Are Your Financials Minty Fresh?

In July, we posted a blog about the rising traffic of the finance sections of the major portals (e.g. Yahoo! Finance, MSN MoneyCentral). In the blog, we hypothesized that the increase in online interest for financial research and information is contributing to increased interest by people researching their personal finances online as people are taking a closer tab on their finances these days.

This interest caused me to take a closer look at how several personal finance sites are performing online. Each site, which allows people to aggregate and track all their personal finances, has its own flavor. Three of the most popular sites are:

  • Wesabe.com provides a community-like atmosphere where people share tips about personal finance
  • Geezeo.com is an ad-driven site with a heavy emphasis on selling credit cards
  • Mint.com uses the information you provide to serve up comparisons of your accounts with competing accounts that could save you money

From personal experience tracking my finances is becoming an obsession (of course, never during business hours). Apparently, I’m not the only one obsessing about my dwindling 401k. Mint.com was viewed by more than 480k visitors during August 2008. Since August of 2007, Mint.com has grown in traffic by more than 965%. As the chart below demonstrates, none of Mint.com’s competitors has come close to that kind of traffic or growth.

So why are people visiting Mint.com more than Wesabe.com or Geezeo.com? The reasons are both experiential and strategic:

  • Mint.com does not serve up one ad on its website. Got that? Not one ad. Now, you might get a "money-saving" offer like the one in yellow shown below, but those offers are on a separate tab and you can choose to ignore them completely.
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  • There is a limited population of consumers who want to do their personal finances as a group activity. I think I’m pretty loose-lipped when talking about money, but I’m not going to "open my kimono" on a website.
  • Mint.com has a smart marketing strategy. Mint.com is prominently placed in search listings for keywords like "Quicken" and "personal finance software." As a result, there is less likelihood that consumers are going to find Geezeo.com or Wesabe.com.

Mint.com recently announced the capability to add your mortgage, student, and auto loans to your portfolio to give users a broader picture of their finances. In this economic climate, this seems to be what people need right now, and it should be interesting to see how Mint.com will continue to expand its capabilities and grow its customer base.

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