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SEO Strategies for Growth: LoanPro's Journey to Enhance Online Visibility

Colton Pond, Chief Marketing Officer of LoanPro

Join Harshit Gupta, Director of Business Alliances at Wytlabs, in an engaging episode of Wytpod as he interviews Colton Pond, the Chief Marketing Officer of LoanPro, a unique lending credit platform. Colton shares insights into LoanPro’s innovative approach, emphasizing its API-first platform, enabling financial organizations to originate, service, and manage diverse loans and credit programs. Discover how LoanPro differentiates itself from traditional solutions, and Colton sheds light on their marketing strategy, focusing on tangible metrics and breaking down silos between marketing, sales, and customer success. Gain valuable perspectives on target audience segmentation, channel investments, and the importance of prioritizing successful verticals.

From application to repayment, LoanPro smooths the loan journey for lenders and borrowers alike. It’s lending, simplified.

Colton Pond
Chief Marketing Officer of LoanPro

Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of Wytpod. My name is Harshit and I’m the Director of Business Alliances at Wytlabs. We are a digital agency, and we are in SaaS and e-commerce SEO. And I’ve got Colton Pond with me today. He’s the CMO of LoanPro, which is the only purpose-built software for servicing loans, payments, and borrower relationships in a single platform. A big welcome to you, Colton. I’m so happy to have you with me today.

Yeah, thank you. It’s great to be here and thank you for the great intro.

Can you please start by telling our audience a little bit about yourself? And apart from LoanPro, you’re also involved in a few other things. I would love to know all about that, please.

Yeah. Happy to share, Colton Pond. As you mentioned, I am the chief marketing officer at LoanPro. A little bit about me, I’m a huge fintech nerd. I love fintech eat and breathe and in my spare time, live fintech through and through. And then the second important thing about me is I’m a huge marketing enthusiast in a different way that. We’ll talk a lot about that here on this podcast. But I think about marketing. I like to think that there are two categories of marketers, fluffy marketers, and marketers that get shit done. I like to put myself in the second category of marketers that focus on tangible, real metrics. Live in New York City and have been in fintech for the past seven or eight years at three different companies and have been focused over the past seven months here at Loanpro on doing what we do and building LoanPro.

That’s brilliant. Can you please provide a bit overview of LoanPro’s unique value proposition in the lending industry particularly if we compare it to the traditional solutions out there in the market, how exactly does Loan Pro differentiate itself and what are the core? Please?

I would love to. So we refer to Loan Pro as the only scalable modern lending credit platform. So we give it to financial organizations and partner with financial organizations such as Intuit, Chime, Best Egg, Sofi, and others and provide the ability to be able to originate, service, and manage virtually any class of loans, line of credit, and credit card. So that’s a lot there. But if you look at legacy platforms or products predominantly, they’re very rigid and inflexible. A lot of the rules, those products are hard coded, and a lot of financial institutions today that I’m very close with are handcuffed by those legacy platforms because they can’t innovate or do things that help them capture more of the market or differentiate in the market. LoanPro’s product and platform is API first. So we are centered on a platform that enables and breeds innovation, that allows our customers, our financial organizations we partner with, to plug in other partners or other pieces of their lending software into Loan Pro and to be able to create unique loan and lending and credit programs on LoanPro and launch them to capture more market share.

Awesome. And what is the core focus of LoanPro’s marketing strategy? How does it align with your company’s overall business objectives?

So I would say the overall business objective is to provide the platform to innovate the future of finance. We believe that we have a far superior product and platform in the market. However, there are two parts, right? You can build a great product and platform and then there’s going to market and bringing that product platform to market. And unless it’s implemented among financial organizations, then your great product amounts to nothing. And our job in revenue is how to bring it to market in the most efficient way. And I view my job, and as a chief marketing officer and my entire department’s job is how to collaborate as closely as possible with revenue, with sales and customer success, to be able to bring our product to market. So if you think about this an area that I feel super passionate about on the marketing side is B2B marketing. You have a lot of organizations that are very segregated when it comes to sales, marketing, and customer success. And the general flow is marketing focuses. Top of the funnel. They generate MQLs. They pass those miles too. An SDR’s job is to qualify and pass it to.

