Navigating FinTech in Africa: Driving app downloads in the age of social media

By Tshiamo Seape (Guest author)
fintech africa mobile app downloads - Square

Africa’s mobile growth is unlike most regions in the world. GSMA (Global System for Mobile Communications) estimates that by 2025, the total Sub-Saharan mobile subscriber base will reach a whopping 600 million. 

Compounding on this increase in mobile subscribers will be improved 4G connections, to a rate of 23% more by the year 2025. One can confidently assume that the app industry will make similar gains.

As in all industries, there are a number of prominent players , and  the financial sector is no different. In assessing the landscape, it’s important to look at the leaders who provide the blueprints on how to enter the social media space and make the most of the tools available along the road to success. 

Across the continent, FinTech is proving itself to be one of the most attractive sectors for prospective investors. While innovation is not confined to any region, the continent’s biggest hotspots are in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria.

According to a March 2019 report by Venture Capital firm Partech Africa, 33% of all funding raised by African tech start-ups was in the FinTech sector, totaling $370 million.

Some of the most respected apps in Fintech include 22SEVEN and Luno in South Africa, PayStack, Kudi and OneFi in Nigeria and Tulaa and Lendable who operate out of Kenya. Innovation is at the core of what fintechs do but, like most businesses today, part of their success has to be attributed to the power of social media. And that power lies both in its reach and targeting.


Mobile attribution and marketing analytics for finance apps


Why social media?

In South Africa alone there are over 22 million active social media users.

The number increases to 180 million when you include Nigeria (120M), Kenya (48M) and Ghana (12M). While at first glance that may seem like too large a pool to draw any meaningful insight from, most social media platforms have extensive targeting tools that can define and isolate specific audiences suited to a brand’s needs. 

This double-edged approach  –  reach and targeting  – is why a thorough social media strategy is an essential part of any marketing campaign.

Social media is also effective in the region because of its ability to make an impact at different stages of the marketing funnel. It allows for the promotion of the app before launch, speeds up downloads (which means it can be featured on the Google Play and Apple App Stores), creates buzz and word of mouth, and keeps existing users informed and engaged. 

This can all be done at a relatively low cost: across sectors, social media in Africa provides a Cost Per Impression (CPM) several times lower than traditional channels like television and out of home advertising. Although it is more expensive within the app space, it provides high value users in return.

Acquiring new customers can be a difficult task even for seasoned marketers, so choosing an acquisition strategy is a crucial first step in your marketing process.

One such strategy involves CPA campaigns or Cost-Per-Action campaigns. These are relatively low-risk strategies for the advertiser that can drive more sales from your app because payment only has to be made when a specific and meaningful action takes place. An action could be a purchase, a newsletter sign up, or one of several other conversions. 

Check out AppsFlyer’s MAMA Minute at Home as Google’s Rama Afullo shared his tips on marketing your app for success in Africa:

The power of media publishers in Africa

A robust digital marketing campaign in Africa cannot exist without a combination of social media and digital media owners, like Verizon. Although not strictly considered Social Media, Verizon Media is among the most successful platforms for user acquisition. 

As the owner of brands like Yahoo, Yahoo Mail and TechCrunch, the Verizon stable has access to over 15 million unique users across Sub-Saharan African and the platform’s appeal doesn’t end there. 

In addition to reach, the platform has flexibility in its pricing and ad formats. The added benefit of being aligned with news organizations adds an element of credibility that Fintech businesses should take advantage of.

Businesses can choose between ad formats, two of them being:

  • Display ads: Traditional ads that appear at the top or side of a webpage. These are considered highly effective in getting the word out about your app and sparking sincere interest. 
  • Native ads fit the form and function of the webpage on which they appear. They are great for encouraging trial, as the format has been shown to produce Click-Through Rates (CTR) 3 times higher than banner ads and superior targeting can lower the Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) by 80%.

For the best possible performance, running app installs as an auxiliary campaign alongside native image or video campaigns for awareness can maximize audience penetration.

Getting creative

Snapchat has proven to be useful in attracting and cultivating a specific audience, mainly millennials and Gen Z users. In South Africa alone, Gen Z makes up over 45% of the population, almost 27 million people. 

These figures are comparable to many countries in Sub Saharan Africa who have very young populations. Since 25% of them are credit active, Gen Z makes for a large and financially significant segment.

The platform’s uniquely creative, full-screen advertising environment can set your brand apart amid a crowded marketplace. 

Popular for app install campaigns in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa, Snapchat is an inherently mobile environment, with users spending an average of 30 minutes a day browsing the platform. There is ample opportunity to attract them during this extended screen time. 

