Finimize's Carl Hazeley: Start with making the best product imaginable

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With so much negative coverage of publishing, we at Bibblio are shining a spotlight on the many vertical publishers that are thriving. Welcome to the "Vertical Heroes" series of interviews.

In this edition, Finimize's VP of Content Carl Hazeley unveils how their B2C publication is empowering users to become their own financial advisor. London-based Finimize provides the information and tools needed for their users to invest with confidence, delivered via newsletter and app respectively. Bibblio CEO Mads Holmen had a chat with Carl about solving problems that resonate with people, Finimize's new iPhone app and the power of tracking Net Promoter Score.

Mads: Who is Finimize's target audience?

Carl: Finimize is aimed at young professionals who have savings but don’t know where to invest. That said, our community includes people as young as university students and as old as

M: What different types of content are you offering these mainly young professionals?

C: We have a daily email newsletter that provides easy-to-understand, jargon-free analysis of
the day’s two biggest financial news stories – and explains how these stories impact you and
your investments.

Carl Hazeley, VP of Content at Finimize
Carl Hazeley, VP of Content at Finimize

Our iPhone app helps users continue their journey with targeted educational Packs tackling topics ranging from the basics of investing and portfolio construction through to complex topics like currency and options trading. App users can also access additional premium news content.

Furthermore, Finimize supports its users’ saving, investing, and learning goals with access to a community of like-minded individuals who are on similar financial journeys.

M: How large is Finimize in terms of audience and staff?

C: We have a global community of over 400,000 Finimizers, which was built in under three years. We have a team of over 20 based in London.

M: You’ve managed to grow impressively, what has been the secret sauce?

C: It all starts with the product: you’ve got to build the best product imaginable. Don’t benchmark against anyone already out there; rip up the rule-book and start afresh. The way we’ve aimed to do this is by solving the very tangible problem our founder had: not understanding how the goings-on in financial markets affected him or what he could do about it.

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If you’re able to solve a problem that resonates with people, they tend to tell others about it – so making sharing as easy and rewarding as possible has helped us to grow too.

M: How do you prioritize attracting new audiences vs. engaging existing users deeper?

C: Both are very important. We’ve spent a lot of time refining our referral program to help our advocates share Finimize as easily as possible – and give them perks they care about for so doing. We’ve also built a highly curated network of partners which expand our audience and add engaged new users to our community.

Finimize's personal finance app
Finimize's personal finance app

Users engage most when they continue their journey from awareness about finance to understanding how they can use that knowledge to actually improve their lives via the Finimize app – where they also benefit from access to a community of like-minded people who’re learning how to make smarter financial decisions with them.

M: How are you retaining your audiences? Turning your visitors into regulars and then fans!

The Millennial Financial Roundtable in Ghana
The Millennial Financial Roundtable in Ghana

C: Finimize hosts regular events that tackle finance topics in an interesting way – from crowdfunding to ethical investing. And our community takes this a step further: they organize their own meetups and events all over the world.

In 2019 alone, self-starting Finimizers have hosted events in Sydney, Accra in Ghana, Bali, and Los Angeles. And there are hundreds more people lining up to organize events under the Finimize banner. The connection they have with our mission and each other is the secret to strong retention.

M: What are the key audience metrics Finimize defines success by?

C: There are several ways to skin this particular cat. User numbers, engagement – as measured by daily or weekly active app users, or email open rates are all hugely valuable and important metrics.

But I’m of the view that Net Promoter Scores capture all this and more – and, therefore, as a single key metric, is worth focusing on. An audience that’s happy to promote you to others is typically one with high regular engagement with your product. And if you focus on turning detractors into passive consumers of your product, and passives into promoters, you should find yourself tackling the root causes that may be limiting other metrics.

M: What’s Finimize's social media strategy?

C: It’s important to be wherever your users are, and that’s increasingly on social media. There, we focus on making finance accessible by breaking down the historic intimidating walls around the industry. Just as we do in the newsletter, we talk in everyday language about relevant financial topics. Referencing pop culture and memes helps build fun and engaging conversations with our community. We meet our users on whichever platform they prefer to talk on, whenever that is.

M: Do you work together with other publications in your vertical?

C: Yes, we’ve teamed up with a handful of high quality, like-minded publications like Quartz, CB Insights, and Investopedia. We’ve found it valuable to promote one another to our respective audiences since we know they’re likely to be interested in related content we provide – and vice versa. Both end up with new, highly-engaged and relevant additions to our communities.

M: Would you describe your business as data-driven?

C: We’re focused on data for sure – and use it to help make and support our decisions. But we also listen to our gut instincts and think that it’s a great differentiator. Of course, that means we get things wrong sometimes if the data doesn’t soon back us up – but it allows us to come up with new and exciting innovations that data alone may never have pointed us toward.

One of Finimize’s mantras is “eat your own dog food” and we live by it: even if data suggests something, if it doesn’t sound like something we’d want to see in our product as users, we tend to conclude others won’t want it either, so won’t pursue it.

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M: Could you shed a bit of light on your revenue model?

C: We partner with financial institutions such as Investec and the Bank of England to produce co-branded educational Packs – and use these as a lever for building their brand awareness via sponsored features in our newsletter and app. Users pay monthly or annual subscriptions to unlock all the Packs and premium news content within the Finimize app.

M: What’s the area you’re most excited about?

C: We’re really excited about the Finimize iPhone app. It was featured twice by Apple as one of its top apps in its first six months – and was voted a top-3 fintech of 2018 by the Product Hunt community. The Finimize app contains specialist markets news, expert-led discussion groups, and 50+ guides to investment topics available in text or audio format – with more added every week. It’s everything you need to make informed investment decisions.

M: Why do you think your model has been successful?

C: I think it has to start with the product – we’ve tried to make the best product imaginable for our users and we keep our focus squarely on using it to enlighten and delight them. Finimize is aiming to solve a real problem on several levels: on a personal level, we’re giving people the tools to become their own financial advisors and thereby increase the net worth of our generation – and the bigger picture is that we’re improving people’s financial literacy, which is one of the world’s biggest challenges. We feel that mission resonates strongly with people and that’s been a major contributor to our success.

M: Getting people to love their finances is key then?

C: Absolutely! 80% of people that refer Finimize use the word “love” in the message they send to their friends and family, and I think that's fantastic.

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In this ecosystem, quality journalism cannot thrive, replaced instead by sensationalist content and filter-bubbled fake news. The experience for users is jumbled and distracting, putting customer loyalty at serious risk.

Help is at hand

Bibblio's discovery platform lets publishers increase engagement, build loyalty and improve how they monetize. Our AI understands the context of each content item, recommending it at the right place and time, recirculating the publisher's content and personalizing their audience's experiences across any touchpoint.

Using either light-touch self-serve tools or running deeper integrations with support from Bibblio's engineers, these successful publishers have found smarter ways to deliver value through their sites, gain a better understanding of their audience and return their focus to quality editorial.

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