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?

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.