TurboTax Moves Email Pitch Into SMS

Turbo-taxPARK CITY, Utah -- 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 effort midstream. With smartphones proliferating, it has been adding text messaging as a way to try and bring people back.  
“This has been an 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 said, 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. Then we can talk to them by email [or] 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. “If we detect what device they’re coming in on, our emails will reformat so that they deliver well."
Last March, an SMS system was launched that 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 one customer segment signed up.
TurboTax continues to operate a SnapTax app, where people can take a photo of a W-2 form 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 plugging options on smartphones and tablets last year and will repeat the effort in the future. “We’re going to show more mobile, more tablets in our national advertising because it is accretive to the brand,” she said.
Research shows that 55% of customers at H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt with a smartphone say they would be more likely to use TurboTax helped Berger's lobbying efforts.

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