A number of readers have questioned whether running a StumbleUpon advertising campaign is the best use of a marketing budget for a blogger. The main point of contention was that 0.05 cents per impression ($50 CPM – or per 1000 impressions) is too much to pay.
I wanted to write a brief response to this on two levels:
1. I wouldn’t claim that any form of advertising is ‘the best’ – however I know of a number of bloggers who have launched successful blogs off the back of StumbleUpon campaigns. I’ll share one below.
2. $50 CPM isn’t ‘cheap’ if all you get for it are 1000 visitors per $50 spend. However the whole point of SU advertising is that it has the capacity to go viral and set off an organic traffic storm. Your CPM for the actual traffic that SU sends will always be $50 – however in effect it becomes a lot less if you manage to do the two things that I mentioned in the last post:
- Trigger an Organic StumbleUpon Experience
- Convert SU visitors into loyal readers who come back time and time again
Keep in mind that StumbleUpon can potentially send tens of thousands of visitors to your blog. I wrote a post recently on how it sent me 21,000+ visitors over a 5 week period to one particular post. If you manage to trigger that kind of traffic your effective CPM is alot less than $50. The other thing that many using SU advertising find is that it can trigger traffic from other sources also (like Digg, Delicious and other sites/blogs).
An Example from a Reader
I’m not at liberty to share others stories without their permission – but let me share one that has already been told here in the comments of ProBlogger:
Max Pool from Code Squeeze has commented in the last two StumbleUpon posts by writing:
“On my blog, I wrote a list post titled 101 Ways To Know Your Software Project Is Doomed on the highest traffic day of the week – Monday.
Then I took out $25 of SU ads, which brought me 500 hits. That traffic let to it getting getting on Digg. Getting on Digg, lead it to going viral. 100,000 unique visitors later I was able to capture about 500 subscribed users.
SU is a great ad tool, but be sure that you have great content to back it as Darren implies.”
Thanks for sharing Max. Feel free to share your own positive and negative experiences of SU advertising. I’d also love to know what you’ve found works and doesn’t work in terms of the content on your pages.
StumbleUpon is an amazingly focused and excellent method of traffic generation…though mine has been organic thus far.
I also notice how when I digg something for the first time it gets tons of diggs at first (maybe 5 all at once) and then virtually none the next few days. My blog is failry new but I guess people like the content. Since my post shows up in digg fairly high at first it gets minorly viral at first…same concept as what you’re explaining here…
I agree with you Darren. StumbleUpon might work better for some bloggers than others. Advertising is very fluid and there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution (I wish there was).
But like you said, if paying $50 means you get 10,000 hits from your blog going viral, that’s pretty darned cheap. This is a case where your content better be good or you’re just wasting money.
Great post! Thanks for the follow-up!!!
I get lots of traffic from SU on certain days, but it’s not targeted at all. To me it’s not valuable whatsoever except for cranking up your Alexa ranking.
It’s really striking that a deluge of 100k unique visitors turned into just 500 subscribers. It seems like you should be able to capture more than 0.5% if you fine tune your layout to encourage subscriptions.
Any thoughts on typical conversion rates of this sort of traffic into regular readers?
Also, you have very precise demographics options (down to city level in US and Canada!) when placing an ad campaign.
I ran an experiment on SU and I got one day 7.000 visitors just because of that 1 content.
I’ve been running StumbleUpon campaigns on a few of my websites recently and I even wrote about gaining StumbleUpon users yesterday, and while none of them have gone extremely viral, in all cases I have received more visitors than I paid for.
Last Friday an article I wrote got a small, one line listing on lifehacker.com. It was quickly pickedup by the SU users and then made it to the front page of del.icio.us and then dugg. Over the last 7 days, SU users have generated nearly 24,000 unique visits, digg barely made an impression. What is super crazy is that the traffic is still coming! The other really nice thing is the trickle down effect. Many people going to that article are indeed clicking other articles and catagories on my blog. The Digg wave is long since over.
Now I haven’t paid for anything yet, but this sort of experiance with the SU community opened my eyes to how powerful they can be and I will be running small, targeted campaigns for certain articles over the next few weeks / months. I figure that spending $5-10 per article on up to 5 really good articles should bring enough traffic to the site that the “everyone else is looking, so should I” kicks in. That’s the goal at least.
