TurboTax: an America's Hottest Brands Case Study

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Marketing firsts are such a priority for Intuit's TurboTax, VP-Marketing Andy Young has given them a name: NBDs, or "never been dones."

This past tax season, TurboTax was the first marketer to employ Google's tweet aggregating AdSense placements. Other NDBs include an NBC hybrid promotion program and an AOL branded logo, said Mr. Young, marketing lead for Intuit's consumer group, which works with agency partners like Dailey & Associates and Interpublic Group of Cos.' Initiative for media.

With Google, TurboTax streamed its five most recent tweets into targeted display ads on sites like Bebo, Facebook, Hi5, MySpace and Alltop to grow its social cred, not sales.

"The Google Twitter deal was interesting because it reached over 20 million impressions, but it clicked through to the TurboTax Twitter account," Mr. Young said. "It was not a hard sell, but creating awareness for customer relationships and how we engage with the community."

Fostering its online community has been a priority for TurboTax, since a bulk of its business has moved online. Overall, TurboTax units grew 11% to more than 18 million during the tax season ending in April, compared to last year. While software sales were down 11% year-over-year and the free online filing service was down 17%, paid web services buoyed overall growth with a 36% increase.

To gauge this growing online customer base, Twitter has proven valuable for the Mountain View, Calif., company for its real-time feedback during tax season.

"There we can help customers figure out what product to use," said Colleen Gatlin, Intuit corporate communications manager. "It's invaluable to us and a big part of what we are going to be doing."

Andy Young
Andy Young, VP-marketing, Intuit's TurboTax
To drive traffic to its social media accounts this spring, TurboTax hosted the "Super Status" contest, where it seeded tax and finance questions and asked users to post their answers to Facebook, MySpace or Twitter to be eligible for prizes.

Elsewhere on the web, TurboTax branded AOL's logo with tax day reminders in what Mr. Young calls the media property's first-ever logo sponsorship. In a Yahoo home-page takeover, TurboTax created a five-panel ad that featured customer testimonials and its Live Community, the chat room functionality where users ask tax questions. Called the TurboTron, the takeover was No. 2 for interaction on Yahoo in the last three years.

While the company has brokered most of its NBDs online, TurboTax claims it even has a first for TV. It partnered with NBC for the Super Refund contest, which included integrated content promotions with shows like "Ghost Hunters" and "Heroes"—for this promotion, a comic book store clerk on-set exclaims, "Save the taxpayer, save the world" after talking to the tax guy. Mr. Young reports an 8% bump in conversion following the hybrid ads, which ran with traditional spots as well.

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