Digital Marketing for Financial Services
How do you grow revenues over 400 percent in 3 years? Mason Dorner of Fattmerchant shares secrets of successful B2B digital marketing for financial services.
IN CLEAR FOCUS: Bigeye discusses the growth of payment technology company Fattmerchant with the company’s VP of Marketing, Mason Dorner. Sharing some of the tactics that have made Fattmerchant a poster child for Central Florida’s tech community, Mason outlines his team’s structure, marketing technology stack, and his personal philosophy for keeping ahead in a highly competitive industry. Mason also reflects on differences between performance and brand campaigns for high-growth companies.
Adrian Tennant: You’re In today’s episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS:
Mason Dorner: Once somebody commits to a brand search, it’s usually pretty tough to peel them off which is why competitive advertising and search typically doesn’t perform all that well for most people.
Adrian Tennant: You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, fresh perspectives on the business of advertising, produced weekly by Bigeye. Hello. I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, VP of Insights at Bigeye. An audience-focused, creative-driven, full-service advertising agency, we’re based in Orlando, Florida, but serve clients across the United States and beyond. Thank you for joining us for our first episode of 2021, which also marks the start of our sixth season of IN CLEAR FOCUS. According to a report from MasterCard, US retail sales rose 3% during the 2020 holiday shopping season powered by the shift toward online shopping. In fact, holiday e-commerce sales jumped 49% making up almost one-fifth of total US retail sales for the entire year. As we’ve discussed in previous episodes of IN CLEAR FOCUS, during the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers have embraced new options such as buy online and pickup in store and contactless payment technologies. And it’s not just the big stores that have had to adapt – small and medium sized retailers have adopted technology to offer their customers more ways to shop and pay for goods. Our guest today sees how shopping is continuing to change for consumers and retailers on a daily basis. A seasoned, data-driven digital marketing leader, Mason Dorner is the Vice President of Marketing at Fattmerchant, an Orlando-based payment technology company. Fattmerchant offers credit card processing solutions designed for a variety of business types and it was named Best Credit Card Processor of 2020 by US News and World Report. It also has the distinction of being the region’s second-fastest-growing private firm with 467% revenue growth in the past three years. Prior to his role at Fattmerchant, Mason held digital marketing positions with Bonnier, Universal Orlando, and The Walt Disney Company. Mason, welcome to IN CLEAR FOCUS.
Mason Dorner: Thank you. Appreciate you having me on today.
Adrian Tennant: So first, could you tell us what Fattmerchant does?
Mason Dorner: Yeah, absolutely. So Fattmerchant, as you said, is a payment technology company. So we compete most directly with Square and with Stripe. So Square tends to specialize in in-person credit card processing Stripe tends to specialize in online and we can actually do both through a single API. So it used to be that if you were a store owner, and you also had an e-commerce store, you actually needed two different payment processing solutions, and you’d have two sets of books that you had to reconcile two different vendors to deal with. And we can actually do both in a single API so that you’re dealing with one vendor getting one statement and only one set of books to reconcile. And then in addition to that, we’re also cheaper than both of those options that I just listed off and then cheaper than the traditional payment processing model. What most people don’t understand is to take a debit card transaction from MasterCard only costs about half a percent, but those competitors that I just listed off are going to charge you around 3%. So that’s about a 500% markup. And so what we do is we charge a flat monthly membership, and then that gets you access to the wholesale cost of credit card processing. And that typically ends up saving business owners around 40%. Uh, So we’ve been both disruptive in our pricing strategy as well as in our technology
Adrian Tennant: What is Fattmerchant’s founding story?
Mason Dorner: So the founding story is our CEO was in merchant services for several years. And the industry has a poor reputation – deceitful sales techniques are used by a lot of companies. The service is not great. The pricing is expensive and it’s really all about, how can these companies get the most money out of each small business owner? And so they make it very hard to understand what business owners are actually paying and the rates can be variable. So your rates will go up randomly over time and there’s all kinds of hidden fees. And so just not a great experience, it’s almost like you compare it to a cable company, the way that the industry has typically run. And so our CEO was in that world and just realized there had to be a better way to do this. There’s gotta be a way to provide a good experience and still make money and be a profitable business. And so that’s where she got the idea to start this subscription-based processor that would be transparent and that would save business owners, money but still be a profitable company. And so she left the company that she was with and went out on her own and started Fattmerchant.