An AE’s job is to close, AE closes, pass it to someone in customer success. Their job is to retain upsell and cross-sell. When in reality, along those handoffs, there’s a lot of leakage that happens in the funnel. And then also you have misalignment of incentives. You have people in marketing, who are focused on how to generate as many MQLs as possible. Whether they’re good MQLs or bad MQLs and SDR is bad because they have to sort through all this crap. They view the world of marketing in a way that marketing, sales, and customer success are jointly collaborating through the entire funnel. So my metric is not MQL, my metric is how do I drive revenue and pipeline growth in the right way, and how does marketing contribute through the entire funnel until a customer signs and we’re working on retention and cross-sell and upsell opportunities.

That’s brilliant. There’s always an ongoing war between sales and marketing. I’m glad to see a marketer working across the funnel and helping every vertical out. That’s brilliant.

All right.

I would love to understand a bit more about your target audience and how exactly your marketing team creates content campaigns tailored to their needs and preferences.

Yeah, great question. So we’re focused on four main predominant verticals. You view them as financial institutions. So banks and credit unions, fintech lenders think of the likes of Chime or Intuit or others, banking as a service provider, and then credit card brands. Those could be brands like Costco and Target, but those could be any company that launches a credit card. What my marketing department has been able to do is focus on how we drive value-based messaging based on each target and segment. So how do we dive deep into what those segments care about, what pain they’re experiencing with existing solutions in the market today, and what our current customers in those verticals, the value that they receive today from Loanpro and how do we tailor that value? Because that value is very different for banks. That’s our customer relative to fintech lender. That’s our customer as they’re dealing with very different things where the fintech lender or the bank has to focus much more on compliance relative to the fintech lender. So I push my team to not only focus on, hey, how do we drive value-based messaging that talks through the quantifiable outcomes that our platform drives, but also how do we take it a step further and look at the value-based messaging for each vertical, which I think is essential.

Got you. And because from this outside understanding, your targeting is still way too broad, how do you prioritize? And because we work with innovative sources. Right. Then again, every need is not possible or doable, to be honest. How exactly?

One of the nice things, per my earlier point on increased collaboration among the entire funnel and working with sales and customer success cross collaboratively, is we start looking at metrics on verticals that our message is resonating and it’s working and we’re acquiring new customers, we’re building pipeline and metrics that matter to the business. And what we do is based on success. We double down on success and say, hey, let’s invest more here. And based on areas that we aren’t getting success. We didn’t figure out why so far, because Loanpro’s product is configurable and adaptable. It’s not a product problem. Or it’s not a product market fit problem. Often it’s a positioning or messaging problem. Or maybe the message is not in the right channels to reach that target audience in the right way. So that allows us to double down on investments that are working and also dissect investments that aren’t. Fix it and then continue to invest in those areas.

That’s the right thing to do. And I would love to know, what channels you invest in for your marketing messages.

All channels. So I’m a big fan. Chris Walker Refined Labs often talks about what he refers to as the dark funnel. And oftentimes marketers focus on only funnel activities that can be easily tracked in a CRM. So think about, for example, this podcast we’re having. It’s very hard to track listeners to this podcast, but in all reality, what may happen is someone may listen to this podcast, go to your website, look at a few things, download an ebook, receive an email, then go convert and say, hey, I want to chat. And a lot of marketers that just focus on the activities that they can track in a CRM will say, oh, ebooks, we need to do more ebooks of the way, when in reality what happened is that the podcast was a strong initial touch point that cultivated interest. So I’m a believer in investing in marketing channels broadly. How do you invest in even channels that you can’t track in a traditional CRM? And that includes both online and offline channels? We invest a good amount in in-person third-party conferences, our events, and things like that because we want to be able to touch those that we are reaching out to in as many channels and as many ways as possible.

