How Does Esurance’s Social ROI (On $1.5 Million Spend) Stack Up?

Having saved $1.5 million on airing their commercial (which was hardly even a “commercial”!) after the Super Bowl (versus during the big game), and spending this money on a “prize fund,” Esurance certainly did something innovative, as well as bridged the gap between the offline (TV) and the online (Twitter, YouTube, website), and also reaped some interesting results. The online stats that the ad campaign yielded were disclosed by their agency Leo Burnett earlier this week.

Here’s what they tell us of the prices Esurance paid versus what these results normally cost:

  • Hashtag price: $0.28 per use (based on 5.4 million uses of the #EsuranceSave30 hashtag) versus $? (I couldn’t find any data on this one)



  • Twitter follower: $5.75 per follower (they’ve had 261,000 new followers join the official Esurance Twitter account, yielding an increase of nearly 3,000%) versus the Twitter Promoted Account ad’s “recommended bid” range of $1.50-$2.20 per follower as quoted by Lisa Raehsler in her recent Search Engine Watch article;


  • YouTube view: $4.52 per view (they reported 332,000 views of the Esurance commercial on YouTube) versus $0.045 per view that Matthew Peneycad‘s test buy of YouTube TrueView ads yielded (more on Social Media Today), and the $0.07-$0.08 range that I’ve seen quoted elsewhere.


Within the first hours of the sweepstakes they also had a 12x spike in website visits to the Esurance’s site. But for this one, we are missing some other important pieces of the puzzle (e.g.: the exact number of newly-acquired visitors, and/or the conversion rate at which these visitors turned into Allstate customers) to make any sensible conclusions.

Of course, the above calculation is based on very simplistic math (merely dividing the $1.5 million by the number of results yielded automatically excludes all the other results from the ROI) and limits itself only to the results registered during the campaign (i.e. before the prize is awarded). It does not and cannot (yet) measure the post-campaign effect, or the brand benefit(s). Nonetheless, however, the Esurance case yields some interesting food for thought that marketers may want to keep in mind when putting together their TV-to-social/online initiatives.

What do you make of this? Was this a successful campaign? Would you go the same route had you had the $1.5 million to spend on a marketing campaign? If not, what would you do differently?

Facebook Gifts and Principles of Effective Social Commerce Campaigns

On December 11, 2012 Facebook rolled out a new feature. A little too late in my opinion for pre-Christmas shopping, but they have made it possible for “everyone in the U.S.” to receive gifts from friends [original announcement here]. Of course, the friend would have to pay for the gift. That’s the whole point of the exercise. Long gone are the days when we all wondered how (wasn’t the better question “when”?) Facebook is going to monetize their massive membership base.

On the same day TechCrunch‘s Josh Constine ran some numbers and concluded that “Facebook could earn up to $1 billion a year from Gifts” [more here]. His higher-end estimate was based on Facebook earning 20% per purchase. Knowing a bit about what various merchants pay through their affiliate programs, I, actually, think that Facebook’s average cut is closer to 10% here. While they do feature some products from higher-paying niches (e.g. magazine subscriptions, T-shirts, sunglasses, gift baskets) which may yield 20% in “commissions” to Facebook, the majority currently featured merchants do not really pay as much as that. The more common range would be 5%-6% (e.g. Target, iTunes, Cheryl’s) to 7% (e.g. Starbucks) or, maybe, 10% (e.g. Brookstone).

But whether they are going to reap $510 million or $1.02 billion is really irrelevant. The idea itself is great, and represents a perfect example of a well-built social commerce campaign. Here’s a screenshot of how I saw it earlier this morning:

This is one beautifully-crafted social commerce campaign (from which we can all learn something). It is:

(1) Timely — It is Scott’s birthday.

(2) Relevant — He is my friend, and I am a perfect “target audience” for gift buying.

(3) Convenient — I can buy my gift right there and then (out of their selection of gifts) without having to search elsewhere.