Adrian Tennant: Now I’m guessing that as consumers, most of us probably don’t give a great deal of thought to payment processing, other than maybe whether our personal debit or credit card is accepted, or if a digital payment method is available. Mason, could you give us a primer on the business of payment processing?
Mason Dorner: Sure. So like you said, the average consumer, they swipe their card. They don’t think anything else about it. It’s much more top of mind for small business owners though, because as I said, typically three or four percentage points at every transaction are going to go to the payment processor and that’s how payment processors make their money. Now within that three or 4%, there’s also what’s called interchange and that’s the wholesale cost that Visa and MasterCard charge. And that varies anywhere between one and two and a half percent depending on the type of card that’s used. And then the amount of above that is what the processor captures as their kind of piece of the transaction. And so what the processor does is when you swipe that card, the processor is physically taking the money off of the consumer’s credit card. And then they are moving that money into the retailer’s bank account is in a nutshell what credit card processors do in a very simplified manner.
Adrian Tennant: As VP of Marketing at Fattmerchant, what does your role typically entail?
Mason Dorner: So my role entails really anything marketing-related. So I report directly to our CEO. So I oversee everything from our branding, our PR, our content marketing, our digital advertising, anything really that has our logo on it. And then anybody outside the company sees is typically something that I’m involved with.
Adrian Tennant: And what does a typical Fattmerchant customer look like?
Mason Dorner: A typical Fattmerchant customer is a small or medium-sized business owner. They’re typically doing at least $10,000 a month in credit card transactions. And the reason I say that is because that’s the point at which they typically see the most savings. From us below the $10,000 Mark, the subscription pricing, doesn’t save them as much money. And so it’s a little bit less compelling. However, we still make sense for those smaller business owners. We can still offer rates comparable to Square or Stripe. It’s just, it’s going to be one-to-one and not so much of a savings. Whereas once they graduate up to that subscription-based plan, that’s where they really start to save money. And within that, where we work with most businesses, but there are certain businesses that we find we do really well with medical, professional services – so like lawyers and accountants – field services. So think like HVAC, electricians and then retail. So those are our four focus verticals. Again, we do work with other businesses outside of that, but those four where we really excel. Just because they get the most value out of our technology because we started out just being the cheapest credit card processor and having these transparent rates. But we’ve since moved beyond that, where we built a lot of our own tech stack and a lot of proprietary technology such as our bi-directional sync with QuickBooks and we actually beat Stripe and Square to market for that capability. And so that saves these business owners a lot of time where they can export all their transactions directly into their accounting software and save a lot of time doing manual reconciliation. So that’s just one example of the tech that we’ve built and those four business types benefit the most from that type of tech and from the analytics that we provide as part of their package. So we’re able to add the most value to those business types and really supercharge their business with the additional tools that we provide as part of their subscription.
Adrian Tennant: You have experience in both business-to-business and business-to consumer marketing. How do business-to-business customer journeys differ from B2C, if at all?
Mason Dorner: They absolutely differ. It definitely depends on the type of business. But in general, a B2B sales cycle is going to be longer. The leads are going to be more expensive. Your cost per acquisition is going to be higher. The audience sizes and the addressable market is smaller. So the sales cycles take longer. There’s typically more decision-makers involved as well versus a consumer and all of those things get bigger and longer as the business size expands. So a large business is going to have more decision-makers, a much longer sales process, probably take more ad spend and sales enablement dollar spent to get them on the hook, versus a consumer, you’re just dealing with one person a lot of times, depending on what you’re selling it can be an impulse purchase. So it’s typically a faster process to conversion and most sales take place in the B2C world, they take place directly online instantly. Whereas with B2B services, there’s more research. There usually has to be a real human conversation that happens. So like in our sales process, we bring in the leads through digital channels, such as paid search and Facebook. But once the lead is submitted, they get assigned to one of our payment consultants who then walks them through the rest of the purchase process, helps them select what products and what solutions make the most sense for them, helps them feel comfortable and build this custom package that’s going to make sense for their business. And so that’s a component that isn’t typically there in B2C marketing.
