days ever.
Our notifications strategy involved sending the right communication at the right time, which is ultimately what generated traffic to our Product Hunt page. Considering we have an existing customer and user base, we knew that a lot of our fans love us, but we also found an entire community out there that had yet to hear about us that was also interested in trying out our Courier.
Our Recommendations For You
For reference, this is the post I followed to learn what I should focus on throughout the launch. Most importantly, make sure you follow the Product Hunt Guidelines for posting! Below are some key recommendations.
- Schedule out your post in advance. This allows you to see it live and editable, but excludes interactions so that you can see how everything looks.
- Subscribe to the newsletter and see which posts are getting featured. Become a member of the Product Hunt community early to get an understanding of how it all works. In regards to your hunt page: be edgy, have a theme, don’t just pitch a product, and have fun with it.
- Follow @5harath, @jakecrump, @adityavsc, @leandro8209, @calum (their community managers) and @producthunt on Twitter
- Be careful not to abuse your access to notifying individuals on any platform, or people will unsubscribe and lose interest in your company.
If you want to learn more about LinkedIn’s notification architecture, join us on Tuesday July 20th for a LinkedIn Live special event where our CEO talks to Sandor Nyako, Director of Engineering, from the Air Traffic Controller team.
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