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Adii Pienaar

Now working on Receiptful. Co-Founder & ex-CEO of WooThemes. Author of Brandiing. New Dad. Ex-Rockstar.

How Our Mailing Lists Grew From 0 to 3000+ Subscribers

In the last two weeks we launched two content products that helped us acquire more than 3000 e-mail addresses.<...>

The two products that we launched are:

Both of these products are part of our greater content and marketing strategy with the ultimate goal being to generate leads and signups for Receiptful itself. The challenge in kickstarting such a strategy is always finding the first traction.

With so much great content out there already, it's not just a case of "produce great content and they will come". Instead it often ends up being a very lonely echo chamber at the start.

The irony in this is that once you've found signed up the first (say) 100 subscribers to your list, it's much easier to grow that list (with new content and products), because you have a foundation from where at least some of those subscribers will help you out.

Receiptful started with a very small mailing of about 350 subscribers, which we acquired via our beta landing page in the months before launching. The challenge with that list though was two-fold:

  1. It had been months since we first acquired those subscribers until we actually had a product; and
  2. The vast majority of those people had signed up, because they were interested in our Stripe integration (which we had initially, but didn't have anymore).

So how did we kickstart our mailing list? Well - with a lot of help from Product Hunt and a little bit of "creative leverage" on our part. :)

First, let's look at how the two products have performed:

Keep Your Friends Close E-Book

Launched: 23 December 2014

ProductHunt Statistics:

  • Hunted: 23 December 2014
  • Upvotes: 282
  • Comments: 9
  • Final Position: 4

Overall Statistics (to date)

  • Unique Visitors: 5808
  • Unique Visitors (from Product Hunt): 2456
  • New E-mail Subscribers: 2549

The vast majority of traffic and signups happened in the first five days after which it quickly declined to a handful a day:

Book Spreadsheet

It's also interesting how all three of those metrics actually correlate pretty accurately over the first five days:

Book Graph

Additional Promotion

Having had products on Product Hunt before, I knew that I should try give the listing a bit of an upwards push to spark that snowball effect. From my side, I thus did two things to help with this:

  1. I tweeted about the book twice on launchday with one tweet linking to the book directly and the other tweet linking to the Product Hunt listing. The latter tweet actually got 119 clicks and 2 re-tweets.
  2. I sent an e-mail to my personal mailing list (+- 2000 subscribers) with the subject "An Xmas Gift For You..." in which I included a copy of the book and actually asked them (a favour) to upvote the book on Product Hunt. 137 individuals clicked through to Product Hunt (I have no idea how many actually upvoted).


Launched: 23 December 2014

ProductHunt Statistics:

  • Hunted: 5 January 2015
  • Upvotes: 104
  • Comments: 2
  • Final Position: 15

Overall Statistics (to date)

  • Unique Visitors: 2567
  • Unique Visitors (from Product Hunt): 1379
  • New E-mail Subscribers: 742

This time around the vast amount of traffic and signups happened in the first three days before tapering off (even though the "long tail" traffic since is still hovering on 60 to 90 uniques a day, a week later):

ToughChit Spreadsheet

And again the metrics are highly correlated and relative:

ToughChit Graph

Additional Promotion

I wanted to follow the same approach I did with the e-book, where I'd leverage my personal mailing list, but it didn't feel right this time. I didn't have anything to offer my subscribers (they would have to subscribe to another mailing list) and it felt a little demanding asking for another favour in the space of a little more than a week. Instead this is what I did:

  1. I wrote this blog post, where I could include some of the things that I had been working on (including ToughChit). I then sent out a newsletter to my list (as I always do when I publish my new content) and included a direct link to ToughChit's listing on Product Hunt. The newsletter generated 222 clicks through to the blog post itself and another 166 clicks to the Product Hunt listing.
  2. And again I tweeted about ToughChit twice on the first day; one tweet including a link to the site itself and the other to the Product Hunt listing. The latter tweet (which was quite vague) got 174 clicks.

What Did I Learn?

  1. There's a direct correlation between traction / signups and how high you rank on Product Hunt. I've heard this often from other founders / makers too. Further proof of this is Founder's Cabin (by Josh Pigford / Baremetrics) which was hunted on the same day as ToughChit, is a similar product, but ranked #8 overall for the day and got 3x our e-mail subscribers within 24 hours.
  2. Even though ToughChit ended up in the overall position of #15, it hovered in positions #5 to #8 for quite a long time, which suggests that it got bumped down with a few extraordinary hunts later in the day.
  3. The timing of when your product is hunted is crucial. I've had most success hunting products at about 1pm / 2pm GMT+2, which is just about when the East Coast wakes up and crucially after midnight on the West Coast (which means the daily leaderboard has been reset). If you can get that initial traction early in the day, it seems like that momentum will carry you through to a strong finish.
  4. I think my point of daily timing is quite an obvious one, but (especially in the case of our e-book) I also think time of year plays a massive role. The amount of interest the e-book got 2 days before Christmas was absolutely immense and I can only attribute it to the fact that less products were being hunted. My gut feel is also that there are times of the year (i.e. holidays) when less products are hunted, but people are still browsing Product Hunt for new finds.
  5. There's a definite long tail of traction to a listing that did well on Product Hunt. Two weeks after the e-book was listed, Product Hunt is still sending an average of 10 uniques to us on a daily basis. And we've seen similar trends for ToughChit, which is still getting 60 to 90 uniques a day (albeit it only being a week old).

My biggest takeway is that you simply have to do your bit to make your listing on Product Hunt a success. In my case, I used my pre-existing Twitter audience and newsletter to give the listing a boost. Once you get that boost, the reward is exponential and outsized.

In that sense, I also regret to having used the mailing list from the e-book to promote ToughChit and especially our Product Hunt listing. I suspect that if I had asked for a favour (to upvote the listing), we could've 2x / 3x'ed the amount of e-mail subscribers we gained. That said, I didn't want to overwhelm new subscribers so early and taint their perception of Receiptful.

Next up, we now need to figure out how to get some of these subscribers to actually use Receiptful or how we can create more content that they would be happy to help us distribute (to ultimately put more leads into the top of the funnel).

So stay tuned to find out how that goes... ;)

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