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Brand Building To Drive Demand: Tosin Thomas's Impact at Financial Cents

Tosin Thomas, Head of Marketing at Financial Cents

Dive into this episode of Wytpod with Tosin Thomas, Head of Marketing at Financial Cents, as she shares her transition from biochemistry to marketing, and the strategies propelling the growth of their accounting and bookkeeping software. Explore the role of influencer marketing, SEO success secrets, and the importance of customer retention in the SaaS world. Tosin also gives a peek into her personal preferences in our rapid-fire round. This conversation is packed with insights on brand building, digital marketing, and the power of content in today’s competitive landscape. A must-watch for those in SaaS, marketing, or anyone intrigued by the evolution of technology in finance.

Financial Cents is an Accounting Practice Management Software to Easily Track Client Work, Manage Staff & Hit Your Deadlines.

Tosin Thomas
Head of Marketing at Financial Cents

Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of Wytpod. My name is Harshit, and I’m the Director of Business Alliance at Wytlabs. We are a digital agency specializing in SaaS and e-commerce SEO. I’ve got Tosin Thomas with me today. She’s the Head of Marketing at Financial Cents. It’s an easy-to-use practice management software built specifically for accounting and bookkeeping firms. A big welcome to you, Tosin. I’m so happy to have you with me today.

Thank you very much, Harshit. I’m happy to be here. Looking forward to our conversation.

Now, Tosin, can you please start by telling our viewers a little bit about your background and your professional journey so far?

Sure. I am the Head of Marketing for Financial Cents. Before that, I was the Digital Marketing Manager for FiatMatch, a company based in Canada. I started my career journey by earning a degree in biochemistry. I’m working in a completely different field from what I studied. My first job out of college was as a digital marketing officer for a cosmetics company. That was how I began my journey, fell in love with marketing as a career, and just gradually continued to grow professionally, learn new things, and take up new challenges. I have a mix of agency experience and client-side experience. I spent the first few years of my career working on the agency side, managing clients like KFC back in Nigeria, StanbyKai, B2C, and all those kinds of brands. From there, I moved into the world of tech and started my journey in tech. I joined Financial Cents in 2022, and it’s been an amazing journey just seeing how much we’ve grown, how much the company has improved its products, and it’s just been a beautiful journey. Yeah, that’s just a little about myself.

What gave you more of a kick, working for an agency because you’re dealing with multiple clients or working with a single brand?

It’s a mix of both. I can’t say it’s just one of those. It’s a mix.

Okay. Alright. Tosin, can you please provide an overview of Financial Cents and its role in supporting bookkeeping and accounting firms?

Financial Cents is a practice management software, or you can call us a project management software, but built specifically for accounting and bookkeeping firms. Before we came on board, there were other options for accountants and bookkeepers to use. Some were using generic project management software that just needed to be customizable enough for them to find value and find them easy to use to help them achieve their goals. There were other options, but they weren’t necessarily complicated. It would take days, even weeks, to get set up on some of those platforms. Some firms would have to hire a training specialist to help them move to the software and build out their workflows. When we came in, our goal was to build a simpler and easier-to-use platform that accountants and bookkeepers would find easy to use, and it would be customizable and focused on what they do. Now, accountants and bookkeepers do a lot of routine work, like the same set of work every month. They need to follow certain steps to ensure that they meet their deadlines.

They are also very deadline-focused. Right now, this is March, and there’s a deadline of March 15 and April 15. Throughout the year, there are many deadlines. We looked at all of those things when we were building Financial Cents, trying to ensure that we build something that will help them meet each of these goals, help them meet their deadlines, and follow their process through because it’s very compliance-focused. They want to ensure that everybody on their team follows the workflow so that they don’t make any mistakes and they get the work done accurately. So Financial Cents, that’s basically what we do. Our platform is the most common feedback we get from our customers is that Financial Cents is easy to use. We’ve seen people say things like, “Oh, I got set up on Financial Cents over a weekend, Friday to Sunday, and I was set up.” It’s easy to use and focused on accountants and bookkeepers so that they don’t have to try to make it work for themselves. The platform is already built to work for them, looking at the tasks and projects that they work on.

Now, since you joined the company, it hasn’t been long, but you have been focusing a lot on brand positioning and brand building. Can you share some specific strategies that have been instrumental in achieving these goals?

