Current: Build the creative and the audience will come

At Current, the focus is on “creating better financial outcomes for people and their unique lives.” The company was founded with the belief that banking should be accessible and affordable for everyone. And it has built its own banking core technology to deliver on the company’s key value proposition: getting people paid faster. It’s a capability that allows Current to be there for customers, particularly those stressed over their overall financial situation. Today, Current (which closed itsSeries B funding and announced a new partnership with Visa) offers a host of products to help provide relief. These include personal checking accounts without hidden overdraft or minimum balance fees and instant refunds of the holds gas stations put on credit cards when consumers fill up at the pump.

These are products that serve a variety of modern lifestyles and campaigns, and communications must deliver unique and valuable messages to individual customers, according toAdam Hadi, VP of Marketing at Current. “The requirement for personalization (in marketing) has never been stronger,” he says. Current focuses resources on developing unique creatives and leaves the work of delivering the right ad to the right person to machine learning algorithms and the capability of ad network partners such as Facebook.

Want to target a younger female audience? Current develops the creatives and lets the image find the audience. “We’re running more ad creatives that I’ve ever personally run in my career at any given time simultaneously,” Hadi explains. “Rather than relying on audience segmentation, it’s a case of build the creative and the audience and the audience will come,” Hadi explains.

For Drew Fung, Director of Performance Marketing at Current and a Mobile Hero, “giving up more control to algorithms and automation” higher in the funnel empowers marketers to get more human about their messaging. Showing empathy at scale is a tall order, and one Current is tackling by tapping micro-influencers and user-generated content. “They share genuine stories, showing—not telling—how we are helping our customers, a subset of Americans who are really struggling at this time.” His advice: “Show people, not product.” As a rule, Current avoids screenshots and elements that make their offer feel like a banking app, preferring to empathize how value propositions, such as getting paid faster, allow people to improve their quality of life and—ultimately—their financial wellness. The approach appears to resonate with audiences, and Current, which says it has grown to host 800,000 accounts, is gearing up to announce another milestone.

Intuit: Focus on delivering advice, not alerts

Unprecedented times call on companies to unleash amazing innovation. Intuit, a global financial platform serving consumers, small businesses and the self-employed, has stepped up efforts and initiatives, includingIntuit Aid Assist, to help its customers understand and access government aid and relief programs. Intuit’s partnerships and new offerings (Intuit Aid Assist is one of three) focus on helping consumers and small businesses get quick access to relief.

Now marketing must follow suit. “Sending a push notification that tells customers they are over budget on a purchase, for example, will understandably get a negative response,” Vishal Korlipara, a Mobile Hero and Senior Manager, Mobile Marketing Strategy at Intuit, told me in an interview. His work revolves around ensuring notifications are “personal and personally motivating” and all messaging reflects what is happening now in people’s lives.

“What used to be an alert is now an answer,” he explains. Take a case where a customer has exceeded their monthly budget. Before the pandemic, he says, the notification would have been a statement of fact (you have exceeded your budget). Now it’s a show of solidarity. “It’s more like let’s work together to reallocate your budget in the next few months during these difficult times.” Empathy isn’t just good for the brand; it’s good for business. “It has helped with engagement of our current user base and even shown a small uplift in acquisition through word-of-mouth and organic.”

Like many finance companies, spending on paid media at Intuit is taking a back seat while efforts focus sharply on aligning product and product marketing. “It’s about offering solutions and showing how these solutions help customers improve their situation,” he explains. The outcome: new users may be down against forecasts, but “DAUs (Daily Active Users) and MAUs (Monthly Active Users) are up against forecasts” as engagement rates climb. “That’s a testament to our engagement program and our core product features.” His advice: Use the pandemic’s big reset opportunity to focus on fixing low priority issues. “Focus inwards and double-down on product and product marketing.” But don’t expect amazing features to sell themselves. “Start brainstorming now around the content and guerilla tactics that will allow you to maximize reach and growth in these times.”

Light at the end of the tunnel

“2020 will be challenging for fintechs to navigate, but there are better times ahead,” Radboud Vlaar, Managing Director at Finch Capital, said in an interview with Fintechnews. The company’s latest analytical report titled “Fintec: The Future PostCV-19” forecasts that the “crisis mode” will last until Q3 2020 “followed by a 12- to 18-month recovery.”

The recovery period will also see “digital-only become the new industry norm in financial services.”  It stands to reason, then, that the players that have invested in customer-centric innovation during this period of uncertainty will be best positioned to come out fighting. As we’ve shown, it’s a win-win situation, delivering valuable services to consumers and driving strong and enduring business outcomes.