Few will argue with the fact that marketers in the field of online retail brokerages, be they forex, CFD or crypto, have a truly big challenge in their hands when trying to effectively market their firm’s offering to prospective clients.
The level of difficulty is high and it is rendered even higher due to two very distinct characteristics of the online forex landscape. The first stems from the sheer size and volume of the global forex trading market, which is worth almost 2 quadrillion USD and daily records massive trading volumes. This fact makes the industry very attractive and fast-growing, but also fiercely competitive.
The second characteristic which poses a significant challenge for marketers, is that this market is relatively young in itself, while the makeup of traders is young too, since according to relevant statistics, the majority of today’s traders are millennials, with a mere 15% over the age of 45. This means they are very demanding as a crowd, hard to please and in-the-know, so gaining mindshare and achieving customer acquisition, as well as customer retainment, is much harder in this industry compared to any other.
Today’s post is dedicated to exploring in depth what is needed to run a successful brokerage, what sorts of challenges brokerage marketers are faced with and what ways are available for them to overcome those challenges and achieve brokerage success.
As already pointed out, achieving visibility and attracting active traders is rendered much more difficult in this industry simply because there are literally thousands of brokerages and trading platforms offering forex, CFD and crypto trading services. These providers are effectively putting forward a very similar offering and are fishing in what is essentially, largely the same pool for prospective clients. Devising smart products, offering fair commissions and boasting a good reputation are evident challenges, but the most crucial factor to address for marketers is the effective tackling of all obstacles that drive down the conversion rate and number of active traders.
Let us explore further, the top three obstacles that must be overcome:
Unfortunately for crypto and forex marketers many ad networks and social platforms impose restrictions on the advertising of forex and crypto brokerages and products, thus rendering the reaching of customers all the more difficult. In fact, there are several ad networks that completely disallow the delivery of forex and crypto campaigns, while those that do allow them do so under very strict rules and requirements. The latter stipulate that all such ads must contain specific disclaimers and also include clear terms and conditions. Potential customers searching for the best forex broker which they can access the forex market though, are likely to be scared off due to such scary warnings, while actually creating ads that are appealing to the eye is almost impossible due to the visual clatter created by such obligatory references.
Against this backdrop, successfully navigating the fiercely competitive online trading landscape and managing to find potential clients may indeed appear similar a task to searching for a needle in a haystack. However, instead of despairing or giving up, here’s a few smart strategies that you could adopt, since they are used by marketers in the forex and crypto field and have proven helpful in driving traffic, targeting the intended audiences and ultimately boosting client conversions:
The target audience for forex and crypto marketers is diverse and complex and prospective client/traders are dispersed worthwhile. Asia can boast the highest number of traders, but similar numbers are recorded in North America and Europe, while substantial numbers can also be found in the Middle East and Africa, which probably holds the most potential for expansion. A breakdown by country also paints a similar picture.
What this fact means for marketers then is that they should craft campaigns that are localized per country, as this is the best method to achieve maximum exposure and prove their relevance for the situation in each different location. Localization is a very powerful tool in terms of digital marketing, and we have covered its usage in potential in several posts in the past. If you want to find out more check out some of our insights here how to outrank your competitors with local seo
When planning a country specific campaign for forex or crypto remember that localizing your content and visuals to better target a country-specific audience, does not merely entail a linguistic localization, i.e. translating a generic message across the board, but also adjusting the content to take into account the specific cultural, societal and other norms and values prevailing in each country.
In the case of traffic acquisition, the aim is to drive qualified and relevant audiences to a specific website or landing page. To ensure the traffic driven is indeed qualified and has a higher chance of converting, it is wise to target new and broader audiences, using similar campaigns that have worked in the past, based on the emerging behavioural patterns of customers who have moved on to making their first time deposit (FTD).
On the other hand, direct conversions are all about retargeting, in a focused manner, audiences that are already engaged one way or another, with the aim of pushing them further in the funnel stages and achieving their conversion or retention. In this case then, the retargeting should take a different form, depending on which funnel stage each prospective client is at. Mere site previous may be enticed through ads, educational material downloads, newsletter registrations and other means that push them into becoming actionable leads.
