Is StumbleUpon Completely Useless as a Marketer?

StumbleUponWhen most marketers talk about StumbleUpon, they usually say two things about it:

  1. It drives a lot of traffic to your website, but…
  2. The quality of traffic that you get isn’t great. Visitors usually bounce right off of your site.

I set out to test these widely held beliefs, and while I have yet to come to any revolutionary conclusions, I did discover some interesting things.

Let’s take a closer look at both of the previously mentioned assumptions.

StumbleUpon Drives a lot of Traffic to Your Website

At first, I wasn’t able to get much traffic from submitting pages and posts to StumbleUpon. When I did use it, the traffic I got was more or less on par with Twitter, Facebook, or search.

Occasionally I had some posts that saw a significant influx in traffic from submitting to StumbleUpon, but that seemed to be the exception and not the rule.

I started to wonder if StumbleUpon was becoming too saturated, and that I had missed it when it was good.

Here in 2015, I have been experimenting with StumbleUpon as a traffic source again, and I have finally confirmed this supposition that StumbleUpon sends loads of traffic to your website.

However, it didn’t really seem to happen until I started submitting multiple pages at any given time. I don’t know why that is, but it has made a big difference.

It’s important to note that they will only let you submit a dozen or so posts on any given day. Well, they say day, but in some cases the waiting time between content submission seems to be a little longer.

If you’re going to submit content to StumbleUpon at all, I would recommend the multi-page submission approach. Of course, we still have to consider whether or not it’s actually worth it.

The Traffic you get from StumbleUpon is Low Quality & doesn’t Convert

It’s hard to deny that a lot of people bounce right off of pages they stumble across on the StumbleUpon platform.

However, to say that the traffic you get from it is unqualified and uninterested isn’t the whole truth.

After all, when you submit a page or a post, you still select from a list of categories and add tags to it.

Moreover, when users join StumbleUpon, they select what interests they want to stumble. In other words, they are actually pre-qualified for the content in the specific category you add, so long as they are interested in what you have to say.

This still doesn’t mean that your conversion rate will blow your mind. However, you might be surprised by what content gets a lot of views, and for how long it continues to receive attention long after you’ve submitted it.

2 Case Studies

Neither of these case studies are extensive. As I already mentioned, I’m just beginning to experiment with this traffic source.

Though I don’t know whether or not StubleUpon will continue to be a vital part of my traffic strategy in the long run, it will likely be something I continue to pursue in the short term.

Here are a couple of sites I’ve been experimenting with.

1. The Music Entrepreneur

The Music Entrepreneur has been around since 2009. In 2013, I got its own domain name (the site used to be in a subdirectory on my music site), and in 2014 I rebranded it (it used to be called David Andrew Wiebe Interviews and Business Podcast, and then DAWCast: Music Entrepreneurship).

The Music Entrepreneur
This is what the site looks like today.

Earlier in 2014, it was only getting about five to 10 visits a day. By the end of the year, through steady and consistent effort, I had doubled and tripled those numbers. If I had help promoting the content or if I featured a guest on the site on any particular day, I usually got closer to 50 to 100 visits.

In 2015 so far, I have not had a single day where I’ve gotten less than 32 visits, but I’ve seen as many as 356 visits in a day, of course due to traffic from StumbleUpon. I’ve never had more than that in a single day on my site that I’m aware of.

The Music Entrepreneur Traffic
I was impressed by the 105 visits I got on January 1st, but the spikes from the 5th to the 9th are far more impressive.

No big deal, right? We already talked about the fact that you can get lots of traffic from StumbleUpon.

But here’s the interesting part. I wasn’t seeing any kind of traction with my list growth in 2014. I saw a couple of subscribers here and there, but it wasn’t great.

Then in December, I suddenly got 59 subscribers. That trend has carried into January. As of January 8, I’ve already gotten 32 new subscribers. There haven’t been many unsubscribes either.

The Music Entrepreneur email subscribers
This part isn’t really fun for me to admit, but I am excited for the growth.

