INTERVIEW: Saxo Bank combines premium positioning with price cuts in latest campaign

Alex Sword


The Financial Services Forum

Investment bank Saxo Bank is looking to balance a premium brand positioning with a new focus on price and overall value in its latest campaign, says its Head of Marketing and PR.

Founded in 1992, the firm began as a foreign exchange house, highly focused on traders. As well as licensing its technology to third parties, it now offers a direct-to-consumer trading platform which can take investors through the full lifecycle of products, from equities and ETFs through to bonds and other more sophisticated asset classes.

Now the job of marketing is to expand the perception of the firm to showcase the whole of its offering.

“Sooner or later people find that there is one thing or the other they can’t do on their platform,” she notes, contrasting Saxo with other online trading platforms.

“So whether your ambition is to grow your money slowly in low risk assets or profit quickly from short-term developments, we are here to help you make the most of your money, allowing you to build the portfolio you really want to.”

Accordingly, Saxo Bank’s brand is about “getting curious people invested in the world”, says Anaam. The breadth of the offering means that these curious people can take many different forms.

Internally the firm segments its investor audience into four different categories based on their levels of activity and sophistication. This ranges from buy-and-hold retail investors all the way up to specialists who make use of Saxo’s professional grade technology.

Investors can be logged in the CRM based on both demographics and their behaviour, with some individuals moving through different types of persona as they become more sophisticated.

Marketing has a strong position in the business, explains Anaam.

“Marketing is definitely the growth engine in Saxo. It’s definitely viewed as such, but we have the perennial problem, not really justifying the brand activities but the ROI on them. It’s not always apparent in six or eight weeks – it takes time.

“So our budget has definitely increased, but you would be right to assume it’s going more towards digital channels than above the line.”

The pitch to curious investors was recently brought to life in a big out-of-home campaign, featuring activations across London, including digital screens in Canary Wharf, 100 buses across London and podcast advertisements. More offline activity will go live in May.

The messaging focused on “premium investing….without the premium price tag.” The centre of the campaign is dramatic pricing decreases; for example, $10 commission being charged on a US equity has been reduced to $1.00.

“The way we’re looking at this internally is a new paradigm shift,” says Anaam.

There are zero commission brokers out there, Anaam notes, “but if they’re charging 0 for any trade, they’re probably ripping your eyeballs out on the FX currency conversion charge.”

This is a big part of the education that Saxo has to undertake – explaining to people that there are multiple layers of cost they need to consider.

“A real point of conversation for us is talking about the overall cost of investing, and value.”

Pricing serves as an opening to these types of conversations.

However, this has to be balanced with the company remaining a premium brand.

“It’s not a race to the bottom, where cheapest is best.

“Even though we have lowered our pricing, we’re definitely not going down that route.”

There is a danger to being known primarily for price, as it can create transactional customers with limited loyalty.

This is why, even while Anaam believes the industry is moving towards hyper-personalisation, big brand advertising remains important to what Saxo does.

The firm has always maintained a healthy brand presence.

“When you ask people if they have heard of Saxo, the one thing people often mention is cycling. That’s because historically the firm used to sponsor cycling teams across Europe.”

In the UK, for example, the brand sponsors the rugby team Harlequins.

“Out of home and that trust, credibility and recognition are really important, because if you don’t have that, that transactional comparison doesn’t work.”

Saxo has also invested heavily in PR to help build its brand over the last two years, as well as content marketing. Anaam notes that Saxo is the only broker investment platform that has a strategy team.

“Their research is almost on par with bank research analysts, and the reason Saxo has invested in those analysts is because you’re getting access to a specialist who is writing about equities, fixed income and commodities.”

She notes that “all of it is done with the lens to educate clients because you just don’t know where people are in that investment journey.”

Another area that Saxo began working on this year is affiliate marketing.

“That’s actually been a phenomenal channel in terms of conversion for us because a retail trading platform isn’t something that you just buy on the web. It’s not a scarf that you browse for on Instagram and like the look of.”

Influencer marketing is also an area of growing interest.

“If you’re watching somebody day in and day out, you trust them. And if somebody tells you actually they have tried the new Saxo platform and their research tools are next to none and you should give it a go.”

So far, the new campaign has “absolutely smashed” the firm’s targets, with a 68% increase in leads, 139% increase in new funded clients and a 114% increase in new trading clients. Meanwhile, the cost per lead fell by 40%.

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