I wonder about StumbleUpon’s value. Has anyone seen numbers indicating if StumbleUpon traffic is stickier for particular niches? Are folks seeing better results (ad conversion, page views, subscribers, etc) with certain niches?
Is there a Problogger-readers freebie!! I demand a freebie!
Honestly I find that just posting a “thumbs up” on new content at my site results in a ton of free traffic. I think digg and stumbleupon are the two best immediate legitimate sources of traffic anyone can us.
I would disagree that .05% is under-average. Depressing yes, but not under-average. Here are some more metrics of the experience:
~100k – Unique Visitors
~50k – Readers that stayed longer than 10 secs
~15k – Readers that didn’t bounce
Knowing that only less than 10% of internet users use RSS, the applicable target of people that will subscribe has now diminished to 1500.
If we look at it this way, I am happy that I converted on 33% of ‘realistic’ subscribers. A surge of traffic, does not always mean that it is a quality traffic.
When blogs about bloggers go viral, the target audience are already RSS-centric and thus may have a higher conversion rate.
@Bill McRea, Don’t underestimate reddit either. If you get popular on reddit, it can potentially send you just as many readers as a nice stumble.
I got stumbled once on http://www.gymtops.com now my traffic is snowballing like crazy. One stumble can lead to alot of traffic. I’m still going strong off of one stumble. Save your $$ and start trading links.
Interestingly enough I didn’t get much more than the 100 stumbles I paid for and was inclined to see the campaign as having failed, but woke up to find 20 new subscribers. This is quite a lot because I don’t have plenty of subscribers to begin with. But at the same time, I’m not sure whether these are SU subscribers or those who’ve come from elsewhere.
I’m not sure I’d be willing to risk $50 on something going viral because it’s just so hard to predict.
I probably should try this one time, btw – your images don’t come out well in feeds.
I have been an avid stumbler for a while now, but I never realized that you could pay for visits… man am I dumb. I mean, I have done alright with natural stumbling (you and a few friends give your article the thumbs up, and if it is quality content, it will spread on its own). I want to try a little campaign myself and see how things go.
@Max Pool: While the average person might not know about RSS, pretty much everyone online has an e-mail account that they check regularly. Do you encourage subscriptions via e-mail? I’ve integrated an e-mail subscription signup field immediately after each post. I wonder if that would’ve helped.
Every social network can bring you traffic and all you need is content.
I think you all know that “content is king”
I put together a $50 campaign, with traffic capped at 250 readers per day. SU shows that it has referred 836 visitors so far, while Google Analytics shows 644. Interestingly, while the SU visitors aren’t going deeper into the blog, they are sticking around for a bit, with an average time spent of 4:17.
It will be interesting to see if these readers come back & what residual traffic there is once the campaign is done later tonight.
I tried out a pay campaign and it was very so-so… I didn’t spend as much (only $20) so I may not have captured the full potential viriality.
Being an active stumbler has gone much farther for me. I can usually drive about 600-800 hits to a page by stumbling it myself now.
I’ve noticed that taking SU paid programme over, say , three days, delivers good thumbs up on the first day and much lower on the following two days. Either the sample is too small (200/day) to make it statistically predictable, or my pages are being shown to some of the same stumbers on days 2 and 3. Anyway, seems to work much better spending money just on Mondays. Week by week, the organic SU traffic is creeping up on Tuesdays-through Sundays.
SU says they don’t send a page to a stumbler more then once, also that stats programs will often under-report stumbles for a number of reasons they explain on their faq.
I really like this site and it has been useful o me in my attempts at blogging so far. I have a question about StumbleUpon. I have created a campaign but it is in pending status and I cannot seem to find where to pay for it. Am I missing something? Must it be taken out of pending status by Su themselves prior to me being “allowed” to pay. I really want to do this in order to get traffic to my site. Any advice would be sincerely appreciated.
I have had active StumbleUpon campaigns for about a month now. I usually limit it to about 100 visitors per day. It took a little bit for any of my content to catch on, but I was consistently getting 2 or 3 ‘thumbs up’ each day and eventually one of my posts ended up as the second suggested website for the ‘Music’ category on the StumbleUpon homepage. It resulted in about 2,300 hits in three days and the hits keep coming. All this for a post that I wrote 2 months ago!
It’s just tricky – I never would have expected THAT post to get the attention. You just have to experiment and see what catches on.