A day in the life of... Head of Marketing at a fintech startup
Fintech was perhaps the buzzword of Q1 2016, so it's fitting that our next 'day in the life' comes from a fintech startup.
Anna Kilmurray is Head of Marketing at ClearScore, a company providing free credit check software.
Here's what she has to say about life in a startup.
Please describe your job! What do you do?
Last summer we launched a brand new service which allows people to come to our site and get a clear picture of their personal credit report data and score - for free.
Our mission is to make everyone's finances less of a hassle, starting with free access to the information about you that banks and lenders all get to see.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
I report into the CEO, Justin Basini. The marketing team is four people strong and we’re looking for more recruits now.
One of the brilliant things about working in a startup is the flat structure and close-knit team. Me and my team work closely with all 25 ClearScorers.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
ClearScore is a data-driven business – we use technology and data to provide people with an experience that feels smart, calm and clear.
Being able to interpret data and build insights into the customer experience is a key part of what I need to do.
In general, to be effective in a small company with big ambitions, you need to be a multi-tasker with a ‘get it done’ attitude.
It’s important to be comfortable with ambiguity and be able to forge a path and build structure from a blank sheet. You need to be able to focus clearly on what matters and not be distracted.
In a growing business, having the ability to spot talent and draw a brilliant team of people around you is key to being effective as well. My team is wonderful and I couldn’t be effective without them.
Tell us about a typical working day…
I get in to the office between 8.30am and 9.30am - after starting the day with a run or yoga session and breakfast.
I start the day reviewing the performance figures for the day before, and catching up with the team on priorities for the day.
From that point on there isn’t really a typical day - I could be in a focus group testing a new feature with our users, reviewing some advertising concepts, at a shoot, media planning with my media agency, working on a PR story, reviewing priorities for the next sprint with the technology team...
Depending on evening plans, I will leave the office any time between 6pm and 8pm.
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
I genuinely love my job, mainly because I love our product and the team around it. The whole team is really proud - obsessing over how the website looks, each interaction and each new feature.
It’s really a pleasure to take something we’re so proud of to our customers, and we love reading feedback from people who write in or post on forums.
It's also rare that a marketer gets the chance to take a brand from conception through to mass-market. I feel very strong ownership of our marketing and love being able to shape our strategy and plans and see the immediate impact.
Having no legacy of what has gone before is very refreshing. That can be quite hair-raising sometimes too.
There is nowhere to hide in such a small team, and I do feel the pressure that comes with that.
Our business needs to hit some incredibly ambitious targets to meet the expectations of our shareholders. Sometimes you need nerves of steel!
Another favourite part of my role is working on product development - bringing to life the features conceived by our CEO and lead designer. We have so many ideas for smart new features that we are working on.
Of course it is fantastic when hard work is rewarded with industry recognition - winning Innovative Product of the Year and Financial PR Campaign of the Year in the last couple of months were definitely highlights.
As a business we’re good at celebrating success - any excuse to get down to the pub!
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
It’s very easy to measure success in our business, and my goals are tangible - my team and I are focused on bringing traffic to our website, new registrations and return users.
These, combined with building a strong brand, are my main deliverables.
In order to achieve this I pore over a lot of metrics - advertising response rate, app store downloads, user reviews, net promoter score, engagement rate, SEO performance. We measure everything.
I have some fantastic Analyst colleagues who ensure I can access what we need to be successful.
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
- Kissmetrics has been an invaluable tool for us to understand each phase of our registration process and user behaviour on site.
- Adalyser for enabling granular tracking and optimisation of TV schedules.
- Majestic and SEM Rush for SEO.
- I also really value Da Pulse - a team management tool which enables sharing of objectives, progress and keeps us really focussed in team meetings.
How did you get started in the digital industry, and where might you go from here?
I started out in the automotive industry, kicking off my career with BMW and then as National Communications Manager at MINI.
After volunteering in Peru I came back to London interested in the challenge of working for startups.
Following a stretch at Zapp, the bank-backed mobile payments service, the opportunity to join ClearScore as the fifth permanent employee came up and I couldn’t turn it down.
Right now I’m focusing on growing our user base and developing this business into a world-class consumer service.
We’ve got big plans to evolve ClearScore.com and completely shake-up the way people handle their money. Watch this space...
Which brands do you think are doing digital well?
It’s yet to launch but Atom Bank is a very interesting business. It has been over twenty years since Amazon created a completely new way to shop and it’s taken financial services too long to show any innovation.
I am also a huge fan of AirBnB - another business that uses technology to solve a human problem. Its product design and brand are amazing.
Do you have any advice for people who want to work in the digital industry?
Look for the right people and businesses to work with - is your company well-positioned to harness the developing technologies and innovations you want to be part of? Is this deep understanding coming from the very top of the company?
You will be highly employable and if you choose the right organisation, you’ll then have opportunity to broaden your skill-set as you progress.