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StumbleUpon Is A Joke, Stop Using It

Posted on 9.30.2008

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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