Case Study: How to Use Product Hunt to Launch a Million Dollar T-Shirt Business
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Every day, new businesses sprout up all across the globe.
It’s no wonder. “Entrepreneur” as a job title has a nice ring to it.
But, the honest truth is that most businesses fail within a few years.
It’s hard to find sustainable success with more than 12 million ecommerce stores around.
There’s so much competition. And too many stores selling similar products and services.
But, that doesn’t mean you can’t make it work and take your own piece of the business-owner pie. It just means you have to use different channels and methods to grow your business.
And you can’t rely on word of mouth or a single viral video to sustain your business for the next 20 years.
You have to differentiate yourself in a unique way that communicates more value than your competitor.
Fortunately, platforms like Product Hunt exist and allow you to jumpstart your business fast.
That’s exactly what Startup Drugz, an ecommerce t-shirt business, did.
They used the Product Hunt platform to bring in 35,000 unique visitors just one week after launching their product.
Within two years, they were on their way to celebrating a pretty big milestone: Becoming a million-dollar business.
What’s even more remarkable is how they were able to take their t-shirt selling business and set themselves apart from the millions of other online t-shirt shops.
Here’s some background on Product Hunt, how Startup Drugz used it to grow their business. And how you can use it to grow your own company.
Product Hunt is an online platform made for sharing thousands of new products that are just hitting the market.
It’s the go-to spot for those hoping to find the newest in tech, games, books, and podcasts.
You can find anything from tangible products to techy gear, new innovations in the SaaS industry, mobile apps, website design, and hardware projects.
Every day, new items are posted on the site and voted on by Product Hunt users. Those with the most votes make their way to the top of the product list and are included in the daily email to site subscribers.
The site allows users to scout new technologies and innovations.
And they constantly update and curate the thousands of products shared every month by showcasing (in addition to their daily email) the most popular products based on user ratings and upvotes:
While the site has a heavy lean toward startup and technologically-focused products, you can find anything from t-shirts to coffee filters and everything in between.
And tons of SaaS products, too.
Products get featured on Product Hunt when “Hunters” post a great product that they’ve come across and want to share with the community.
Then, the community can upvote that product if they think it’s innovative or helpful to their business.
If products earn a lot of upvotes, they can get featured and shown at the top of the page, giving companies huge sources of traffic and additional revenue.
The exposure received from Product Hunt is huge if your product goes viral.
And the good news is it’s not that hard to make your product trend (more on this later).
But just how can it be done? Take a look at how Startup Drugz grew their company using Product Hunt and quickly scaled to becoming a million-dollar business.
Startup Drugz’s t-shirt empire started in 2015.
They wanted to create clothing that spoke to the lifestyle of the typical entrepreneur. It paid homage to the hustle and grind of their day-to-day schedule.
In their first year of business, they did $150,000 in sales. This, of course, was in large part because they launched their goods on Product Hunt:
The initial result? They received more than 600 upvotes, making them one of the top featured products of the month.
Maxwell Finn, CEO of Startup Drugz, said that Product Hunt helped them drive over 35,000 unique visitors in their first week on the site.
But, ever the entrepreneurs en-route to success, $150,000 in sales did not satisfy them.
They knew they had made some critical errors that they needed to repair if they wanted to grow and continue their positive revenue trend in their second year.
Maxwell said that their lead collection process wasn’t up to par. They didn’t have a system to collect unique site visitors’ emails on their first visit.
And they didn’t have a Facebook remarketing pixel setup to remarket those visitors who didn’t buy.
Maxwell believes this caused a ton of lost potential sales.
But they regrouped and started using techniques like Facebook advertising and tools like Hotjar to perfect their site’s user flow. In no time, they were able to start growing and scaling their company.
They credit tons of their success to Product Hunt. They were able to drive massive amounts of traffic and kick start their company with a big launch.
Then, they started to set up a remarketing pixel that allowed them to retarget new visitors with purchase-based ads. They also used tools like exit intent and lead capture to quickly gather leads before they bounced.
Lastly, they used diverse Facebook advertising techniques to continually bring in new business and generate high lifetime value customers.
Now, let’s jump into how you can put these steps into action.
Product Hunt is the name of the successful product launch game. It was the first step to creating Startup Drugz’s now million-dollar business.
But you can’t just use the site to spam-post products all day.
It’s not as simple as inventing a new product and adding it to the site to get traffic.
Only specific “Hunters” are allowed to post products.
Thankfully, you can take a few steps to become a Hunter and get this coveted access.
First, head to Product Hunt and create an account.
Next, go to their “Contributor” page. This page gives you a checklist of all the steps needed to become a Hunter.
These steps demonstrate that you’re an active member of the community, rather than just another company looking for free promotion.
