CMO Barnabas Goh on crypto marketing

12th July 2022

“Marketing is not about selling a product. It’s about creating and communicating value for our clients. And that’s very different.”

Barnabas is the CMO of the digital asset investment platform Zonda Global. He also co-wrote the national bestseller “Simply Invest” on the scientifically optimal way to invest. His role involves driving the transformation of Zonda into a global full suite crypto fintech, heading mergers and acquisitions for the business, and launching the brand globally across new markets. Here’s what he had to say…

You co-wrote a nationally best-selling book on investing. Tell us about it…

I co-wrote and published the book with the CEO and team at GYC Financial Advisory, the leading private wealth manager in Singapore. In essence, the book reveals the scientifically proven optimal way to invest by distilling two centuries worth of market data and financial science.

The question is: after all this time, what do we actually know about investing? Truth is, not much really. We have maybe six or seven factors of investing that are actually provable, persistent and present across time. Yet we choose to market 1000 different ways to invest. The banks know it, the wealth advisors know it, we all know it.

In terms of cryptocurrency, some say it’s just a new vehicle to execute pump and dump schemes while others hail it as the advent of financial revolution. Cryptocurrency is young, and can be seen as pure. We see the signs of financial malpractice, but also the seeds of investment activity attempting to mimic scientifically optimal processes inherent in traditional investing. We also see its concomitant implications on technological applications and progress.

What interests me is the present absence of overriding marketing influence on the asset class due to its relatively young age. In any industry, as more marketing comes in over time, it can skew value and over-hype commercial but non constructive features of the product spectrum for clients. In investing, it could be the glorification of stock picking, the advertised divinity of robo-advisory, or the inclusion of risky securities not due to their strategic utility in a portfolio but their latest popularity in the news cycle.

The truth is marketing can either create or corrupt value in any industry as it matures across time. And for crypto, an industry still in its infancy, which road it will take in this regard remains to be seen.

When you talk about the purity of cryptocurrency, do you think the marketing can get in the way of good investing?

Absolutely. Marketing, like faith, is a double-edged sword. It can be a source of good or evil depending on the intentions behind it and how it is practiced. One of the things I have always said, when we focus on selling or using marketing to sell then we’ve missed the entire point. Marketing is not about selling a product. It’s about creating and communicating value for our clients. And that’s very different.

When we use marketing to sell, we might see high risk structured financial products being pushed that are built according to commercially focused aims, or allocations in a portfolio based on popular sentiment and news relevancy. This is because marketers may believe that’s what clients including high net worth individuals want to see. However, clients ultimately want strategies that bring value to them. And the missing piece in that story is often the good usage of data.

How do you communicate value by using data?

I think a lot of people miss out on the fact that strategy is made up of data, directions and then decisions. It’s like a marriage. You want to say that you love your husband or your wife but perhaps it’s best to get to know them first. In marketing if you care about your clients, you should get to know them first, and that comes from looking at the data.

In terms of client data, we ask ourselves:

  • What are your channels revealing?
  • What is the ROI from each channel?
  • What is the conversion rate at each point in the sales funnel?
  • Why are they high at some points and low at others?
  • How does this modulate across different geo-locations?
  • What are the click thru and bounce rates?
  • What is the engagement value?
  • Are they spending longer than two minutes on a particular page?

Beyond channels and funnel pipeline analysis, we also analyse customer support data to find out how our support teams are dealing with certain topics. It tells us which issues are arising and how we can address these in our marketing messaging.

We look at our channels, client and company data both qualitatively and quantitatively. This enables us to identify the nature of the trend in each region, incorporate feedback, and understand the direction the data is headed. Then we make a decision. If marketers focus on creating and communicating value, rather than selling, we will have much better products and more satisfied clients.

Can you give me an example of a strategy you’ve used?

We use data to increase investment when a strategy is going well and to pivot when it’s not doing well. We have the best results when we understand that the role of data is to pivot rather than just react.

A common example I’ve experienced in the past is a marketing department using social media ads to target individual users. We noticed that the conversion rate wasn’t high- perhaps like 1%. It can be tempting to consider at that point to think that the low conversion rate is the channel’s fault. Some companies go as far as to fire their social media manager in such a situation. Instead we can chose to assess and integrate the channel holistically rather than assessing each marketing channel in isolation.

We can use information from Web Analytics to inform our PPC SEM campaigns. Then we can use our PPC to warm up leads on a broader scale. Finally, we can retarget audiences who have indicated prior interest through social ads like Facebook. So now the social media ads channel is repurposed as part of a full-funnel strategy rather than utilising and evaluating each in silo.

Building an integrated strategy is a much more human approach to marketing-you ensure you’re only retargeting people who actually want to buy your product. In this way the data tells you a story about your clients, and these stories tell you how to create your ads and improve your product. Data driven marketing is the only way forward in an age where clients are educated and want to be educated about what they are buying. And rightly so.

What is the messaging you’re trying to get across with Zonda at this point in time?

In one sentence? To create a safer, simpler and more sophisticated investment experience for traders and investors around the world. The crypto market is crying out for safety, and they should be. With any new industry, there is untold potential for good and untold potential for devastation.

Our first message is safety. We’re one of the largest but also most regulated crypto platforms in Europe. Likewise, we have in-built security mechanisms in our platform to ensure the integrity of our client funds. Our next message is simplicity. We remove the jargon. Jargon is common in any young industry, and many people love the exclusivity it brings.

But we want clients to have clarity in their investment strategy, rather than confusion. And third is education. We believe in the power of people understanding what they’re investing in. So part of our approach is be genuine and real in our marketing and to provide clients with resources to learn about investing.

Overall, my vision is to grow organizations that are dedicated to determine, design and deliver a better path for investors in the ever evolving world of finance, however that might look. I’m, of course, very pleased to be in a company that pursues this vision relentlessly. I believe this is the true heart of marketing and business, and it’s not just a desire- it’s a duty. The story of the blockchain world is still being written, and it is our responsibility as stewards of the industry to guide its narrative towards a better future.