Yes. Like I said earlier, before we came on board, there were already other options. I know that branding is one of the best ways to get yourself out there and ensure that when people think about the problem they have, they remember your brand, they remember your company. A couple of initiatives we came up with to build a brand included introducing a signature conference, which is a workflow call, because, again, we are a workflow software, a project management software. We had our first edition last year, in October, and over 1,600 people registered. The goal of that conference was to position us as the experts, as the go-to people when you have questions about how to manage your workflow as an accounting or bookkeeping firm. We worked with industry leaders and our brand ambassadors, people who use the product and love it. We ensured that the conference was not a pitch of Financial Cents all through. Instead, we gave a lot of value and made it fun. We even had a DJ to wrap up the conference on the second day.

The feedback has been phenomenal. We are working towards our second edition this year, in October. Another thing we did was to reposition our podcast. Before then, our podcast was more generic. We just talked about managing your firm as a whole. Then we realized that there was a need for a workflow for a podcast, an accounting workflow-focused podcast. If you search for accounting podcasts on the internet right now, there are a lot of options that will come up, but there’s nothing specifically for workflows and processes. We repositioned our podcast to be focused on workflow, and we named it the Accounting Flow Podcast. Right now, our podcast is mainly focused on talking about how to improve your accounting workflows and processes. We have guests that come to talk about their spend management process, their project management process, their team management process, and all of that good stuff. That’s another thing we did.

Another thing we did was introduced a signature report, the State of Accounting Workflow Automation. We started that as well. The goal of that was to get insights and data from real accountants and put that together in a report that we can then share with people.

Now, that report consistently brings us leads, high-quality leads, actually. It’s one of our middle of the funnel resources that ensures that people get to learn about their problems and how other firms are solving those problems. Now, when we send out the survey for the report, it’s not just to our customers, it’s to all of our lists, like our email list. We’re not trying to get data just from Financial Cents users, but from accountants and bookkeepers as a whole. We have real answers from real people, and then we put all of those data together into real insights that firms can use to build their firm. We are constantly thinking about ways to position the brand as an expert, as the answer to the questions they have about building their practice and getting their work done. Those are just some of the things we’ve done so far in terms of brand building.

That’s brilliant. You’ve been using influencer marketing a lot. I would love to understand, how do you select influencers in the accounting industry, how have you managed these partnerships, and how exactly are these contributing to your marketing strategy?

Yeah, influencer marketing is a big deal in the accounting industry because this industry is very tight-knit. Everybody knows everybody, and people respect each other a lot. They respect each other’s opinions, especially the opinions of people they look up to, like those who have built successful firms. In terms of selecting the influencers to work with, we try to find authentic people who are real. They are not just talking about one success and then building a whole world around that, but people who have consistently shown that they know what they are talking about and have helped a considerable number of people. We try to ensure that our influencer partnership relationships are not just transactional. It’s not just, “I pay you, and you do this for me.” We need to make sure that the relationships are long-term. Even if we don’t work with some of them every single month, we ensure that we have an open door of communication with them. That way, if we work with you now, we can come back to you in another five months and say, “Hey, we’re working on a project, and we would like to work with you.”

They are always open to work with us because for them, for the influencers that we’ve worked with, it’s not just about getting paid. It’s also about helping people, sharing the knowledge they have to help people build successful firms by getting their workflows right, for example. Influencer marketing for us has been one of our best sources of revenue. There’s a particular influencer we work with that anytime we collaborate with him, it’s like magic. Honestly, that week, that month, you always see a spike in traffic and conversions from him. We use self-reported attribution. We ask people, “How did you find out about us?” We also have a space where you can specifically tell us who told you about us or where. We’re able to track our influencer partnerships to see that, “Okay, we worked with this person this week, this month, and we actually saw people mention to us, ‘Oh, I heard about you from this influencer.'” That’s how we track to know that these relationships are working.

That’s brilliant. In fact, your monthly webinars are again playing a critical role. I would love to understand and take your insights into managing a full funnel monthly webinar and partner webinar. How do you measure the impact of these activities, specifically, and the impact that they’re bringing on your revenue or even total deal value?

Yeah, thank you for that question. In B2B and especially in the accounting industry, webinars are a big deal. It’s amazing how these professionals, as busy as they are, they’re one of the busiest people, accountants and bookkeepers. But when it comes to learning, they always show up. We try to find topics that ensure they will get value from joining the webinar. We have a mix of webinars. We have middle of the funnel webinars and bottom of the funnel webinars. For our middle of the funnel webinars, we focus more on giving value. We select topics that are very value-giving, informative, and actionable, maybe a topic about pricing. It does not necessarily tie into what we do, but it gives them the knowledge they need to turn their practice around and make more money. Also, to make money, to set the right pricing strategy, you need some insights, which Financial Cents actually provides. We have reports, so we are able to tie parts of our products even to those topics that seem like they don’t necessarily tie directly into what we do.

