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There’s a common misconception around marketing - that it only works when you throw money at it. Think billboards (at Times Square perhaps), full-size newspaper ads, celebrity endorsements and the like. It’s true that these work. But thankfully for most businesses (more specifically, lending businesses), these aren’t the only ways in which you can get your first 1,000, 10,000 or even million customers.
Let’s face it - lending is a notoriously expensive endeavor as it is, involving costs associated with underwriting, servicing, compliance, and collections at the very least. So especially when starting out, digital lenders and fintechs barely have the luxury of spending thousands of dollars on customer acquisition. And here’s the good news - they don’t have to.
Here’s our guide (in no particular order) on how to get your first million borrowers without burning piles of cash:
Step up your content game.
‘Content’ is an all-encompassing term that includes your website, brochures, social media, and of course, blogs.Don’t underestimate the power of a well-populated and well-written blog page. It’s a great tool for you to showcase not just your product, but also your knowledge of the industry. People don’t want to be sold to - so instead, offer them real value with your content. For example, write articles around:
Best practices when applying for a loan
The red flags they should look out for
What kind of lending product is most suitable for their needs, be it B2B or B2C
Common lending terms such as credit scores, interest rates, underwriting
Don’t forget to focus on search engine optimization (SEO) when building your content bank. Include popular long-tail and short-tail keywords across your blogs to ensure your blog is right up there on the first page of Google search results.
Now, once you’ve fostered trust in your target group, write about why your product stands out and what it can do for them - take advantage of the space and creativity a blog offers you - and once it’s time for your customers to take a loan, you’re sure to be their lender of choice.
Make clever use of social media
Over half the world’s population - 4.6 billion people to be exact - is on social media. So it’s no-brainer that it should be a huge part of your marketing strategy. And it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Do some research to understand where your target group spends most of its time - are you a B2B lending company targeted medium to large businesses? LinkedIn is the way to go. Are you a B2C lender focused on millennial borrowers? Try Instagram and even Twitter. Post consistently, don’t hard-sell, and build a presence. Make sure to link your content marketing efforts to your social media (e.g. link your social posts to your blog) and you’ve got yourself a winning marketing formula.
A good case study here is to look at how Swiggy and Zomato do their social media - they rarely tell their users to order food or use this or that coupon. Instead, they create highly relatable and shareable content that gives them much higher reach and recall in the audience’s mind every time they are itching for an evening snack.
Build an inorganic funnel - slowly
Paid marketing refers to any strategy in which a brand targets potential customers based on their online behavior or previous interaction with the brand. It can leverage digital channels such as social media, blogs, and search engine results pages, and is the epitome of ‘a little goes a long way’. Paid search marketing in particular is both inexpensive and effective - through it, you can show text and image ads to specific users on platforms such as Google and Bing. Just be sure to follow local / national regulations on how to advertise loans - you may be required to disclose information such as fees, benefits, and risks upfront. Research has shown that 67% of B2B purchases are influenced by digital contentand advertisements - so a healthy mix of organic and paid marketing online will have the borrowers trickling in.
Don’t stop at acquisition
A lot of fintechs and lenders often end up spending thousands of dollars every month only to acquire customers that never end up finishing their loan applications. Customer drop-offs are a real problem in the industry and your marketing and growth efforts need to be cognizant of it.
The marketing efforts can double or triple ROI if they simply tighten the funnel and curb drop-offs. Moreover, it’s only when money reaches a customer’s account that your relationship with them truly starts. So, good marketing efforts must be complemented with building a warm relationship with the borrowers. This means ensuring seamless experiences, non-combative collections and overall being a partner in the borrower’s journey.
There’s no better indicator to the success of a lending institution than their NPS - especially in a digital world.
Money makes the world go round - but thankfully, you don’t need a lot of it to get your marketing right. It’s less about the cold, hard cash, and more about consistently putting out the right messages. Taking a loan in particular is a fairly big decision - so you want to make sure your marketing efforts build a sense of trust and give out all the information a borrower could possibly need.
Remember that people rarely take loans till they absolutely have to - it means that both marketing and communication needs to be much less sales-y and much more friendly that makes you a part of your future borrowers’ life - even before they hit that ‘apply now’ button.