Adrian Tennant: Now you’re leading a team of data-driven performance marketers. What are your team’s key performance indicators?
Mason Dorner: So there’s actually a lot of them, I’ll try to pick the ones that are most important, but we’re an inbound lead generation marketing model. And so the way that our funnel works is we have MQLs that then convert into SQLs that then convert into customers. And so those are our three stages of the funnel. So we have volume metrics tied to generating enough marketing qualified leads or enough leads, but we also have efficiency metrics that’s tied to a cost per lead, cost per qualified lead, a cost per customer. And then also conversion metrics. We have benchmarks that we know that a lead is supposed to convert to a qualified lead at X percent and a qualified lead is supposed to convert to a customer at X percent. So we have cost efficiency metrics. We have volume metrics. We have conversion efficiency metrics. And then even beyond that and something that makes I think our marketing team unique because most marketing teams are really just focused on driving leads – “Okay. I got this many leads and I got this cost per lead. I hit my number for the month.” We’re focused beyond that. We’re focused on lifetime value and on revenue generation. And that’s where a lot of marketing teams in the lead gen space tend to drop the ball as they generate the lead. And they say, “Okay, my job is done.” We spend a lot of time tracking the lifetime value of our customers so that we can go out and use that data to mine for more high quality customers. And so even lifetime value and upsell, cross sell opportunity after they become a customer. Those are things that we have KPIs for that we actively track and that come full circle back to the front of the funnel. We use that data to go out and find better customers.
Adrian Tennant: What are some of the key components of your martech stack?
Mason Dorner: So the main piece of marketing tech that really runs our whole company is HubSpot. HubSpot has several different solutions. We use all of them. So we use their CRM. We use their marketing cloud. We use their email deployment system. Their customer service system. So all these pieces within their suite of products that bolt together and they integrate together, we use all of them and that’s really the hub of our marketing stack and any tools outside of that that we’ve acquired. And there are a couple, but the first question that we always ask is, “Does it integrate with HubSpot?” – which is our core – if so, “What does that integration look like?” Because adding additional tools that don’t necessarily talk to the rest of your stack it creates problems. You need to have everybody looking at the same data at the same dashboards and everything, talking to each other so that you can make true apples-to-apples comparisons versus having different departments working in different tools. So for, even for our additional tools outside of HubSpot, they all have to talk to each other, but those additional tools a week, a landing page builder called Unbounce. We are always aggressively A/B testing. So that’s an important tool to us. We have several hundred landing pages within that tool. We also use Google Analytics also Google ads, Facebook ads, a couple of other lesser-known ad platforms that I would say comprises the majority of our tech stack.
Adrian Tennant: Let’s take a short break. We’ll be right back after this message.
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Adrian Tennant: Welcome back. I’m talking with Mason Dorner, Vice President of Marketing for Fattmerchant. Mason, immediately prior to Fattmerchant, you managed digital marketing campaigns for Walt Disney World Resort and before that for Universal Orlando. What, if any, strategies or tactics from your time in those entertainment and hospitality driven businesses have you brought to your current role?