I realize this isn’t a big deal for anyone that has seen more consistent growth, but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t significant to me.

Now don’t get me wrong; I have been putting a lot of time and effort into beautiful, long-form content, and I also have over 100 podcast episodes on the site.

And I’m also not saying that there’s a direct connection between visitors from StumbleUpon and my list growth, but I am saying that it probably helped.

2. AS Movies & Games

AS Movies & Games was the subject of a previous experiment, so if you’ve been following along, you may already know a little bit about that site.

The AS Movies & Games Website
The AS Movies & Games website.

It’s a blog that covers various movies and video games, and it’s connected to a relatively popular YouTube channel. I also use a multi-pronged approach to content on the site with blog posts, illustrations, videos and podcast episodes.

Again, traffic to the site in 2014 wasn’t significant. The highest month was May with a total of 387 visits. For the most part, it hovered around 200+ visits per month.

Because the previously mentioned experiment technically isn’t complete yet, I was looking for ways to get more eyeballs on the site, and of course started submitting content to StumbleUpon.

To my surprise, I got 446 visits on January 5 after doing that, and that’s the highest number I’ve ever seen in a single day on the site.

AS Movies & Games Traffic
AS Movies & Games was crawling along at 8 visits here, 17 there, 11 here. You can see what happened after submitting content to StumbleUpon on January 5.

Now, as you can probably see, there definitely is a bit of an up-and-down effect with StumbleUpon, and you never know exactly how many visits you’ll have on any give day or what kind of long-tail traffic it will produce. It could be argued that it’s the same for any other source of traffic though.

From what I’ve witnessed on The Music Entrepreneur and AS Movies & Games, the long-tail possibilities are certainly there.

As far as conversion goes, I can’t say that I’ve gotten a lot of people to do what I want them to do. At this point, I have an eBay listing that I’ve been trying to promote, and though it seems to have gotten a decent number of views, it hasn’t had any bids as of yet.

eBay Listing - Max Da Costa Drawing
51 views but no bids yet. Maybe everyone is waiting until the last minute?

I’m not really collecting emails with AS Movies & Games, which is maybe something I should be doing. So my only conversion goal with the site right now is to get more eyes on the eBay auction.

Having more signup forms would obviously give me a better idea of whether or not subscribers are coming from StumbleUpon.

Conclusion

Despite the fact that I always put a lot of effort into the content I produce, I can’t say that search has ever done me any favors. Again, this is in spite of putting a lot of time and thought into long-form content.

I usually see two or three visits from search traffic on my sites on any given day, and that’s great and all, but given everything I’ve done (including some basic SEO) I would have expected to be further along with that than I am right now.

Maybe, like StumbleUpon, I just need to hit the right vein to see more traction with search.

For now, StumbleUpon just makes more sense as a traffic strategy. I will keep producing content, of course, but I’m not going to wait for search to recognize my greatness.

Does StumbleUpon convert? Why don’t you try it for yourself and find out. If you have the right kind of content and make it easy for your visitors to take the relationship to the next level with you, I think you can convert StumbleUpon traffic.

10 Blogging Trends & Predictions for 2015

10 Blogging Trends & Predictions for 2015None of the experts are really talking about trends in blogging these days. Most of what you hear is about digital marketing and content marketing.

Perhaps that is as it should be. After all, for most businesses – and even for marketers – content strategies tend to be pretty diversified, and content channels are aplenty.

But there is no denying that blogging will also be affected by the trends, and because I still think it’s worth talking about, I dare go where others won’t. So here are 10 blogging trends and predictions for 2015.

1. Long-Form Content will Increase in Popularity

This is just speculation, but when you have people like Brian Dean, Neil Patel and Pat Flynn talking pretty extensively about the Skyscraper Technique and link building strategies, it’s easy to see that for those tactics to work, the development of long-form content will be a must.

Additionally, people have been hearing about the importance of 2,000+ word articles for a while now. They know that that type of content often gets ranked higher in Google and search in general.

I don’t think this has escaped the attention of bloggers. This year, I think we can expect to see more energy and time invested into epic blog posts.