South African insurance disrupter, Pineapple, recently ran a campaign on Snapchat which matched both brand and platforms’ flair for the creative to great effect.

fintech snap creative example
Pineapple campaign on Snap

Managing cost is often the most important factor behind an app’s success. An effective way of doing this is to master remarketing (also known as retargeting) and customer retention as it has a strong impact on an app’s ROI in the region. 

App developers spend a lot of time and resources trying to acquire new users, but re-engaging existing users can be a smarter way to get existing users excited about using your app again. 

This is because downloads are not the only KPI worth considering. In fact, up to 25% of apps that are downloaded to a phone are never opened and up to 20% of users will use a newly downloaded app just once. These numbers can seem daunting but there are methods for maximizing retention. Apps that used remarketing, saw an 85% uplift in long term (12 weeks) retention. 

Keep the content coming

So, while acquisition is an integral part of any marketing strategy, retargeting and re-engagement must also be carefully considered. In-app gamification, emails and push notifications are all ways to reach existing users, but in this post we will focus on reconnecting via social media.

Re-engaging users allows brands to capture audiences’ attention when they are in a receptive mindset  – on social media. Twitter, in particular, is perfectly suited to being a source of continuous information. 

Unlike other social media platforms, Twitter users are more eager to receive  –  rather than share  –  information and regularly visit the site to learn something. In fact, research has found that 79% of Twitter users learn something new when they visit Twitter. 

For example, Twitter’s conversational power introduced users to services like M-Pesa, an African innovation and mobile money service that has driven double digit growth for Safaricom in Kenya.

Furthermore, the platform can be an effective way for a brand to cultivate a community that benefits from two-way communication rather than simply broadcasting branded messages to consumers. 

Take 22Seven, Old Mutual’s budgeting app. It regularly posts on its blog covering topics such as how to diversify investor portfolios, economic trends and how to get the most out of your investments, to name a few. In these posts, it often links to the company’s Twitter profile.

Twitter creative examples for fintech

The power of Facebook 

As social media’s biggest player, Facebook has powerful tools for keeping users engaged through its app engagement ad campaigns. 

App engagement ads target people on mobile devices who have already installed your app in order to get them to open your app or take a specific action within your app, such as a purchase or complete a new level in a game. 

Another area where Facebook shines is through it’s ownerships of Instagram – the platforms have 100 million and 10 million active users in Sub- Saharan Africa respectively. The social media giant can attract potential users on both platforms with a single campaign. For start-ups who need to grow their customer base early, accessing large networks of users is essential. 

In capturing the attention of this audience through an integrated campaign, app makers have access to an increased number of ad formats. Facebook Video Ads draw people in with immersive creative, while Collection Ads Encourage shopping by displaying items from your product catalogue.

A collection ad in Facebook News Feed includes a cover image or video followed by four product images.

When someone clicks on a collection ad, they’ll see an Instant Experience, which is a full-screen landing page that drives engagement and nurtures interest. These Instant Experiences can be created via templates offered by Facebook or customized to suit individual brand needs. Brands can also make use of Carousels and Story Ads, which are available on both platforms.

Facebook app ad creatives

Make measurement a habit

Once the right platform has been selected, the copy tweaked and the creative approved, and the campaign is finally live, the last link in the social media marketing chain is measurement: how brands measure the effectiveness of campaigns and what truly sets digital marketing from other forms of advertising. 

Only in digital marketing can you accurately attribute sales and many other consumer actions directly to the ads you serve on social media. By simply adding lines of code (or tags) to your campaign you can start measuring your conversions immediately.

Measurement can also occur across devices. Using Twitter as an example, if someone views a Promoted Tweet on one mobile device and then completes an app download on another, the conversion will still be accurately attributed to your campaign. This will apply to other social channels as well. 

Measurement and attribution are essential for a number of reasons from refining your targeting methods to analyzing at what point, if any, your consumers fail to complete the journey. Are consumers clicking through to your website, but not downloading the app? Have they downloaded the app, but are not engaging with it?

From its price and flexibility to its sheer ubiquity, social media is proving more and more to be an essential tool for marketers in Africa. Professionals from across sectors will increasingly look to social media to bring value to customers and brands.

Tshiamo Seape

Tshiamo is a digital strategist and occasional writer who has honed his skills in the worlds of digital strategy, entertainment and PR. The intersection of culture and social media are of particular interest to him. In his current role as a brand strategist at Ad Dynamo, he helps unlock the business and creative potential of social media platforms for brands across multiple verticals.

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