Leads with some kind of interaction that appear to be warmer could be drawn further into the funnel and convinced to register through demo accounts, or specially designed webinars offered for free, while those who have registered but have not yet placed their FTD may be further incentivized to deposit through special offers and bonuses. Finally, already converted customers should be targeted since in their case the aim is to achieve their retention. This can be achieved through loyalty campaigns that reward existing customers for their preference through exclusive promotions, offers and discounts.
No matter how well-versed and tough a marketer you may be, effectively and efficiently navigating the forex and crypto industries is indeed overwhelming, due to the heightened competition, diversity and dispersion of the target audiences, stingiest regulations and prohibitions when it comes to advertisin
Driving traffic to trading brokerages and platforms, boosting their conversions and bringing in the cash is however, a doable task, if done properly and approached with commitment and creativity. Success in this regard though is closely tied to the overall growth of this industry, and this is the next topic in our discussion.
"During the past decade, the start-business-online.com team has had the privilege to collaborate with several coveted online trading brands, helping our customers grow their annual revenues by more than 600% on average. The success was based on a variety of methods for acquiring new traders – some of which significantly departed from what our associates had prescribed or anticipated in their initial business plans. We remain vigilant and keep our hand on the trigger, ready to jump on every opportunity, while staying committed to the target of improving and boosting channel diversification. The most recent example of how vital this is was the immense popularity gained by social trading, which is rapidly becoming the channel with the strongest contribution to growth. Last but not least, trading platforms being able to gain direct access to GoogleNews, has added a whole new dynamic to how things are played out."
I will not negate Angela’s statement above. What she says is entirely true and while she showcases the expertise of our team she also rightly points out that GoogleNews was indeed a powerful tool in our hands. However, I will dare to propose that besides being a tool, Google, as the world’s most popular search engine, is not necessarily an ally for forex, CFD and crypto brokerages. In fact, by entering a very fierce cost per click war, brokerages drive prices up, and while gains for them are marginal, Google emerges as the great winner.
The same can also be said about Facebook, since many brokerages also seem to be investing heavily in this channel as well in an attempt to attract users through remarketing, using what is effectively more like stalking people on Facebook. Again here gains prove marginal, as such tactics do not go down well with prospective clients, but surely fill up Facebook’s pockets.
Is there a way out of the vicious circle?
Competing against each other for the same keywords and increasing the cost of CPCs and CPAs is clearly detrimental for brokerages, and if they all choose to remain down this lane, this merely creates an inescapable vicious circle. Instead of obliterating each other trying to each grab a bigger piece of the cake, the obvious solution would be to aim to enlarge the size of the cake instead. For this to happen brokerages should strive to proper the industry into further growth and the only viable way to do this is by increasing the search volume.
For the search volume as a total to increase then, what is needed is a concerted effort to increase the exposure of and awareness on the industry, which will result in turn to the generation and attraction of new interest. Perhaps this is the only way for the humongous costs of CPC and CPA, that brokerages are currently called to dish out, to be controlled and lowered.
But what would then be the concrete steps, that if adopted by all brokerages, or at least the vast majority of them, would lead to such increased search volumes and bring about the win-win outcome of industry boosting and growth?
The four ways we think would bring about this much needed result, would be:
Let us now explore each of these further, to better illustrate the proposition:
The one-sentence summary of this proposition is that trading education is a very useful, wise and effective method that brokers could use in order to generate new leads, since as explained above the ultimate target is industry expansion by reaching out to new audiences. Offering education is a proven way to spur the interest of a site visitor and it often guarantees that they will share their contact information with you in exchange for the provision of quality trading education material.
Providing useful and reliable forex and generally trading educational material is of vast importance to newbie, unexperienced, first-time traders, as they are the least confident and would surely want to be educated first, to know how things work and what they are supposed to be doing, before risking their money by depositing it in a real funded account.
Offering education however, also shows prospective traders that you care about maximising their chance for trading success and are taking tangible steps in order to help them out and better equip them to be able to trade successfully. This will be a welcome change even for traders, who have already tried out trading and failed, mostly because the broker they had chosen had done nothing to educate them and guide them through the process. Your own effort and commitment to offer quality trading education materials will add to your credibility and might be enough for a trader to trust you and try trading again even if they have had a bad experience in the past.
