So you've put a ton of effort into building a cool product, and you thought for sure the Product Hunt launch was going to be a big deal, but it didn't work. You're not alone. It's happened to many, many entrepreneurs before you.
Only a small percentage of products launched on Product Hunt generate real interest. If the focus is to simply drive a surge of traffic to your site, then you're likely to be treated to a series of untargeted and unengaged visitors (assuming you get any traction).
That's not to say Product Hunt can't be a huge booster. If the goal is to get your product in front of the eyes of the people who are more likely to become customers, then it's definitely the place to be. So, if you're wondering what to do next, you're on the right track. You just need to regroup and rethink your strategy.
In this article, we will cover the reasons for the lack of Product Hunt success. We'll talk about how to identify what went wrong and finish with a list of other platforms you can use to keep the momentum going.
Why do some Product Hunt launches fail?
There isn't a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. But we have been through the process a few times with our clients and built a few side projects that we've launched on Product Hunt, so we have some experience with what goes wrong.
Here are the four primary reasons your Product Hunt launch didn't work.
Your product isn't appealing to the Product Hunt audience
At its core, Product Hunt is a community of digital product enthusiasts. Most of the regular community members will be developers, designers, and startup entrepreneurs who are interested in building, testing and using new online tools.
If your product doesn't fit into the software tool category, there's a good chance it won't resonate with the community. It doesn't mean it's a bad product; it just means you may need to seek an alternative platform to engage an audience that's more likely to be interested in your offering.
You haven't incentivised users to sign up
It's great to run a Product Hunt launch to say your product got 10,000 visitors. But if none of those visitors turned into a meaningful result, did it do anything for your business?
If you don't make a compelling reason for Product Hunt traffic to sign up, then you won't get any new users. The first problem to solve is giving up a reason to sign up. Usually, that's an incentive to provide an email address. But you need to give up something first. You can't expect users to fill in your form, provide their personal details and take the time to use your product for themselves. It's a big ask.
The second problem is that you need to follow up with those users meaningfully. This can be accomplished with a well-thought-out email campaign that provides value to the recipient over a period of time. But if you don't have anything to sell and you're not planning to add new content to your site, then it's pointless.
You haven't put in the effort
Product Hunt success takes effort. You can't just throw your product up and hope for the best. The best Product Hunt launches take weeks of preparation and a plan to keep the momentum going.
Product Hunt shouldn't be the first thing you do when your product is ready. You need to have a website and at least content prepared that will let interested users read about how what value your product can provide.
If you fall into this category, we’ll get deeper into what “putting in the effort” looks like later in the article.
Your listing didn't get enough visibility to be featured
Apparently, the best time to post your listing on Product Hunt is Tuesday at 12:01am, but there are probably a few times that get more traffic than others.
If you don't manage to get in front of the most eyes, then you won't get enough traction to make it to the featured on the front page.
Not being on the featured list is essentially like being on page 2 of Google. There's no visibility and you fade into the night.
The PH team tend to curate this list, so your offer needs to be interesting and get enough visibility.
How do you know if your Product Hunt launch succeeded or failed?
You're Most likely here because you know your launch didn't succeed. But it's helpful to establish some goals and metrics to check how your launch actually went.
The primary goal of most Product Hunt launches is to drive traffic to your site. This is a pretty shallow metric. If you want to simply say that your site got a lot of visitors, then focus on getting the word out. Use Reddit threads, your personal network, Twitter (X), Threads and Facebook groups to tell as many people as possible.
But if you want to engage a new audience that will become part of your user base, signing up users is the most important metric.
Did your Product Hunt launch really fail?
The first step in answering this question is finding the metrics to help. The next step is deciding what "success" looks like for your situation.
If your goal was to drive traffic, and you've managed to get a good bump in your Google analytics, then you can stop there (but in my opinion, this is a weird goal).
If your goal was to engage the Product Hunt community and you haven't seen a lot of interaction with your site, there are a few additional ways to check how your campaign went;
Take a look at your Google Analytics data
Dig into the Google Analytics data for your Product Hunt launch. Specifically, check out the countries where your users are coming from and the pages they're landing on. If you're getting a lot of traffic from the United States and the United Kingdom, and those users are checking out your pricing page or blog, then you're doing well (even if they haven't converted).
Look for engaged users
The easiest way to check if your Product Hunt launch captured the attention of the community is to look for engaged users. A large portion of Product Hunt users check their site and dip in and out of new submissions. If they've spent time clicking through your site and checking out your features, then something is going right.
Google Analytics has a "time on site" metric that can be useful. But the data we've found most helpful is session recording.
Session recordings give you a way to watch users interact with your site. You can see what pages they visit, how far they scroll, and even click on things. This data doesn't lie.
It's something you need to set up ahead of time, so unfortunately there's no retroactive course of action. However, it's something you can try next time.
Session recordings with a tool like Hotjar can show you how users are interacting with your site and identify points of friction. Maybe your value propositions are unclear? Or maybe there's no easy way for users to take the next step. There are plenty of ways to get it wrong, and you won't know unless you have some data to investigate.
How to fix a failed Product Hunt launch
There are four primary ways to fix a Product Hunt launch that didn't help you reach your goals; prepare your website and content strategy, product changes, community engagement and promotion changes.
Get your website and content strategy humming
In my opinion, this is the thing that most failed Product Hunt launches miss.
