Intuit VP Seth Greenberg Evaluates The Facebook Funnel At The ANA’s Annual Conference


It was the final presentation at the Association of National Advertisers Masters of Marketing annual conference last Saturday, and maybe it was the most relevant if you’re a fan of data-driven, digital marketing.

After all, anybody that announces, “My company will buy 20 BILLON display impressions in the fourth quarter of 2010,” as Intuit VP of Global Media & Digital Marketing Seth Greenberg did, should make targeters and data providers salivate. That’s 2+ days of volume on the Right Media Exchange courtesy of Intuit.

In fact, let’s figure that the 20 billion impressions is a combination of guaranteed and non-guaranteed with an effective CPM of $1.  We’re talking $20 million. 

Hey, display is starting to sound like TV money!

But the clear focus of the speech was Greenberg’s experience with social media and Facebook, in particular, as Intuit begins to aggressively leverage the Facebook friend “funnel” for one of its key lines of business: TurboTax, a product used by consumers to annually prepare their taxes.

Prior research had revealed 50 percent of TurboTax customers were active on Facebook and that, on average, each of these customers had 150 friends – plenty of opportunity to leverage the network effect according to Greenberg.

Intuit decided to make what he termed “two big bets” – one leveraged consumer reviews; the other – “Friendcasting” which begins with embedding the ubiquitious “Like” button in the TurboTax app such that happy consumers who finished their taxes could broadcast it to their friends through their Facebook news feeds.

Greenberg identified Intuit’s Facebook funnel:

“We did a small test, and small being a little facetious. We had 10 million people who had the opportunity to click on the ‘Like’ button in Facebook and TurboTax. And what happened? One percent did.

So you think about the funnel of 10 million, which is a nice big funnel, and you think about the sadness of one percent. That funnel is pretty constricted at that point. Its 100,000 people that actually ‘friendcasted’ to their friends.”

Some brand marketers at the conference may have yawned at this point – 50% of whom are still relying on call centers for feedback as opposed to potentially more efficient digital tools according to a survey during the conference.

Greenberg continued:

“But what happens with the network effect if you times 100,000 people times 150 of their Facebook friends? You get a nice big funnel again. You get 15 million impressions that reach people in Facebook.”

And then came the insights as the earned media caught fire (See “Conversion Funnel” slide and Slideshare presentation below, too.)…

If you were one of the people that saw this in your news feed, you were four times more likely to click on that link than you were one of our display banner ads. (…) Of the people that clicked through because they received this from their friends AND they came to TurboTax AND they bought, 79 percent of those people were brand new customers.

Implications include…there’s leakage in this funnel.”

Leakage is everywherrrrre.

Greenberg went on to say that this most recent test will prepare them for the next season as they look to optimize and build on the 1% who initially “Like”d that they did their taxes. But he added, “‘The early implications are that [Facebook] is our most effective channel in acquiring new customers.”

By John Ebbert

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  1. Does not surprise me. Seth and his team are among the smartest marketers on the web and have been for many years (including being one of the earliest Offermatica clients). It will be interesting to watch in the coming years how Facebook moves to take a cut of the free and valuable media amplification it is offering.