A webinar topic on pricing, for example, we’re able to show them briefly how Financial Cents can help them, can give them the insights they need to know how much they should be charging and which clients are profitable or not profitable for their firms. Then we have bottom of the funnel webinars, which are purely focused on the products. It’s like a demo day or a customer webinar where a customer comes and shows others how they use Financial Cents to solve a problem in their firm. They tell the participants when they started using Financial Cents, why they started using it, and the problem they used Financial Cents to solve. As a result, even though those webinars are clearly very product-focused, people show up and they ask questions. They sign up for a demo or just sign up for a free trial by themselves. So, our webinars serve both purposes, middle of the funnel and bottom of the funnel. And again, we have self-reported attribution, and we also use platform attribution from HubSpot. HubSpot is able to track. We use both insights, both data, rather, to get insights into how well our webinars are performing. Obviously, they are doing well. Each of those webinars has its position in the funnel and what they are helping us to achieve. Again, the WorkflowCon conference last year, that month alone, In fact, the self-reported attribution for free trials and conversion, WorkflowCon made up, I would say, about 60% to 70% of the conversions we got that month and the following months. It was just phenomenal how much impact it had. That’s the strategy behind our webinars and events.

Tell me one more thing. For your webinars, specifically, what channels or strategies have been really useful for you to get the registrations for those? Anything that is doing really good wonders for you, any strategy, please can you share those insights?

Sure. We have partner webinars, for example, where we collaborate with another app to host the webinar. For those kinds of webinars, we’re promoting it on our end, and they are promoting it on their end. That helps us get the traffic and registrations that we need. Another strategy is to send the webinar invitation out through a newsletter that our target audience currently reads. So that helps as well. Sending it out through a newsletter, a paid newsletter, is another strategy. For our bottom of the funnel, we just focus on our current email list. We have an email list of about 40,000 people. And so we just send out the bottom of the funnel webinars to the people already on our email list, people who already know Financial Cents and who have been engaging with our content. We have 40,000 people on our list, so we have to segment the most engaged people, the ones who are not as engaging. That determines the list we send different webinars to. Another thing we do is social media, but, in my opinion, we haven’t seen a lot of success with organic push for webinars, maybe a couple of registrations here and there.

If you focus just on organic social media to promote a webinar, I doubt you get a lot of traction, except you have influencers in the company. Maybe the CTO or one of the leaders has a lot of audiences and gets a lot of engagement on their post. But ordinarily, social media has not been a good option for us. What we do instead is use Facebook groups as well. We have a Facebook group. We have two Facebook groups, one for our current customers and another for an open group, but specifically for accounting and bookkeeping. We also promote to those kinds of groups and to some Facebook groups that we have relationships with where they allow us to promote our webinars. Those are some of the things we do to push our webinars and ensure we get registrations. Sometimes we also do paid ads, but not all the time. Just sometimes, yeah.

Got you. Your organic traffic has been month-on-month improved since 2022 after you joined. I would love to understand the secret sauce behind that. What strategies have been really helpful in pushing your SEO and good organic growth?

When I joined Financial Center in 2022, at the time, we were working with an external agency to manage our SEO and all that. I joined Financial Center as Content Marketing Lead, actually, in May of 2022. At the time, I had no control over what was happening with our SEO. I didn’t even know the people in charge. I just knew that there was an agency that was doing all that. In my first few months, I was just trying to make the content better, both the new content I was writing and the content that was already on the website. I would send edits to the agency. “Can we do this? Can we change this?” I also was trying to ensure that the design was also better. At the time, We had all kinds of graphics on the website and on the blog. Sometimes I think they would just download something from Google and just put it in the blog article. I wanted to just change the look and feel while also improving the content that I was writing. Then after a while, I also had an external writer, a content writer, who was working with me.

We were both writing content; I would edit. Those were the initial steps I took that made some impact. But the real impact came when I started building the team. In February of 2023, I was promoted to the head of marketing. But before then, I started building the team. I had an SEO specialist, I believe he joined us in either December or January. We made it clear to him what our goals were. We moved our SEO from an external agency and brought it in-house. I would say that was a game-changing step that we took because as soon as we brought it in-house, we could control. We could see, we could plan, we could strategize. We decided on the core keywords we wanted to focus on. Myself, the CEO, and the SEO manager, I had multiple calls and talked about the core keywords that we want to go after, the core keywords that our competitors are dominating, and that’s what’s helping them get the traffic and the conversions. I feel like when you make the goal clear to your team, it makes it easy for them to go after those goals and achieve them. When we made it clear to the SEO manager that these are our goals, then he was able to go back, create a strategy, come back with the strategy, and we did everything, made changes there, and we decided, “Okay, what are the resources we need?”