Your educational offering should be credible, accurate, current and easy to access and comprehend. Make sure what you put up is neither outdated nor dull. However, merely posting webinars, ebooks, articles and market information is not enough. To be effective you must ensure that such educational materials are adequately promoted on your website, through banners and landing pages. Moreover, exploit all available channels, including social media accounts, since this will bring maximum exposure and visibility and ensure that you will be reaching out to as many prospective clients as possible.
Trading education is not just a valuable tool for the onboarding of new audiences, but also holds great potential towards your client retention efforts. In fact, through offering trading education you can extend a trader’s lifetime both in duration and in value.
A smart way to capitalize on the offered educational materials is to offer all the beginners’ level guides and information for free, while restricting access to the more advanced materials only to those clients who have reached certain thresholds in terms of deposits made and trading volumes achieved, thus incentivising them to remain engaged for longer.
Offering new educational materials at regular intervals and announcing this offering through newsletters or emails, is the smart method to achieve the return of customers who might have lost and few trades and stopped trading due to the frustration. Reminding them of the possibility to get further training and education and fare better next time, while also passing the message that initially failing is normal and to be expected, may be enough to encourage them to catch up on the educational opportunities they have been missing and try their hand again after that.
Since most of those with no previous experience in trading already realize that prior to starting to trade they need to be educated on the matter, many aspiring traders first seek forex education online and then look out for a brokerage. To capitalize on this trend, instead of offering trading education as part of their brokerage site, brokers could set up a dedicated educational entity, which could operate as a standalone channel, but still be under the brokerage brand. Offering quality trading education through such a venue could well work as a luring mechanism for attracting leads, who would then have increased chances of turning into paying customers.
Affiliation in the forex, CFD and crypto industries is a topic we have explored and covered extensively, but which could not be omitted in the scope of the present post as well, since a healthy and strong affiliates network is perhaps one of the most effective ways to gain new audiences and help the overall industry grow and expand.
However, in order not to enter the same loophole and vicious circle as with the Google warzone and CPC and CPA costs, brokerages should not try to grow the affiliate industry through offering higher commissions per conversion, but instead keep affiliation commissions at reasonable levels and instead create more affiliates.
In our popular guide on forex affiliate programs, we highlight the importance of adopting the partnership approach when crafting an affiliate program and instead of merely offering more cash to affiliates, building strong bonds of mutual trust and collaboration, which are bound to yield better win-win outcomes in the long term.
Brokers who are interested in leveraging the immense potential of a strong affiliate marketing program may gain advice and insights by reading our dedicated post on crafting a successful affiliate marketing program, while useful pointers for the development of effective forex partnerships are included in our recent post covering the topic of the top trends for achieving higher profits for brokers and affiliates.
Content marketing is a proven, effective and very powerful method of marketing, especially for online marketing endeavours. It becomes even more crucial and vital in the promotion of a service. Brokerages are promoting a service, since they seek to offer prospective traders a trading account, essentially providing them the means to access the markets. Moreover, as opposed to the one-off transaction of a product, brokers seek to establish a long-term relationship with their clients and retain their preference for the duration of their trading endeavours.
Due to the above, when using content marketing in their mix, brokers need to meet the challenge of consistently and continuously, producing and disseminating content that is interesting, relevant, appealing, accurate and innovative or even unique. Content that meets such high-quality criteria is bound to result both in increased brand awareness, as well as boost the engagement of the desired targeted audiences.
However, a basic principle to adhere to is always producing content that is tailored not only towards the needs of your intended audience, but also to the specifics of the medium you are using to disseminate it. For example, when wanting through your content to extend your outreach and attract more fans to your social pages you should ensure that you post content that your existing followers and fans are likely to appreciate and be willing to share and interact with.