Mason Dorner: There’s definitely been a couple of them that were brought over. First and foremost would be just testing aggressively when it comes to new tactics, new ad, creative, new capabilities within the ad platforms. When I was with those organizations, I got to test a lot of things way before they came to market. For example, like Facebook 360 video ads that you’ve probably seen where you can move your phone around and it looks around inside of a video or inside of an app. When I was at Disney, we were the first ones to test that out. We were also the first people to do dynamic product ads on Facebook. So the dynamic carousel retargeting ads, we were the first ones to do that in the travel industry. And we saw massive ROI from it. And at the time, Facebook now has a product called dynamic ads for travel. But they didn’t, it didn’t exist several years ago. And so we actually hack together a way for dynamic product ads to show hotel inventory. And it proved that this concept could transition. From e-commerce and work really well for travel. And so now every hotel chain in the world is using this ad product that we helped Facebook pilot. And so that’s something that my team has carried forward into fat merchant is always looking for that next piece of tech, that next capability that no one else is doing, because it’s going to provide you an edge, even if you don’t do it necessarily well, If you’re the first one to use this new piece of technology or this new integration or this new capability that nobody else is using, it can do a lot to help you stay ahead of the competition. One area where we did that was with Google actually. We’re in their accelerator program where we basically get enterprise level support, even though we’re a startup company because we’re high growth and they’ve identified us as a high potential company. And we behave like an enterprise advertiser, so they treat us like that. So we actually were one of the first companies in the world to start importing our offline conversions into Google ads. And we used that to build audiences to go out and find more qualified customers. So we had actually ported over our SQL and customer information into Google automatically via Zapier. And that allowed us to then go and say, “Okay, we’ve got all these customers that we’ve piped into Google, Google now knows what our customers look like. And then they can bid accordingly against our audiences and against our search terms based on who they think looks like our customers.” So instead of most marketers at the time, and we actually implemented this almost two years ago now when we first did it, but most marketers at the time were bidding towards cost per lead. And we were actually able to leave that completely behind and start bidding towards cost per customer and cost for SQL. We completely stopped bidding towards cost per lead, and we wouldn’t have been able to do that if we weren’t up to try this new, somewhat scary integration that Google wanted us to pilot for them. So, in summary, it’s always aggressively testing, always looking for that next new magic bullet that maybe nobody else has tried yet to stay a step ahead of the competition.
Adrian Tennant: With its amazing growth, Fattmerchant is a poster child of Central Florida’s startup sector. It was announced in early December that a Knoxville-based investment firm, Greater Sum Ventures LLC, has taken a majority ownership stake in the company. What does the immediate future look like for Fattmerchant?
Mason Dorner: The future for Fattmerchant doesn’t look that much different with this new investment in terms of, we already had a really solid product roadmap. What this investment and these new partners are allowing us to do is to do it much faster and much bigger. So we started out as a merchant services company that sold payment processing and payment technology to small businesses. And we built an amazing tech stack that we provided just to our SMBs. But what we realized is there were software platforms out there that could also benefit from this API. So different business management tools that didn’t have a payment component but that could benefit from having one. So a real life example is a software for electricians. It helps electricians manage and run their business. The one downfall to the software was there was no payment component. And so the electricians would use this piece of software to do their scheduling, manage their inventory. But then when it came time to take payment, they would have to pull out another app, pull out their swiper from another company to actually take their payment. And so this software company came to us to integrate payments into their platform. And so we were able to hook them up to our same API that we use for our SMBs to where they could process payments within their platform. Now they have a stickier user experience, their users aren’t having to switch in between multiple apps. And so it allows them to own the whole customer experience and have a stickier product. And these softwares, many of them have thousands of customers. And so by adding just a couple of software partners, we can exponentially grow our book of business. And now the end user doesn’t necessarily know who Fattmerchant is. They don’t know that when they’re running a payment through this electrician software, they don’t know that’s us or who we are, but they become our customers by proxy. And so that’s the vision that Global Sum Ventures saw because they come from the software space, they’ve bought and sold many software platforms, and they understand that it is really hard to combine payments and software and get it right. And so what they saw in us as we were the one company that figured out how to do that, and so that fit their vision and fit their portfolio. ‘Cause this is the space that they’re in. And so now we’re able to grow into this space and also help them supercharge their other software platforms with this same payment technology. So that’s really the future is that we’re becoming more and more of a software SaaS-based company, more and more of an integrated payments company focused on this independent software vendor space. So our SMB space will always be there, we will continue to grow it aggressively, but now we have this whole other business unit that is focused on the software space.
Adrian Tennant: So we’ve talked a lot about performance marketing. It doesn’t sound like there’s much of a role for traditional brand marketing campaigns in your strategy. Is that fair?
