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From time spent to revenues generated, metrics for finance apps don’t just break records. They also cement the central position of finance apps in consumers’ lives. Frequent app use and increased trust are intertwined. It follows that increased consumer dependency on fintech and insurtech apps for assistance and advice at every step of the journey presents marketers with an unparalleled opportunity to engage customers primed to act.


But turning interested users into loyal customers doesn’t only demand marketers to target communications to inform users. They must also get granular with their segmentation strategies and map multiple journeys to reinforce positive savings and investment behaviors.

Marketers also need guidance to reimagine the customer journey map and optimize opportunities to change financial behavior – and engagement metrics – for the better. With this in mind, our CEO Sunil Thomas wrote The Rethink Fintech Playbook 2021, a  companion resource as you evolve strategies and expand your toolbox to drive deep-funnel engagement and lasting retention.

Retention is the prize. But some finance app marketers don’t just achieve impressive retention rates. They set new benchmarks.

This is the case with Acorns, which stands out as the first company worldwide to offer micro-investing, allowing members to round up purchases and automatically invest the change in a diversified portfolio. Acorns counts more than 4 million subscribers on its platform who have saved and invested over $9.6 billion. And these subscribers stick around for the long term. Acorns reports nearly 99% retention – solid numbers that position them to achieve another milestone: doubling its numbers to reach 10 million subscribers by 2025.

It’s an ambitious goal that will undoubtedly get a massive boost from marketing and messaging that “simplifies investing and rewards positive, long term behaviors,” according to Noah Kerner, CEO of Acorns. Pursuing this – and fulfilling Acorns’ mission to bring financial literacy to the mainstream requires expert execution and a deep understanding of what it takes to help subscribers on their journey. This includes badges, push notifications, nudges, and other approaches that activate and motivate members to pick and stay the course.

Much of the work – and a lot of the credit – for orchestrating the strategy to establish Acorns as a one-stop shop for savings and investment rests with James Moorhead, Acorns’ CMO. Named by Adweek Grand Marketer of the Year for leading the iconic Old Spice “Smell like a man, man” advertising campaign, Moorhead has a proven record of scaling businesses and catering to customers. Prior to joining Acorns, Moorhead served as the CMO of the satellite television giant Dish Network, where he helped increase the market capitalization by 3X from $10 billion to $30 billion. Before that, he scaled the car insurance start-up Metromile from $1.5 million in revenue to $100 million in 3 years.

In this episode of CleverTap Engage — our podcast and video interview series where we shine a light on marketing leaders achieving meaningful and memorable customer engagement — co-hosts Peggy Anne Salz and John Koetsier sit down with Moorhead to talk about the role of education and gamification in advertising, He also discusses the cornerstone role of segmentation in a successful retention strategy and the importance of building a long-term relationship with subscribers.

Key Takeaways

Marketing is Customer Education

Acorns is about helping subscribers achieve their personal goals through adopting the right behaviors that achieve long-lasting benefits. “ has been built for the masses,” Moorhead says. It’s an attractive offer, but many coming to the platform are new to investing and uncertain about taking those first steps.

“Our biggest challenge or biggest hurdle with consumers is quite frankly, inertia,” he explains. That’s where customer education combines with advertising to build confidence and engagement. “Our marketing is about education and nurturing a consumer to believe that they can [achieve their goals].” In this scenario, he adds, marketing becomes the empowering first step that helps consumers act and set themselves and their families for a more secure financial future.

Phenomenal Retention Rates Start with Amazing Value Exchange

Reaching nearly 99% retention is phenomenal. But the real feat comes when a company can maintain these levels. Acorns does both thanks to a sharp focus on defining meaningful milestones along the entire customer journey — milestones that reinforce positive behaviors and encourage commitment.

It’s all about “making sure we touch them when they have these behaviors or get to those hurdles,” Moorhead explains. And these nudges, badges and prizes are never a one-off. Acorns continues to motivate subscribers with the help of gamification and personalization so that they demonstrate those behaviors over time and across more products.

Let Your Customers Lead 

Personalization starts with segmentation. Their approach wasn’t set in stone. The company purposely “let segmentation be led by the customer and what we’ve learned about the consumer over time,” Moorhead says. That allows the company to develop the customer journey, and it informs the creative and messaging strategies that equip them to deliver the right marketing to the right consumer.

There is value in relevant marketing that customers appreciate, which is why Acorns also orchestrates its suite of CRM tools, from email to in-app notifications “based on our segmentation of a series of … nurturing engagements for consumers,” he explains. “Some people prefer text messaging versus in-app messaging versus… And so, we’re continuing to evolve and increase level of personalization so that we can serve people how they want to be served.”

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