2. Bloggers will Rely Less on Search for Traffic

More out of necessity than anything else. I can say from my own experience that traffic from search hasn’t been that great all through 2014, though it’s better to see some than not at all.

Admittedly, I do tend to write in pretty competitive spaces, but with all of my beautifully crafted long-form content, I was expecting to see a little more traction than I have so far. Maybe not on this blog, but certainly on some of the others I’ve been working on for a long time.

It also has to be acknowledged that search rankings are pretty competitive these days, and there are plenty of ranking factors that may have nothing to do with the quality of content you produce.

Continue to rely on organic listings at your own peril.

3. Video Content will become a Staple

From everything I’ve read, seen and heard, I have no reason to believe that this won’t be the case. Many businesses are allocating a huge part of their content budget to video in contrast to other content channels.

Of course, there will still be a need to write great intros, descriptions and summaries for videos, so the demand for written content will still be there.

It’s a shift in focus; entrepreneurs and businesses alike are trying to show more of their human side to create a connection with their visitors. That will require the use of moving pictures and audio; or so they feel.

4. Bloggers will have More Platform Options

WordPress has been the king of blog management systems for quite a while, even over its past competitors like Movable Type.

Noting that, there’s no question that the number of platforms available for building blogs and websites has increased. Just look at Squarespace or The Grid, which offer a different kind of experience.

The Grid
The Grid: websites that design themselves? Now we have that.

When you look at the tools, you can see that there’s virtually no excuse for not having a website these days.

There’s really no telling who will come out on top. Maybe WordPress will remain the king, but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be more offerings. I think the number of options will only increase in 2015.

5. Bloggers will Add More Content Channels to Their Strategy

There has been a bit of a podcasting renaissance in the last couple of years. As result, it’s becoming a more competitive field than in the past.

Some bloggers may arrive a little late to game and give it a go anyway, but many others will be looking for new ways to funnel their creativity and attract a bigger readership.

Again, this will come more from necessity than from an inherent desire to branch out. Building an audience will require some experimentation and diversification.

6. Building an Audience will Require Relationship

More so than in the past. People tend to work with the people they know, like and trust, and this will start extending more into the online world too.

It may become harder to convert visitors without that established trust. Some bloggers believe that people are becoming wise to clich├ęs like ads in the sidebar, eBooks, dead comments sections, affiliate links and so on.

I can’t say whether or not that’s true, but I can say that relationships are always an asset, and when you’re just getting started, your audience tends to be made up of people you know. The greater the number of people that trust you, the greater influence you will have.

Of course, this also matters on social, where a sell-sell-sell approach will largely be ignored.

7. Less Attention will be Given to Guest Blogging

Not because it doesn’t work at all, though its effectiveness is becoming more suspect than in the past.

Bloggers will quickly realize that their dreams of building a large following through guest blogging won’t come to fruition (if they haven’t already). People don’t seem to be paying that much attention to authors of posts, and nor are they clicking through on links to learn more about them.

However, consistently getting in front of a particular audience will still have a positive impact. This is where bloggers have a chance to develop long-standing, strong relationships with other website owners.

8. Converting Visitors into Subscribers will become even Harder

Especially if you’re relying on the same old strategies from yesteryear.

It’s time to start taking a new and innovative approach to building your list, making sales, and taking visitor relationships to the next level.

I think content upgrades are a pretty good place to start, but there are some other things that are working well for me right now. Perhaps I will have a chance to share about them in the future.

Content Upgrades
Could content upgrades help you to convert more subscribers? It’s worth a try.

9. Intuition and Observation Based Blogging will be seen as More Credible

I think data is fantastic, and there are many good reasons to measure, track and analyze it

However, it is my personal stance that intuition and sensitivity will be recognized as a greater asset in the age to come.

The obsession with the modern age, logic and reason has to come to an end. We all know deep within ourselves that numbers don’t and can’t explain everything.

Perhaps I have a personal agenda in saying what I’m saying, because I am an ISP (intuitive-sensitive person) by Heidi Sawyer‘s definition, but let’s be honest; the love affair with data can’t last forever, and it rarely tells the whole story.

