Picture a situation where you are the head of marketing for a mobile app, and your users have to… visit your office to become a customer.
Sounds unbelievable, right? Not for a finance app in Hong Kong, where government regulations add an extra step to your typical user registration flow. In this blog post, I’ll share how we overcame this hurdle by using a simple guerilla marketing tactic.
Bridging offline and online marketing
8 Securities is a mobile-only investing service for millennials in Hong Kong and Japan. During the first half of 2018, we ran several large-scale digital marketing campaigns for our mobile trading app. The conversion funnel for this app is rather unique as it combines online and offline registration.
When you download the app, it takes about three minutes to open an account. But before you can transfer money into your account, you need to physically sign the paperwork at our office in Hong Kong. This is required because our business is licensed under the SFC, a financial body that regulates Hong Kong’s securities and futures markets.
For obvious reasons, this online-to-offline process creates conversion challenges. Millennials (and 80% of mobile trading customers are under the age of 30) are impatient and live busy lives. Would they find the time to visit the office, especially during business hours?
Although deemed a gateway to Asia, Hong Kong is still very much a concentrated city-state environment. The 8 Securities office is based in the central business district. Getting users to take that final step and visit the office requires an incredible amount of time and motivation. Of course, there is an option of sending us a notarized document. But getting a notary is not a trivial task either, as it requires going to a bank.
At the same time, the conversion funnel for online financial services is very time-sensitive. If you don’t convert your customers within 48 hours, it’s going to be extremely difficult to convert them in two months. A competing offering may arise, and lead quality degrades over time.
Transforming challenges into opportunities
The best marketers are those who deep-dive, take ownership of challenges, transform them into opportunities and articulate them clearly with data.
How do we boost conversions with users who have completed our initial mobile account opening? Well, most folks would say (in no particular priority order):
- Run online engagement campaigns
- Run remarketing / custom audiences
- Create promotions
- Call users on the phone
- Send them a Facebook / Whatsapp reminder, etc.
All of those are great options, but frankly, it does not change the fact that for the majority of cases you need to get that busy person into the office.
If offline is the paradigm, then why not just create a playbook that lives and breathes that offline paradigm? The solution had to make offline work for us in creative ways – instead of holding us back.
How the truck program drove conversions for 8 Securities
The idea we came up with was “the truck program”: for a month, we turned a truck with custom-designed 8 Securities branding, localized in Traditional Chinese, into our mobile office.
First, we determined the schedule of pedestrian-concentrated spots where the truck would drive to around Hong Kong. In parallel, we promoted the truck schedule on Facebook and Whatsapp – the channels where we knew our target audience lived.
Inside the truck, we had pamphlets with competitive comparisons, sales decks, T-shirts, caps, keychains, promotional videos, QR codes for the walk-ins, trained Cantonese/Mandarin speaking promoters and of course, water and AC to give ample respite from the sweltering Hong Kong summer heat – all within our program cost constraints.
Hong Kong is one of the most urban dense cities in the world. We used it to our advantage and created a truck schedule that catered towards different cities and regions where our customers reside.
- HKG island (Causeway Bay, Wan Chai, Quarry Bay)
- Kowloon (Mong Kok, Tsim Sha Tsui, Lok Fu, Kowloon Tong)
- New territories (Shatin, etc.)
Licensed sales individuals from 8 Securities were in the truck for purposes of both 1) completing the account openings for mobile account leads and 2) answering queries from net new clients (e.g., walk-ins), whom promoters would engage within a walking distance from the truck.
Trailblazing mobile growth
We ran the truck program for one month. The results and learnings were immense. Giving users geo-flexibility to complete their account opening in the truck instead of going to our office boosted our conversion rates from lead-to-account-open by high double digits %. We also saw similar high double-digit growth in net new customers (walk-ins) who found our value proposition interesting.
Hong Kong is very much a “touch it – see it – feel it – before you buy it” type of market. Our customers wanted three things: simplicity, affordability and mobile – and that’s what we offered. They also want the opportunity to ask questions and get live feedback. Trust is earned.
By creating 1:1 conversations with customers across different areas of Hong Kong, we could control the narrative for our branding, our products and our differentiation. Because if you do not control the narrative, others will.
To take your organization to the next level, be creative and find ways to engage your target market across multiple touch points – even if it means taking your mobile user acquisition strategy offline.
About Andrew Wong
Andrew Wong is the head of marketing for 8 Securities, a leading mobile first investing service. He is responsible for marketing several popular finance apps in Japan and Hong Kong. Prior to joining 8 Securities, Andrew spent over 10 years in marketing leadership roles at Yahoo! in Los Angeles, Silicon Valley, Asia-Pacific, and Japan. A Silicon Valley native, Andrew graduated from NYU Stern and is a piano player in his spare time.
About 8 Securities
Launched in 2012, 8 Securities is a mobile first investing service with licensed offices in Hong Kong and Tokyo. The company has a history of innovation, having launched Asia’s very first robo-advisor wealth management app and $0 commission stock trading app. The apps are available in the App Store and in the Google Play store in English, traditional and simplified Chinese, and Japanese. In October 2017, IDC listed 8 Securities on its Asia Fast Fintech 101 list and named the company as one of the 10 fastest growing fintechs in Hong Kong.