As any entrepreneur will tell you, running a business for almost a decade pushes you to embrace major strategic shifts, particularly as the business enters new stages of growth. As CEO of Ratehub.ca, that’s been true of my experience – scaling our business over the last decade has led us to think differently and to evolve our marketing strategy.
When my co-founders and I launched Ratehub.ca in 2010, our goal was to help Canadians get connected to the best mortgage rates available on the market. Today, we’ve expanded our offerings into other financial products, and now help more than 8 million Canadian consumers find the best mortgage rates, credit cards, investing products, and insurance each year.
In the early days of the business, we invested heavily in more B2C-focused strategies such as SEO, SEM, and earned media to help us reach as many Canadian consumers as possible. However, as we continued to grow at an incredible pace, we realized we needed to partner more closely with the other major group using our platform – financial institutions, our B2B clients. As our company matures, we’ve had to flex our B2B muscles and develop strategies to get in front of this important audience.
While we’re still focused on helping Canadian consumers find the best financial products for their needs, we realized that in order to scale, we’d have to strengthen our relationship with our paying customers. If we moved from being an advertising partner to a trusted partner which could help improve their client acquisition strategies, everyone wins.
Here’s how we pivoted from focusing solely on B2C marketing strategies to growing a B2B strategy – and how your business can do the same.
Create content your B2B customers will care about
When we started thinking about how to better connect with our B2B customers, our first question was how we could add value for them. We decided to develop a quarterly newsletter sharing trends we’re seeing in personal finance, insights on consumers’ preferences when shopping for financial products, and most importantly, proprietary, anonymized data on user behaviour on Ratehub.ca.
For example, for our B2B clients in the insurance industry, we aim to share anonymized data about consumers who visit Ratehub.ca to get home insurance quotes. The data would show what triggers our users to click on a specific insurance rate, the overall likelihood of conversion, and whether users typically continue elsewhere on Ratehub.ca to look and compare other financial products in addition to home insurance. The data also provides some benchmarking for industry pricing, helping our clients see where they stand in relation to each other and encouraging them to make their offerings more attractive.
As another example, we recently conducted a survey that found most Canadians weren’t switching their primary chequing account, despite the fact that many are still paying monthly fees that could easily be avoided. The exception was among the millennial generation, which was more likely to jump ship to another financial institution if they were incentivized enough to do so.
By providing our B2B clients with user-focused information, we aim to shed light on what appeals to consumers. We also want to make that information actionable for financial institutions, allowing them to better connect with today’s consumers by offering them the products they really want.
When you’re building out your B2B marketing strategy, providing value for your clients is key to gaining their trust. Whether you’re building out a new consumer-facing platform or working solely with B2B customers, any valuable insights you can share with your clients to help ensure their success will only strengthen your partnership.
Be part of your B2B customers’ community – or help them build one
When we started collaborating more often with our B2B customers, we knew we needed to get in front of them to showcase our value. That meant attending industry events, sponsoring booths at tradeshows, booking speaking engagements, and networking.
However, we thought there had to be other ways to make ourselves helpful. That’s when we hit upon building more of a community for B2B customers. We knew there was a lot of wisdom to be shared amongst our group of clients and partners, and we felt we could provide guidance based on our expertise in acquiring customers digitally.
We started by hosting a “Lunch and Learn” to educate business members of the personal finance community on what Ratehub.ca is and the types of consumers we typically serve. We engaged the attendees in an open discussion about how they create and market products to gather more consumer insights from their side. But even more importantly, we gave them the space to gather and informally share what’s been working for them and what hasn’t – making this not only a great place to get feedback, but also for them to build relationships with each other.
If your B2B customers don’t already have dedicated spaces or industry events, it’s an opportunity for you to step up and bring your business community together. It doesn’t even have to be extremely formal or large-scale – just providing the space for people to collaborate is a great start. This will help you to connect with the key players within your industry, while also giving you room to learn about their opportunities, challenges, and pain points.
Act as a trusted partner for your B2B customers
While we’ve become a trusted marketplace for Canadian consumers, we also wanted to raise our profile among the banks, credit unions, and lenders that provide financial products. Our vision was to become more of an active partner to these financial institutions, instead of being simply perceived as an additional customer acquisition cost.
It’s still early in the execution of our evolving B2B strategy, but we’ve learned how important it is to advise our partners on how to do the right thing for the consumer – even if it seems counterintuitive to their advertising or sponsorship goals on our site.
For example, on our site, a consumer may use a tool like the mortgage affordability calculator, which will help them select a product from our mortgage rate comparison tables. In terms of lead acquisition, we can put one of our mortgage partners in the best position to convert via a paid rate placement sponsorship on the mortgage rate comparison tables, but ultimately, we can’t help them close the deal for an unwanted product. By sharing learnings from our various business units, we can collaborate with our partners to help them develop products consumers actually want, as well as advising them on how to optimize their conversion funnels. At the end of the day, if they’re successful generating business via Ratehub.ca, it only helps to further our success.
Educating your B2B clients should be a top priority. If they’re building products that your user base wants, then your B2C business will continue to grow. It’s a two-way street. By sharing valuable data and creating healthy relationships, you can create a successful B2B strategy that will complement your B2C goals.