On September 29, 2020, MaRS hosted a Fintech Connect fireside chat with Luke Sheehan, vice-president of marketing at Ratehub. Luke spoke with MaRS ventures about the lessons he’s collected while helping build Ratehub into a brand trusted by millions of Canadians. Paige Collins and Petia Tchouk of MaRS Discovery District prepared this summary from the event, highlighting the key insights Luke shared.
Start with the right vision and team. As a marketing lead, make sure you’re joining a team led by founders you’re aligned with. The founders set the vision, and know the business and target customer better than anyone else. The same goes for hiring your own team: Clearly communicate your marketing vision to potential hires so they can see if it’s a fit for them.
When it comes to refining or revising your company’s value proposition, find cheap ways to test your ideas. When Ratehub changed its brand proposition two years ago, I went out to Union Station in Toronto to ask strangers whether they preferred message A or B. As I soon learned, you might get told to shove it, but you will also get some interesting insights.
As you’re defining your target audience, there’s a trade-off between going broad (with the benefit of building a large audience—which looks great to investors) and being highly targeted (which results in higher revenue per customer). It’s not an easy balance to strike. Ratehub does a bit of both. It publishes content that appeals to a broad group but is ultimately driving toward connecting with its highest value customers. Whichever approach you choose, constantly focus on profitability and understand how long it will take for your marketing spend to pay itself back.
Collect data, data, data—and give SEO priority. Start out by creating mechanisms to capture as much data as possible. Balance building a large data set with being deliberate in which opportunities you pursue. There are many options for monetizing data, but if they don’t align with the core product and vision of your company, they will be a distraction that doesn’t add value.
Ratehub has made search engine optimization (SEO) a priority. Everyone from the CEO to the content specialist thinks constantly about how to improve Ratehub’s SEO game. If you’re trying to build an SEO plan from scratch, here are some tips:
Get the content right. Ratehub relies on internal and external experts to generate great content. It operates in the finance sphere, where there are deeply informed experts—who will call Ratehub out if it makes a mistake. So accuracy and precision are important.
When hiring staff, Ratehub looks for people interested in and knowledgeable about personal finance. It also hires external experts for some content; this approach comes with the added advantage that external experts often have their own audiences and can amplify the reach and credibility of Ratehub’s content. For early- stage companies, hiring freelancers to develop content can be a pretty cost-effective strategy.
Show your customers you value them. Your customers need to believe your company has an active interest in their success. One way to demonstrate this is to respond to every single online review you get—whether it’s positive or not, regardless of your ability to resolve the issue. Customers value the engagement and feeling heard.
Figure out marketing return on investment. It’s tricky to get a clear sense of which marketing efforts add value. Simple engagement surveys that include questions on where customers heard about Ratehub have been effective. If you have a large budget, you can pay for custom audience research. If you don’t, you can pay for panel-based audience research, which won’t give the same depth but will give you clues as to whether you’re on the right path.