Fintech businesses are often praised for their commitment to both product and customer-centricity, but the battle to earn investors, customers and the growth trajectory they optimistically present to their backers is tough.
Given the creativity and tenacity required by fintech brands to get on the path to unicorn-status, there’s much that marketers in completely different sectors can learn from finance brands about growth-focused marketing.
It is for this reason that the ICS-digital team has gathered intriguing data on 13 of the most dynamic fintech leaders of 2020:
Of course, it should be noted that these finance brands did not launch on the same day as each other but nevertheless there are some intriguing trends when we compare investment raised against monthly website visits this year:
Credit Karma have been growing for years, but the volume of visits is impressive by any measure.
In comparison, though companies such as iCapital Network and Kindur have less of digital footfall, this could be explained by the nature of their product offering and target audience. With a more specific focus, it makes sense that they wouldn’t have the highest traffic volumes.
In general, the pattern we see is one of huge investment in digital growth that is reaping rewards in terms of website visits, though the patterns of traffic growth are not without dips and challenges.
Clearly aggressive growth has its risks, but these brands have been able to take off before hitting the end of the digital runway.
One of the challenges facing any technology brand is the task of communicating value to customers when the product itself is invisible, with no easy way to give it a test drive to see if the product lives up to the hype.
Even so, investors with deep pockets can make it easier for challenges to be turned into opportunities, and as we can see each of these brands has successfully earned brand visibility and web visits.
Even so, web visits don’t tell the whole story – if visits can’t be converted into active customers, growth will stall.
Of course, we don’t have access to conversion rate data for these brands, but public data can allow us to make a few guesses.
With the transactional nature of finance sites it can be assumed that the most successful bands will be retaining visitors on site long enough for key steps to take place – to uncover answers to key questions, opt-in for more information or take the step of registering as a customer.
In this table we can see more positive stats for these fintech brands as it appears that web visitors are in fact being engaged, with multiple pages (more than three) being visited on average by site visitors.
While iCapital Network and Kindur are at the foot of the table once again, it’s worth bearing in mind that not only do they have a niche focus, they also do not have the same investment war-chest as others in the table.
When comparing site speed and the (potentially invisible) actions triggered with each site visit, we can identify some compelling differences, along with opportunities to improve.
An improvement in site speed can definitely be a key part of helping conversions for transaction-focused fintech sites where customer acquisition is the ultimate goal but there are other advantages too.
Fast sites that don’t make excessive demands on bandwidth follow the SEO best practice guidance that Google continually reaffirms. Even outside of the highly competitive, transaction-focused world of fintech, brands must focus on quality onsite experiences in order to build a high-performing SEO strategy.
Tala, Affirm and MoneyLion all take in excess of 20 seconds to become fully interactive on mobile devices, at the time of our analysis. This matters as Google has identified a broad target of less than 3 seconds for most conventional websites.
Google seldom gives crystal clear guidance to SEO professionals on what is and is not a bona fide ranking factor but its broad guidance to focus on providing content that is written for (and valued by) real customers, along with emphasis on usability and speed is consistent.
For any brand (fintech or otherwise) seeking to compete more effectively with well-funded rivals, site speed and UX is just one area where superiority is possible without breaking the bank.
One fairly unambiguous ranking factor for SEO – albeit one that Google is even less fond of talking about – is off-site SEO and links:
Consistent volumes of high quality, high-relevance links remain extremely effective at building rankings when delivered in conjunction with a rigorous strategy of onsite content and technical optimisation.
In the above table we can see that every single brand is attracting links and the tempo of link acquisition does suggest a deliberate strategy.
The links acquired by these fintech brands are varied and cover a wide variety of topical areas outside of finance and investment, including links from consumer and technology publications in addition to the expected business news sites.
For fintech brands who don’t yet have the support of collaborative investors, it’s vital to compete in a way that is effective and not wasteful.
Analysing the SEO methods and digital marketing strategies of unicorns and unicorns-in-waiting is one way to apply data and rationale to your own growth strategy.
Contrasting website speed, top ranking pages, the topical relevance and depth of site content and other qualitative user experience factors can help inform a strategy for growth that equips your brand to match – and then beat – your competitors.
Likewise, when it comes to SEO there is data readily available to dig into the technical optimisation strategies of competitors, areas of opportunity and the best starting points for a high-performing offsite strategy based on the acquisition of powerful links.
Marketers working in fintech unicorn brands have a fierce pace to maintain and have to be creative, practical and targeted in their approaches.
For those in less dynamic (and sometimes relentless) sectors, a practical digital strategy can still benefit from close analysis of publicly available data and using insight to build a plan that is as ambitious as it is effective.