Achieving such sharable content is not an easy task, since certain social media, such as Facebook for example, have set their algorithms to deprioritize content which specifically seeks user engagement. The aim then is to create and disseminate content which fans will naturally want to engage with and share around. An important fact to keep in mind is that visual content has been found to be forty times more likely to get shared on social sites than any other type of content. It should therefore top your list of priorities in terms of content generation, since high quality videos and live streaming are ideal for both business-to-business and business-to-consumer interaction. Besides videos, other content that is likely to get shared includes relevant infographics, funny or uniquely smart GIFs, as well as interactive calendars or schedules of events that are important or specifically related to a location or market niche.
When opting to use content marketing across a variety of channels, which would be the sensible and smart thing to do, another potential loophole is not ensuring a uniformity in the messages put across. You cannot be canvassing or promising one thing in your social media post and a different one on your website. Make sure all information provided is streamlined across all different platforms used to avoid confusion or being viewed as not credible or trustworthy in the eyes of prospective customers.
Another important aspect to factor in when creating your content is that it is imperative that you keep up with the financial markets, no matter how challenging this might be due to their fast pace and rapid changes they keep experiencing. This constant evolution means that your content writing team must be constantly following market developments, while it is also smart to try to be proactive, i.e. write about something before it happens, rather than merely report on what has already occurred.
While content needs to adhere to regulatory and compliant rules so that you keep away from trouble with watchdogs, it is equally important that it is neither irrelevant nor outdated as this will discredit you in the eyes of prospective traders and hinder your conversion efforts. To avoid constantly having to chase deadlines it is also a good idea to create evergreen content and it is not time-sensitive as to when it goes live, provided this type of content is useful, relevant, original and credible.
Another challenge that brokerages have to face with regards to content marketing is the need to be compliant to the strict rules and regulations imposed by industry watchdogs and regulators, while at the same time ensuring that the compliant content produced is not dull and boring but remains interesting and appealing to readers. To keep away from trouble by regulators you need to ensure that your content writers know exactly what is allowed and what is not and concentrate on presenting credible information that is properly and correctly sourced. Moreover, the sharing and dissemination of your content should be done in a clever and unique way that helps best promote the brokerage services offered.
Though the aim is to use content marketing in order to generate new industry and enlarge the industry as a whole, being able to effectively compete with your competitors is still crucial. To do so, the basic prerequisite is knowing who these competitors are and also knowing what they do to generate business for themselves, how they do it and how effective they are. Knowing all these though does not mean you should copy your rivals, instead it is imperative that you develop your own style and approach and highlight and bring forward your unique selling point, what makes you stand out from the rest and gives prospective clients a reason to choose you over them.
If you want to find out more about the importance of the unique selling point (USP), you can read more in our recent article Forex affiliate Program Sercrets as a Case Study for Affiliate Marketers, as well as in our popular post Top Forex Affiliate Program Case Studies Series
A winning content marketing strategy then is one which reflects and promotes your own USP and best serves your own goals as a firm. However, it is important to take into account in your endeavours the budget you have available in order to best allocate and use it, keeping in mind that it would probably be impossible for you and perhaps unwise to try to compete with top, large brokers, who have much more available to spend.
Another great way for brokerages to aiding the enlargement of the pie, i.e. help their industry grow as a whole, is to expand the range of products and services offered and move beyond the mere role of an intermediary that simply facilitates the access to the trading markets for aspiring traders.
In order to do this, brokerages need to create an ecosystem of related and relevant services or products that aim to cover all the possible needs of their prospective as well as their current clients, in an effort to not only satisfy but in fact exceed their expectations, and if possible even anticipate their future needs.
However, such an endeavour is by no means a walk in the park and launching new parallel ventures will require much more than a good plan and a good team to execute it. Though may aspects need to be considered and bear significance, the key barometer is ensuring a healthy revenue model, especially since this made more difficult against the backdrop of high competition, strict regulation and often low volatility, that allows for little leeway. The products and services offered then, need to be both appropriate and viable in the long term.
The revenue model for each new endeavour needs to be clear and understandable not only by shareholders and investors, but also by marketers undertaking to promote it and all stakeholders need to have an accurate and real picture of how customers are acquired, what is their acquisition cost, what would be the realistic revenue expectation from each customer and how long would a customer is expected to remain active, in order words what would be their Life Time Value or LTV.
