In this episode of Out of the Box, our host Jess Overton, Director of Demand at ironSource Aura, sits down with Adam Hadi, VP Marketing at Current - a digital banking app with more than three million users.

Jess Overton is joined by Adam Hadi, VP of Marketing at fintech company Current. Listen or read the transcript below to learn how influencers are actually integrated into Current's product to drive user engagement; how Current strikes the balance between giving influencers creative license versus giving strict guidelines; and practical tips for getting started with influencer marketing.

Tune in here or keep reading for the edited highlights.

Current's mission

"We're onboarding people into the financial system, and we've done that at several stages. When Current first started, we focused on the teenage audience, offering them a teen banking product.

A few years later we launched what's now our primary product - an 18 plus adult checking account, largely for those who are underserved by the traditional banks. Folks who are paycheck to paycheck, folks who are younger. And with that, we have a slew of features that makes sense for them, focused around getting paid faster. Going forwards we're going to be onboarding more people into crypto and DeFi".

Challenges of targeting a range of audiences

"A couple of years ago I could focus on one, maybe two customer types. Now we have many different types of customers who come in for many different reasons. And if you give them all the same experience, you're not doing yourself any favors when it comes to conversion and retention.

So you need to be able to identify, "hey, why is this customer coming in?" And then give them an experience that's tailored to them. And that that's become more necessary as a multi-product company".

Some of this tailoring is based on user behavior we see, or based on how the user came in - anything from a tracking standpoint to if they entered a promo code. So there's a bunch of different triggers that can take users down different paths."

Integrating influencer marketing into the product

“Influencer marketing for us is more than just marketing. It's really an influencer strategy that's aligned with our business. That means we work with influencers for acquisition. We also work with influencers for content. Influencers themselves are part of our brand, part of our product.  

"Influencer marketing for us is more than just marketing. It's really an influencer strategy that's aligned with our business"

- Adam Hadi, VP Marketing at Current

A good example of this - you mentioned Mr. Beast right now. If you come in and you enter code Mr. Beast, you're getting a Mr. Beast experience in Current. That's everything from the emails that you're getting to, the notifications that you're getting. 

Your in-app experience will be Mr. Beast. We have points - a point store. You can redeem those points for a bunch of different things, including cash. But you can also redeem it for a custom exclusive Current Mr. Beast hoodie. 

In terms of this being an overall business strategy, it’s a deep level of integration, which allows us to really maximize the power of these influencers we work with. It involves engineers. It involves business people. It's a wide initiative."

Integrating influencer marketing horizontally

People often ask me “hey, we tried this influencer thing and it didn't really work”. There can be a lot of reasons for that, but oftentimes, I'd say influencers as a strategy isn’t often given the platform it needs to succeed in the company. It can also often be very, very narrow. 

"Influencers as a strategy isn’t often given the platform it needs to succeed in the company"

- Adam Hadi, VP Marketing at Current

Maybe it's handed to somebody on the affiliate marketing team and then it's just an affiliate play. It's not to say influencers can't succeed as an affiliate play - that's one of the ways in which it can succeed.

Or maybe it's given to the PR team to do PR stuff with influencers, which can be successful as a PR strategy, or brand marketing or performance marketing, or as content, or for creative.”

Defining performance KPIs for influencers

“It depends on the individual goals. We don't necessarily have one framework for it. We have quite a few different frameworks, depending on what we're trying to accomplish with the campaign. 

I would imagine most listeners here are our performance marketers and it fits especially today into a performance marketing framework - a lot of the basic metrics are actually the same. You typically get some type of viewer impression number, a certain number of clicks, depending on the platform, maybe you get view through, instead of click-through. Maybe it's attributed to a link, maybe it's attributed to a promo code. Then you have some type of organic, or as I say, unattributed, uplift off of that. Maybe a few years ago, this would have made performance marketers less comfortable today. It's something that we've had to get very used to across many platforms.

A good example would be podcasts - that space is like a little bit more mature. A lot of performance marketers have gotten comfortable with measurement there."

Creative license and guidelines for influencers

“This is like the X factor, right? This is something that's challenging for a lot of companies. We certainly want to give influencers a ton of creative freedom to create the best content they can. That's what they're good at. That's what you're hiring for them, they know their audience better than anybody else in the world. So you want to give them as much freedom as you can to make the ad they want to make. 

At the same time, you have to have a brand and in terms of brand building, consistency is so key. If you have a thousand influencers saying a thousand different things, you're not doing yourself any favors when it comes to building your brand. 

"The greatest success happens when we do our very best to educate and inform the influencers we work with about who we are"

- Adam Hadi, VP Marketing at Current

We find that the greatest success happens when we do our very best to educate and inform the influencers we work with about who we are, what we offer, and why people like us. Then they can kind of pick and choose what they find to be most relevant or what they find most passionate to talk about. And then they can come up with interesting and engaging ways of integrating that.

We try to work very closely with our influencers, and once they have that level of understanding, then it's kind of hands off.

And that's why really, if you look at an influencer marketing team,  in many ways it looks and operates more like a business development team than a media buying team.”

Two Days in Hell: Getting creative with brand marketing videos

Two Days in Hell is a video we made around Halloween, as a sort of fake horror movie trailer. It’s about the pains and horrors of waiting to get paid - playing on one of our USPs, which is delivering pay checks faster into user accounts. This idea was built internally by our creative team.

Brand advertising is useful for us because Current is a very long consideration product. A user doesn’t see one ad for Current and then decide, “oh yeah, this sounds like a great idea, let me give this company I just heard of all of my money”. 

That's not the consumer journey - it may be the case for mobile gaming, but not for us.”

Structure of an influencer marketing team

“Influencer marketing is about 20% of the marketing team, so it’s quite resource intensive. It's built on relationships and that takes lots of manual work. That team, they work with, not just other marketers on the team, but also, with the product team, the engineering team, partnerships team, the list goes on."

Practical advice for influencer marketing

“I would say take a look at your customer, understand who they are and where they are. If you're talking about a customer whose age is 50, there’s probably not a huge presence on YouTube for that customer. Maybe something like a podcast though, would make total sense. Then try to engage with it as authentically as possible.

If we're talking about YouTube, watch the influencers, watch their content, watch what works for them. If you have the resources, reach out directly. For every large influencer out there, there's a medium size influencer. For every medium size influencer there's thousands of smaller influencers - most of whom are going to be very excited to work with your brand if you've selected them properly. 

Test small and give an idea and see what works you can use those examples to then share with larger influencers and take bigger steps.

I wouldn't be intimidated but at the same time, this is something that you need to dedicate resources to, or else you're not truly testing.”

Out of the box marketing campaign 

“Just yesterday I saw a campaign that Vans did in collaboration with Goons, an NFT project. I was really impressed by the speed to market of that collab from Vans.”

Let's put these tips to good use

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