Mint is a personal finance application that lets users effectively monitor and manage their financials in one place, even if they lack accounting knowledge. Launched in 2007, Mint quickly became the catchword for financial planning. Two years after it was launched, in 2009, about a million people were already using Mint, with a few thousand users joining them every day.
In November 2009, Intuit acquired Mint for $170 million! As of today, Mint is used by over 20 million people.
Mint’s mantra for success was founded on two things:
A. A great product
- Think differently: While most start-ups concentrate on getting their product/service out into the market as soon as they can, Mint’s founder, Aaron Patzer, took a different route to market. Patzer did deep research on the product, took extensive surveys on what would make people use/not use it, and incorporated all the feedback into making the product more viable. For example, through his surveys, he discovered that security of their financial data was a matter of great concern to most of his responders. Patzer used this insight into displaying the ‘Bank-level Security’ feature prominently on the Mint website. It paid off. Not just customers, but investors too felt better with the security assurance.
- Offer what your competitors don’t: Mint was NOT the first personal finance app in the market. But it capitalized on what competitors such as Quicken and Microsoft Money lacked.
Let’s take a look at the strategy Mint employed that enabled their product to woo millions using some simple yet brilliant techniques. Their digital marketing strategy was based on providing high-quality content to users and then letting it speak for itself and spread by word of mouth.
B. A great marketing strategy
- Content Marketing – Blogging: Mint started a blog on personal finance with interesting features such as:
- Disasters in personal finance
- Personal finance stories of Mint employees
- Personal finance preferences of different professionals
- Guest entries by personal finance bloggers
As the readership for the blog built up quickly, Mint introduced a ‘Pre-order Mint App’ feature on their blog page, where readers could leave their email ids to be notified when the app was launched. About 30,000 readers signed up to be added to this ‘beta list’. Of these, special VIP access to the app was promised to those who embedded an ‘I want Mint’ badge on their websites/blog pages. Once the app was launched, the 600 bloggers who displayed the badge got special access to the app.
However, what Mint got out of it was much more precious: there were 600 blogs advertising Mint for free! Plus the SEO ranking shot up due to the number of links pointing to Mint.
- Content Marketing – Infographics: The use of infographics to educate a wide target range of audience was another successful tool in Mint’s marketing toolbox. The well crafted infographics were especially popular on Reddit. The trick was to make the content so useful and interesting that readers couldn’t help sharing it.
- Landing Pages: Mint created many iterations of landing pages corresponding to different keywords to elucidate what Mint could do for the user, and why he/she should sign up. Thelarge number of landing pages helped in SEO as well as helped to generate significant numbers of new sign-ups because of their effective messaging.
- Public Relations: In addition to the extensive and well thought-out content marketing approach, Patzer also took to tried-and-tested PR by doing press tours and giving interviews extensively (almost one week every other month) promoting and familiarising Mint to the target audience. This tactic was wildly successful, resulting in as many as 20,000 new sign-ons in a day and a 255% increase in coverage.
- SEO: Appearing on the first few ranks of a Google search is one of the best ways of winning the trust of a potential customer. Therefore, Mint focused on high SEO to rank higher on Google searches.
As mentioned earlier, the Mint blog contributed heavily to the SEO. Another SEO magnet was a feature called Mint Answers (similar to Yahoo Answers, or Quora), which had a panel of experts answering the readers’ questions, in addition to Mint’s own financial app specialists.
- Keyword Optimization: By optimizing keywords and even using competitors’ keywords for SEM, Mint maximized the keyword ranking, pulling in thousands of visitors to the website in a month.
- Social Media: Mint engaged followers and visitors on social media channels Facebook and Twitter effectively by having productive discussions with them, organizing giveaways, and basically talking about everything finance. With this, Mint became the ‘go-to’ place for all things related to finance. In other words, Mint firmly established itself as an authority on personal financial planning.
Moral of the Story: The runaway success of Mint.com is often cited as an example of good marketing. However, it is much more than that: Mint’s exemplary success story is a perfect case of combining thoughtful strategy, high quality content, aggressive PR and a determined approach to gaining the trust of one’s customers.