Financial technology companies are transforming the fabric of global finance. Their founders were responsible for the exciting innovations that have improved old models and created new solutions to make financial services more accessible and affordable.
P2P platforms are democratising lending; blockchain is overhauling cumbersome recordkeeping; and smart contracts are streamlining insurance processes and self-executing pledged obligations.
Fortunly notes that 64% of the world has joined the fintech bandwagon last year – a rapid ascent from the mere 15% in 2015. It is only a matter of time before all of us start doing online banking exclusively. As the quantity of fintech users grows, the world shrinks for the tech companies in the financial services industry.
The fintech startups in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are the perfect example.
Fourteen of the World Economic Forum’s 100 promising Arab start-ups were from the field of fintech. The United Arab Emirates’ Beehive, Saudi Arabia’s HalalaH, Lebanon’s HedgeGuard, Jordan’s HyperPay, Libya’s MIZA Financial Services and Palestine’s Receet are some of the companies that made the cut.
Like other thriving tech hubs, MENA is bound to become an even more saturated market in the near future. One of the reasons for this is the Dubai Blockchain Strategy. This bold project aims to make Dubai the first city to be fully powered by blockchain by 2020. It will help put the region on the map as a global fintech center.
The growing number of innovative financial services in MENA means more choice for consumers and businesses. But it also means greater competition for fintech founders.
In terms of funding, MENA is like a desert while the United States is a rainforest and Europe is a grassland. With relatively meager financial resources, fledgling start-ups in the region must nail marketing early on to capture enough market share before their coffers run dry. There is little room for error, and a few failed marketing initiatives could seal the fate of your fintech company.
Regardless of your marketing budget, employing the strategies below can help your start-up stay afloat until you begin to break even and consistently turn a profit.
1- Build an Unassailable Brand
Branding is more than just thinking of a catchy name to cut through the noise. It is all about communicating what your company stands for to your target demographics. In order to accomplish this, it is imperative that you have a clear idea about what your organisation is first.
Having a killer idea or a product that works is not enough. What are your solutions? What makes them special? Which group of customers do you intend to serve? What services will you not offer? Who are your competitors? These are some of the questions you must answer before building your brand from the ground up.
If you can’t articulate the very essence of your company, your brand will not stand out.
Interestingly, a good rule of thumb for making your brand unique is to imitate your rivals. Study what they are doing and copy their best practices. But at the same time, learn from their mistakes and capitalize on their weaknesses.
Moreover, be brave. Dare to be different, no matter how weird or ambitious your ideas might be. Do not overdo it, though. Find the right balance between being fresh and being relatable to appeal to your target audience.
When it comes to brand identity, keep things simple. Make sure visual elements like your logo are clear. Customers don’t like what they don’t understand. So be sure to avoid any complications.
Before introducing your fintech brand to the world, test your tech first. Create a focus group that represents your demographics and that will try your tools. Be open to criticism because the practicality of your software depends on its functionality.
At this point, customer expectations for fintech brands are extremely high. It will be difficult to impress discerning users if your app does not have seamless usability and clean aesthetics.
2- Embrace Gamification
Games are addictive because their developers know how to keep players engaged and motivated. Integrating gaming principles into your fintech marketing master plan can spell the difference between success and failure.
Using gameplay is a sure-fire way to appeal to the impulsive nature of humans. If you manage roll tech, fun and reward (material or abstract) into one in a wonderful fashion, you will likely win the hearts of your target demographics as well as keep them interested in and engaged with your brand.
Some of the gamification ideas to consider are: allowing users to have avatars, giving out points for positive behavior, holding simple contests and using competition to start conversations about finance-related topics.
3- Be a Media Company
Content marketing can tick all the boxes fintech founders aim to achieve. Being a busy factory of relevant news articles, well-written features, captivating videos and viral memes can boost your fintech brand’s SEO, enhance its social media presence, establish its authority in the field and maintain its solid reputation.
There is no shortage of examples you can take inspiration from. SoFi is a good case in point. Its website is an extensive library of everything there is to know about student loans, mortgages, credit cards and many other financial products. The company not only publishes comprehensive reads, but it also provides helpful tools like calculators to keep its visitors glued to its site.
Betterment likewise has its own resource center, but it does not stop there. The investing and cash management company also has podcasts discussing the hottest financial topics, featuring industry experts and thought leaders.
Digital bank Ally takes content marketing to a whole new level by running a resource center dedicated to financial well-being with customizable user dashboards. The members of the company’s community can choose to see only the topics that interest them in order to get streamlined results.
When executing content marketing for your brand, be mindful of audience fragmentation. It is the puzzle you should solve first and foremost, for producing high-quality content means nothing if your customers do not know it exists.
Familiarise yourself with the platforms your target demographics use. Then, publish written pieces and videos that can perform well on your intended digital channels, which can be tricky since they all function differently.
4- Treat Mobile Devices With Respect
In this day and age, it is a crime not to go mobile.
The smartphone and the tablet should be the centrepieces of your marketing efforts. By 2025, 5G networks may be deployed in the entire MENA region. In other words, mobile app users in the region will enjoy higher speed, higher bandwidth and lower latency in the years to come.
You should learn how to master marketing around these handheld devices. Having a mobile-responsive site is not enough. You ought to have visual-heavy content, use relevant widgets and avoid intrusive animations in order to provide a delightful mobile experience.
5- Rule Social Media
Search engine optimization is not just about Google. Social media networks have their own search engines, which are powerful marketing vehicles that should also be optimized.
Developing an insightful website and a user-friendly app is important, but dominating the social channels your target demographics use is key to maximum online visibility. Your social accounts should be interconnected with your website to accelerate traffic generation, and lead conversion.
Social media sites are unique, but each one makes an effective platform for content publication. Once you know how your prospective customers behave digitally, you can pick the perfect time to post certain content to induce a bunch of engagement and benefit from user-generated content.
6- Do Not Be a Stranger
You can’t use social media to maximum effect without being social. Consumer engagement can humanise your fintech brand, which can separate it from other start-ups that choose to ignore socially active consumers.
Take the opportunity to reply to private messages, reciprocate kind comments and positively address negative reviews. The internet cares about what you do to people as much as what you say about your brand. Consumers may like your financial services, but they may still take their business elsewhere if you are a snub — or worse.
7- Advertise Wisely
Consider every Google or social ad campaign like it is your last. You can’t afford to flush your limited marketing money down the drain after each failed attempt.
To get desirable results, optimize your advertisements in every way you can. Take advantage of the fact that ads these days can be improved on with the click of a button.
To reach your target demographics successfully, use online influencers. Getting social celebrities as endorsers will give your fintech brand substantial exposure to loyal followers who take action. The right influencers can help generate website traffic, boost app downloads, increase user signups and inspire the adoption of your financial services.a
Marketing in any saturated space is a Herculean task — and fintech is no exception. Play your cards right to make your brand be the talk of the town instead of letting it blend into the crowd of countless start-ups consumers are not aware of and do not care to know.