Modern Marketing

LendingClub’s Bill Walsh: ‘At its core, marketing is a data problem’

  • Lending Club's marketing is informed by data and analytics.
  • Bill Walsh runs marketing for the firm's personal loans division.
close

Email a Friend

LendingClub’s Bill Walsh: ‘At its core, marketing is a data problem’

We’re experimenting with an interesting new series on the podcast called Marketing Talk. We’re talking to top finance and fintech marketers sitting on the front lines of their business, hustling to bring in the next cohort of customers. As much as TechCrunch makes this stuff look easy, it isn’t and we want to hear from marketers — in their own words — what’s working for them, how they’re structuring their teams, and what channels are delivering.

Today’s marketer on the hot seat is Bill Walsh, LendingClub’s general manager and head of marketing for personal loans. Bill brings an engineer’s approach to marketing. The MIT grad began his tenure at Lending Club in an operations role, where rigorous problem solving was used to solve some of the biggest problems in the business. Now that he’s leading marketing on the consumer side, he brings a similar approach.

We talk about how LendingClub defines marketing and approaches channels. We pay particular attention to a recent TV campaign you might have seen over the summer of 2018. Measuring and responding to the signal is core to LendingClub’s approach and in the course of this four week broadcast campaign, Bill’s team iterated twice. This puts ad agencies on notice — this is the new data-driven fintech marketing world.

Listen to the full episode

SubscribeiTunes I SoundCloud I Spotify

The following excerpts were edited for clarity.

How does an MIT grad get into marketing?

I started my career as a software engineer. I find that very helpful in bringing a quantitative and engineering perspective to our marketing team.

I began at LendingClub in a business operations role. There, we were focused on rigorous problem solving, using engineering and consulting approaches to some of the biggest problems in the business. I worked in various parts of the company, including operations and underwriting. When Lending Club returned back to growth mode in 2017, it’s very much in our DNA to apply a data-driven approach to the opportunities in our business. I was naturally attracted to marketing.

The work we kicked off in the beginning of year to understand the right instrumentation, the right test-and-learn approach, and figuring out how we were going to grow this business in an efficient way — it was just a natural fit for my background and interests.

At its core, marketing today is a data problem, and what we focus on is really leveraging the advantages LendingClub has as a technology company.

Can marketing be boiled down to just data science?

I would say that marketing is definitely a scientific discipline. But, you can discover and learn the art side of the business. For us, one of the biggest things that informs the delivery of our messages is not going into it with any presupposition as to what will work in advance. We’re always testing a number of different messages, channels, and approaches.  We let the data guide what signals we mine in terms of creative.

As you see some of the messages we’ve been running on television, that’s where we landed on this idea of borrower stories. One of the things that resonated with our audience is customers hearing from people like them what a loan from Lending Club did for their lives.

Where did the television campaign come from and how do you measure its success?

We began the current campaign in September. We tell a number of different stories, keeping with this idea that we’re trying to find relevant messages for our audience. There’s a story focused on a family with young children that finds budgeting a surprising challenge. A loan with LendingClub helps to simplify the process. Money left over means opportunity for them.

In another story, two young men suffer a physical setback. It’s easier to get into debt than out of debt. A personal loan from LendingClub helped clear out a lot of the debt that had accumulated while they were out of work and helped them get back on track.

Something we’ve found that has really resonated is the idea that LendingClub isn’t a bank. It’s not just a place to get money. It’s a community. It’s a club. If you remember, the origin of LendingClub was a peer to peer lender, where people helped people. This is really powerful for a lot of folks in our audience.

How do you judge success with broadcast television?

That’s why I enjoy this campaign so much — it’s a challenging engineering problem. First, you need the right instrumentation and data collection for the top of the funnel. Getting the right identity resolution and customer journey is critical — foundational– to do this well. The second piece is the right cadence of testing. The third piece is having the analytical capabilities internally to quickly ingest and respond to the signal and tune our approach.

In the four weeks we’ve been running broadcast TV, we iterated on the testing and placement strategy twice, which put pressure on our agency. That’s just how we do things here. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. We’re not going to use resources for things that don’t help us get our message out there.

How’s your team aligned?

We have channel experts responsible for execution in each of the verticals. Half of our marketing team is in an analytical role. This type of quantitative approach informs how we do everything: from channel strategies to customer interactions across channels. The average customer journey through our media before they even land on an LendingClub page is in the dozens. It’s about understanding the 20-50 touch points before I even see you for the first time.

0 comments on “LendingClub’s Bill Walsh: ‘At its core, marketing is a data problem’”

Modern Marketing

Challenger banks continue to turn to big name celebrities, but micro influencers might work better

  • More challenger banks turn to celebrity partnerships and influencer marketing.
  • Experts say banks and financial institutions might be better off partnering with micro-influencers with strong engagement.
Shehzil Zahid | April 15, 2021
Member Exclusive, Modern Marketing

‘Everyone talks about stickiness, but how do you start the journey to stickiness?’: Behind Q2’s acquisition of ClickSwitch

  • Q2 is acquiring ClickSwitch, which enables new accountholders to more easily port their direct deposits and automatic payments over to a new account.
  • Q2 will add the software to its product sets and make it available to its Banking as a Service clients, too.
Zachary Miller | April 09, 2021
Member Exclusive, Modern Marketing

‘Less than 50 years ago, women could be turned down for a credit card based solely on their gender’: Behind the launch of The Card by Seneca Women

  • The card will reward shoppers for making purchases at women-owned businesses.
  • The move could especially appeal to Gen Z consumers, who place extra weight on companies’ ESG initiatives.
Rivka Abramson | March 23, 2021
Member Exclusive, Modern Marketing

In Balance the Banknotes campaign, N26 uses AR to put famous women on cash

  • Challenger bank N26 launched its Balance the Banknotes augmented reality effect to call out the gender bias in banking and financial services.
  • Only 12 percent of women are represented on banknotes around the world.
Rimal Farrukh | March 10, 2021
Member Exclusive, Modern Marketing

Faith and finance are mixing in consumer banking and advice

  • From financial advice to digital banking, religion is seeping into financial services in different ways.
  • As religion is just one input in a decision, marketing could be a unique challenge in the future.
Rivka Abramson | March 09, 2021
More Articles