All this information is necessary, because before launching any new product or service brokerages need to ensure it will be a profitable one. No matter how attractive a product or service is and how effectively and enticingly it is being marketed, this does not suffice to make it successful. Success will only come if, in addition to these, the pricing of the product or service is also viably priced and takes into account the actual, associated customer acquisition costs.
In the field of margin trading, i.e. forex and CFDs, customer acquisition and the related costs are highly influenced by the fact the market is dominated by the MetaTrader4 trading platform. In fact, over 70% of all retail traders are estimated to be using this tried and tested platform, while the remaining 30%, are either trading via its younger sibling, the MetaTrader5, or via other third-party or broker proprietary platforms.
Though we have many times argued in favour of the MT4 platform, the truth is that through it the customer journey is dislocated, meaning that acquisition costs are comparatively higher. In order to reduce such costs and at the same time achieve an increase in their revenues over time, brokers should ensure the efficient on-boarding, servicing and engaging of all customers, primarily through streamlining all processes and systems, both front and back office, as well as effectively integrating all the required technical tools.
Moreover, since the cost of actually acquiring a retail funded account is very often higher than the client’s deposit amount and this is not viable in the long term, every effort should be made to implement an inverse revenue model, which would however require not only a highly engaging platform version, but also a completely frictionless customer journey, as well as the offering of appealing incentives too.
When thinking of expanding their offering, and especially when tackling their pricing and customer acquisition costs, forex and CFD brokerages can also draw useful insights and knowledge by closely examining the paradigms of other similar industries. One such example are crypto companies, which fall under the fintech niche. This type of endeavours requires even more cautious and meticulous planning, since such endeavours often result in massive losses, while they are particularly vulnerable to cybersecurity threats and damage to their reputation, which is often irreparable.
Crypto exchanges are faced with the same challenge as forex and CFD brokerages when it comes to customer acquisition costs, as these are high in this case as well. To offset this, cryptocurrency exchanges often opt to also offer margin crypto products, or take on the role of the liquidity provider rather than the mere role of an exchange. Another way to lower customer acquisition costs would be to create synthetic CFDs that are linked to cryptocurrency prices, while assuming and managing the associated risk in-house.
Another industry brokerages should look into, as an instrumental paradigm, is that of gambling, where customer acquisition costs are significantly lower. Of course the industry dynamics differ significantly to those in retail trading, but parallels exist and trading brokers can capitalize on those and improve their own operations through emulation.
Due to the many prohibitions they are faced with, gambling endeavours have mastered the art of frictionless deposits, high engagement, and optimised internal systems, as these are imperative for their profitability and their scalability, also ensuring that marketing expenditure can yield results and increase revenue and not be counterproductive.
Both margin brokers and fintech endeavours could learn a lot from gambling endeavours, where there is very little margin for error. This is why gaming companies are prime examples of effective customer targeting, display and AdWords methods, landing page strategies and incentive provision.
As the online retail trading industry grows so do the challenges in effectively marketing the offering of its participating brokerages. Changes in the market landscape, increased competition, regulatory pressures and advertising and promotional obstacles and prohibitions make it more imperative than ever for brokers to focus on traditional, stable marketing concepts to manage to not only survive but remain strong and relevant in the duration.
The aim is not to be dependent on any type of third-party advertising and promotional platforms, but be able to fully leverage on the word of mouth of current customers in order to gain new ones. Adopting such a strategy primarily entails knowing your customers and listening carefully to their needs, doing your utmost to adjust your offering to those needs, though the provision of services that are as diverse as they are complete.
In lieu of a conclusion to this article therefore, let us point out certain strategies that will help you generate high quality leads for your brokerage, which you can guide through a comprehensive conversion funnel, ultimately achieving their seamless introduction to the world of online trading, thus achieve the goal set above, to grow your brokerage, while at the same time helping the industry grow as well.