Even if you do manage to get interested customers checking out your product, don’t expect that they’ll become raving fans by taking a quick look at your listing and reading your homepage copy.
Your website should already be doing the selling for you. You should have a bunch of relevant content that speaks to the problems you’re solving and gives interested users something to sink their teeth into.
Even better is preparing an engaged email list ahead of time and then telling them to go check out your PH launch.
Like all other user-generated content platforms, PH is fueled by community interactions. If you’ve built a list of 200 interested email subscribers and even a quarter of them like your PH listing, you’ll increase your chances of becoming a featured listing.
Your website design and implementation also needs to be good enough to convince potential customers to do business with you.
This is a problem my team can help you solve, even if you don’t have funds to invest in marketing activities. We’ll help you generate a bunch of high-quality content designed to drive leads and sales.
We write content on a performance-basis, so you only pay for it if it starts bringing you new leads. So it's more like you're leasing the content. It's risk free and lets you keep working on the product rather than getting bogged down with the time-sink content writing.
If you'd like to see if your product would be a good fit for this service, drop me a line using our contact form.
If you've run a Product Hunt launch, and you've watched the session recording of the users who visited your site, then you may have noticed them struggling to understand what you're offering.
This is usually the biggest problem. It's easy to get caught up in your product and assume that everyone will see the value. The truth is, that people don't pay much attention to the content they see online, so you have to do as much as you can to make using your product a no-brainer.
A great way to address this problem is by working through your product's positioning. A good product positioning forces you to figure out who your target audience is and why they should use your tool.
I don't have a great resource to point you to on this point right now. There are a million guides online, but I don't feel strongly about any of them. I'll work on outlining my process for positioning and post it here soon!
Once you've figured out your product's positioning, you can start making changes to your site. It's helpful to get a fresh opinion at this point, and you can use feedback from user testing to make quick adjustments.
Product changes are usually small and simple. Sometimes it's just a matter of rearranging the order of the text or adding an image to make a concept more understandable. The trick is to do as little as possible in each round and track the effects.
A big problem for a lot of Product Hunt launches is that the community isn't engaged in the product. You may have built something cool, but if it's not a digital tool, you may be better off trying to find a different platform.
But if you're confident that Product Hunt is a good platform for your product, then you need to put some skin in the game. This means spending some time in the Product Hunt community.
This one is a no-brainer. If you're going to be an active member of the Product Hunt community, then your launch is more likely to be successful. It's also a great way to find out what other startups and products are doing well, and how they did it.
Product Hunt is adding new features all the time. But the two biggest ways to engage are through their content and connecting with other users.
Becoming a creator on Product Hunt is as easy as creating a free account and submitting a product through the website. Once your product is approved, you're a creator. This means you can engage with the other creators by leaving feedback and upvoting their submissions.
There are regular Product Hunt meetups where you can meet other creators and talk about their products. There's a Product Hunt slack group and facebook group, and there are even speakers that present regularly to the Product Hunt community.
All of these avenues can be used to make your Product Hunt launch more successful. If you've taken the time to leave feedback on 50 other products, there's a much higher chance that your launch will be successful (providing your product is a good fit for the community).
The final option for fixing a failed Product Hunt launch is changing your promotional approach. Most of the time, the problem comes down to not getting the word out.
There are thousands of products that launch on Product Hunt each week, so the competition is intense. If you've sent out a few tweets, posted on Reddit and shared your launch on Instagram, then you're not doing enough.
The challenge with getting the word out is that you want to be respectful and non-intrusive. Promoting your product all over the place won't give you the results you're looking for.
The best approach is to create a list of platforms that are relevant to your product. If you're building a tool for creating better wedding videos, then find the wedding videography Facebook group, Reddit thread, Instagram account, discord server, and any other platform where your people hang out.
Now that you have your list of platforms, it's time to figure out a way to provide value to the members. This can be as simple as a free template or a content piece like this article you're reading. The trick is to provide value and then let them know you've submitted your product to Product Hunt, and it would be great if they could check it out.
Products that follow this approach are more likely to find success on Product Hunt.
Frequently asked questions
Q: What is Product Hunt?
Product Hunt is an online platform where product creators can submit their product, and get feedback and upvotes from the community. It's a great place to launch a product that has been in internal beta, and get it in front of a wider audience.
Q: Why did my Product Hunt launch fail?
A Product Hunt launch can feel like it failed if you don't get the results you're looking for. But the truth is, it's a big investment of time and effort to make a Product Hunt launch successful. If you didn't see the results you wanted, you should take a step back and see how the community is using your product and know what you're trying to achieve. There's a good chance you can turn it around.
Q: What other platforms are good for launching a product?
Reddit is a great platform for launching a product, providing you're a part of the community and providing value before you promote your product. Indie hackers is another good community to engage with. They're very welcoming and are always happy to provide feedback and advice on new products.
If your Product Hunt launch didn't work out, don't worry; there are plenty of things you can try. It's important to focus on why your launch didn't work and what you're trying to achieve. Product Hunt launches are a big job, and they take a lot of effort. But the results can be worth it.
Most importantly, you should keep your momentum going. If you've invested the time and effort to launch your product on Product Hunt, don't stop there. Keep the ball rolling and find other platforms to try.
Tim is the face of the company. When you want to kick off a new project, or an update on your existing project, Tim is your man!