StumbleUpon Is A Joke, Stop Using It

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I know what you've been told ... but StumbleUpon doesn't work for promoting or selling products, much less someone else's products as is the case for affiliates. Parent company eBay is supposedly trying to find a bidder while the traffic at StumbleUpon is on a plateau and, at worse, is taking a nosedive. Here are a few reasons why StumbleUpon is a joke, and a few alternatives for acquiring visitors who actually contribute to the conversation in your community and to attract those who will actually convert into sales.

I nearly fell out of my chair this morning when I read the following from StumbleUpon General Manager Michael Buhr: "Search is really powerful when you know what you're looking for. Discovery is more about when you want to explore your interests. It is not about needing to find something now." That's exactly the problem, discovery is for exploring - not engaging, not participating and certainly not buying. If you were a clerk in a retail store would you focus your efforts on getting a casual browser to buy, or someone that asked you for something in particular?

In a last-ditch effort to ramp up their service, today StumbleUpon offered a browser-based version instead of a toolbar, creating some buzz online. Believe me they need it - check out the unique visitors (via and you'll see that the plateau is real. But that's not half the problem.

I came across a blog post this morning by an affiliate who generated well over 150,000 visits to his site during the last  month, the majority of which came from one individual post that was Stumbled. His earnings for the month? Right around $70. My guess is that if you're relying on StumbleUpon traffic it's probably the same for you as well.

Here's another example a little closer to home: The average time on for those arriving via StumbleUpon was 66% lower than the site average. But it gets worse. Below is a screenshot of visits and conversion rates that Website Magazine received from StumbleUpon recently:

We track several goals at Website Magazine, but one I watch closely is subscriptions. The average conversion rate for all referrers of traffic is 12.31%. Even the limited amount of time I spend on Facebook promoting the magazine (by participating in forums or on the WM Facebook page) yields a higher conversion rate (0.82%) than StumbleUpon. How about others in the sphere of social media? yielded a .87% conversion rate and yielded a .17% conversion rate. Even participating in LinkedIn yielded a 2.56% conversion rate. Partnerships (excluding affiliates) yield a good conversion rate - many in the 2-3% range. The limited amount of PPC advertising we do even yielded well over 3% conversion. While the actual traffic was much lower from these other networks, the conversion rate was far and away higher than StumbleUpon - and that is what affiliates (or anyone participating at StumbleUpon) should be focused on.

So as an affiliate, where do you turn to get a higher conversion rate? Anywhere else. Social media, paid advertising, and yes, search engines like Google, Yahoo, and MSN. While the investment of both time and money will be high, the results will be better than you could ever receive from StumbleUpon. Don't get sucked in to the new browser-based StumbleUpon - you'll never get out and never get on the real road to Web success.

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Kelley Mitchell 10-01-2008 4:43 PM

I actually just deleted my StumbleUpon account today.  Tired of wasting my time with it.

JeremyC 10-01-2008 6:57 PM

Insightful posting - thanks for sharing your stats. Is there a case to be made for StumbleUpon users creating links to your content from Blogs, etc? I know that I can't think of a StumbleUpon spawned lead for us. But I do know, accidentally, of a few people who've blogged and linked to us, as a result of Stumbling. Rich inbound links contribute to SEO... but that's a second order, immeasurable effect... not really where you want to be spending money, in tight times.

Peter A. Prestipino 10-02-2008 9:22 AM

I would definitely agree (JeremyC) that there are times when, upon stumbling a site, a blogger likes the content enough to drop a link about the post - I'm actually certain that happens quite often. I just think there are other (and better) ways to accomplish the same thing with better results.

Dante Monteverde 10-02-2008 10:35 AM

In a recent article within the members section of Search Engine News, they claim that by building your 'Friends' network on Stumbleupon you can achieve hundreds even thousands of visitors to your content every day. However, this article fails to mention how well these "visitors" convert. What is the point to all of this traffic if it's not converting? Building up your friend base on Stumbleupon is time consuming and in the case of the affiliate just not worth it. The only instance where I can see spending the time on Stumbleupon is for pure exposure or link building But in most cases this looks like very poor traffic and a lot of effort for not that much reward.

EvaW 10-02-2008 2:57 PM

Referring to Stumbleupon. I have only just begun as an online entreprenuer and actully purchased an e-book on how to use it.....Big Dummy Me! Everyone I talk to, now, has the same opinion of Stumbleupon. I'm out, too! Thanks for the article, I will definitly pass it on to all contacts.

StephenSmith 10-03-2008 4:15 PM

SU is not a sales tool, it is a marketing & exposure tool.

I believe that you are looking at StumbleUpon to achieve something that it just does not do. SU brings eyeballs , but there tends to be a backlash when the stumbler sees an ad or other page that they determine to be "spammy".

I use SU in conjunction with WWSGD? in order to add subscribers and gain exposure. Every time I get a spike in traffic from SU, I get a corresponding spike in subs. E-mail subs. People interested in what I have to say that I can then contact directly with a targeted pitch for a product or service, via newsletter of blog-post.

CarolineB 10-03-2008 5:21 PM

I am so glad you're abandoning it.

StumbleUpon was the coolest tool on the internet before it was commercialized.

Maybe when the marketers leave it will stop sucking so much.

Justin Goldberg 10-03-2008 6:24 PM

stumbleupon is good for commercial sites, but use it sparingly.  You want to be the first to describe your article or blog post or whatever, rather than someone else.

MichaelD 10-06-2008 7:57 AM

well duh?  Isn't it wonderful that there are some things on the Web which can't be subverted into a source of income for Internet marketers?  

I use it for ideas to get revenue, not revenue producing.  Someone always wants to turn a silk purse into a sow's ear to suit their own biases.  I couldn't care less in not a single marketeer used stumbled upon, then it can do what it intended for.  Next we'll be hearing complaints because there is no revenue in attending your friend's wedding!

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