Makes sense. Okay. Now, because we are an SEO agency, right? I’m going to be a middle bias and would love to learn a little bit more about your approach to search engine optimization and improving your online visibility. Have any key tactics proven successful in that regard for you?

So I think that the approach for someone like Loan Pro is different than the approach for a very established company, in my opinion. And Loan Pro is at an interesting point in its evolution where I’m the first chief market. Loan Pro has been around twelve years, twelve to 14 years, but I’m the first chief marketing officer. Marketing as a function has started to come into its own over the past six to seven months that I’ve been here, and the team and department that we’ve grown have been tremendous and super influential in doing so. But at our stage, we don’t have enough or a lot of content that helps us rank for SEO. So I believe that one of our first jobs is how to flood the market with more content and more high-quality content, but a high output of that content, and then understand what is working. Once again, to my point, what’s working, what’s not working, and double down on what’s working. And I mentioned to you before we hopped on the podcast, right now we’re working on a full rebrand and redesign and also new messaging on our website, and our strategy is, hey, the website has four times as many pages as our current website does today and it’ll grow from there.

Let’s go build as much content relevant content as we possibly can and try and high rankings for this.

Definitely. Once you increase the content frequency on your site, it helps you build that authority and increases your online visibility for sure, because Google kind of recognizes you in that space a lot and promotes you in a way. So, yeah, makes sense in the context of rapidly evolving landing space as going crazy. How does Loan Pro foster innovation within its marketing approach to stay ahead of the industry trends?

Yeah, so I would say find unique ways to engage with potential customers. That’s beyond, you having to do the traditional ways like SEO, you have to do paid advertising through Google. Right. You have to have those table stakes things but find unique ways to differentiate in your marketing that your competitors aren’t. So an example is in the fall, there’s the biggest fintech and financial services conference in the US. It’s Money 2020. Tens of thousands of people go to Vegas for this conference. We took a unique approach in that we, before the conference, set up over 300 meetings with potential customers and current customers at the conference. One of the other things that we did was rent out during lunch at one of the prime restaurants there, and we hosted a happy hour that was promoted through various channels. I think we had 250-300 people show up. It was like getting food was like a Disney World line that you were waiting in, which is just one example of how we tried to pull people outside of the conference experience and to relax in a different environment. I think the concept, though very much is to think outside the box, test things, and see if they work.

If they don’t work great, you learn something. If they do work, double down on what works.

Makes sense. Any notable challenges that you have faced in your marketing effort and how exactly have you overcome those challenges?

I would say the biggest one so far at Loanpro, as I’ve been seven months in as chief marketing officer, is how we grow and build the marketing department. And basically, we grew it from scratch, from the ground up, and now are among 18 -19 folks in marketing. A big focus was how to enable them to be successful and find quick wins in the first 90 days. Because we brought on I think we brought on 16 new people to the marketing department in the past six months. I see a lot of posts on LinkedIn, oftentimes on 30, 60, or 90-day plans, and I laugh at a bunch of those because a bunch of them have you making no actual impact in your 90 days. So I’ll do a plan, get it approved, and get stakeholders engaged. It’s like, what are you doing to show actual output? A big focus of me with my team is let’s get you some wins in your 1st 90 days. Let’s get you influencing metrics building pipeline engaging with customers and helping build loan pro in the right way. There needs to be some planning, but a big part of what we’ve done is let’s go, let’s get to work, and let’s start making an impact immediately.

I would love to know because earlier during this podcast you mentioned some of the KPIs that you keep track of. Can you please elaborate on that? And would love to hear how exactly you feel that particular channel or content piece is a success and if you want to double down on that particular area.

