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Emails We Love: How TurboTax Makes Reminder Emails Sexy

Ahh, February. The season of love. And if you’re the proactive type, taxes.

Taxes are decidedly not sexy. They require us to do supremely unsexy things, like spend days compiling paperwork and hunting down receipts. They force us to dive deeply into our budgets and take long, hard looks at ourselves in the mirror. And not in flattering candlelight, more like in harsh, fluorescent lighting.

And yet, they’re inevitable. So wouldn’t it be nice if we could sexy them up a bit? This is the approach tax preparation company TurboTax has been taking with their reminder emails about the filing process. And we’re all about it.

In today’s edition of emails we love, we’re breaking down why we’ve been loving (okay, not hating) TurboTax’s reminders to file our taxes.

Focus on the Positive: Your Maximum Refund

TurboTax knows that there are countless pain points involved in filing taxes. But for some people, there is a (literal) pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. For those people, filing taxes usually means earning back a few hundred dollars — not bad for a few hours of pain.

TurboTax chooses to focus on this morsel of happiness in nearly all of its email subject lines:

  • Reminder: Your Refund is Waiting!
  • (Your User ID and Fast Refund Enclosed) 2017 Tax Season Update
  • Notice: User ID and Biggest Refund inside.
  • Your Refund is Waiting: Claim It Today!

It’s unclear whether I received these messages because of my history — not to brag, but I’ve overpaid the government for two years in a row now — or because these are the messages everyone receives.

Regardless, they get me excited to start the filing process.

Encourage Through the Negatives: Let’s Finish Up!

In all of its messaging, TurboTax does a good job of making the tax filing process seem like that High School Musical song: “We’re all in this together.”

This approach makes complete sense: People are intimidated by taxes. According to research by TaxSlayer, Americans would rather do several tedious tasks instead of their taxes:

  • 27 percent said they’d rather locate constellations in the night sky;
  • 23 percent think going a week without a car is easier than tax preparation; and
  • 18 percent answered they’d rather memorize all of the U.S. presidents in order.

There’s just something inherently intimidating about handling a year of your financial life at a time — and TurboTax gets that. While they initially grab your attention with all the refund talk, they focus the rest of their emails (and on their website, the rest of their messaging) on encouraging you to complete the process.

Let’s analyze this reminder email I received on February 11:

The subject line (Reminder: Your Refund is Waiting!) and the email header (Your guaranteed biggest refund is waiting) both speak to the refund — enticing you to complete this process.

Then, the email shifts gears, encouraging you with comforting, inclusive messaging. Each of these messages serves a specific purpose, anticipating questions users might have:

  • How do I know what to do next? — We’ll help you cross the finish line.
  • Am I doing this right? — You’re off to a great start.
  • What if I get stuck? — One-on-one help for answers, on demand
  • How can I be sure that I did it right? — Get the green light to file

The call-to-action buttons are equally encouraging, reading “Let’s Finish Up.” This is a bit of a trick. TurboTax knows that I have barely done anything to begin the tax filing process. But by making me feel as though I’m almost done, they encourage me to jump in.

(Emails About) Taxes, Done Right

Tax preparation is an emotional trigger for many individuals. It forces us to deal with our financial realities in a way that can be annoying at best and downright painful at its worst.

TurboTax knows that it needs to be emotionally supportive for its users and gently encourages them to face their anxieties. And that’s why we love TurboTax’s reminder emails.

Do your reminder emails strike an emotional chord? How do you deliver messages that soothe, support, and encourage your customers?