(4) It incorporates compelling Social Proof — My others friends, whom I trust, “have used Facebook Gifts” already. What am I waiting for?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go check my own social media or other online marketing initiatives — to see how they compare with what Facebook is doing with Gifts. I’m sure I’ll find plenty of things to tweak.

Is Your Business Local? Target Your Online Advertising Accordingly!

A recent study by EyeTrackShop (ETS) has revealed that due to the way Facebook users view it (see ETS’ heatmap below), “Facebook’s page post ad visually outperforms its standard ad.” The ads that imitate posts on your timeline yield “200% higher visibility” than the right sidebar ads [more here].

However, regardless of the types of ads that you use (Facebook, Twitter, paid search campaigns, etc), before wasting your advertising dollars, tweak your settings to display your ad only to your target audience. For example, if you run a taxi service which covers Washington, DC and vicinities, no need to bid on taxi-related keywords/key-phrases nationally. Serve your ads only to Internet users in DC, Northern Virginia, and Southern Maryland.

Here is a Facebook “page post ad” that I couldn’t help but spot on my timeline yesterday night:

While, there are other things that could be improved here, the main one that jumps at me is that they are located in (and servicing!) Southern California. Malibu is 2,700 miles away from me. No matter how well they do their job, there is absolutely no sane way that they can wash my windows. Why waste the money on serving this ad to me?

Facebook Opens Up Your Inbox to Strangers (for $1 per Message)

If you haven’t been to your Facebook “Messages” tab lately (since Wednesday, December 19, 2012, to be exact), go ahead — log into your Facebook profile and navigate to that tab. Upon doing so, you will see the following message (highlighting mine):

So, “now anyone can message you” — whether you know the person or not; and Facebook has announced this “update to messaging” in yesterday’s blog post. Here’s an excerpt from it:

Today we’re starting a small experiment to test the usefulness of economic signals to determine relevance. This test will give a small number of people the option to pay to have a message routed to the Inbox rather than the Other folder of a recipient that they are not connected with.

Several commentators and researchers have noted that imposing a financial cost on the sender may be the most effective way to discourage unwanted messages and facilitate delivery of messages that are relevant and useful.

This test is designed to address situations where neither social nor algorithmic signals are sufficient… This message routing feature is only for personal messages between individuals in the U.S. [source]

As you can see from the above screenshot, before this change strangers could also message us, but all their messages would land in the “Other” folder. Now you may see them in the “Inbox” instead.

Reuters adds:

A Facebook spokesman said the charge for the test is $1 per message, but added that the company is still looking for the “optimum” price. Users can only receive one of these paid, re-routed messages per week, he noted. [source]

Yesterday after Jill Whalen’s Tweet based on my earlier Tweet on the subject, an array of reactions followed. Here are just a couple of them:



What do you make of it?

Keep in mind, also, that less than two months ago Facebook crossed 1 billion users threshold and it now engages “nearly half of the world’s Internet users” [source].

2 Keys to Selling on Twitter: Monitoring and Designing Conversations

Less than an hour ago I tweeted that I’ve booked my airfare and hotel for Affiliate Management Days West 2013. Very shortly after that Tweet, Mozio (which positions itself as an “airport ground transportation search engine”) tweeted right back at me:

Of course, I couldn’t help but notice this. Their Tweet was (a) relevant, (b) timely, and (c) hit the nail on the head. No, I didn’t have my ground transportation arranged yet. And guess, who I will use to find it now!

I also couldn’t help but recall Jeff Molander‘s advice. In his “Off the Hook Marketing” book he wrote:

The answer to selling more with social tools is rooted in starting conversations that are worth having, conversing in ways that align the needs of buyer and seller, and designing conversations with customers in ways that generate inquiries and sales.

The above-quoted startup has made a perfect example of a company that (i) monitors other people’s Twitter conversations, and (ii) chimes in when they have something relevant to offer. Are you utilizing these two simple keys to selling on Twitter yet?

