Brands Go Big for Personal Loans Paid Search

May 5th, 2022 | Lierin Melvin

Personal loan companies boosted spend year-over-year in order to invest in new product frontiers and push lucrative offers. With an increase in budgets, brands unearthed new ways to gain market share within acquisition marketing.

While all brands reported increases in paid search spend, SoFi led the competitive set in total spend and year-over-year increase. Brand prioritized debt consolidation, as this was the top-invested keyword group for personal loans.

Source: Mintel analysis of SEMrush [12/01/20 – 02/24/22] as of 02/25/22

2022 Keyword Trends

In 2022, brands invested in personal loan keywords that address a specific life stage. Wedding and home improvement loan keywords reported significant Y/Y increases, a sign that brands are looking to capitalize on the wedding and housing boom.

Best Egg launched a new strategy for 2022 that focused on attracting personal loan customers from credit reports. Best Egg invested in free credit reports to broaden the potential consumer base and position itself as a multifaceted financial health company. Their landing page for “free credit report” informs users of its Financial Health services and how education – and personal loans – can help consumers reach their goals.

Spend for the keyword group increased $94k Y/Y and was dominated by Best Egg, highlighting a potential white space opportunity for other brands to also invest in the category to stay competitive.

Source: Mintel analysis of SEMrush [12/01/21 – 02/24/22] as of 02/25/22

Conquesting strategies

Brands took a varied approach to protecting their own brand name vs. conquesting competition. LendingClub and One Main opted to primarily focus on their own branded terms, while SoFi and Best Egg focused more on the competition to gain market share.

Source: Mintel analysis of SEMrush [12/01/21 – 02/24/22] as of 02/25/22

While Best Egg targeted Upstart and SoFi’s general branded terms, it bid on Upstart’s offer campaigns to target promotion-minded consumers. Best Egg’s conquesting approach stressed a speedy application process and no impact to credit scores. To convince consumers enticed by Upstarts promotions to switch companies, Best Egg incorporated as many benefits as possible in the ad copy.

Source: Mintel analysis of SEMrush [12/01/21 – 02/24/22] as of 02/25/22

In tandem with its increased conquesting spend for Lending Club keywords by $12k M/M, SoFi pushed its more aggressive $100k loan in the ad copy. By highlighting a hard number for a loan, rather than keeping the value proposition broad, SoFi was able to further entice potential LendingClub customers to switch to SoFi.

Source: Mintel analysis of SEMrush [12/01/21 – 02/24/22] as of 02/25/22

Ad copy analysis

Advertised loan amounts got bigger, thanks to SoFi. Spend for ad copies that referenced a $100k personal loan increased $1.3M Y/Y, with 100% of spend from SoFi’s investment. SoFi paired its massive loan offering with massive life milestones. This strategy allows SoFi to attract consumers wanting major life purchases – ergo big financial commitments – on the docket.

Customized personal loan options have become a growing trend and whitespace opportunity.

LendingClub increased spend for ad copies mentioning customizable options by 90% Y/Y, reaching $1.4M. No other brands leveraged this value proposition in ad copies, making customization a potentially lucrative and competitive strategy to incorporate in paid search.

LendingClub pushed its customizable options in a friendly way to humanize its brand.

By using the verbiage “tell us about yourself,” LendingClub leverages a more human experience in its application process. This friendly approach, paired with its promise that applications take minutes, effectively infuses an automized and human approach.

What we think

Promote tangential product offerings: By promoting other products that support other financial decisions in ad copies and landing pages, brands can take a page out of Best Egg’s playbook and position themselves a financial health consultant vs. just a personal loans provider. This approach can help boost consumer trust and long-term loyalty.

Offer flexibility and stability: SoFi’s $100k didn’t just offer a huge loan amount – it offered flexibility to tackle life’s big projects. Additionally, by highlighting its unemployment protection, Sofi provides stability and a needed security blanket for consumers facing the uncertainties of 2022.

Incorporate a human touch: With a noticeable shift to digitization, providing easy access to a positive human interaction is a novel benefit to provide customers. Advertising strong customer support, education, and customized options in ad copy and landing page strategies will help brands stand out.

Lierin Melvin

Lierin Melvin

Lierin Melvin is the Director of Insights at Comperemedia, overseeing content, client engagements, and insights for Financial Services, Telecom, and Insurance. Lierin uses her nine years of experience in omnichannel marketing to provide recommendations and industry insights for how to effectively manage full-funnel marketing campaigns.