Our launch strategy: what worked and what didn't.  

A few days ago we successfully launched our product MARS on Product Hunt. We spent months building, fixing and incorporating feedback from our Beta users until we were (somewhat) confident enough to release it to the world. Then without contemplating too much, we just went ahead with it.

Why did we choose to launch on Product Hunt?

Product Hunt is not only great platform to get more customers for your product, but also a tightly built community of product developers and enthusiasts. And it doesn’t hurt that being a top #5 product of the day gets your product featured in their newsletter which goes out to thousands of product hunt users.

So how did we end up launching MARS on Product Hunt? Sure, we began with the idea for MARS about 3 months ago. However MARS wasn’t something that was built from scratch in 3 months. We’d been working on our mission for over a year, but the product we were building kept evolving with the fast changing market. If you’re interested you can read about our journey building MARS.

Anyway, about three months ago, we got the first idea for MARS. We started building it and had customers using our Beta version & helping us improve MARS. Once we were well into the testing phase, we made the decision of launching on Product Hunt. This happened barely a month ago.

Our launch strategy

Now when we decided to launch, we didn’t know much about Product Hunt. Most Product Hunt launch guides we read recommended that planning and executing our marketing strategy must begin at least 3 months in advance. This is to ensure that by the time your product is ready to launch, you already have an active community of Beta testers and people genuinely interested in your product. We had a little less than a month. And instead of pushing forward our launch, we decided to adapt and fast-forward our launch strategy and marketing efforts.

If you planned your launch like us, with not too much time on hand, don’t worry. Product Hunt is one of the best product discovery platforms for a reason — if your product is good, it will shine even if you haven’t built a huge community of supporters and followers on all your social media.

When we made the decision to launch on Product Hunt we were still developing MARS. We had a few customers who were using the Pilot version but our product was far from market ready. It was during this month, we realized that if we wanted to be successful, MARS would have to be a completely self served product. MARS is basically a deep reinforcement learning based prediction system that learns from past user behavior and recommends the best offer/discount for a customer to get them to convert. This system works, but at that point, we weren’t ready with a fully developed tool that our customers could use (without needing our help). Basically the absence of a tangible, interactive tool reduced the value we were providing to our customers. We realised the first step to having a complete launch-worthy product would be to create the front end and UI built around our pre-existing system.

So in approximately a month, we finished building and polishing MARS, revamped our website and increased our marketing efforts exponentially.

We were aware that MARS appeals to a very small audience i.e. B2C marketers of e-commerce businesses who run discount marketing campaigns. But at the same time we knew that “marketing budget optimization by an AI powered recommendation system” was aiming to solve a problem that many marketers weren’t aware existed. So we tried to build awareness by publishing more content — blogs, social media posts, gifs explaining the problem we were trying to solve and the solution we were trying to offer. However we began this process only about a month before the launch which given the small number of social followers we have, might not have been as effective as we’d hoped.

Along with blogs we also focused on trying to share the Product Hunt platform to our already existing connections and social media followers and explain why they should join Product Hunt to be able to support our launch.

As I mentioned before, we didn’t have a crazy marketing strategy. And if you’ve read all the ‘ultimate launch checklist’ guides out there, you probably know by now that the usual marketing tricks aren’t appreciated by the Product Hunt algorithm.

The Launch Day

Finally for the launch day, we created some gifs to explain our product (the PH community loves gifs) and made sure we had our product post ready and scheduled to be launched at 12.02 midnight (1 minute after the PH feed refreshes) We didn’t reach out to Product hunt influencers to hunt our product. We know our product best and decided it made the most sense for someone from our team to hunt it. So our hunter (also the co-founder) Sumant US created our product post and posted the ‘first comment’ to set the tone to invite feedback & questions about MARS.

A few hours into our launch we started reaching out to our connections to check out MARS on Product Hunt and many of them ended up joining Product hunt just to upvote our product. We noticed we were ranked below some of the other products launched that day even though we had more upvotes. We then realised that Product Hunt actually discounts upvotes if the upvotes seem to come from accounts that haven’t been around long enough.

We also sent out a mass email to our entire email list. We didn’t ask for upvotes, just for people to check out our product page and give us feedback.

Here’s what we sent out:

We also revamped our website and added an intro bar for all the traffic being referred from Product Hunt. We had a special launch day offer for Product Hunters signing up — extra free credits with a promo code they could use. Thanks to introbar.com it took us less than two minutes (no exaggeration) to set it up.

Coming to your product tagline; even if you’ve thought of the most witty catchy tagline, it might not work if it doesn’t explain the product, simply. Try explaining your product in one line to a 12 year old. Even if your product is complex, focus on the value it provides and try to draw attention to that in a simple way. For example our product MARS is an AI powered budget driven discount optimization tool. Vague right? And definitely not a suitable tagline. But what does MARS aim to do? Run discount marketing campaigns within an allocated budget, i.e. help marketers stop losing money on discount campaigns — and that’s what we settled on for our tagline.

When we first decided that we would launch on product hunt, we set the right expectations. This launch was for us to know what the world thinks of our product. We had no expectations of making the front page or even getting more than a few upvotes from those who fell in the niche market we were targeting. However as the day progressed we kept seeing that number increase and we currently stand at 272 upvotes. We couldn’t believe it. There were people who saw our product, tried it out and genuinely liked it enough to come back and give us an upvote. We had a bunch of people commenting on our posts inquiring about how they could integrate with our product. They were actually thinking about how they could incorporate our product into their existing marketing stack. It was an amazing feeling.

We ended the day at rank #7, with 208 upvotes. Our website traffic shot up by 600% and about 10% of our website visitors signed up for MARS. After our launch we thanked all our supporters and everyone who signed up and left us feedback.

This isn’t the end of our launch story though. In fact it’s the first of many more launches to come. We’re working on building more features, polishing MARS with the aim to make it part of every growth marketing stack in the world!

If you haven’t tried out MARS yet you can sign up for free and try it out here.