In Conversation with Yeap Ming Feng, Head of Marketing at Seedly
Listen to the full podcast: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1824245/9354233
With information being decentralized, platforms like communities, slack groups and Facebook groups became the go to destinations where people would do research on your products and services. And that’s why you see more and more brands starting to build their own communities or acquire one instead.
Seedly, being the number one online personal finance community in Singapore, I was able to invite their Head of Marketing, Yeap Ming Feng to share a bit with me about his journey in building Seedly’s community and how he acquired app users through organic marketing.
Let’s dive in and see what key learnings I got from our conversation.
So I think my background is a bit different from most of the other startup guys. I was initially from a corporate background doing data analysis with Bloomberg before moving on to become a professional trader in a proprietary trading firm.
I was also very interested in the FinTech space and was observing it when I was still having a full time job. Then I joined a finance website called DollarsandSense and that was how I started picking up interest in content marketing as a whole. Eventually I took a leap of faith jumping into the startup space.
Actually I was doing a few positions when I was at Seedly. I started my internship there then I went on to become the head of growth, then focused on content and eventually became the Head of Marketing of the company.
It’s more an interest I had in this space and I find a lot of similarities between trading and the startup space. You are looking at a lot of technology and the environment is fast paced. And I thought I would probably never do this if I reach to like 40 or 50. So I thought it was about time for me to try something new and do it when I was young.
Yup, the part where we look at chats and really break down the metrics. I think as marketers, that’s something that’s really important. For my team, the data driven approach is definitely something that we appreciate a lot more because especially when you are with a startup, when you have limited runway, I think breaking down everything to the dollar and looking at the results each activity contributes plays a big role.
So exactly like trading and investing, you definitely need to count every dollar, how much it is generating for you and what are the results. Short-term versus long-term one also.
So I think when it comes to that, if you are coming from a really corporate background, most people don’t really know what you are good at. If you look at my degree, it is economics and finance and it is definitely not what people are looking for in terms of marketing.
And with Hong Kong and Singapore being the financial hubs of Asia, you have a secure job at a place like Bloomberg and jumping into a company with four men, that’s definitely not something that everyone would go for. There was definitely a huge risk.
And because I started out with an internship. And during that time, you can look at it as a way to really prove yourself with little cost to the company. You can explore whether this is something that you really want to do. So that’s how I started out as an intern for 6 months at Seedly before I converted.
So I think first off, Seedly started with full on organic marketing. I am a bit concerned when it comes to paid ads. I know paid can drive short term results. But back then, I think the marketing budget can be used better elsewhere in terms of generating content that has a higher sustainability and allows me to constantly generate results over the long run with that.
This was the reason why Seedly first doubled down on content marketing and then focusing on SEO. I know that people feel that content marketing is such a long term strategy game. In my opinion, that can be changed with a combination of short-term vs long-term content strategy.
So to give you a great example, Seedly was growing our personal finance app. If you were to adopt a different approach by using paid marketing or KOL marketing, but ultimately if the general population feels that if this is not something that they see values in, they will just download and drop off even though it is a good app.
This points us to a different direction of thinking: how do we actually start warming up everyone to understand that personal finance is something that’s really important to you? And from there, they will actually start looking for such an app on their own. And this is why we focused on content marketing.
For the first 3-6 months, the objective was really clear. We are looking at creating a formula in the content space that is constantly going viral yet, SEO optimised.
When you are looking at how to get your content to go viral, I think there are a few tricks that are involved. First, you would look at the browsing behavior of the current generation. Our target audience is millennials and they have a short attention span. They only spend 0.7 secs scrolling posts before they decide if they want to click.
So when you have this kind of timing constraint, you start looking at the best ways to attract their attention. Apart from titles, 50% of the posts are made up of images. So should you be able to translate part of the attention into an eye-catching image so you can stop them from scrolling so fast? That was something that we spent a lot of time on.
Also we would look at how people view the entire content. Working with engineers and seeing people drop off when they reach 10% of your content. We knew that we had to shift our content hierarchy. So you need to get people to continue scrolling down to get the values that they are supposed to get preferably within two scrolls. That’s when we decided to shift a huge part of our summary all the way up to the top.
