The Why, How and Who of Marketing in StumbleUpon

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I recently interviewed StumbleUpon’s CEO Garrett Camp and wrote StumbleUpon Defined vs. Digg, Google, MySpace and More to define SU for curious marketers.

I’ve extended my research to include current blog thought related to marketing in SU, added my own meager experience and chopped up Camp’s suggestions for marketers to bake up this scrumptious guide to marketing with Stumble Upon.

First, here are five reasons why marketers – from Fortune 500s to affiliates – should take interest in SU:

  1. They hit 540k users last year. They’re at 1.84 million international users and growing in 2007.
  2. They’re not replacing search or sites like Digg – they are their own beast due to their collaborative filtering/recommendation engine. Think Amazon recommendations for web pages and video.
  3. Competitively they’re not trying to beat search… they’re taking on television. Spend an hour with Stumble Video and meditate on what that could mean for the future of how people interact with and control their entertainment.
  4. They will eventually have a bidding model, but right now have a 5 cents a click flat rate. That is, they are cheap right now, like Gross’s GoTo was when he first busted it out.
  5. An API is in the works. When SU starts to splinter through APIs you want to know already how to market here.

Free Marketing Via StumbleUpon

Now, for some suggested principles for how to market unpaid in Stumble Upon:

  1. You must inform and entertain with laser targeting and a high WOW factor. Piper Jaffray calls it communitainment. SEOs call it link bait. I call it branded content that converts visitors to subscribers/linkers/buyers.
  2. Don’t just submit content – join the community (much as you would for Digg) and spend time learning what your target community likes. StumbleUpon recently added profiles and community networks much like MySpace and MyBlogLog. There are records of what community members like. If your content lacks the WOW power of what they like then you’ve got to get back to work.

    (Tamar of 10e20 offers excellent advice on going native, er – leveraging your influence – in SU)

  3. Pictures, alleged Camp, are key also.

Tips for Paid Advertising on StumbleUpon

And here are three thoughts if you’re interested in how to market with sponsored Stumbles:

  1. All the unpaid rules apply.
  2. If you’re investing serious effort into your content – ie, you’ve paid someone $5k+ to write link bait for you – why not spend $200 more dollars and send it through SU?

    What you’re really paying for in this instance is access to the results, and though this won’t tell you WHAT to change, you should get an idea of whether or not your new project WOWs your target community.

  3. Camp suggested you pay for stumbles on content that’s quality but that people aren’t necessarily searching for… Audio/Visual content works well he said, as do cool flash pages.
  4. If you’re launching a site and have invested in branded content that’s intended to convert viewers into linkers, subscribers or buyers then SU should ABSOLUTELY be on your list of places to advertise. If your market is there of course… Check out the SU Buzz page, which shows you recent stumbles (in a very Digg-looking format) along with a list along the left side of your screen of SU categories.

Collective Stumble Upon Marketing Experience: Who’s Doing It

I’m all whiz-bang excited about SU right now, despite relatively meager success with their audience for one of my current woodworker-oriented projects (forums take the place of Digg and SU communities for me right now :). Here are some links to folks with quite a varying range of success rates… unfortunately none are particularly forthcoming with target markets:

  1. StumbleUpon Sponsored Stumbles vs. Google AdWords
    Key Quote:“I think StumbleUpon is a great alternative to click based traffic in the sense that you get a continuous stream of interested visitors. The traffic is qualified in the sense that the visitors said they were interested in your topic or category. I believe StumbleUpon ads are a better source of visitors than using interstitial ads since the users will be in your desired category. I have decided to add it to my chart of advertising options for my clients who need qualified traffic instantly. “
  2. How To Buy Stumbles From Stumbleupon NOT
    Key Quote: “Being that stumbleupon was the single biggest referer of traffic in January I thought I would buy some more stumbles and report on what I found. So far I have found buying stumbles from stumbleupon is not easy… in fact I have found it impossible.”
  3. How to Use StumbleUpon for Your Business: The Definitive Guide
    Key Quote:“Why should you look at into directing StumbleUpon traffic to your site? Beyond the obvious benefits of extremely targeted traffic, the traffic doesn’t come all at once compared to a site like Digg.”
  4. How to get StumbledUpon
    Key Quote: “if you want to get a lot of traffic to your site from StumbleUpon make sure you have a lot of friends before you start voting.”
  5. The StumbleUpon Experiment
    Key Quote: “No sales, 96% of the visitors only viewing the landing page for the campaign, and none of them rating the site positively or negatively with the toolbar. That says to me that most people that see a commercial site, or a site that isn’t immediately interesting to them with StumbleUpon will simply move on and click the “Stumble!” button again.”

The Definitive SU Links Page:

If all that you’ve read here has served merely to whet your appetite for more information about Stumble Upon, check out the Ultimate StumbleUpon Resource with 27 articles, and soon 28 I hope when he links to this one 🙂

Yet to come – wrapping up what I didn’t cover from my interview with Camp in a final StumbleUpon post.

Also I would greatly appreciate any input on target communities in SU that have proven profitable. Comment or email me GFrench@gmail.com.

Garrett French
Garrett French is a long time search marketer, blogger and conversatrional marketing consultant.
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