Mason Dorner: Yes and no. So we’re in a space right now in marketing, where I think we’ve almost gone too digital and too trackable to where we’re overly focused on dollar-in dollar-out. It doesn’t mean that there’s not still value to brand marketing and there’s not value to traditional media. In fact, traditional media like TV and radio is cheaper than it’s ever been. I think the challenge though is figuring out, “How does it fit into my attribution model?” Like “How can I track back some dollars or some impact? I don’t need to track all of it, but I need to have enough to have a gut feel that it’s working at least.” And so I think that’s where it gets hard. And like display advertising and Facebook advertising, even though those are digital, they’re not offline – what I was just talking about. There’s a lot of people that will see your banner ad and see your Facebook ad and then will go to your site and convert. Google and Facebook will count those conversions, but you won’t see it in Google analytics. You won’t see it in your CRM. And so when I look at my reporting and my reporting says display advertising isn’t working, it’s doing horrible because we don’t see very many post-click conversions. But then I look in Google and it says, I have a ton of post view conversions. So Google is telling me, “Hey, these hundred people converted through this channel.” My CRM is telling me two converted through this channel because it’s only looking at post-click. And so I think that’s where you have to go with a little bit of a balanced view and a little bit of a gut feel of, “Okay, my branded search is probably not doing as good as what I think it is because branded search is all driven from somewhere and my display, or even my offline media is probably not doing as poor as what my charts and graphs say it is because it’s driving that paid search where I can track everything.” And so there’s a certain level of blind spot between the brand marketing and between the performance marketing that I think we as advertisers need to be okay with and accepting of. And as long as there’s enough leading indicators on both sides to where there is some data tie up, like again, I see all these conversions in Google. I don’t see them in my CRM, but there’s enough there that I can tie up that, okay, this is an attribution problem. This isn’t a performance problem. I do think there is room for marketing and branding. It’s not where I would start. If I’m a small business, I’m starting at the bottom of the funnel with paid search and with retargeting. But as I get bigger and as I go upstream, I do think it’s important and it’s important for us. Our goal is to be a billion dollar tech unicorn, and we’re not going to get there without people knowing our name. And we’ve done a good job showing up when people are shopping for payment technology, but we’re at a stage now where we don’t want to show up just when you’re searching for payment tech. We want to be the first name that you think of in payment tech before you even searched for us, you’re already aware of us because once somebody commits to a brand search, it’s usually pretty tough to peel them off which is why competitive advertising and search typically doesn’t perform all that well for most people, because you’re trying to peel off people that have already committed to another brand. So if we can be the first brand that people think of, that’s where our growth is going to come from because the bottom of the funnel is only so big.
Adrian Tennant: Mason, how do you keep up to date with the constantly evolving landscape of marketing technology platforms? And equally importantly, how do you determine what’s most deserving of your attention?
Mason Dorner: Yeah. So I’m going to answer the first part of that here. So the digital marketing landscape is constantly changing. What worked six months ago will not work now, especially when you look at advertising and the ad platforms, what works on Facebook? What works on Google? A year ago, or two years ago, everybody was bidding by hand on Google. Now you’re, you’re crazy and you’re losing out on opportunity if you’re not using auto bidding. On Facebook, a good size audience used to be 500,000 people. Now, if your audience has less than 5 million , it’s too small to be efficient. And so with these platforms changing so rapidly I’ve made it a priority for myself and for my team to always continue learning and actually block off time during the week just to learn and see what innovations are out there, whether that is attending a webinar , going to a networking event , going to a conference for one weekend during the year, reading a book, whatever it happens to be but to make sure that we carve out time for it uh, because as marketers in this day and age, if we’re not constantly learning, you’ll be obsolete in six to 12 months you’ll fall off very quickly. And so I really think it’s just a matter of prioritizing and actually blocking that time out on your calendar every week as if it were a meeting or some other commitment so that you actually do spend that time to enrich your knowledge and get a good view of the landscape of what’s new and what’s changing. Uh, to answer your second question in terms of how to determine what to focus on. That all to me, it comes back to ROI and effort versus what it’s going to yield. So whenever we’re taking on a project within the business or adding a new capability or a new piece of software, a new tool, I’m always looking at it from how much time and effort am I, or my team going to invest into this and what’s it going to bring back? Obviously, we prioritize the low-effort, high-yield tasks first and then work backwards from there. So, you know, It all comes back to ROI and what lines up best with the business goals, because especially within the marketing and tech space, there are so many shiny objects that are very cool from afar but cool doesn’t make money. And so it’s important to keep the business context and keep the ROI in focus ahead of what’s shiny and new.
Adrian Tennant: Mason, in addition to your professional life, you’re also very active supporting a number of causes. What are some of the most rewarding volunteering experiences that you’ve had?
