Financial services company, Sharesies started trading in 2017 with 100 investors and around $5,500 funds under management. Today, it has 163,000 customers and nearly $500 million funds under management. Here’s how a small shift in marketing strategy resulted in an exponential spike in investor confidence.
Sharesies’ purpose is to give someone with $5 the same investment opportunities as someone with $500,000. With Sharesies, anyone (kids included) can start investing, from as little as one cent.
With huge customer acquisition goals – looking to get 150,000 Kiwis onto the online trading platform by the end of June 2020 – lacklustre and sporadic marketing efforts had meant this bold 100 percent increase was looking unlikely. Sharesies’ customer numbers of around 76,000 in December 2019 had largely been achieved through word-of-mouth, social (Facebook and Instagram) and Google Adwords.
The main objective was acquisition, with an associated increase in brand awareness. The brand needed help to synthesise its message, and to build a media marketing campaign that would resonate with their customer base. Sharesies identified three specific layers to this funnel marketing strategy: Create awareness; Educate and engage; and Convert.
The biggest challenge that faces the growth of the company is that the majority of its customers have never invested before. Either they didn’t know how to, thought it was too expensive, or too complicated. This coupled with a small budget ($55k per month) it needed 12,600 customers per month to reach that June target. To give some perspective to this, Sharesies’ biggest month prior to the campaign starting was 6,300 new customers – achieved in June 2019 – the month it launched NZ shares.
This was a big deal for Sharesies and its small marketing team, who had never committed this much budget to any marketing campaign before.
With this budget, efficiency was paramount. How could Sharesies attract the biggest number of customers at that price?
In December 2019 the online trading platform engaged media and digital agency, MBM, and John Plimmer to launch ‘Sharesies – shares made easy’. Together they found, interviewed, and photographed 12 Sharesies customers in the space of one week. The campaign went live on December 19, 2019.
The campaign showed real people, matched with real quotes, talking about their experiences as new investors. While the campaign idea was simple: make more people aware of Sharesies in a relatable and compelling way, the underlying message was more strategic: to tell people that investing is easy, and can now be for anyone, no matter how much money you have.
Word-of-mouth and targeted social campaigns were working well for Sharesies prior to this, but it knew it needed a bigger reach to meet the ambitious customer targets it had set for itself. MBM knew where these customers were, and how to reach them. The campaign made no offer, rewards or incentives for joining, it simply encouraged people to do something that had once been impossible.
An acquisition campaign, with a big dose of brand awareness.
The rollout strategy was simple. Sharesies’ audience consumes media online, so this became the primary channel. TV and radio would be worth exploring as a secondary channel, but only after the market had been tested with digital.
Because it had assigned most of its budget to media placement, Sharesies had little left to produce the creative, and so handled production of the ads inhouse. Fortunately in its small team existed an experienced designer and art-director in Matt Bluett, and a wonderful videographer and photographer in Mikey Henriquez.
While the initial concept was for stills, the team took the opportunity to shoot 15-second videos of each customer. These were used for TVNZ OnDemand. six-second videos were also deployed programmatically across YouTube.
Sharesies saw an immediate uplift in signups when the campaign went live. Their 14-day moving average at December 19, was 136. By the end of January, it had increased to 302, a 122 percent increase. Averages continued to increase as the campaign progressed.
The campaign also resulted in a record 9,957 new customers in January 2020. However, it was still behind schedule on the goal of 150,000 customers by June. Numbers began to drop off in February, and the goal was looking at risk. The marketing team decided to increase its budget and introduce TV to the marketing mix. In late February 2020, the video content was repurposed into a 15” TVC. Slow motion, real people, honest comments, and the Sharesies pink showed investing as accessible, easy, and fun.
Despite the slowing numbers, its monthly acquisition was well ahead of previous months. To measure the effectiveness of the TVC the Sharesies team compared direct and organic traffic to a prior period without TVC activity. The TVC went live on 26 February and ran until 21 March. Direct and organic traffic was way higher in the first 10 days of the TVC, but then increased dramatically in the last two weeks.
March 10 was when the market collapsed. It was also (at that time) Sharesies’ biggest day of sign-ups ever. While the company was certainly helped by the market downturn due to Covid-19, it would not have had the success it did without being actively promoting Sharesies in the three months prior.
Ultimately, Sharesies blew its end-of-June target out of the water reaching its 150,000 customer target on May 12, seven weeks earlier than we predicted.
Category: Supreme Award, Financial & Banking
Marketing initiative: Sharesies – Shares Made Easy
Marketing Partners: MBM, John Plimmer (Creative Consultant), Ryan McMillan (Atlas Digital) and Sharsies Team: Matt Bluett, Michael Henríquez, Alan Doak and Sonya Williams
Judge’s Comments: “Sharesies has delivered a product and marketing programme that has not only overachieved on their business goals but which has transformed the engagement model with New Zealand’s capital markets. They have achieved this through a comprehensive and innovative content and media strategy with timing that was both perfect for their target audience but radical in terms of industry norms.”
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