In 2010, TurboTax was faced with the challenge of generating about $1 billion in revenue during the 100 days of tax season (January 1 – April 15). The tax preparation industry is highly competitive, and as the category leader, TurboTax continues to broaden its reach, building a robust presence in social media channels and introducing new mobile offerings to attract younger taxpayers.
In addition to reaching consumers directly, TurboTax sought media coverage of its social media efforts in order to position the company as a thought leader in the industry conversation around social media and digital marketing. TurboTax partnered with The OutCast Agency to promote these efforts, develop new social media and digital initiatives, and help measure its success.
TurboTax partnered with The OutCast Agency on November 1, 2009 to:
• Drive customer acquisition and retention, brand awareness and brand equity
• Discover and participate in tax-related consumer conversations
• Start new conversations that steer back to the TurboTax brand
• Launch SnapTax and MyTaxRefund, the company’s first mobile applications
• Launch @TeamTurboTax, the tax industry’s first Twitter customer support platform
• Promote the TurboTax blog as a consumer resource for tax information
• Build deeper relationships with consumers online and engage with social influencers
TurboTax estimates its addressable market to be about 100 million US taxpayers. While the launch of SnapTax required reaching iPhone and mobile technology enthusiasts, TurboTax used social media and digital platforms to reach a broad consumer audience by harnessing existing users’ online social networks.
Additionally, TurboTax and OutCast worked on building relationships with key social media influencers in order to facilitate its mission for word of mouth promotion and participate in the discourse on social media in big businesses.
To reach these audiences TurboTax and OutCast focused on five media categories: Key Business and Technology Influencers, National and Regional Mainstream Outlets, Apple/iPhone Outlets, Lifestyle and Personal Finance Bloggers, and Social Media Platforms.
The TurboTax team started with customer research to guide its strategic plan. Customer survey data revealed that more than half of all TurboTax Online customers were Facebook users and they averaged 150 friends each. Monitoring online channels uncovered an increase in the number of customers who were relying on blogs, communities and Twitter to get their tax questions answered.
The TurboTax/OutCast team also performed ongoing social media audits to determine user sentiment toward the TurboTax brand and share of voice vs. competitors. The weekly audits included Twitter, Facebook, blogs, blog commenters, and online forums through April 15 and semi-weekly thereafter to monitor progress.
The team examined statistics of past tax seasons to determine when taxpayers filed returns in order to map key activities ahead of peak filing times, with the goal of influencing purchasers who had not yet decided on a tax preparation product.
TurboTax and OutCast enhanced the TurboTax blog with deep analytics for tracking the relationship between user acquisitions and post performance, catering content to meet both business and user needs.
The TurboTax/OutCast team worked together to create strategies designed to reach taxpayers throughout the tax filing season:
• Identify social media-centric media outlets whose coverage often drove additional coverage in mainstream media
• Use the launch of SnapTax to introduce TurboTax to the iPhone generation and make it the platform for establishing the relevance of TurboTax to a younger generation of consumers
• Develop a Facebook application, TurboChat, that allowed TurboTax VP and CPA Bob Meighan to answer taxpayer questions via a live video feed
• Leverage the TurboTax Friends Like You microsite as an industry-leading example that used Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace to centralize TurboTax consumer reviews
• Use the rollout of @TeamTurboTax, the industry’s first Twitter customer support platform, to illustrate the brand’s social media leadership
• Develop compelling content (written, video, infographic, and guest post) for the TurboTax blog and distribute it via Facebook and Twitter
• Engage consumers directly via social media throughout all of the above
• Build and maintain a strong Twitter customer service channel
• Tax season began by launching SnapTax, which allowed users to prepare their taxes to using only their iPhones. The team secured a TechCrunch exclusive, along with a promotional video shot for use with additional media outlets.
• Each day during tax season, the team prepared daily Facebook updates, Tweets, tax tips, blog posts, how-tos, and contests designed to stimulate engagement among online consumers.
• The team launched @TeamTurboTax on Twitter as a customer service platform, with 40 tax experts, product managers, tech support, and PR staff online to respond.
• The team rolled out Friends Like You, a unique social experience that let friends and people with similar tax situations share their opinions of TurboTax with each other via Facebook and Twitter.
• Each TurboChat session was promoted heavily by every available social media and digital platform.
• At each point that preliminary sales results were released (in mid-February, mid-March, and mid-April), the team reached out to media that covered social and digital campaigns to highlight different aspects of their efforts.
• The team hosted a reception in the Washington D.C. area, which has the largest collection of personal finance bloggers, with bloggers to maintain those relationships and stimulate reviews.
• Coordinated an extensive giveaway campaign with mommy bloggers nationwide
Evaluation of success/measurement
TurboTax unit sales grew 11 percent over the prior year, fueled by 18 percent growth in TurboTax Online. The overall tax season PR campaign delivered more than 9.5 billion impressions from dozens of outlets from Forbes and Mashable to NBC, TechCrunch and national morning shows.
Fans and followers on Facebook and Twitter more than doubled. Coverage and sentiment tracked on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis using Radian6 showed a sustained share of voice for 16 weeks at 70% versus competitors.