5 Steps That Helped Increase LinkedIn Search Appearances Five-Fold

Did you know that every minute there happen 177,000 Tweets, 700,000 Facebook messages, 2 million YouTube views, and 7,610 LinkedIn searches [well, according to this source, at least]? It is the latter that impresses me most, as with the former three stats, we’re talking an ocean of data, whereas with LinkedIn searches, we’re looking at a very focused type of activity — professional searches.

LinkedIn is “the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with 161 million members” aboard, and “approximately two new members” signing up every per second [source]. Mind-blowing, isn’t it? Per LinkedIn itself they are actually “on pace to surpass 5.3 billion” searches in 2012. Dividing this by the number of minutes in a year, we arrive at nearly 10,084 professionally-oriented searches a minute, or 168 searches every second.

Wouldn’t you, as a professional no matter what it is that you do, want to take a bite of this pie of (tremendous) opportunity?! So I thought too; and without any prior study or experience went in to improve my LinkedIn profile. And what do you know! With very little effort put into the optimization of my profile, my appearances in LinkedIn search results increased nearly five-fold in two months [going from 65 in the week of May 6 to 324 in the week of July 7]:

Surely many will want to know what exactly it was that I did. And that’s what this post is for… It was the improvement in 5 specific areas of the profile that led to it. Try doing the same and see it goes for you:

1. Optimize Job Titles

As you can see below, I focused on the core things that I do: affiliate marketing, affiliate (program) management, speaking, and consulting:

2. Fill out Publications

Whether you have a list like mine, or a more modest one, it doesn’t matter. Do enter them there, using the space provided for descriptions too.

3. Enter Honors & Awards

This is another great section not to overlook. Build your credibility!

4. Expand the Summary

Use this one to the max! Present yourself beautifully; and remember to use the keywords that you want to be found by:

5. Choose your Skills & Expertise

This is one of my favorite sections. Here you can choose both the already-populated “specialties” (the ones that other people chose before you), and also enter your own:

Good luck; and if you have your own LinkedIn optimization experience to share, I’d love to learn from you! The comments area under this post is all yours.

Quantity of Quality: Thoughts on Optimum Number of Tweets per Day

If you’re on Twitter, like me, you’ve probably wondered more than once: How many Tweets are too many? What pace do my (current, and prospective) Twitter followers want from me? Hourly? Daily? Where’s that sweet spot?

I myself have been trying both frequent Tweets, and seldom ones, manual, and scheduled… And you know what? I’ve always been noticing that, as in anything, quality always beats the quantity. It may sound obvious, but hear me out. There are slow days, and days when the amount of useful data and high quality content is so massive that the task of content curation — be it on Twitter or Diigo, or Shareist, or any other platform in-between — really becomes challenging. Do pace yourself in moments like these! Schedule the speed at which you’re going to be serving the information! A flood is never good. Not even when it’s a flood of high quality content. In fact, in these cases it is even harder to digest, and frustrating to follow (because the “end-consumer” can get quickly upset that they just don’t have the time to eat it all up).

I’ve come to the above conclusion based on my own experience (e.g. Twitter following either slows down, or sometimes even drops, when I dump too much data on their heads). But then I thought: wouldn’t it be also interesting to analyze how frequently some of the top Internet marketing influencers tweet? After some time spent researching, I’d like to show you how things look (the below order is merely alphabetical):


Of course, there are also such Twitter users (and tremendous influencers) as @Mashable (with nearly 3,000,000 followers, and an average of 29.4 Tweets per day), Gary Vaynerchuk aka @GaryVee (who is nearing his 1,000,000 followers, posting 35.2 Tweets every day), @ChrisBrogan (48.8), Scott Stratten aka @Unmarketing (57.3), and others who tweet at least once every hour. Most of these either have teams of people responsible for tweeting, or are obsessed (in a good way, but yes, obsessed!) with social media. And frankly, as a user, I find it difficult to follow their streams of consciousness, news, or whatever else. But since they bleed social media, we all expect them to tweet that much… Exceptions aside, it seems that 8 Tweets a day (or less) is that sweet spot. I’m at 14.6. Seems like I need to pace myself too… You?

