At the end of March 2020, our team introduced a new product titled Sendbird Call out to the world, and it reminded me of the moment we had our first marketing campaign for the beta version product four years ago. Due to the lack of funding at that time, we had to spend our days and nights grinding to promote our service out to startup directories and reviewing sites, including Product Hunt.
Even now, five years later, one of the biggest concerns for many startup founders will be how to cost-effectively promote and launch a product. Therefore, I wrote down this article based on my experiences and the research conducted to validate the recency of the necessary information.This article covers the key takeaways as follows:
- Goal: what you have to achieve throughout the product submission
- List: list of startup directories and review sites
- Tips: things to do before and during the product launch
Goal: what you have to achieve throughout the product submission
The short-term effect of the product submission is that it can attract a high volume of traffic to your website, and it offers the opportunity to introduce your product to globally distributed audiences. SendBird was “hunted” on Product Hunt twice on January 12, 2016, and March 15, 2017.
Both the first and second product introductions ranked us within the top five of the list, and it resulted in a huge increase in website traffic as the number of visitors increased by 90 to 100%. In addition, since we were selected in the daily Top 5, the company was featured in Product Hunt’s daily Newsletter sent to its millions of subscribers.
The more sustainable effect in the long term is an improvement in SEO due to the increase in domain authority. This provides more lasting impacts of search traffic by introducing the product into a higher level of “trusted” websites, which is vital towards startups lacking insufficient marketing budgets.
The keyword ‘trusted’ is important because “neighborhood” is one of the important principles of the Google search algorithm. In other words, if you link your service to a website that Google processes as a “good neighborhood”, Google will also recognize your site as a trusted and renowned website. That’s why you should be careful not to list products on websites with poorly written content that have too many dead links or spam. Here is the definition of ‘bad neighborhood’ or low-quality backlinks defined by Neil Patel as a reference.
List: list of startup directories and review sites
The list below was collected through the Internet and checked for validity as of April 2020.
Please leave a comment if you discover a website that may no longer operate or have suggestions to the list that I need to update.
Tips: things to do before and during the product launch
1. Prepare necessary content and media
Before launching a product, you should check whether all the required content is ready, such as the company name, website address, and description of your company. Sometimes, you are asked to provide additional information; this might be a pitch deck or video, testimonials from your target customer base, or an analysis on potential competitors. Instead of merely preparing a product launch and submitting the information as requested, you will need to organize the content to complete the overall product marketing exercises as an extension of this product launch. (This previous article covers the key question that product marketers need to make in the early stage of a business: SaaS Content & Product Marketing to Build ARR from $0 to $10 m)
2. Familiarize yourself with the rules and processes mandated by each website
There are two approaches to featuring your service on Product Hunt: submitting the product yourself, or being listed by ‘hunters’. However, the product has to be released through a renowned hunter in order to not only be listed on the main page, but also attract a higher volume of exposure from the beginning.
Furthermore, there are strict rules that communities such as Product Hunt and Reddit enforce; otherwise, any incompliant action can immediately lead to the deletion of an account or removal of account permissions. For example, no matter how many upvotes you receive, some algorithms can degrade a product’s ranking unless the audience indeed visits your profile and website to understand your product genuinely.
There’s an article, ‘How to Launch on Product Hunt’, written by the Product Hunt team in July 2017. It is full of helpful tips for successfully launching a product other than precautions to avoid penalties.
3. Generating momentum to sustain success
There were definitely shortcomings we could have done better on in the past two product launches. For example, one aspect we fell short on was not fully converting people’s “awareness” and “interest” in our product into “demand”, such as email submissions from our audience. If we had to launch a product once again, we would have created personalized content/web pages tailored to each referral source and encouraged people to sign up for free trials.
A press release can also maximize the traction in line with the product release. For small startups having difficulties of featuring on large IT / Tech media such as TechCrunch, there are opportunities to submit a contributed article to boutique media sites or famous bloggers specialized for your specific industry or product.