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Acorns' educational response to the stock market downturn

When your business model revolves around helping people invest in the stock market, what do you do when the market takes a nosedive? How do you make sure your users stay calm—for the sake of their finances as well as your business?

Fintech app Acorns shows us one solid approach:

Encouraging users to remain calm

For the past couple weeks, Acorns has been using fullscreen modals to reach returning users upon login. The message? Avoid panic selling—the market will recover.

You can see how this message has evolved over multiple iterations. Below are a 3 similar modals, seen on March 1, March 4, and March 12, respectively:

acorns in-app messaging financial downturn panic selling

The evolution of this modal is interesting. You can tell that Acorns received feedback about version 1 (e.g. "a graph would make this more compelling") and version 2 ("the graph should show the 2008 recession for a more complete picture") to arrive at the latest iteration.

acorns mobile app s&p index financial education
The most recent version, seen on March 12, 2020.

What we like about these modals

  • They're informative and helpful—this reassuring message is something that many new investors can benefit from. Does Acorns also benefit by retaining users amidst a stock market downturn? Sure—in this case long-term customer interests and business interests are aligned.
  • They get better with each iteration. Marketers rarely get their message perfect on the first try. The evolution of these modals over time shows that the Acorns team is learning from and acting on user feedback.
  • The third iteration, especially, does a great job of giving key facts and visuals at a glance—the copy is clear and concise but not pithy, and the graph is detailed enough to be informative but not overwhelming.
  • There's a "read more" CTA. Acorns isn't pushing for any sort of plan upgrade or feature adoption—they're simply educating their users, because they know that in this case, educated users are more likely to stick with Acorns. Again, it's a win-win.
  • This message reaches users at the right time—when they're in the app itself. These modals aren't going to stop anyone who is dead set on selling, but they provide the right amount of friction to give less certain users pause.