So if you read a Seedly article today right, you will see a few pointers to tell you what this article is about. And if you feel you get value out of it. Great and they will read more. If not, I think it is okay for them to drop off.
So the short term content strategy takes quite a bit of understanding of how you can actually create a viral piece of content. On top of it, you really need to deep dive into the psychology of humans as a whole to give them what they are looking for at a certain period of time.
So when it comes to Chinese New Year, the first thing that comes to mind would be gambling or Feng Shui. You would get red pockets and start drinking and gambling. So understanding this, and knowing how to create an article that really fulfils the needs. This is a sudden movement that you do every year.
You need to take note that out of each of these actions, there are sub-content that you can actually start creating. First it can be what or how can you use the money? What is the appropriate amount to give to your uncles and aunties? When it comes to gambling, what are the odds?
All these things are more short term basis and capture a sudden trend. So, for the short term, you ultimately create content that is relatable at that time where the intent of the search is really high.
By doing so, what you actually just did is that now every new year, you find yourself being able to republish the same type of content. And next, if your content did well in the short term, over time, with proper SEO optimisation, your content can constantly generate traffic to that piece of content in a sustainable way.
We noticed that millennials are generally more open about their finances but they also need a safe place to have that discussion.
So on our platform, you can actually share and ask questions without leaving a name. And you started to see people coming in with their same experience sharing what they did when they were around the same age. So we initially started this experiment in a Facebook group.
We were fortunate enough to notice that Facebook seems to be prioritising the groups more. It was a time that company pages were not getting organic reach and had to put money into retaining the same kind of reach. So we knew community was the way to go.
Of course, we knew that there would be a lot of work that needs to be done to grow a healthy community. But ultimately we know that if we managed to do that well, it wil become a self-sustaining place where people can just come in and ask questions or find people who are facing the same problems or have had similar experiences before.
First of course, we were testing it out in our Facebook group. We had a very manual process where we had a Google sheet and you can jump in to ask any questions which we will help post out on your behalf.
Also back then we had quite a bit of traction from our content strategy. So we were able to create a call to action and drive people to our Facebook group. Just from this, we can verify that there is indeed such a need. Questions were becoming more personalized and volume was increased to a point that our moderators couldn’t control the load anymore.
Hence we decided to switch to our online platform. So people can just log in and type their own questions.
So I do have a few things that I would usually look at to track whether the community is healthy.
First thing, we measure the reach. It is a top of the funnel metric that is the most important. Followed by looking at out of this reach how much percentage of them actually log in. That determines how effective your product or call to action is to create login or sign up users.
After that, you would track how active they are. This can be a few things. I know Facebook will use something called the DAU over MAU but this is not something that I really believe in. For us, I think it’s more on monthly login followed by monthly action that’s being generated. It can be liking, posting, sharing, clicking on something to leaving a review. And then we would look at out of the active users, how many become a user generated content creator.
These are people who are your fans and start creating content and providing value to the platform. And base of this, we will form a formula and KPIs that we chase and indicate how healthy the community is.
At the start, we were using the method Facebook uses to track. But 2-3 months down the road, I was a bit uncomfortable because we are not a social network that people would come in daily. People potentially will come in once a month so different platforms should be tracking different metrics.
For our different verticals ranging from blogs, community to our real user/product review, each of these actually comes with different types of behavior. For product review, we look at yearly action. Because someone who just signed up and reviewed a credit card, I think this is an action that they would probably do once a year.
We would look at weekly and monthly activities for our community and for blogs, hoping to attract them to come every other day.
I think it is definitely going to be a more competitive space with Google and Facebook constantly changing their algorithm. Google used to update maybe like once or twice a year but now we are looking at updates almost every few months.
And I found the next big trend that is coming is the decentralization of community. We all know that community is something that companies are starting to look at. They are finding their footing by trying to be one or buy one.
But if you look at crypto, decentralization seems to be the idea behind a lot of these things. You know the way to scale is through an algorithm and that’s the decentralization of community. Imagine a self-serve community where everyone can be a moderator and determine the direction of the community.
So I think this is going to be something that’s going to hit us.
Connect with Yeap Ming Feng on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/yeap-ming-feng-a0824198/
Listen to the full podcast: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1824245/9354233