Braintree: Creating an Irresistible Target for Acquisition for an $875,000,000 Acquisition by PayPal

TL;DR: Braintree was able to achieve the below results with the help of Envisionit’s B2D marketing campaign:

  • 1,317% increase in MQLs per month
  • 1,685% improved average CPA
  • 32% increase in average monthly conversions

Payment processor business challenge

Fresh off a capital raise, Braintree was poised to disrupt decades of terminal processors and a mess of out-of-date transaction rails. They were a first mover—but they weren’t alone. Stripe also entered the market with a similar positioning and the race was on. 

While acquisition was on Braintree’s mind, both payment platforms needed to rapidly build traction with developers to secure their place at the forefront of the e-commerce revolution. Braintree had steadily amassed a dedicated following within the Ruby-on-Rails community, but to capture market share with enterprise merchants, they needed to scale developer buy-in significantly.

The answer: a developer marketing strategy

From early sandbox email nurturing to running paid media across four continents, Envisionit helped build Braintree into a category leading payment processor. 

  • By raising the collective profile of its most active audiences, our efforts focused on empowering their community and placing their work in the public eye. 
  • We also armed developers with the right content to influence financial check writers at larger organizations. 
  • As the developer community grew, customer acquisition spiked across the board while acquisition costs dramatically decreased.

The impact? For more than five years, Envisionit built a groundswell of support within the development community and buy-in from financial decision makers. This led to an $875,000,000 acquisition by PayPal.

B2B? More like B2D2B

Braintree had a foundation of support but to take this to the moon, we needed a scalable marketing approach for an audience highly skeptical of marketing. 

Knowing this, we dug in deep to truly understand the developer mindset and their role in solution selection–particularly when it came to larger enterprise organizations. We entered the sandbox and went straight to the devs who were already playing (as well as Braintree’s own engineers) to paint a picture of this collective. Talk about first-party data!

What we prioritized

  • Meet ‘em where they’re at: Devs set a high bar for the platforms and media they consume.
  • Authentic and intentional, always: The BS detector is strong with this community, so we needed to ensure all messaging was to-the-point and unobtrusive.
  • Buyer or barrier: Braintree had experience with earlier stage companies where devs rule the roost but in targeting enterprise we need to paint a picture of customer journey and their place in it at larger organizations where financial leadership may be making the final decision.

B2D marketing requires “thoughtful” messaging

More than anyone, developers and engineers actively try to sniff out disingenuous marketing. Efforts to speak to them must be straightforward, clear and honest—and above all, useful. Content with purpose is far more compelling to engineers than information without inherent value, so each campaign had to have a use case.

Additionally, messaging at this point had focused purely on product features. We had to evolve that approach to become more benefit centric.

We achieved both of these objectives with enthusiastic buy-in through our “Thoughtfully Braintree” campaign. Every statement, every experience, every publisher was approached with being thoughtful as the mantra–and it paid off, big time.


“Envisionit played an instrumental role in the success and growth of Braintree. Their partnership with our marketing team and deep understanding of payments allowed us to develop campaigns that drove positive ROI and positioned Braintree as a fintech leader.”
— Tracey Weinberg, SVP Marketing for Braintree

Automation and content marketing for payments

As the payments organization scaled, its sales resources became stretched thin and their effectiveness suffered. Nurturing leads into converted customers became a paramount challenge. 

Envisionit established Braintree’s first automated email marketing program, integrating Silverpro into Salesforce. We delivered MQL prospects from the developer sandbox that turned into actual transacting customers.

Utilizing drop content education, we provided our dev community influencers with the ammunition required to convert C-suite decision makers. Implementation of these efforts saw a:

  • 60% decrease in overall sales investment into converting clients 
  • 13.9% improvement in the payment platform’s close rate

Fintech paid media campaign of $1 million+ per month

As Braintree expanded capability across the globe, we extended its reach by running media programs on four different continents. At its peak, our agency was managing a program investment of more than $1 million per month.  

Demand generation began to truly impact bottom-funnel performance, establishing Braintree as the payment platform of choice globally with PPC seeing significant gains across Australia, Canada and the EU.

Overall, Braintree was able to achieve remarkable results with the help of Envisionit’s B2D marketing campaign:

  • 1,317% increase in MQLs per month
  • 1,685% improved average CPA
  • 32% increase in average monthly conversions

Concluding with a Venmo acquisition

Certainly a boost to overall valuation, Venmo created an array of opportunity and integration challenges as the company worked to integrate brand and product real-time. From a marketing standpoint we were given an entirely new value proposition to reenergize programming and push towards acquisition. 

Braintree’s biggest asset was not its product, but its dedication to the developers and entrepreneurs building a new economy on its payment platform. By thoughtfully considering and raising up its most active audience, we made Braintree an essential, irresistible target for acquisition. Because of these successes, Braintree was able to acquire Venmo, a mobile peer-to-peer payment app that sweetened the deal for PayPal.

Is B2D marketing right for your fintech?

If you feel that a sophisticated B2D marketing strategy would help your business, be sure to read this article and/or listen to this podcast on how marketing to developers the right way improves efficiency, velocity, revenue and retention. 

And if partnering with a fintech marketing agency to design, execute, measure and optimize B2D campaigns intrigues you, reach out to Envisionit here.

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