We heard a great deal about TikTok as a growing channel to acquire customers. As we target Belgian millennials and Gen-Z through our app, it seemed like a good fit for Curvo to be on the fast growing social network.
So we decided to run a TikTok campaign by creating and publishing 30 videos over the space of 6 weeks. We had high hopes for it, based on the anecdotes we heard of accounts growing their following super quickly. As a fintech startup with limited resources, how did we actually fare?
Why TikTok for a fintech brand
The goals of the campaign were to:
- learn how TikTok works: the intricacies, discover what works as a video format…
- reach our persona of 20 to 35-year-old Belgians
- get a new style of educational, trend and fun videos under Curvo's brand
- see if we can generate customers organically through TikTok
As neither of the founders are TikTok users, we were fortunate to receive the help of Curvo member Charlotte to help us create and distribute the videos.
Defining the content of the videos
Our mission at Curvo is to solve the pension crisis for our generation through the power of index investing. Our primary hook was: “You want to start investing but you don’t know where to start? This is for you”.
This resulted in us mixing content on the basics of investing, such as:
- “What is passive investing?”
- “What's an ETF?”
- “What's inflation?”
We knew that it's unlikely viewers would download the app and become customers from the first TikTok video they see. So many of the initial videos were posted to build a relationship with our viewers. The goal was to turn our viewers into followers of the Curvo TikTok account, and convert them later on to download the app.
Through this process, we also posted a variety of videos that were more entertaining. Using Charlotte’s knowledge of the app, we mixed and matched a few of these videos. We also mixed in some “trend” videos, where we remixed viral TikTok videos by using financial literacy as the main driver.
Our most popular video was this “trend” video, which got 13,900 views and 713 likes:
Did we grow in followers?
In the 6 weeks of the campaign, we grew from 0 followers to 78. It doesn't seem like much but it's still significant as we started from scratch and there’s no easy way to gain followers on TikTok except through virality.
How many views did we get?
We managed to garner 22,793 views and 1,022 likes. These numbers are meaningless though unless some of the views resulted in visits to our website or app downloads. Unfortunately we did not see an increase in website visits when a TikTok video got traction. We quickly learned that our videos were not a good conversion medium.
How many customers did we get from TikTok?
None. We learned the hard way that generating customers from a TikTok video is very difficult and we couldn’t figure out a formula that works with our campaign.
TikTok does not allow you to put a link to your website in your profile unless you have 1,000 followers or more. This made the conversion funnel very long:
- The viewer watches a 15-second video
- They then have to visit the curvo.eu profile
- Then they need to either type "curvo" in the app store to download the app, or Google for "curvo" to get to our website.
Also, we weren't directly "selling" Curvo. We were providing educational personal finance content and it may take a while for a potential customer to understand the full value for investing their savings.
We learned that it’s not easy to "game" the TikTok algorithm. It's really challenging to create trendy content that resonates and goes viral. I can see why the persona of GenZ and young millennials is difficult to reach for companies.
However, we did show that Curvo isn't a stuffy company trying to sell you old-fashioned investment plans. We have a different approach and we're attempting a new distribution channel. Yep, it didn't result in an increase in signups, but it has helped our image with the younger millennial customers of Curvo. We're now also on a platform where few in the Belgian finance industry are present.
Like with most fintech companies, educating your target audience takes a lot of work. We have to hit so many potential customers who are unaware of the problem and that we have to convince.
Can we really convince them through a short-form video? We haven’t (yet) found that winning formula.
Success or failure?
We’re torn. As founders, it’s easy to stay in your lane and focus your execution on the growth channels you know best. We learned from using a new app where a segment of our persona hangs out. Through the campaign, we also realised how difficult it is to be successful on these apps with a business account and starting from scratch with no promotion budget.
On aggregate, our TikTok videos got many views. But eyeballs are a vanity metric. The hard metric is that the videos didn't result in any new customers. We're still in the early stages of Curvo's growth and it's important to prioritise. So perhaps it’s best to focus on other channels that have a better return on investment.
We also realised that we need to focus on the mediums that we’re most comfortable with. We won't make it by trying to be trendy on social media because that's not who we are as founders. That's why we had to seek out Charlotte's help. Maybe that was an indication that TikTok wasn't the right channel for us this early in our growth trajectory.
Like other mediums where we're successful with our content, we learned that personal branding works best. It’s worked well for us on Linkedin, through our personal communication (our high-touch points on the app), in newsletters, YouTube, written articles... personal stories are shared the most. It's a difficult balance as you want to grow the Curvo brand but at this stage, personal stories seem to work better. With hindsight, perhaps we should have created personal accounts on TikTok and produced content in French and Dutch.
Finally, we learned we need to continue narrowing down our persona some more. We need to better figure out a long-term strategy to educate the market that index investing is the way forward. If we niche down to the 25-year-old professional, would content about investing your first paycheck be interesting? Or how about a tool to determine your saving rate as your career progresses? There are lots of ideas where we can take our content but we’re not sure TikTok is the right medium for us at this stage to deliver it.
How do you use TikTok with your brand? Do you have any insights for us on what we could do to improve our future campaigns?
Thanks to Isabel Senden from Accountable who inspired us to dig deeper into the world of TikTok as a brand. And of course Charlotte Oloton who helped us set up the campaign and craft all the videos.