10. Fear and Propaganda will Continue to Increase

Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s any way around this. People will continue to fear the demise of blogs and spread false and negative rumors about them.

However, when you understand that content marketing has always been around – only its name has changed over time – you realize that the medium of communication through text isn’t going anywhere, even if the term blogging is transient.

As a blogger, if you stay steady, you will be rewarded. However, you will have to keep a cool head over the long run. In the short term, everyone’s going to be talking about videos, apps, cross-platform, mobile, social media, and so forth.

Final Thoughts

Though blogging has certainly changed, by and large a lot of people still communicate through text. There will always be those who prefer to learn and interact in this manner, and social media actually provides a lot of proof to this hypothesis too.

What do you think? How will blogging evolve in 2015?

Do you think it will stay relevant as a medium? Do you think it will be called something else in the future?

Let us know in the comments section below!

8 Tools for Automating Content Distribution

8 Tools for Automating Content DistributionMy friend Corey Koehler recently came to me asking about tools for automating content distribution. I like to automate things as much as possible myself, so it seemed like a no-brainer to address this subject in detail.

In this post, we’re going to take a look at eight tools that will help you automate your content distribution.

Why Automated Content Distribution?

We all know the importance of distributing content that has been published to our blog. After all, you can’t just sit on a post and wait for it to accumulate shares, comments and readers. You have to put in a lot of work to get a new content piece seen; even if it’s really great!

Bar none, the best way to do this is manually. After all, posting to social channels gives you a great opportunity to interact with the people that are following you. And, though I don’t know how much credence there is to this, I have heard that search engines will ignore scheduled posts you send out via tools like HootSuite or Buffer, making their SEO value nil.

However, getting your post out to the various social channels can be a bit of a drag. It can also cut in to valuable time you could be spending elsewhere. So let’s get into the tools that can save you some time.

1. Jetpack by WordPress.com

Jetpack by WordPress.com
It’s amazing how many features this plugin now has.

The Jetpack plugin for the WordPress platform does many things. It gives you visitor stats, allows you to collect email subscriptions, comes with a URL shortener, gives you the ability to craft posts via email, and so much more.

One of its functions is called Publicize, which lets you connect to several different social networks, and have your new posts sent out to those networks automatically when they are published.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Path and Google+ can all be connected, be it a personal profile or a fan page.

If you want your posts to be distributed out at a particular time, just schedule your blog posts for that specific time.

2. IFTTT

IFTTT
IFTTT makes it easy to connect apps that wouldn’t work together otherwise.

IFTTT allows you to connect two disparate apps to set up automated functions. It sounds simple, but it’s really kind of confusing at the same time.

Trust me when I say that the rewards of learning to use the IFTTT platform are well worth the initial puzzlement.

You can do some pretty basic stuff like connect your blog feed to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr or App.net, although that’s bush league as far as IFTTT’s full potential is concerned.

You could have Blogger posts sent over to WordPress, you could have Instagram photos sent over to Facebook pages (this used to be an issue with the Android platform), you could have a new feed item submitted to Reddit automatically, and so on. All this is still pretty basic.

Just browse their recipes to get a better idea of what the possibilities are.

3. Socialoomph

Socialoomph
Socialoomph offers some unique features.

I really love the concept of Socialoomph. The free version is mostly geared towards Twitter users, and one thing you can do with Socialoomph that I haven’t seen elsewhere is the ability to save and reuse drafts.

In other words, you could pre-craft multiple tweets, save them, and reuse them at any time.

The paid version adds a lot of features. In addition to Twitter, you can manage your Facebook, LinkedIn, Plurk, and App.net accounts. You can also take advantage of follow-back and auto-DM features, send social media updates via email, schedule and publish blog posts, and much more.

The interface is a little cluttered (not surprising when you have so many features), but if all you want to do is create updates, save and reuse them, it’s a no-brainer.

4. HootSuite

HootSuite
The HootSuite platform allows you to manage your social presence from one place.

