FinTech (Financial Technology) is one of the hottest sectors in the technology field. In fact, FinTech set a record for venture capital funding in 2018, with almost $40 billion raised in 12 months. That frenzy of activity helped create nearly 40 VC-backed FinTech unicorns, or companies worth at least $1 billion each, by the first quarter of 2019.

How does a start-up experience the hyper-growth that turns it from a foal gingerly making its way down a path to a gleaming unicorn galloping through the forest? There are plenty of factors driving that kind of success, but one undeniable element is the use of triggered and transactional emails to accelerate user growth.

Another reason to craft a strong email strategy is the fact that email marketing also yields strong ROI of 42:1 on average, according to Litmus’ 2019 State of Email Survey. That ROI increases with user growth, too: companies with at least 500,000 email subscribers see 44:1 ROI, and at the 10 million-plus mark, ROI hits 46:1.

And don’t forget that triggered and transactional emails are a great way to create and nurture customer relationships, as well as build trust, which is crucial when people expect a business to safeguard some of their most sensitive personal information.

  • Triggered emails alert customers to events, such as suspicious log-in attempts, upcoming due dates for bills and other payments, and monthly reports.
  • Transactional emails are sent in response to customers’ actions, such as bill payments, deposits, new account creation, and password resets.

Here are 4 examples of the ways current FinTech unicorns are using triggered and transactional emails to help drive their growth.

1. Welcome new customers to your merry band

Robinhood has reached a $5.3 billion valuation on the strength of its commission-free stock trading app, which is popular among customers who view old school brokerages as stodgy businesses. It may seem obvious, but one trick Robinhood has used to help it reach more than 6 million users is to acknowledge them when they sign up.

The first onboarding email they send is simple, which is the best way to handle such messaging. You don’t want to inundate new customers with upsells, cross-sells, and other promotional material.

You want to let them know their account is ready to go and give them the basic information they need to get started, which in this case includes links to the mobile apps. Robinhood also adds a couple of sentences about setting up a Trusted Contact Person, which is presumably a key part of their user accounts since no one wants to leave their loved ones without a way to access their financials.

Robinhood also includes social media buttons that are integrated into the layout, rather than standing out in an obviously promotional way. In addition, the entire email maintains the company’s official color scheme, which is a key part of brand identity. They close with the required regulatory disclosures, which are unavoidable, and an unsubscribe link.

2. Celebrate customers’ purchases

Many people are still trying to figure out how cryptocurrency will fit into our daily lives, but Coinbase has successfully navigated that space to become a major wallet provider and exchange. They’re valued at $8 billion, or 8 shiny unicorns.

The transactional email they send in response to a purchase matches their bright position in the market, starting with a sparkly congratulatory GIF that strikes the right celebratory tone. The checkmark, a key element of behavioral science, tells the user, “Great job! You just accomplished a task.”

The rest of the email spells out the specifics of the transaction, which are important for countering fraud, and includes a CTA (call-to-action) nudge to set up a recurring buy. It’s okay to do that in this kind of email, since it can turn a one-time or part-time customer into a regular one. The “Learn more here” link goes to a Coinbase blog post that offers helpful insight into why someone might want to set up a recurring buy.

3. Keep account change emails simple

When people make changes to their accounts, you want to take a “Just the facts” approach and give them nothing more than what they need in the email, which should be sent as soon as possible. This is crucial to helping mitigate fraud.

That’s the approach taken in this email from Credit Karma, a $4 billion unicorn that wants to make financial planning easier for everyone. This change of password notification lets the user know what happened and gives them a direct line to the support team in case a bad actor accessed the account.

There’s no need for splashy GIFs, cheeky language, upsells, or cross-sells here. Any of those things will likely irritate the user and potentially erode customer trust.

4. Open the communication line when customers make major decisions

Sending money to a friend to pay for part of a dinner is one thing. Making investment decisions is another. Even closing an account that contains sensitive personal information can be a nerve-wracking experience for customers. They want their request handled quickly and efficiently, and you have to balance the need for security and adherence to financial regulations.

Social payments and investments are both part of the business model at Circle, which is currently valued at $3 billion. It offers two apps, Circle Pay and Circle Invest, for customers in those sectors.

Circle makes it fairly easy to set up an account, but closing one requires sending them a message (users can do so from the app) that triggers the two emails shown below. They do a good job of managing customers’ expectations while giving the company time to ensure that the request isn’t fraudulent.

Like other emails of this type, they wisely leave out promotional messaging. They also refrain from saying things like “Are you sure?” No one wants a company begging them to reconsider when they’ve decided to close their account. Yes, you should have a strategy in place for winning back users, but those emails should be saved for later.

The first email, received immediately after a request to close an account, lets the user know that the support staff is aware and a ticket number has been generated. The decision to include the text of the message that the user sent, along with a date and time stamp and information about the app and device used, helps protect against fraud.

Letting the user reply to the email gives them a chance to add more information to the support request, which is handy in case they forgot something. This is the kind of situation where they don’t want to wait for a response from the support team before they can offer additional crucial details.

The second email, which was received right after the first one, gives the customer a quick follow-up to reassure them that a review is underway. It also sets expectations: It might take a couple of business days to complete the review, a caveat that gives Circle some wiggle room in case fraud is involved.

The link on the support ticket number lets the user click or tap to see the customer support conversation on Circle’s web site. It’s a second chance to add more information to the conversation while the company is initiating a review.

~ Casey