TurboTax Builds On Email Program With SMS

TurboTax is moving to take an effective email program and expand it into SMS. The tax preparation company has used email to persuade customers to return after abandoning an e-filing midstream. With smartphones proliferating, it’s been adding text messaging as a way to try and bring people back.

“This has been a really effective communication stream through email,” said Elizabeth Berger, a group manager in direct response marketing at TurboTax. “It’s driven a tremendous amount of lift, so we’re hoping that with text messaging we can see similar results, just through a different format and through a different platform.”

The effort is just one in the mobile space Berger cited that her company is pursuing. With data having shown close to 20% of search queries for TurboTax taking place via a mobile device, the company is investing in driving customers to an optimized mobile landing spot.

“If we can get someone from a mobile search to get to a landing page and log in that’s successful because then we can talk to them by email -- then we can talk to them through other channels, even online advertising,” Berger said as she delivered a keynote address at the MediaPost Email Insider Summit on Wednesday.

Berger said with traffic on mobile devices growing, there’s an effort to ensure emails opened on them have a compelling appearance. So, the company has put in place templates and is emphasizing responsive design.

“If we detect what device they’re coming in on, then because of the responsive design, our emails will reformat so that they deliver well and they’re a great experience for people coming in on mobile,” she said.

Last March, an SMS system was launched that also looked to build off an email program. When people finish a tax return, they can opt-in to receive a notice that the e-filing was accepted or rejected by the IRS. SMS was offered as a notification option and 27% of a customer segment signed up.

TurboTax continues to operate a SnapTax app, where people can take a photo of a W-2 and their information can be imported. The app has roots in a program at TurboTax parent Intuit, where employees are given “unstructured time” and can spend 10% of their time how they want.

TurboTax began running TV ads last year plugging options on smartphones and tablets and will again this year. “We’re going to show more mobile, more tablet in our national advertising because it is accretive to the brand,” Berger said.

But Berger had to fight to persuade the company that it was worthwhile using valuable ad time to promote mobile options. Research showing 55% of customers at the likes of H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt who had a smartphone indicating they would be more likely to use TurboTax helped her lobbying efforts.


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