This tax season, Intuit’s TurboTax is hoping to get big returns out of a marketing push that combines product reviews and social networking.
The Friends Like You program, which launched this month, identifies people within a consumer’s Facebook, MySpace or Twitter networks who may have reviewed the product and lets consumers “friendcast” those reviews on their social networks.
Though it may seem unlikely that a person in any given network has reviewed TurboTax, Seth Greenberg, director of national media and digital marketing for Intuit, has done the math and says it’s plausible.
About 20 million people use TurboTax and roughly 5 percent of them—or 1 million people—review it. Meanwhile, about 50 percent of TurboTax users are on Facebook, and each of them has, on average, 150 friends. “The odds are,” Greenberg said, “you’ll connect with someone you know.”
TurboTax’s current strategy seems a less onerous variation of what Facebook attempted with Beacon, an ad program it rolled out in late 2007 that relayed information about consumers in its news feeds (example: “John just bought a pair of shoes at Zappos”). After users complained of privacy issues, Facebook hastily extinguished Beacon, with copious apologies.
For its current initiative, Intuit worked with Bazaarvoice, an Austin, Texas, firm that outsources product reviews to Best Buy, Dell and Macy’s, among others.
In addition to identifying Facebook and Twitter friends under a “your friends” link, the program also lets consumers see reviews from people in similar tax situations, like those who just bought a house or had a baby.
“The key to reviews is people are looking for authentic recommendations from people [who are] like them,” explained Sam Decker, CMO of Bazaarvoice.
The push comes amid conventional wisdom in the marketing world that holds that customer reviews—even if a few negative ones are included—tend to convert shoppers into buyers. Jeffrey Grau, a senior analyst with eMarketer, said that consumers often regard reviews from fellow consumers even higher than expert opinions such as those published in Consumer Reports.
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