You would view them with the same metrics as a salesperson which is super unconventional. But the reason why it works is because marketing at LoanPro is truly leaning in through the entire funnel up until an opportunity is closed. How do we get the right materials? How do we get the right messaging, how do we drive more stakeholder engagement, and things like that? So what we’re ultimately focused on is how to get our product or platform in as many hands as possible to fulfill our mission of providing the platform to innovate the future of finance. But that ties directly to revenue. So revenue metrics, pipeline metrics, a big metric that I focus on in a B2B environment is pipeline coverage. So do we have enough pipeline coverage to be able to hit the next two to three quarters of revenue goals that we have? And then a lot of what we’re also focused on, the customer success side is net retention and gross retention, and how are we retaining and treating and growing with our customers in the right way I actually, don’t have an MQL goal like I don’t have an SQL goal.

I track those things to see where problems are in the funnel. But that’s not a goal. That’s not the end outcome. The end outcome is how do we sign more customers and how do we grow more with our customers and enable success for our customers?

Got you. I would love to know because you mentioned retention and all, I would love to know how exactly the churn rate points on props and do you have any retention programs which is doing good and wonders for you.

I would say for us in enterprise B2B tech, a big focus over the past six months is how we get in person with our customers. How do we engage with our customers in an in-person environment, understand what problems they’re facing with LoanPro, understand what success and value they’re receiving from LoanPro, and how to help and be a true partner? Loan Pro is like a core infrastructure. It is the infrastructure for our customer’s lending business that they rely on on a day-to-day basis. So our approach, especially with the past six months, is, hey, how do we get in person with our customers to build a relationship, but also understand other ways that they should be using Loan Pro to drive more value? And that in turn, we’ve seen increases in net retention, gross retention, all the metrics that you would want to see, which in the end customers are my opinion, customers are the most important group that you need to take care of because once you have a customer, you should retain them.

Makes perfect sense and one-to-one touch, nothing like that. To be honest, anything that is working for you in scale, maybe they were a blog posting, something like some retention program.

I would say one of the things we noticed over the past six months is a lot of our customers didn’t truly know the power of Loanpro and all of the ways that they could use Loanpro. So we’ve made a big emphasis through email marketing over the past two or three months on how we consistently, through a drip campaign to our customers, inform and educate our customers at mass on other ways that they can use LoanPro to drive value. Those have been identified as we interact and talk with customers and understand how they’re using Loanpro and the value that they are receiving from LoanPro today. And that in turn we’ve taken those insights back from customers and then casted those to all customers so they all can receive similar value from our platform.

Makes sense. Okay, we’re coming to an end and I would love to have a quick rapid fire with you.

Are you ready for that?

Let’s go.

Okay. What habit holds you back? The most.

What habit holds me back the most? I would say the habit that previously has held me back the most is not giving enough to my team and thinking that I need to do everything myself. That’s changed over the past three months. My team is full of rock stars and they’re killing it and giving them projects, Allowing them to learn from those projects has helped the broader department grow tremendously.

Thank you. What chore do you despise doing?

What chore? Yeah, I hate vacuuming. I never want to vacuum. I ask my wife to vacuum and I’d rather do the dishes or something outside of vacuuming for some reason.

What subject do you find to be most fascinating?

Behavioral economics for sure. I did my graduate studies in behavioral economics and I love the early work on how psychology intersects into real-world outcomes.

What career did you dream of having as a kid?

As a kid, I wanted to be an MLB baseball player. I grew up playing baseball. I want to play for the New York Yankees. Hopefully, I can help my son be an MLB baseball player one day. He’s a lot better than I was, but definitely, that was the dream.

Good luck, man. I’m coming to my very last question. What did you last search on Google?

My last search on Google was, I believe this morning around an upcoming conference that we’re going to and making sure that we have the right details on that upcoming conference to tell you the truth.

All right, Claudia, thank you so much for all the wisdom, and all the marketing knowledge that you shared in today’s session. I appreciate it. Thank you so much.

Yeah, thank you for having me. It was a pleasure. Bye.

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