We said, “Okay, we need a backlink specialist, we need more content writers,” and these are the topics that we’ll focus on for the next few months.It was a really interesting exercise for all of us. The SEO manager, I appreciate all the hard work he put into his job because, in a matter of months, we still saw the impact of his work. We were ranking on page one, sometimes position five, six, seven, eight. Within three months of him focusing on those core keywords that we said we wanted to rank for, before the sixth month, we were actually on position two, three, four, page one, for, I think I would say about 10% of our core keywords. The core keywords we chose were commercial keywords, so not generic keywords. Keywords that people actually search for when they’re looking for a solution like Financial Sense. This strategy and everything did not just impact our traffic. Every month, consistently, Google Organic SEO is one of the biggest, largest sources of free trials and demos. You can actually search, find, come to the website, and start a free trial by themselves or schedule a demo with the sales team.

SEO is just, I would say, it’s one of our best channels and has been consistently growing and improving since then. We work with two backlink specialists and about three or four content writers in general. That has been really helpful because every week we have new, fresh content. Another strategy is, some months ago, we created an editorial committee. Our target audience, accounting and bookkeeping firm owners, and none of us on the marketing team right now, none of us is an accountant or a bookkeeper, but we have ambassadors, like actual users of Financial Sense that love us. We built an editorial committee of three of those people that send our content to review, give feedback, make improvements before we publish on our website. Now we’ve also added on our content, well, I would say our content, reviewed by XXX CPA, giving our content more credibility. That’s another thing that we did. The final thing that we did in terms of SEO is, like I said, when I initially joined FC, we had a blog that was underdeveloped. The graphics were all over the place. The content was just low-quality content that You would just know that someone went on Google, put together everything they could find about that topic and just wrote something.

One of the things I did, even before hiring anybody, was I wanted to improve the quality of our content, ensure that we were writing things that people could relate with. Another thing was I wanted the blog to look better, so we worked on a content hub. Right now, we have a content hub on the website where all our content lives. That was a game changer for our SEO because we have breadcrumbs, we’re able to tie our core keywords to specific articles. We have different categories of content on the website. It’s just all put together, nicely looking and cleaner, not a lot of things bugging their content and preventing them from ranking on Google.

Got you. That’s actually brilliant. One of the good things that I picked up from here is that you have your industry leaders just mention them on your blogs and stuff. That’s actually very clever. After Google’s EAT update, it’s quite evident that people should do this. When you have a content piece reviewed or even written by someone who is an industry expert, Google does recognize your domain as a matter expert, and it adds a lot of credibility. So it makes perfect sense. Now, as someone who has led marketing efforts on both agency and client sites, what key lessons have you learned, specifically when working with seed stage and, I would say, growth stage startups?

I like to call myself the startup girl. I actually enjoy the world of startups. I feel like it’s an opportunity to really roll up your sleeves and get work done. I was talking to someone yesterday, and I was saying, when you work for a seed stage or growth stage startup, for example, your work shows. If you are not getting work done, it will show in the results. Your work actually matters, and your work makes an impact. If you are doing well, you see it in your revenue, in your traffic; you see it in everything. If you’re not doing your best or you’re not achieving results, it also shows in that regard. I would say that I enjoy working for startups. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that if you really want to grow your career, in my opinion—it’s not a general opinion—in my opinion, if you really want to quickly jump-start, grow your career, develop your skills, startups are the best places to get that done. I started on the agency side, and I realized that I had really positive culture experiences with the startups I worked for. I’m sorry, with the agency I worked for.

I wanted more. I wanted to learn. I wanted to do things. I wanted to make an impact. My major thing was I wanted to see that what I was doing mattered. It impacted the company, and I couldn’t see it on the agency side, really. I didn’t have control over how things like, as an agency, you can recommend steps to the company, but the company can choose not to do those things, even if the ideas are really great. Because the company has its own internal marketing team that thinks differently. Most times, it’s difficult to merge agency with the internal marketing team. I think any agency that is able to figure that out will really succeed because there’s a major disconnect in that regard. That was the biggest takeaway I got from working on the agency side, which is that the agency side is good as well. It’s like a consulting firm. You get to work with different brands. I worked with financial services companies. I worked with manufacturing, food. I worked with ExxonMobil, KFC, GSK, all these really lovely names, big names in the world. But I was very much limited in terms of the impact I could make, in terms of seeing the impact of my work immediately.

