We only have to look back less than a handful of years to see a thriving financial trading sector with both Forex and Binary Options. Today, Binary Options has virtually disappeared, and Forex looks to be on very shaky ground. The number of new small brokers has been in sharp decline, and recently some middle-sized brokers have been closing their doors. There is a smell of fear in the air.
I talk to many people involved in the industry including brokers, technology providers, service providers, and affiliates. They are all saying the same – the industry is shrinking at an alarming rate. The reasons given are mostly as follows:
- Regulations – restrictions on offers and sales pitches, stringent KYC are making it harder to convert traders
- Banks & Payments – it seems that anyone connected to trading (including brokers, affiliates and technology providers) are experiencing difficulties in finding banks willing to accept their business. Even if they overcome this hurdle, brokers are finding increasingly challenging to find payment and payout solutions. Take the recent changes in credit card processing that require local legal opinions in order to be accepted in a local market
- Marketing – costs are rising, while restrictions on channels such as Google, Facebook, Outbrain, and even MailChimp among others are hampering marketing efforts while driving up costs. CPC costs on Google keywords are going as high as $50 per click and more as competition increases on a limited supply
These reasons are all well and good, but they could equally apply to the gaming industry. Having the privilege of also working with this sector, the effects seem far less pronounced, and there is still strong growth and new operators. There is an accordion effect on gaming with shrinkage and growth, but in the Finance sector, the rates of change and the amounts of change seems to be magnified. The question is why? And, the question I get asked the most is how to overcome them and not just survive but grow?
An Uncomfortable Truth
Here is a hard truth that is unpopular and maybe controversial – the fall has damaged the whole financial trading sector out of Binary Options. As Binary fell under the spotlight of the media and then governments, it has cast a long shadow on anything seemingly connected to it.
This effect was felt most markedly in the cryptocurrency world. There was an almost immediate perception that ICOs were mostly scams like binary and that it was even the same players – shifting from binary into crypto looking to make a quick buck.
The Canadian Financial Regulators applied pressure on Google to ban advertising. The people at Google either do not understand or do not wish to understand the difference between ICOs, cryptocurrency mining, wallets or trading, or for that matter what a CFD is. And, with a vast amount of other sectors, mostly, much more lucrative sectors, they do not wish to invest time away from said sectors to learn.
Far simpler to make one sweeping change of restrictions to cover all of these as if they were one. They are not the only ones. Add to Google the likes of Facebook and your bank – why take any risks at all?
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So, how can the industry survive? If we can learn anything from other industries, that provided the industry protects their customers after decline comes growth. Not only with the strong get stronger but new opportunities for smaller niche markets and therefore niche players in the markets. The question has still not been answered – the question is not “if” but “how”?
My advice changes depending on who is asking me, but each player along the chain can adapt and even grow stronger. There is a shared core – and it revolves around creating a clean public image. Brokers, affiliates, tech and service suppliers can all play their part. There is a place to compete and beat your competition, but not before you secure your industry foundation. Coming out from the shadow of the less scrupulous binary operators is hard work, and it means that everyone has a shared responsibility to appear to be cleaner than clean.
Digital Marketing Basics
When it comes to digital marketing, there are a few simple basics to follow. For example, Google looks for specific keywords in ads that automatically trigger alerts. Terms like CFDs for example. There are also the regular “too good to be true” phrasing of ads. If you put up an ad that says: “Red hot Forex CFDs guaranteed to return 150% on your deposit,” your ad will be banned and your account will be flagged. Once this happens, it takes a bunch of hard work to get back from this. Google are approachable, and you can work with an account manager to keep your ads compliant while returning good results. You can target CFDs as a search keyword, just refrain from using it in the ad copy.
There are other tricks, like splitting campaigns into separate markets and terms. Think about buying a pick and mix confectionary or snack. If you purchase the mix as a bundle, you will be charged at the per gram cost of the most expensive item. Whereas, if you purchased each item separately, you would pay less overall. You can also manage how to mix your budget to go further and get better results.
For tech and service suppliers, I advise looking at the platform as a commodity. The responsibility is to provide a value that solves the real problems of your clients. Their problem is not getting a trading platform, that’s relatively easy. What about helping with banking, payments, marketing, compliance – there is a raft of pain points you could solve for them. Once you address key issues, clients are more sticky as they are more reliant on you.
The list of tactics goes on. Some tactics do not include cloaking for Facebook. There are many other marketing channels including content marketing, influencers, SEO, native advertising, media buying – both online and offline. Perhaps the company name should not include a reference to Forex? What about diversification into other verticals that are similar to the core business?
Even in the toughest of times, there are opportunities. It is about taking the time to be rational, logical and prepared for some work.
Nicc Lewis is the CEO of Expozive Marcom, a Marketing & Consulting Agency