Your existing, loyal client base are a true asset under your belt, since such clients are always eager to know any new product or service you may be launching and you can rely on them to offer you constructive feedback. Moreover, your content and loyal customers are your best ambassadors, those you will be willing to write positive reviews about your brokerage or defend you in public forums if the need arises. In this way and by advocating your case, they can be ideal in bringing in new customers. To further capitalize on this potential, you can reward and encourage their loyalty, while also compensating their referrals through a bonus scheme, either through utilizing existing MT4 functionalities, or by developing and integrating your own commissions scheme.
Expanding your brokerage services with money management models is another method to aid your business growth since such models require the synergy between money managers, i.e. experienced, professional traders and investors, as well as newbies to the trading markets. Readjusting a brokerage’s lead generation campaign to also bring in money managers would be a clever expansion method, especially since most successful money managers have fans and followers of their own as well as their personal promotion channels to attract new investors that you could tap in.
The three main models you should seek to incorporate in your offering are the Percent Allocation Management (PAM) model, which revolves around the distribution of earned profits between investors based on their share in the total portfolio; the Multi-Account Management (MAM) model in which money managers control several trading accounts, where trades will be copied with some difference based on the overall trading strategy; and the Lot Allocation Management Module (LAMM), under which money managers control risks by assigning different amounts of lots to several accounts.
If you would like to find out more and also explore the overall logic behind such programmes read our recent post on copytrading and innovative investment platforms.
Closely tied to the provision of money management services, is also the provision of social trading services, since this would be a very useful addition to your offering as a brokerage. Social trading services enjoy an increasing audience and their popularity over the recent years is indeed impressive and should be enough to convince you not to miss out on a great growth opportunity. We have written extensively on this subject, so if you are a broker that has not yet jumped on this bandwagon and would like a thorough analysis of how your brokerage growth may be aided by social trading services, do check out our comprehensive guide on the matter Social Trading Revolution: Copy Trading Brokers and Investing platforms.
To help navigate around the numerous advertising and promotion bans the industry is faced with and effectively promote any new services your brokerage may be launching, you should ensure that you integrate proven digital marketing practices in your endeavour.
For a detailed account of how you can make this possible, you can explore our post on Forex Digital Marketing strategies and Lead Generation for Forex businesses, which thoroughly examines the variety of methods a brokerage can resort to.
SEO, i.e. Search Engine Optimization should be at the cornerstone of your efforts, especially since search engine algorithm changes mean greater sophistication is needed, coupled with a client-centred approach, in order to achieve high rankings in search results pages. Targeting the right and most appropriate keywords, geared especially for your intended targeting audiences is of course crucial towards this goal. Of equal importance however, are also the clarity and ease of navigation for your users, the testing and adjustment of the calls to action used, the production of unique and original, engaging content to which the targeted keywords are organically added, as well as other SEO aspects such as correct and accurate meta-descriptions and tags.
Another digital marketing aspect that holds great potential, especially in terms of increasing the awareness for your brand and boosting your credibility, leading to the attraction of new trader/customers is the collaboration with trusted, prominent bloggers and other experts, in order to capitalize and leverage on the effectiveness of influencer marketing.
Finally, you should ensure you properly interact with online channels where traders tend to hang out, whether they are forums or social media venues. By actively communicating with existing or prospective customers you will be tangibly showing and proving that you care about them and their views and convince them that you are a transparent and credible partner they should feel comfortable to trust with their money and their custom. To this end you need to employ a monitoring mechanism and ensure you are aware of mentions to your brand, striving to respond to every comment made, irrespective if it is positive or negative. Moreover, as already discussed, sharing your news and your content produced with the online audience in forums and social media is always a great way for obtaining feedback and generating new ideas you could build on.
The experience, expertise, commitment and enthusiasm of our team here at start-business-online, as well as hour impressive track record of successful collaboration in the forex, CFD and crypto online retail industries, means that we are in a unique position to help any company or affiliate operating in these niches. Feel free to contact us for further information, advice or any queries you may have. Moreover, if you are a marketer in any such endeavour and would like to exchange notes and views you can always connect with George milios on LinkedIn, or simply send an email.
Lead Generation & Business Growth Specialist
Helping Companies Scale their Organic Traffic & Conversions over the long-term by implementing strategies that work. In addition, George is an avid cryptocurrency researcher, advisor, investor, and trader.
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