After hearing from Trang Dao, VP of growth at Atom Finance, on this episode of Out of the Box, you will be more informed on how to attract users based on psychographics, as well as the best tactics to advertising on channels as an early stage startup. Listen now to see where fintech is and is going within the next year. 

Atom Finance and the growth in brokerage accounts

3:03 Trang - “Over the last few years, we’ve seen a boom in individual training because of the amount of commission free brockages that have popped in the landscape that have changed the way that people access the market. On top of that, this year we have the pandemic, staying at home, and the increase in volatility in the market have really accelerated the trend. We have a world now where retail and individual investors expect really easy access to the market and the focus, unfortunately, is on where you can make the cheapest, most convenient trades. This is where we come in and this is why Atom exists. Our principles are that the market should be accompanied with access to quality data and information.”

Crafting a message that builds confidence 

6:02 Trang - “That, very much, has been our challenge. You have expensive professional tools, such as Bloomberg, and if you’re a professional you don’t need a lot of guidance and you know what you’re going to Bloomberg for and what information you need. On the consumer side, you have a bunch of investing advice sites and those are all noisy and not as raw and powerful and database because they’re very much advice sites. A lot of the challenge has been trying to tap into the individual investors who understand that all of the advice they get should be grounded in research. A lot of our messaging is like, “this is the powerful knowledge platform” and that “knowledge is power.” We are making sure that all investors have equal access to the same raw data and research as the professional investor.”

The potential for bundling fintech apps

9:11 Trang - “Consolidation does feel inevitable because it does seem to be the natural trajectory of business and defines the motivation of business. I think we are likely to see it happen in the west but it’s too early to say what will happen for the fintech industry. If this year has taught us anything, it’s that things can swing dramatically and change pretty quickly. 

The main markers in 2020 for fintech 

10:06 Trang - “Obviously, with the pandemic we saw record levels of individual trading activity. At Atom, we saw record growth and engagement. Because we’ve seen a lot more speculative, riskier retail investor behavior and because we know that it can be treacherous this year, we do see investors beginning to recognize that the simplification of information or limited information is not sufficient. Hopefully, in the brokerage and trading spaces, we’ll see a reckoning that it’s not just about cheap and convenient access to the markets, but also good access to research and information. For us, the speed at which interest in this space has accelerated this year has, hopefully, launched us closer to achieving our mission, which is making sure that everyone understands that the right research, data, and tools are necessary if you really want to be smart with markets.”

The marketing channels for acquiring users

11:49 Trang - “We are a startup, so our channel mix changes pretty regularly according to the resources we have or the short to medium-term objectives. In the beginning, we had a pretty standard playbook. We leaned heavily into a digital focused strategy that balanced reach and efficiency. We relied on paid and organic social for growth. Because we’re a new brand, these channels really helped us explain our purpose and engage one-to-one with our customers. We also launched paid search on web and the app stores really early on so that we could hit high intent, seasoned investors who are specifically searching for features and tools. Over the last few months, our brand equity has increased and we’ve been able to secure partnerships with affiliates, influencers, and podcasters. We run on content sites, such as relevant wealth management and investing sites to tell our story and articulate our mission. Today, it’s a pretty balanced mix of core channels. ironSource’s Aura is obviously one of them. We are not as established as larger companies, so we’re regularly on the lookout for pockets of opportunity and emerging/untested channels to balance out what we have in our core channel mix.”

Approaching a new channel 

13:23 Trang - “It’s pretty formulaic and it’s pretty performance based. In terms of a channel’s specific performance, in the beginning, because our acquisition mix was simpler, it was a straight attribution measured by our analytics tools and our mobile measurement partners. Over the next several months, we’ll shift to a combination of a multi-touch attribution program coupled with periodic channel specific incrementality tests. I tend to take more of an art vs. science approach to measuring return per channel because it’s unique to every company and every channel.”

Looking at incrementality 

14:54 Trang - “It really is just making sure that every quarter or twice or year, you run a specific hold out group for whatever channel that you’re running for a duration of time. I measure the lift above that and then apply that as a discount to my CPA. It’s pretty rigid and just making sure there are clean hold out groups and that you’re tracking their performance and benchmarking it against what you’re seeing and then subtracting that performance from what you get from your exposed campaign groups.”

Positioning Atom for the mix of users

16:29 Trang - “It’s really easy for companies to find millennials and Gen Z users because the digital space is their playground. When we think about our users, what we focus on more is psychographic over demographic targeting because it isn’t our mission to teach investing to our users. It’s our mission to make sure that those who have an interest in fundamental and technical analysis of investing, have the access to the right information. This role has been a bit more unique to me than others because my previous roles have been mostly in the consumer space, which is a lot of demographic targeting, geotargeting, etc. Here, what I’ve done is mostly interest based, psychographic, and motivational behavior targeting.”

Brand positioning 

20:35 Trang - “Casper built their company on this message of new sleep lifestyle aspirations. I think that is very much what we are building here at Atom. Atom, you can tell with the colors, is sleek, aspirational, sophisticated, and is more high brow because, when you look at the other consumer fintech brands, they tend to be friendly and colorful. Pairing with the movement over the last few years, with greater access to the markets, it should be easy for you to access the markets. We are trying to make sure that our brand and our positioning align relative to the market and also align with what we’re trying to say.”

Lessons learned from Atom

22:10 Trang - “It’s kind of the same lesson I’ve learned over and over, no matter what industry but at every startup. At early stage startups, we have the luxury of being really nimble and we can make decisions and try out and reserve them really quickly. It’s really important to make sure you’re not over thinking or over analyzing every decision. If something doesn’t work out, we can change course. I think it’s always a lesson to make sure to be very open to change and experimentation.”

Who is marketing at Atom

23:25 Trang - “Marketing right now is a team of 1, so it’s me. We are still a pretty lean team.”

What to expect in 2021 

25:10 Trang - “In the next year, or so, we’ll see why Atom exists. It’s imbalanced to grant such access to the markets without also distributing the information necessary.”

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