Mason Dorner: Yeah, so I’ve always enjoyed helping people. It’s something that I was raised doing. It was part of my family culture. We used to take trips to Mexico to help build houses in some of the poor areas there. In high school, I took several trips to the Bahamas to help build an orphanage. So it was just something that I always grew up doing and always found a lot of fulfillment from. And I would say helping people is far more rewarding than anything that I’ve ever done professionally. So some of the things that I’m involved with now I’ve done some pro bono work here and there to help nonprofits with their marketing. So there’s a few nonprofits where I’ve set their search campaigns up or I’ve audited their website, or help them optimize for SEO. So it’s a fun cross section of my professional life and this kind of personal passion of being philanthropic. And then another passion that I have is public speaking. And so I’ve built up a pretty good network over the years of influential people who have the means to help when called upon and a lot of these people have platforms and access to audiences. So like several local pastors in the area, people like that. And so when my wife and I have run across a cause or a person or a group of people that we felt like we needed to help, I was able to combine this passion for public speaking that I have with also helping people. And so I’ve been able to call some of these local leaders and say, “Hey, I have this group of people or this family, here’s their need, can I come speak at your church or can I come speak at your company and tell this story?” And they’ve been gracious enough to allow me to come in and tell those stories and to raise money, to help these individuals, which has been that’s definitely the most rewarding, most fulfilling thing that I’ve feel like I’ve ever done personally or professionally is being able to help people like this and, leverage these platforms and leverage this network. And it’s just, it’s something that fulfills me, especially because it’s helping a real person, a real group of people that I’ve, met and seen versus giving to a charity, which is great, and if that’s what you’re into, that’s how you like to give that’s how you like to help the world, that’s awesome. There’s a lot of charities that do great things. For me personally, I like seeing where the time and the effort and the dollars are going and knowing that it’s impacting real people. So I like you, you’re doing this more targeted approach of finding a person or a family or a group of people, and then working backwards and going, “Okay, where can I find the resources to help these people? Who do I know in my network that this would resonate with, that would be willing to jump in and solve this problem or help this cause.”
Adrian Tennant: What are your daily sources of inspiration?
Mason Dorner: I would say first and foremost, my wife she’s a huge motivating factor for me. Everything that I do personally and professionally that I’m working towards is really to provide a better life for my family and for her. So she’s a huge source of motivation. She’s always got my back, has always pushed me forward. Whenever I’m maybe starting to get worn down or burned out. So definitely she’s at the top of that list. Outside of that, I’ve always liked doing things that are hard or that are difficult, or that few people are willing to do. Just being able to achieve is something that has always motivated me personally and doing things that are difficult.I guess I have, I’ve always had a fear of like being average and that’s not good enough for me uh, to just be your average, kind of run of the mill nine-to-five type person. And so that’s something I’ve always drawn on is I want to be better than that. I want to be the best that I can be. I don’t want to get to the end of the race, one day when I’m 80 years old and not have left it all on the field, and not have achieved all that I could achieve. So I guess I, I wake up every day, not wanting to waste that opportunity and wanting to make sure that I make the most of the opportunity that I have in front of me.
Adrian Tennant: If IN CLEAR FOCUS listeners want to learn more about Fattmerchant, where can they find you?
Mason Dorner: They can find us at Fattmerchant.com as well as on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn. Be sure to give us a follow.
Adrian Tennant: Excellent. Mason, thank you very much for being our guest this week on IN CLEAR FOCUS.
Mason Dorner: Thank you. It was great to be here.
Adrian Tennant: Thanks to my guest this week, Mason Dorner, Vice President of Marketing for Fattmerchant. You’ll find links to the resources we discussed today on the IN CLEAR FOCUS page at bigeyeagency.com under insights. Just click on the button marked podcast. And if you haven’t already please consider subscribing to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Audible, or your preferred podcast player. Next time on IN CLEAR FOCUS:
Lana Novikova: We market researchers have responsibility to understand our consumers and shoppers at the deepest possible level. And I wanted to build a tool that can reflect the nonbinary nature of human emotions. Heartbeat is all about emotions.
Adrian Tennant: An interview with consumer insights expert Lana Novikova, creator of Heartbeat AI, a unique text analytics tool. Thank you for listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS produced by Bigeye. I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant. Until next week, goodbye.Back to Articles