how to launch
When launching new tech products there are a few websites available for launching and up-voting your new site. This blog tells of my experience when using up-voting and launching sites, and, some advice to help you know when and how to post your products, and blogs, on these sites.
My solution that has created the most success, therefore maximising the chance of survival, when launching a new products is to create many repeatable and scalable launches that 10x your website traffic. What i believe you need to avoid is one-off events that 100x your website traffic in an unsustainable way. Doing so can cause more harm than good in the medium to long term and distort the feedback loop.
Launching and up-voting sites are websites where you can launch new products, blogs and ideas. These sites can provide a massive boost to your website traffic for very little cash spent or time taken. This makes them very attractive to startups with little funding wanting an audience for a new product. Many of them have become essential to the startup ecosystem. Some examples include producthunt, betalist and betapage. There are multiple benefits of posting on these sites. These include getting great feedback from an engaged and knowledgeable community who are always on the lookout for new products and ideas, or getting early users that would be difficult to acquire organically.
These sites do, however, come with a health warning. They can be distracting and give a false sense of success. They are the fuel to the vanity metrics fire.
If you are an early stage company, the traffic to your website, when you post on these sites will most likely be many orders of magnitude greater then your regular organic traffic. A good launch on product hunt can provide 10's of thousands of website hits over a very short period.
Google analytics example of a Product Hunt launch and following months
Why does this matter? Surely having 100 times more traffic is awesome? The truth is, that having 100 times more traffic can cover up issues with your website and confuse the data that uncovers issues in your marketing funnel. Having many people on your website can delay the need to answer your most fundamental questions.
We call these sites “marketing bazookas.”
By giving you a one-off, temporary fix (increasing the traffic to your site exponentially) these sites can hide fundamental issues that come back to haunt you when the dust settles.
The key is to create marketing processes that are sustainable and repeatable. Not just to rely on marketing bazookas that are one-offs. You can still use launching sites but you have use them in the right way. We have 2 rules of thumb at Pilcro.
Make sure your launch is repeatable. Launch feature, blogs, side projects, videos…
Estimate that the launch will 10x your regular traffic, otherwise it’s too early
They come with restrictions on posting such as the following two examples. (Also common sense tells you that you can’t launch the same product twice.)
“Each startup gets two opportunities to be featured. Once pre-launch, and once during launch. There should be at least a few weeks between those posts.” Beta list
“If the product, book or game hasn’t been submitted before and meets the community guidelines, you will be highlighted as the hunter for that product.” Product Hunt
Our rule of thumb is to use these sites when your traffic is less than 10x different to the traffic that you think you will generate from one of these sites. This is so that the traffic doesn’t disrupt your analytics to the point where it is impossible to measure anything else.
For example if you estimate that a product hunt launch will get you 10k website hits in a day, the right time to do this launch is when you regularly have 1k hits a day on your website.
A Google Analytics example of regular “10x” launches
We have an expression at Pilcro, “Always be launching.” The secret sauce is to find a way to be constantly launching content and products in a scalable, repeatable way. Here are three examples.
You can launch side projects on the launch sites we have been discussing. Find a small problem that your target market has, and solve it with a simple product. These shouldn’t be more than a couple of weeks of development work and are certainly not designed to be a generator of revenue. You can show your community that you understand and care about them with a simple tool to help them out. This builds trust and can, if implemented well, drive traffic to your main site.
Blogs are the gift that keeps on giving. Unlike launching a product or feature, you can launch the same blog multiple times as there are vastly more channels for launching blogs than there are for products, and your can even get organic search hits from that blog as readers discover it through searching relevant topics.
Try to launch single features rather than your whole product. A feature can take a month or two to develop and launch, you don’t need to wait for whole products
Launch regularly, launch often, launch small. Try to turn launching into a process rather than an event. Apply the rule of thumb that your launch should increase your regular traffic 10 times over. With each launch comes learning and growth so that each time you launch a feature or a blog, it should perform better than the last launch. Following this process will set you on the right trajectory to success.