I made reference to it earlier, but HootSuite is still my mainstay. Until I discovered the ability to auto-schedule posts, I was a little more reliant on Buffer, but these days I tend not to bother with anything else.

With HootSuite, you can connect your Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, foursquare, WordPress and mixi accounts.

At this point it’s worth noting that I’m mainly a Twitter guy, so while it’s always nice to be able to send updates out to other places, I’m usually looking for ways to keep my Twitter stream populated.

But I digress. HootSuite certainly provides you with a lot of options. One of the recent additions is the suggested content feature, which will analyze the topics you feed it and spit out some headlines (with links) that you can schedule for your social accounts. It’s still in beta, so it doesn’t always come up with content that’s relevant to your niche, but it’s not bad.

In addition to managing and updating your social accounts, you can also monitor your stats and scan their app directory for additional functionality.

HootSuite was on the receiving end of a lot of criticism for their interface, and, while they did update it, it just looks like a new skin to me. I still think it could be a lot better.

5. Buffer

Buffer
The Buffer platform is attractive and easy to use.

Buffer has a really great interface, and it allows you to connect your Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, App.net and Google+ accounts.

I was initially attracted to Buffer for its auto-scheduling feature that automatically sends out your updates at optimum times, but then learned that HootSuite has the same functionality.

Like HootSuite, Buffer offers content suggestions, but Buffer has had this feature for longer. The suggestions are usually quite interesting, but aren’t always going to be relevant to your specific niche or topic.

If you want to use Buffer as part of your marketing, I think your best bet would be to upgrade to the paid version. You have a limit on how many updates can be scheduled in advance with the free version, and that is its main limitation.

6. SocialPilot

SocialPilot
SocialPilot has an easy-to-use interface.

SocialPilot allows you to connect your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles as well as pages. Given that some tools are a little bit picky about whether or not they connect with profiles and pages, this is good news.

You can use SocialPilot to create posts, add suggested content to your queue, and connect individual feeds to your social accounts too. They also have a URL shortening function, but that’s pretty standard stuff in this space.

Their pro version is quite cost effective, and allows you to connect an unlimited number of profiles. With the free version you can only connect up to five.

Overall, I can’t find anything revolutionary about the platform, but the interface is great, and the functionality is on par with the best with them. Even I’m considering giving this platform a chance based on their price points.

7. Zapier

Zapier
Conceptually, Zapier is a lot like IFTTT.

Zapier is quite similar to IFTTT, and instead of creating recipes, you create zaps to connect two disparate apps and make them do useful things for you.

I can’t say that I’ve played extensively with the platform yet, but I have noticed that there seem to be fewer things you can do with connected apps compared to IFTTT.

Notwithstanding, I think Zapier lets you manage apps that IFTTT doesn’t, and vice versa, so depending on what you’re trying to accomplish, it’s still worth looking into.

Also, if you have multiple Twitter accounts – just as an example – then perhaps having a IFTTT account and a separate Zapier account is not such a bad idea. You could cross-promote between your Twitter accounts, or have them both promote new posts from your feed and so on.

8. Grabinbox

Grabinbox
Grabinbox: a very straightforward tool.

Grabinbox is fairly basic as far as what it can do. You can connect your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts as well as your fan pages.

The tool can be used to schedule messages at optimum times, and you can also take advantage of their analytics to track all of your tweets.

And that’s about it. But if you’re looking for a simple tool that just does a few things well, this might be a good solution for you. The interface is simple and uncluttered too, and that can’t necessarily be said for some of the other tools on this list.

Conclusion

Not surprisingly, there are plenty of other tools out there that you can use to automate content distribution. All of the ones featured on this list can be used for free, though many of them have paid upgrades available too.

If you’re willing to pay for your content distribution, a whole new world opens up to you. There are many premium or enterprise grade social media marketing tools out there, and though they don’t necessarily do more, they tend do many things better, like analytics.

Though I do automate a lot of my content distribution, in an ideal world, we would all find a little more time to be active on our social networks, and use them as intended; for socializing.