Product Hunt 2016 versus TechCrunch 2009

So it’s been a little over a week since Braid launched our public beta on Product Hunt. (Braid is a Chrome extension that adds simple project “news feeds” inside of Gmail and Google Calendar.) The numbers were good, but not overwhelming. Then I got to wondering how a Product Hunt launch today compared to TechCrunch back when TechCrunch was the place everyone wanted their startup to launch.

As it happens, I have a Google Analytics account that has data going all the way back to 2007. And thankfully, the GA account still has the data from my last startup’s TechCrunch debut.

My first startup was called Dawdle. Dawdle was an online marketplace for video games, systems, and accessories. Mark Hendrickson wrote about Dawdle on President’s Day 2009:

God bless the Wayback Machine

I think we tweeted at Mark to get his attention the week before, but searching for a single tweet is hard, so I can’t be sure how we got that press hit. Anyway, Mark was kind enough to write about Dawdle and post it up on TechCrunch.

Here are the traffic stats from Mark’s TechCrunch post about Dawdle:

Of the 591 total visitors for the week after the post, the vast majority were in the first two days. TechCrunch sent 338 visitors on the Monday, and it had decent staying power for the next day with 188 visitors. The new users number you see in the screenshot is the number of visits from people who hadn’t been to the site before, not new registrations. We actually didn’t even track new registrations — they weren’t a KPI. We only tracked listings and purchases. As you can see, no one bought anything from the TechCrunch hit. (Google Shopping was, by far, our best traffic.) So, again, great backlink, not a ton of traffic, no sales.

Braid did pretty well with our Product Hunt launch, sticking on the homepage for most of the day. We botched it in a couple of ways: we only had one image and didn’t have a super user post it for us but we did a couple of smart things: we had a good offer (free lifetime accounts) and we tagged it with all the relevant categories.

Here are the traffic stats from Product Hunt:

Referral traffic from the domain“Direct” traffic but with the slug that let us know it was from Product Hunt

As with Dawdle’s TechCrunch post, the second day’s traffic held up pretty well. The goal conversion rate is wrong: we got about 130 new accounts from Product Hunt, way more than the 24 new accounts implied here from the 2.10% percentage Google Analytics displays. (It’s hard to measure exactly because some of the new accounts are from when a Braid user invites someone to a new or existing Braid project.) Also, the number of visitors may also be artificially low, as marketing site began running slower than usual, meaning that GA’s Javascript may not have loaded for everyone before they bounced.

We’re still in the free trial period, so it’s hard to see how many will convert to paying customers at the end of the 30 day free trial. But what’s super interesting is how few people took advantage of the free Braid account for life offer I posted in my introduction: only 25 of the 130 accounts we attribute to Product Hunt wrote in to request their free account. (I’ll still honor it, by the way.)

Final numbers:

TechCrunch 2009: 591 visitors with unknown new users and zero revenue
Product Hunt 2016: 1,368 visitors with 130 new users and unknown revenue

So Product Hunt is 2x as good as TechCrunch was back in its heyday.

So while we didn’t get the tens of thousands of new visitors and thousands of new users that people hope for with a Product Hunt launch, the numbers are still way better than they were when you had to pray that TechCrunch would find your startup worthy enough to write about. So, thanks Ryan, for making launch day a little more democratic and more productive than the days gone by.