I wanted that, which was why I moved to the startup side. My biggest takeaway from the startup world is your work matters, your work shows. If you want to grow, if you want to really learn quickly, this is the best place to be. The way I’ve grown, working for Financial Sense in the last, what now? It’ll be two years in May. It’s just amazing. Even to me, I look back at where I was. What I always had was a desire to make an impact. What I always had was diligence and the mindset of giving my best and owning my role, being the CEO of my role. Those were the mindset I came into Financial Sense with, and I’ve always had. But I didn’t have all the skills in the world. I learned on the job, I took courses, I listened, I made mistakes, learned from my mistakes, tried again, and built the team. I just love the world of startups, and it’s been an amazing ride for me so far.

Since Tosin, we have talked about a lot of areas. One key area that we missed out on is your customer retention strategy. I would love to understand what programs or marketing initiatives you have in place to keep your customers engaged with the platform and retain them. That’s very crucial, to be honest, in the SaaS space that we are in, please.

Yeah, that’s crucial, obviously, because you can bring in all these conversions and customers, but if they are not staying with you, you have a problem. However, for us, the way we’ve managed or structured how this works is that the CS team, the marketing team, and the leadership team work together to ensure that retention stays really good. Our retention rate right now is over 90%, and we send out NPS surveys all the time to try to find out what people think about us. Are they enjoying the platform? We also have monthly webinars where people learn about the newest features and how they can use those features. We have all these conferences where we go in person, and we try to meet our customers and answer their questions, take care of their or whatever concerns they have. We also have a Facebook user group where it’s extremely active in there. People are asking questions, people are sharing their opinions. In fact, if we need to make a decision, say maybe we are caught in between two webinar topics, for example, just an example, we can actually take it to the user group and ask them, “What do you guys think between this topic and that topic?”

You would get people respond, “Oh, I think this topic is better. I think this is what you should do.” That’s just something outside of Financial Cents as a product. That’s how engaging the community is, and we try to keep it that way. People feel like they can ask questions, they can share their feedback, and they know that they are being listened to. Those are some of the things we do right now to ensure that we retain them. Another thing I would mention is that we are consistently always improving the products. Yesterday, I was working on an email to send out to a segment of our email list. In this email, I had to list out some of our recent feature updates in the last one year, and I was just amazed. I was in awe of how much the product has improved, gotten better just in one year. The integrations that we have now, the feature updates, the little things and the big things, and there’s no better way to retain your customers than to ensure that your product is constantly being improved upon based on their feedback. Kudos to our Dev team for just being the best there is, always improving the product.

Every single week, we push an update. We push a feature update or an improvement here and there. People see it, people appreciate it. That’s another thing people talk about in giving feedback. I love the fact that you listen to us and you are constantly improving the platform based on our feedback.

That’s brilliant. Alright, we’re coming to an end, and I would love to have a quick rapid-fire round with you. Are you ready for that?

Okay.

Okay. If you were given a superpower, which would you choose? Would you rather be able to speak every language in the world or be able to talk to animals?

I would definitely choose to be able to speak every language in the world, for sure.

Okay, interesting. If you could travel back in time, to what period would you go?

I would go back to the BC era. Exactly how the world looked like in the BC, maybe around 10 BC or 20 BC, I’m not entirely sure.

Why is that?

Just imagining how the world looked back then, the philosophies, how people appeared, how they behaved—it’s utterly fascinating to me. That time period, BC for sure, not AD, nor any of the recent times.

What’s something you could eat for a week straight?

I would say rice. As a Nigerian, we eat a lot of rice in different forms—Jollof, fried, coconut, village rice, everything. So, rice, yes.

I think we Indians do the same. Alright, what’s your hidden talent?

That’s a tough question. Every time I’m asked that, I’m not sure what to say. I guess I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure it out.

It seems everything about you is quite evident. Now, coming to my very last question, what’s your last Google search?

What was my last Google search? Honestly, I can’t remember. Can I check? Is that okay?

Yeah, go ahead.

Checking. Okay. Yes, my last Google search was actually “Financial Cents.” I wanted to see if a change I had requested had been implemented. I used my phone to search for “Financial Cents.” That shows how much I love Financial Cents.

That’s quite a commitment. Thank you so much, Tosin, for sharing all your experiences and knowledge about the company. I really enjoyed this conversation with you, and I appreciate your time here with me. Thank you.

Thank you so much. I appreciate you having me here, and I enjoyed talking to you as well.

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