is an online self-publishing platform. Since its inception in 2002, Lulu has helped creators in over 200 countries churn out nearly 2 million publications. The platform connects its authors with a global distribution system, giving them access to sell on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or anywhere in the Ingram network.

In 2017, Lulu took a bold step to meet the needs of their customers. After analyzing the data and thinking carefully about their long-term community goals, the online publisher decided they needed a new platform to help execute their marketing excellence strategy. With the help of a Vanilla-powered community, Lulu has revamped their customer-centric approach, slashed their support burden, and transformed their authors’ customer experience for the better.


1.5 million + members migrated Vanilla Forums easily migrated hundreds of thousands of discussions, comments and content despite restrictions.

34% increase in page visits
Great member experience and a better navigation allowed users to spend more time in the forum.

63% increase in unique visitors Implementing the forum has helped organic SEO metrics on long-tail keywords and phrases that matter to your customers. Discussion threads get indexed better by Google.

What challenge did Lulu face?

10 years ago, Lulu started using forums as a way to help authors successfully navigate the publishing process. To date, they’ve logged over 1.5 million users. With 20 new threads a day directing an average of 8,000 visitors to their help articles, online community plays an immense role in minimizing Lulu’s customer service burden.

Their legacy platform eventually grew into a burdensome mess. As their original vendor evolved into more social media-centric direction, its original simplicity of design was overtaken by feature creep. Users could no longer find easy access to information, and the forums became increasingly difficult to navigate.

Lulu couldn’t afford to rush the decision on their next forum platform vendor. They spent 3 years searching for a new platform. They needed a solution that could recapture the original simplicity and ease of use they had once enjoyed yet at the same time offered enough firepower to handle a community of their scale. That’s why they chose Vanilla.

How has Vanilla helped Lulu reinvigorate their online community?

Vanilla offered Lulu what their former provider no longer could—a low-cost, high-functioning forum platform that’s simple to use, yet robust enough to handle a large, mature community like theirs. Most importantly, Vanilla gave Lulu a “surprisingly easy” way to perfectly represent their brand and helps users find the information they need. As Paul Hobday—Technical Writer at Lulu—says, “Part of transitioning to Vanilla involves putting more emphasis on our user forums as a means to get quick answers.”

Given the change-resistance of their audience, Lulu expected a temporary drop-off after migrating to Vanilla. They were wrong. In a few short months, unique visitors have gone up by 63%, and page visits went up by 34%. For Lulu, these aren’t just numbers; they’re proof that Vanilla’s helped them reclaim their original vision for forum-based customer support. Ultimately, they mean that “more folks are using the community to find answers before contacting our support staff.”

“Overall, the number that matters most to us is visits and visitors. This means more folks are using the community to find answers before contacting our support staff. Aside from a few support contacts regarding links we needed to update, we’ve also seen no negative feedback from out users. For the first 30 days after the transition, this is a very positive sign! I fully expected a drop off at first, as our users are generally very resistant to changes”

Paul Hobday

How did Vanilla facilitate Lulu’s migration?

For Vanilla, moving their 1.5M strong membership and the hundreds of thousands of discussions, comments and content was easy. Vanilla has extensive experience moving other communities from this vendor and prepared Lulu to the hurdles they would face to rightly reclaim their community data. The migration team was able to overcome severe export restrictions to ensure a successful transition without any loss of data or service interruption.

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