Capitalizing on Shifting Customer Needs to Increase App Downloads by +732% YoY

Advertising
Brand & Positioning Strategy
Content & Messaging
Cross-Channel
Organic Search & SEO
Paid Search
Twitter
April 1, 2021
Financial Services

Key Takeaways

Brand Awareness & Positioning — Quick & Flexible: In February of 2021, Public’s web traffic increased by +2,301% YoY and app downloads increased by +732% YoY. These increases are the result of Public quickly capitalizing on current events and shifting consumer needs using the following tactics:

  • Organic Search Tactic — Topical Articles: Public was quick to publish articles that were based on trending keywords at the time. This allowed Public to capture more organic search traffic and increase their brand awareness amongst their target demographic. 
  • Paid Search Tactic — Focus On Competitor Keywords: Public capitalized on the mass amount of disgruntled Robinhood users in the wake of the GME scandal to run paid search ads encouraging these users to switch to Public. Public targeted keywords such as “alternative to robinhood” and “delete my robinhood” which had increased in search interest at the time. Public’s transfer landing page was mobile-optimized (the majority of Robinhood users are on mobile) and emphasized the ease and quickness of the transfer. Public also offered to cover any fees involved in the transfer to reduce the amount of friction for the new users. 
  • Organic Social Tactic — Focus on Transfers: Public continued to focus on retail investor’s general distrust of brokerages that had developed in wake of the Robinhood/GME debacle. Public created a campaign called “break up with your brokerage” which focused on the fact that other brokerages are selling investors order flows. The campaign was focused around a video of Michael Bolton singing an altered rendition of one of his hit songs. The landing page incorporated two CTAs for visitors to either transfer their account or download the app. Public’s tweet of the campaign received 9X the average number of engagements.

Brand Positioning — Topical Differentiation: The Robinhood/GME scandal brought the concept of Payment for Order Flow to the forefront of consumer’s attention, with the term seeing a massive spike in search interest in late January/early February. Public recognized the negative connotations around this type of practice and announced that they were going to be eliminating the practice. Public’s announcement tweet for the change garnered 5X the average engagement. By making this alteration to their platform, Public further positioned their brand as a better alternative to Robinhood. Also, by making a quick change, Public was able to capitalize on the increase in search interest and further the impact of their decision.

Over the past year, search interest for the term “investing” has increased by +38% YoY.

Many attribute this increased interest in investing to the “rise of the retail investor” and the “democratisation of finance.”

Relative Search Interest - Investing

The search interest for the term “investing” spiked in Jan. and Feb. of 2021 during the media frenzy around GME and the significant rise in bitcoin’s value.

Average YoY increase in search interest of +68% from Jan-Feb.

Relative Search Interest - Investing - January to February 2021.jpg
Learn more about how GME changed the investing landscape

The number of articles including the phrase “retail investor” in their title also increased significantly above the yearly average in January and February of 2021.

Number of Articles Published - Average vs Retai Investor Articles

During this time, Robinhood angered users as the platform halted trades due to a sudden increase in collateral needs.

Robinhood Halts GameStop Trading, Angering Lawmakers and Investors
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The halt prompted numerous class-action lawsuits and caused users of Robinhood to look for alternatives.

The search interest for the term “delete robinhood” increased by an average of +527% MoM in January.

 Relative Search Interest for Search Term “delete robinhood”
 Relative Search Interest for Search Term “delete robinhood”

Public capitalized on the heightened interest in investing during this time and the large number of Robinhood users who were looking for a new platform.

Public.com - A Whole New Way to Invest
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In February of 2021, Public’s web traffic increased by +2,301% YoY.

Public.com - Monthly Web Traffic

Outside of direct, web traffic growth was driven by significant YoY increases in organic search, paid search, and social traffic.

Public.com - DesktopTraffic Channels
*Based on desktop traffic only

Organic Search

Branded keywords drove the majority of Public’s organic search traffic from Jan. to Feb. ‘21, with many of the non-branded keywords linking to their learn section.

*Analysis Period: Jan. - Feb. 2021

Public.com - Organic Search Top Keyword Searches
*Based on desktop traffic only. Growth percentage is calculated MoM.

Public built out blog articles that were optimized for keywords that had seen a recent spike in search interest to help boost their organic search traffic.

Relative search interest for the keyword “good faith violation” increased by 50% MoM in January of 2021.

Relative Search Interest for the keyword good faith violation
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Paid Search

Public focused many of its non-branded paid keywords on terms that were topical in Jan. & Feb., such as “short stocks” or “payment for order flow.”

Paid Search Keywords - short stocks OR payment for order flow
Analysis Period: Jan. - Feb. 2021. Based on desktop traffic only. Growth percentage is calculated MoM.

The terms “short stocks” and “payment for order flow” both saw massive spikes in search interest in January and February. Public even went so far as to stop the practice of payment for order flow in February to differentiate themselves from competitors.

Paid Search Keywords - short stocks OR payment for order flow spike in January and February
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Public also created search ads targeted at those looking to leave Robinhood. The ads included differing copy and linked to a mobile-optimized landing page where they emphasized the quickness and ease of transferring an investment account to Public.

Public.com - Search Ads targeted at those looking to leave Robinhood
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Social

Twitter drove the majority of Public’s desktop social traffic from Jan. to Feb. ‘21. The highest engaged tweets during the period focused on transferring accounts to Public, free stock slices, and the announcement of stopping the practice of Payment for Order Flow. 

Twitter drove the majority of Public's desktop social traffic from January to February 2021
Average engagement rate for Public on Twitter from January to February 2021: 2.43% - Tweet#1 | Tweet#2 | Tweet#3

Public’s “break up with your brokerage” tweet received 9X the average number of engagements. The video involved Michael Bolton singing an altered rendition of his song “How Am I Supposed to Live Without Out You” (instead, “how am I supposed to trade without you”). The landing page incorporated two CTAs for visitors to either transfer their account or download the app.

Public.com - Michael Bolton - Break up with your brokerage
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All of Public’s efforts lead to a +732% YoY increase in unified app downloads (Google Play & iOS) in February of 2021. This growth contributed to Public surpassing 1 million community members in February of 2021.

Public.com - App Downloads YoY
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