At Timbi, we interviewed digital marketing expert Santiago Juarros. Santiago serves as Head of SEO at Ripio, one of the most innovative technology companies in Latin America. Ripio builds financial products on blockchain to enable credit, provide electronic payment solutions, and boost the new digital economy across LatAm.
Could you give us a summary of your professional career?
SJ: While still at school, I became interested in everything related to digital communications, information networks, the rise of the internet, and digital media. I used to attend and explore video game forums regularly and eventually ended up joining the digital community. I had a contact who was running a server for a game called World of Warcraft during that time. After discussing a few times, he ended up offering me to become the moderator for a forum he managed, and I was able to develop it by attracting new users and using advertisements to maintain the server.
My next challenge was to reinforce the webpage’s position and monetize visitor flow by implementing Google AdSense (a platform built to reserve digital advertising spaces). After that, I had to grow the forum’s community by publishing video game tutorials online and ensuring that those tutorials positioned well on Google. It was then (around 2008-2009) when I finally learned about web positioning and SEO techniques and decided to work as a digital marketing professional.
Before joining Ripio, I had several other jobs. I began my career with an internship at Bank Itau, carrying out the internal communications strategy and commissioning the bank’s internal website. I then moved to Johnson Controls-TYCO, a security products company where I handled both traditional marketing, SEO, and Google AdWords strategy. After that, I joined Globant as a digital marketing analyst and grew into a specialist until I left for Mercado Libre. I entered Mercado Libre as a digital marketing specialist in charge of the company’s entire content strategy at the regional level. Finally, I join Ripio leading the company’s SEO team, to publicize and educate about all that is happening in the cryptocurrency world.
" Within a market where consumers are demanding innovative financial solutions and investment alternatives, there are many marketing opportunities to be deployed."
Why Ripio and how did you become Head of SEO in such a disruptive sector?
SJ: When they initially contacted me to see if I was interested in working at Ripio, I already knew about the company and had already explored the crypto world a bit. I had acquired and had made some transfers with cryptocurrencies but was not aware of all the range of services a company like Ripio could provide. Having learned more in-depth about cryptocurrencies, I now think it is one of the most innovative industries that exist today. There are a lot of potentialities within the field and I believe the crypto-circuit is essential for the current finance-based evolution of the internet.
For this same reason, I am very interested in the cryptocurrency field and think it is one of the most innovative industries today. The sector has terrible potential, and I believe it plays an essential role in the evolution of internet-based finance. The FinTech sector is gaining traction with a whole set of products and services, ranging from personal loans and microcredits to digital-only banking and insurance. Consumers need to understand the value of marketing goods and services through digital payments and the central role of importance cryptocurrency finance embodies.
The cryptocurrency industry is becoming the working place for many future marketing professionals dedicated to developing digital markets within different niches. I firmly believe that once the legal issues regarding cryptocurrencies are solved, and as regulations advance, we are going to be able to exploit the full market opportunities for crypto. Currently, the most significant marketing possibilities are within organic positioning. Therefore, most crypto companies must rely on a dynamic SEO positioning team that helps them be profitable and get consumers to know their businesses.
Could you describe the FinTech community in Argentina and the cryptocurrency industry?
SJ: The FinTech community in the country is growing at exponential levels. Proof of this are the five digital unicorns made in Argentina: Mercado Libre, Despegar, OLX, Globant and Auth0, companies that were already born digital. There are also additional influential startups devoting all their efforts to become the next unicorns: Ualá with their card, digital bank Brubank, Wilobank, Wenance, and several other ventures like InsurTech Iúnigo, the first Argentine startup to offer deals with personal insurance, and Tarjeta Naranja who just released a new business unit called Naranja X, a virtual wallet aimed at young consumers.
The FinTech industry in Argentina is expanding and its enormous potential could be released, especially when startups are well funded and can invest in infrastructure. Another fact is that digital companies have lower expenses and costs compared to traditional businesses. With cryptocurrencies, the industry has aimed towards investment and forging the path towards trading. Due to price volatility, the structural conditions for receiving payments for goods and services in cryptocurrencies are still to develop. Nonetheless, Argentina has one of the most active crypto communities in the world. The government should make public the benefits of digital currencies as a step towards democratization of money, a challenge that also pertains to the corporate world.
Ripio has the mission/challenge of democratizing finance at the regional level. The company is committed to educating its users in the use of cryptocurrencies, its benefits, advantages and disadvantages. If there is something that brings together the broader FinTech sector in Argentina is that society has an inadequate level of knowledge about personal finance. Therefore, one of the most critical issues for FinTech startups has turned them into leaders for providing financial education to the Argentinian community. Within a market where consumers are demanding innovative financial solutions and investment alternatives, there are many marketing opportunities to be deployed. And as critical industry players improve their products, ultimately, the experience for users becomes more enjoyable and valuable.
What have been the most difficult challenges you have faced in Ripio?
SJ: Without a doubt, at least from the marketing side, the most significant challenge is to understand our users. Trying to map who is using Ripio, why, how, when, and in what context. If we can understand our user’s interests and what they expect from us, we are better able to assist them. Understanding our user base is essential and providing the right information and tools is our commitment to them. Based on insights, we can deliver quality content and value for users and potential customers. Providing educational content on alternative finance, digital currencies, and blockchain technologies is our foremost mission.
The second challenge has to do with improving our product and maintaining a pleasant user interface. Understanding the crypto world is already challenging for users, so our idea is to make the product as less complicated as possible. We strive to support our users, providing a simple tool to carry out cryptocurrency and financial transactions. A friendly and valuable product for users should also be scalable and easy to replicate in other countries of the region.
Bonus: SEO Chamber
SJ: I recently participated as a speaker at the SEO Day, a leading event focused on SEO practices and web positioning at the Latin American level. More than 500 people attended and it was exciting to see how more and more people are interested in SEO techniques and practices. During my presentation, I had the opportunity to convey the importance of creating content to position on the web. At the same time, we announced the conformation of the Argentine SEO Chamber forged with the idea of educating professionals on the practices of web positioning and launching a series of online courses aimed at how to design an initial SEO strategy differentiating the different moments in the marketing of a good, product or service.