Jackson Hewitt Boosts Engagement with Facebook Marketplace Ads

Tax prep service engages consumers and grows fan base with social site campaign

eMarketer notes: Jackson Hewitt, an income tax preparation service, does the majority of its business between the months of January and April. In order to promote its services during tax season, and to build and strengthen its Facebook fan base, the company launched its first Facebook Marketplace ad campaign during the early months of 2012. The goal, according to David Koroghlian, Jackson Hewitt’s director of interactive and social media, was to not only acquire more Facebook fans, but to use paid advertisements on the site to create engagement.

The Marketplace ads promoted the company’s Digital Dance-Off game and a sweepstakes running on its Facebook page. The game encouraged players to use their keyboards to match dance moves on the screen. The contest entered users to win a gift card to Wal-Mart, where Jackson Hewitt has about 2,800 locations. For current fans of its brand, Jackson Hewitt advertised an incentive: They could opt in to receive a coupon for $25 off tax preparation.

In launching the ads, Jackson Hewitt used Facebook’s Marketplace self-service ad platform and also implemented a number of add-on tools to fine-tune the ad targeting. According to Christopher Tuff, SVP and director of earned and emerging media at Jackson Hewitt’s agency, 22squared, predictive modeling, targeting and optimization tools from Facebook advertising service provider BLiNQ Media were used to ensure the campaign was only targeting users with an inclination to like the brand.

“By going through Facebook’s API, we can profile our consumer against 10,000 pages and pull out about 1,000 different targets,” Tuff explained. “We can see what interests to target without doing it retroactively through optimization.” Based on the modeling, 22squared was also able to target the user interests that rose to the top.

The intense modeling and ad targeting delivered solid results. “Our fan growth was north of a 2,000% increase,” Koroghlian said. “Engagement also increased 900%. Both are pretty high numbers for us.” The engagement metrics took into account the average number of comments, “likes” and shares year over year. Jackson Hewitt’s fan base grew from 6,709 fans pre-2012 tax season to 162,513 at the end of it.

When it comes to using Facebook ads for fan acquisition, Tuff underscored the importance of gaining the “quality fan,” rather than the random user who will never engage with the fan page again.

“Coupling the engagement KPI with interest targeting, we’re delivering not only low cost for spend but high-quality fans,” Tuff said. On top of that, Koroghlian pointed out: “We are trying to acquire fans who are not only likely to interact with us on the page, but are also likely to transact with us in-store.”

In the future, Koroghlian said, it would be beneficial for Facebook to develop more paid local advertising opportunities for franchises like Jackson Hewitt. Given Jackson Hewitt’s business model, the brand would someday like to give franchises their own pages and the ability to run paid ads to help build engagement with local fans.

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