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Nuts & Bolts - Case Study : Mint.com Takes a Fresh Approach

December 2009 By Heather Fletcher
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Challenge: New customer acquisition.
Solution:
Targeted e-mail communication to engaged, active Mint.com users, asking them to refer their friends and families to try the site.
Result:
The best performing e-mail segment saw a 48 percent open rate and a 61 percent clickthrough rate. More than 10 percent of this group invited an average of five friends and family members to join, resulting in one new user signing up per 2.6 invitations. New members numbered in the five figures.

Mint.com, the site that helps people who are fanatical about tracking their money, is fanatical about tracking its marketing results.

So when representatives of the Mountain View, Calif.-based online personal finance service decided it was time to enter the social networking scene, they weren't going to play games with the unquantifiable.

When Mint.com learned during the summer of 2009 that Redwood City, Calif.-based e-mail marketing software and services provider StrongMail Systems could handle that granular detail, using its e-mail-to-social networking tool, Influencer, the financial services company decided to go for it.

"We're a culture here that likes to quantify everything," says Donna Wells, Mint.com's chief marketing officer. "It's one of our core company values."

Emphasizing that point, Wells mentions that a quick survey of the site's 1.6 million users guided the segmentation and incentive choices for the customer acquisition campaign. Asked when they referred family and friends to the site, most survey respondents said they waited until a couple months in. As for incentives, which could include cash or charitable donations, most chose a "minty green" iPod nano or a chance to partake in the Financial Fitness beta program.

So in August, Mint.com deployed social e-mail to users who had checked their finances during the past 30 days and had used the site for four months or longer. But that's as far as the behavior-based segmentation went.

"We know everything about your finances here at Mint," Wells says. "But we don't know who you are, and we don't capture any demographic or behavioral information on you, other than what we see in the way you use your money."

So the single-deployment e-mail campaign saw recipients evenly and randomly divided into three groups. One group received no incentive. The second and third groups, whose social networking resulted in three friends or family members signing up, got either the iPod or access to the beta program.

 

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