Product Hunt is a close-knit group of likeminded individuals who genuinely want to explore new, innovative products. They aren’t fans of users just on the site to game the system and get some visibility.
So become part of the community by editing your profile and adding a headline.
Having a profile image on your profile page is also important, as people will then be more likely to interact with you.
Next, subscribe to the daily digest:
Simply enter your email and sign up.
The next two tasks are a bit more difficult because they require you to interact and actually spend time engaging with users.
Simply set a reminder on your calendar to upvote 3 days in a row, and make sure to upvote 11 products.
Now you should have access to “Hunt” your own product and share it with the community.
Option B. Get someone to “Hunt” your product.
If you aren’t able to post your product on Product Hunt yet or want someone else to be the “Hunter,” a great way to get your product featured is conducting outreach.
Use sites like 500 Hunters to scout the top Hunters on the platform.
You can check out individual profiles of these Hunters to see which products they’ve supported.
Simply click on one of the profile pictures, and it will direct you to their Product Hunt profile.
Here, you can see which products they’ve submitted. Make sure to do diligent research and find the right Hunter for your product.
For instance, if your product is SaaS focused, find a Hunter who has tons of experience submitting those applications.
Maxwell credits their success on Product Hunt to the incredible amounts of engagement they provided to interested users.
He recommends that you have a team member dedicated solely to answering questions and engaging with the community.
Like reddit, Product Hunt is an active community that doesn’t tolerate spam or people simply seeking free promotion. It’s a site based on people who genuinely want to help products succeed, and who want to discover new trends.
Therefore, making yourself active on the site is critical to developing trust and credibility.
To do this, Startup Drugz spent hours engaging and developing fun ideas to spark that engagement.
First, they offered coupons and discounts to people who were commenting and viewing their page:
They used this strategy to quickly generate sales and reduce any frictions in the buyer’s journey.
Next, they ignited their traffic with a fun giveaway on their product page:
From one small competition, they ended up getting hundreds of participants.
Countless users were interacting on their page and starting discussions, driving even more traffic and popularity to their product.
Next, they re-engaged with those who participated in their t-shirt giveaway by complimenting and commenting on their ideas:
With these simple and quick interactions, Startup Drugz was able to demonstrate quality customer service and dedication to the community.
Instead of dropping their t-shirts on the platform and walking away, they followed up with every user to make sure they were enjoying the product or participating in their giveaway.
They were even able to overcome huge friction points that they didn’t originally foresee:
They nearly lost a sale due to the shipping costs, but Maxwell was able to provide excellent customer service and give a discount code to make the sale.
There are a couple of key takeaways in this step:
- It’s important to be active after you post your product
- You should engage with the community in a creative way, like creating a simple giveaway
- You can reduce friction or negative comments with unparalleled customer service
Startup Drugz launched on Product Hunt and received over 35,000 unique visits in the first week alone.
And Maxwell admits that they weren’t prepared for it.
They simply weren’t ready or equipped to convert the influx of customers.
They needed lead capture forms to get emails of first-time visitors. And exit intent popups to convert skeptical users ready to bounce. They also needed chat systems that could answer any questions and reduce conversion friction immediately.
Here’s how to setup these tools and prepare your landing page for growth.
Tip #1. Lead capture
One of the biggest mistakes that Maxwell found was their lack of a lead collection system.
A lead capture system will popup and alert a first-time visitor on the site about a discount in exchange for the customer’s email.
Here’s what it looks like on Startup Drugz’s website:
It’s fun, interactive, and helps them collect countless more leads immediately.
To set this up, you can use a tool like Justuno:
Justuno allows you to feature engaging popups that attempt to capture emails in exchange for small discounts.
To get started, create your free trial account by clicking “Start Free Trial.”
You don’t need to provide any credit card information, so you can test out their system before making any purchases.
Next, you’ll be directed to your dashboard where you can browse tons of templates for lead capture:
Simply click “Add This Now” on one that you like to get started. This one (pictured above) is great for capturing new visitors.
After ten seconds on site, it will popup based on those who have not engaged with the promotion before.
Next, you can use their simple tool to edit your new visitor popup to change the text, offer, and colors:
After you’ve edited the CTA to your liking, you can customize the rules for the popup:
For example, you can edit when this promotion shows up and who can interact with it.
Then, you can integrate your email marketing software to automatically collect lists of these submissions and segment them for campaigns:
Once you’ve made any connections to your software applications, hit “Save” and then navigate to the settings page to set up your website code.
Here you can copy the code and add it to the footer of your website:
Once you’ve set the tag up, you’re ready to start running your lead capture software!
Tip #2. Exit intent popups.
Another great tool that Maxwell recommends is exit intent.
Exit intent detects when a user is about to leave your site, and then a popup will display asking them a question or giving them a bigger discount.
