How We Generated 1K+ High Quality Leads Through Product Hunt’s Ship

If you were launching a product and you built a landing page for early sign-ups, would your work be over as soon as the landing page went live?

Nope.

The key with generating leads through Product Hunt’s “Upcoming” campaigns is to treat it like any other landing page.

The only difference is, you have a ton of high quality traffic thrown at your landing page from Product Hunt’s daily visitors, and the likelihood of a higher conversion rate because of the social proof from Product Hunt. What do we mean by social proof?

  1. “Erik Torenberg, Ryan Hoover, and X others have signed up” written below the email capture.
  2. Every user on PH is notified when someone they follow subscribes to an Upcoming page.

So we thought: why not layer on PH’s traffic with more leads within our own audience, and even go outbound to a cold audience?

Within hours, we had more email signups than most PH Upcoming pages to date.

Today, we have over 1k signups who are eagerly waiting for #VCWiz to launch.

So without already having a pre-existing user base or a list of email subscribers to push out to, how did we do it?

A few nights of sleep deprivation from the DRF HQ team and a few broken rules ;)

Let’s take a deep dive into how we prepped and executed our Product Hunt Ship campaign.

Objective

High-level: Personalized outreach at scale.

What we really mean: Reaching out to thousands of relevant folks about VCWiz and getting them to sign up or share the PH Upcoming page.

Audience Breakdown

The audience you want to reach out to can be broken down into 2 categories:

  1. Cold Audiences → Who do you not have direct contact with but want to contact for the launch? → Your prospective customer/user profile, excluding the list of those who are currently in your audience.
  2. Warm Audiences → Who do you already have personalized access to? → Email lists, social media audiences, personal networks of team members, beta users, etc.

Leveraging Cold Audiences

In order to drive a cold audience to our PH page, we decided to treat our campaign like a B2B Sales engine. Here’s what we did:

  1. Step 1: Scraped a list of every VC Partner, General Partner or Principal in the country who worked at a firm with “Partners” “Ventures” or “Capital” in the firm title and was located in some of the major tech hubs in the country.
  2. Step 2: Scraped a list of thousands of startup founders who lived in some of the major tech hubs and had between 1–10 employees (seed-stage startups).
  3. Step 3: Signed up for GMass (mail merge service) and set up a CSV sheet with the leads above and broke down the columns into — company name, contact name, and email address.
  4. Created 2 email templates — one for seed-stage founders and one for VC’s.
  5. Blasted thousands of emails using Gmass with custom parameters that were personalized for each recipient — company name, contact name, and email address.

Leveraging Warm Audiences

From social media followers to email subscribers to beta users, make sure to utilize your existing audience in order to a) drive leads from their communities and followers who aren’t in your audience, b) get folks in your audience to sign up.

On Twitter, our reach was split in 2 ways:

  1. Tweets sent out through DRF’s Twitter, the profiles of our partners/alumni/team, and First Round.

Here’s how our initial announcement tweet performed:

2. Personalized Twitter DM’s at scale

Here’s how we automated Twitter DM’s to a select batch of our followers with a personalized message:

  1. We had a friend who had an automation script for Twitter, that could be leveraged for sending DM’s that were customized for each recipient. The script took into account Twitter’s activity limits and so we couldn’t blast everyone at once.
  2. We wrote a brief message that could be sent to each message, with the custom parameter being the recipient’s name. Here’s a screenshot showing an example of the message below:

LinkedIn

With LinkedIn, the key is finding a way to generate traffic through not just your own network, but your network’s network. LinkedIn has been pushing to become a content medium over the past few months, and so their feed algorithm has been in heavy favor of native content and storytelling. As a result, using inspiration from folks like Josh Fechter, we broke down what it’d take to generate a viral LinkedIn post. Here’s what we came up with and tested:

  1. We wrote a post for our Head of EngineeringYasyf (the creator of VCWiz) — to share on his feed. This post leveraged the following: a) engaging hooks that indicated the start of a story before the “read more” part of the post, b) 1-sentence paragraphs for mobile-friendly reading, c) storytelling that ties into the mission behind the product, d) call to action to sign up for the product.
  2. We had Yasyf contact 30 close friends in one Messenger group and ask if they’d be willing to like and comment on his LinkedIn post as soon as it went live the next day. This was important for a few reasons: a) mimicking “engagement pods” that are used to create rapid engagement and game the algorithms of social media feeds, b) when you like a post on LinkedIn, it gets pushed to the feeds of everyone in your network, c) social proof that may lead to more people liking the post when they see a high number of likes (especially in a short time span).

What was the end result?

131 likes, 31 comments, and 13,170 views.

When launching a product, it’s important to incentivize partners, team members, friends, and community members to share the launch on their social platforms. A few examples of how we expanded our reach through our friends and supporters:

  1. Our friend John Gannon, who runs the VC Careers newsletter, shared our product to his thousands of engaged subscribers.
  2. First Round & team members at first round shared the product on their social profiles.
  3. Team members, alumni, and friends of DRF shared the product on their social profiles.

Check out a few screenshots of some of the posts below:

John Gannon, VC Careers

Although many of these tactics may work for you, the key thing to remember before you take off is that growth is different for everyone.

A hack that may have worked for one company might not work for yours.

A channel that led to the most leads for one company might not work for yours.

It’s important to dive into each example and figure out why it worked for another company, and how it might work for yours.

If you’ve got any questions about how we executed our launch or want some tips, feel free to shoot over an email to haris@drf.vc.

Just remember — treat PH Ship just like any other landing page, and so you need to bring in your own traffic rather than solely rely on PH’s audience.

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