Written by Araminta Robertson
Acquiring customers is the hardest part of growing a financial technology company. Without customers there is no financial inclusion, accessibility or democratisation. And yet, marketing – key to acquiring customers – is often left out of fintech discussions.
As the founder or marketer at a financial technology company, you need marketing to:
- help grow your company so it reaches more people.
- stand out from incumbents.
- teach customers how to use your products.
Most importantly, you need marketing so it reaches the right people and does what fintech companies intend to do: empower, educate, enable access.
Why fintech needs marketing?
As the founder of a content marketing agency that helps fintech companies use content for customer acquisition, I am experiencing this first hand. Many fintech companies focus on financial inclusion, democratising finance and increasing accessibility: and yet marketing is left out of the discussion because it’s seen as a “nice to have” instead of critical to operating the business.
Here are a few reasons why marketing is integral to fintech, and therefore why fintech companies need marketing.
1. Fintech companies are start-ups, and therefore need marketing to grow quickly
This is the most obvious reason marketing is so essential for fintech companies: when you run or are in charge of growing a tech start-up, marketing is essential to grow your company.
When you’re competing against incumbents and tech companies, you also need to grow quickly. If you want your fintech company to have the impact you set out for it to have, it needs to reach and change the lives of enough people. In order to raise money, make a profit and grow at the right pace, you need marketing.
The strategy of targeting the tech-savvy millennial is no longer sufficient in the B2C fintech world. If you really want to make finance accessible and democratise it, then you need to target the average layperson, and that requires effective marketing.
2. Many founders are technical, and might lack the marketing know-how
Many fintech founders are technically-minded people, usually with a financial or engineering background — often both. They are usually builders and people who see a problem, want to fix it, and then build a great solution. Just look at some of the fintech companies around us: the Stripe co-founders are developers, the Plaid founders are engineers, the founder of Revolut has a background in banking — as do many other neobanks.
And that’s necessary. But as we often say in the marketing world, you could have the best product in the world, but if you never tell anyone, no one will find out.
When I talk to fintech companies, it is common to find only one person on the marketing team, if there is one at all. In some cases — like certain B2B companies that can rely on referrals or a sales team only — this might be enough. But more often than not, especially in a B2C setting, marketing is essential to accelerate the growth of the company and reach the right people.
Fintech companies need marketers because fintech companies are start-ups and need marketing to accelerate growth. Fintech founders need marketers, because they often lack the know-how or the capacity to leverage marketing.
3. Marketing differentiates fintech companies from incumbents
A large part of marketing’s role is to communicate the soul of the company. That means explaining why your fintech is different and unique. If, for example, your fintech company stands for democratisation, transparency and accessibility, this must be present in the brand and communications.
One of the key differentiators between incumbents and fintech companies are those three words I mentioned above (democratisation, transparency, accessibility). Just look at the bank ads about mortgages – everyone does the same ads with a happy family talking about their dream home.
Now look at Habito’s ads about mortgages: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_5h2UakW8M
If you want to disrupt an industry and do things differently, then you need to come across differently. Fintech companies need marketing to effectively communicate how they’re unique.
4. Fintech marketing itself democratises finance
In order for a consumer to use an investing app correctly, they need to learn how to invest. In order for a business to enable seamless online shopping, they need to learn about Open Banking.
When it comes to finance, there is usually an educational barrier to using a financial product correctly. It also doesn’t help that personal finance is not part of the high school curriculum, meaning that many of us grow up not knowing anything about taxes, payment processing or investing.
Marketing, and more specifically, content marketing, involves educating your customers, building their trust and offering your product as a solution. For certain financial products, this is the only way to offer your product — by first educating them (think stock market investing).
This is especially true in the financial sector, where learning how to manage your money effectively can be life-changing. It’s also a sector where regulations are stricter, and customers often are required to be educated on the risks that come with using a product (think peer-to-peer lending, stock market investing).
Content marketing is also inherently customer-centric: you are choosing to educate and empower your customers to make their own decisions, rather than blindly trust your product.
Fintech needs marketing if it wants to be truly customer-centric. Fintech also needs marketing to help overcome the educational barrier, successfully build trust, and effectively sell a product.
5. Fintech is fast paced and needs to stay in constant contact with their customers
The start-up world is incredibly fast paced. Combine that with the financial sector, where events like the rise and fall of Gamestop, and the fluctuation of assets like cryptocurrencies and stocks happen on a daily basis. Since fintech companies are also start-ups, they are continuously launching products at a faster pace than a bank would, and therefore growing in new markets and iterating based on feedback.
Companies like Plaid, Truelayer and Alloy make it a lot easier to build financial products. That means that now, the hard part is building an audience.
As Packy McCormick says in a Not Boring newsletter:
“When building a product is easier, the competition moves to customer acquisition. That was the core insight behind Unit: Fintech 1.0 was about products; Fintech 2.0 is about audiences.”
Fintech companies need marketing to remain in constant communication with customers and prospects, while also being in the know of current market trends. Fintech companies also rely on marketing to help build an important USP: their audience.
6. Fintech companies have access to a lot of data, which they can leverage to be more customer centric
Good marketing happens when you understand your customer inside out. A good measure of how well you know your audience is if you’re able to predict their next move.
Fintech companies have access to a lot of data on their customers. Whether that’s spending patterns, habits or usability, marketers can use that data to gain a better understanding of their customer — all while remaining GDPR compliant, of course.
This helps marketers create more targeted campaigns, understand pain points and create content that is a lot more useful. Ultimately, it helps marketers be more customer centric.
This becomes a virtuous cycle: the more targeted and customer-centric your marketing is, the more you’ll reach the right people. Effectively, having marketers on your team that understand your customer inside out helps you grow your company.
7. Marketing is taking up a larger part of the sales funnel
This is a fascinating diagram:
Before the internet, we did not have many options when it came to buying. We would usually go for whatever was most accessible or what our friends recommended.
But with Google, we can now do our research. We check comparison posts, read reviews and post in forums. We like to do our research, find all the answers to our questions online and then reach out once we’ve made our decision.
Sales are still essential, but every year a larger part of sales is taken over by marketing. That’s because selling is ten times easier when your prospective audience or buyer has done their research and has already chosen you as their provider/product. (Note: Learn more about this here: Where to Get Started with Fintech Content Marketing.)
In a world where customers want to be able to do their own research, for all companies — not just fintech companies — marketing plays an essential role in providing information, answering frequent questions and educating prospects so they can make an informed decision.
Fintech companies need marketing so they remain up to date with the modern-day practices on customer acquisition.
Marketing is inherently part of fintech
You can’t empower your customers without educating them first. You can’t increase financial inclusion if you don’t reach people in the first place. And you can’t stand for transparency if you don’t communicate how you’re different.
Marketing does all these things and a lot more – and that’s why fintech companies need marketing.
This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should conduct their own research when making a decision.
The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of the Swiss Finance + Technology Association.
Araminta Robertson is the Founder and Managing Director at Mint Studios, a content marketing agency that helps fintech companies turn their website blog into a customer acquisition channel. The Mint Studios has helped fintech companies like Modulr, Zai, Confused.com and Jeeves use content to bring in $500k+ worth of customers.
She also co-manages the 1,500+ person Fintech Marketing Slack group and conference, is the host of the Market Like a Fintech podcast and Edinburgh’s Fintech Mixer events. She talks regularly at events hosted by Finovate Europe, Fintech Talents and BrightonSEO.