These exit intent popups help capture more leads and keep people from leaving your site without a second thought.
Here’s an example from JustUno:
Maxwell found that they were able to capture 15-20% more leads using exit intent!
That means they saved 15-20% of people from leaving their site for good without any contact information or purchase.
Fortunately, this is extremely easy to set up, and you can do it all on the same platform you just used to create your lead capture popup!
First, just go to your Justuno dashboard and hit “New Promotion.”
Then, choose “Prebuilt Promotion” from the drop down list:
Next, choose the “Cart Abandoner” option to be able to capture people who are leaving items in their cart or about to exit your checkout page.
This will help you secure last minute leads and drive more sales.
Simply edit your offer and messaging and embed the code as you did in the previous step!
Tip #3. Chat system.
One of the biggest issues Maxwell noticed in the beginning stages of their website and landing page was the mass volume of questions they got via email.
Not only were there a lot of questions, but they also noticed that the people asking questions via email weren’t converting.
Maxwell knew they needed a solution that could answer customer questions and concerns fast and reduce any hesitancy to buying the product.
He decided to implement Drift, a live-chat software:
The chat box came up as soon as someone entered the site to see if they needed help with finding products or answering any questions.
This allowed Maxwell to communicate with customers in real time and quickly speed up the conversion process.
Here’s how to set it up for free.
First, go to the Drift website and enter your email address.
Next, select your company colors to create a theme choose your messaging icon style.
After that, set up a welcome message that people will see when they land on your site.
Lastly, add your company details and install the code on your site to start messaging live visitors and reducing conversion friction.
The next step in Maxwell’s plan was to install a Facebook Pixel on his site to be able to conduct remarketing campaigns.
To get started, you need to first create a Facebook Pixel.
On Facebook, go to the Pixels tab in your Ads Manager.
Next, click “Create a Pixel.”
Then, name your Pixel and click to the next step.
Accept the terms and conditions, and your pixel is good to go.
Now, all you have to do is add that pixel to your site!
To do that, first you need to locate the header code for your website. Go to your website and find the <head> </head> tags:
Then, copy and paste the entire code in the header of your website like this:
And that’s it! Now you’re ready for step 5.
Startup Drugz has really amped up their business by retargeting visitors after they land on their website.
Maxwell noted that they were able to drive $55,000 in sales with just $2,000 of remarketing ad spend.
They consistently produce an 8x ROI on remarketing ads.
The good news for you? They are easy to replicate and set up.
Since you’ve already installed your Facebook Pixel, you can get started immediately by making a remarketing audience.
First, head to your custom audience manager in the Facebook Business Manager.
Next, you will want to create a custom audience for remarketing:
Make sure to select “Website Traffic” from the custom audience list to target everyone triggering your Facebook Pixel:
Once you get to the customization section, you can edit different types of inclusions and exclusions to refine your list.
For example, if you want to remarket all website visitors from the last 30 days, you can do that with these settings:
If you want to be more specific and remarket people who visited your product page or checkout page, you can target customers who visited specific URLs:
That way you can refine user interest by the pages they visited to get better conversion rates on visitors who are ready to buy!
Once you’ve got the custom audience set up, simply run a new ad targeting that specific audience. Sit back and watch the conversions roll in.
Many new small business owners and startups can get caught up in the daily grind and lost in the shuffle of trying to grow their company, and their initial launch is not always as successful as hoped.
Fortunately, you can buck the statistics by looking at companies that have started with nothing and become million-dollar businesses.
Startup Drugz is a beacon of hope for new businesses, using Product Hunt to drive 35,000 unique site visits in 1 week and sparking $150,000 in sales in their first year.
Take a lesson from their playbook and implement successful systems and processes to be prepared for the influx of growth possible from Product Hunt.
Implement lead capture forms and exit intent popups, and be sure to use chat systems to nurture leads and drive conversions. Remarket visitors who don’t make a purchase, and even those who did to increase their lifetime value.
With just a bit of time and focused-strategy, you too can boost your business and up your conversion rates.
Then, you can join the ranks of Startup Drugz as one of the elite few new businesses who survived, and even thrived.
According to eMarketer, ecommerce is a trillion-dollar industry that grows by double-digit percentages every year. And it’s the only industry that can make that claim.
There is no shortage of new online businesses, many selling the same, or very, very similar products and services.
And, sadly, nearly half of all new businesses fail within the first five years.
With more than 12 million ecommerce stores out there, competition is steep and continuing to grow.
Such stiff competition and saturated markets mean you need to find different channels of success. You need platforms that can kickstart your growth and launch your business into the green.
Have you ever used Product Hunt to launch anything?
What product launch strategies have you seen or used that generate huge sales?