Viral Marketing Idea: Optical Illusion (and How To Create One)

A really amazing optical illusion has been making the rounds on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms lately. And, I must admit, I couldn’t help but participate in spreading it too. Here it is [Instructions: look at the red dot on the lady’s nose for 30 seconds, then turn your eyes on a plain surface (white ceiling or clean sheet of paper) and blink as fast as you can]:

If you do it right, you’ll see this picture of Deepika Padukone, a famous Bollywood actress. Regardless of that “HM” in the bottom right-hand corner, I couldn’t confirm that the spread of this viral optical illusion “campaign” was initiated by H&M. In fact, it appears that this particular illusion is based on a photo taken from Padukone’s endorsement photoshoot of Sony Cyber-shot cameras (which you can see her holding in her hand).

Whatever it was, this brings up a very interesting idea for creating viral marketing campaigns based on optical illusion. And it is also very easy to create these negatives! For example, as shown below, to do it in Photoshop you go to Image > Adjustments > Invert (or simply hit Ctrl+I). Just remember that the colors of the original “focus dots” will change too.

If you have Windows 7, the Magnifier tool will do this for you too [see “how to” instructions here].

Are you using optical illusions for viral marketing yet? I say, it is worth a try. Coupled with smart Social Media marketing, it can bear really good fruit. Just remember to also look beyond the fun, setting measurable goals (yes, “likes” and “ReTweets” but, ultimately, leads, subscriptions, and conversions), diligently tracking them.

The Biggest Lesson You Can Learn About Social Media

It seems like only yesterday I was working on my “Sixteen Thousand Tweets Later” blog post (well, in reality, it’s already been 8.5 months since that date), and today I’m celebrating another milestone — 20,000 Tweets.

Funny, but even though the number of Tweets since my above-quoted post has increased only by 25%, the number of my followers has nearly doubled (from 3,035 to 5,756); and while discussing the things that they have taught me I did allude to the importance of giving on social media, today I’d like to elaborate on it further. After all, it’s the biggest lesson I personally have learned about social media!

You see, I have built my personal brand almost entirely with the help of social media.

  • In 2005 I started participating in an online forum. Between May 2005 and May 2009 I contributed well over 11,500 posts to it, learning a ton in the process, as well as making a name for myself.
  • On July 16, 2008 I joined Twitter. I didn’t start actively tweeting until I figured out what worked best and what didn’t (Twitter is very different from other forums of social media), but, as you can see, I’m nearing 6,000 followers already.
  • On January 1, 2009 something else happened — something that (together with my active participation in an online forum) has taught me a bunch about social media — I made daily blogging one of my New Year’s resolutions. Ever since then, between my blog posts at and my guest blogging efforts (for example, here), I have put together over 1,100 blog posts.


I’ve also participated in LinkedIn Groups (starting one myself on September 15, 2008 as well) and Answers, done some video-blogging and started a YouTube channel, put together polls, actively participated by commenting on other people’s blogs, and did a lot of other things on social media.

I did burn myself quite a number of times, but by trial and error, I’ve learned something that I’d like to share with you with today: the secret of successful social media marketing is actually quite simple — you cannot take more than you have contributed in the first place. All of the above-quoted social media channels can be extremely effective if you are happy to share (the knowledge, the experiences, and/or the feelings).

If your company is looking for another broadcasting channel, look elsewhere. Social gives us an amazing opportunity (to “communicate directly with buyers”, as David Meerman Scott would put it). You can use it smartly (to grow your business), or abuse it (to bury it). The key, in my opinion, is in mastering the skill of giving.