Consumer FinanceIntent Marketing

Know Your Customers – How Student Loan Companies Can Attract High Intent Users

By Ilana Hart
Tuesday, July 2, 2019

As another school year comes to an end, college students are reveling in the freedom of summer break—a much needed time to put aside the text books, relax, hang out with friends, and enjoy the outdoors.

But while some revel, others are putting in overtime at their summer jobs, trying to pay off some of their debt from the student loans that are putting them through school. And in their down time, these same individuals are probably thinking about their financial future, including what their earning power will be once out of college, how they can lower interest rates on their current loans, and how to minimize debt in the long run.

How do millenials search for student loan lenders?

Managing one’s personal finances is a major foray into adulthood. But today’s millennials are bright and tech savvy, and they know they can generally find what they need with a simple Google search, such as: “Best student loans” or “Top student loan refinancers.”

While their parents would have sought out specific reputable personal loan providers, today’s generation will search for the best lender based on the criteria most relevant to them—like fixed vs variable interest rates, loan terms, loan refinance options, and key lender features. They know how to do the research and make an educated decision based on the information they find. Even while sitting by the pool, they can easily use their smartphones to plug in these search terms and get all the information at their fingertips.

This emerging trend of non-branded search is popping up across the consumer finance sector, also applying to mortgages and car insurance. In the personal loans industry, a year-over-year comparison for 2017/2018 showed a 13% jump in non-branded search; and throughout 2018, the volume of non-branded searches was almost 6 times higher than branded searches for the largest personal loan companies like “Lending Club” and “SoFi”.

What inspires users to take action?

Understanding this type of search behavior puts student loan providers in a position to convert high intent users into buyers. To do so, it is imperative that these providers help users make a decision by delivering the right information at the right time.

In particular, review pages, informational articles, and the following types of guides have been shown to yield high conversion rates among users looking for a personal loan:

  • Do’s and don’ts of taking out a personal loan
  • Guide to personal loans
  • Guide to debt consolidation
  • How to calculate your credit score

If the search query is about refinancing an existing student loan, then lenders could put together information packets such as:

  • Guide to refinancing student loans
  • Pros and cons of refinancing student loans
  • Alternatives to refinancing

Lenders would also be wise to include a call to action button that says “get my rates” as opposed to something more generic like “get started,” since the former has a 2.3% higher click-through rate.

How can student loan providers attract buyers?

Students make for wonderful researchers and analysts. After all, this is part of what they’re learning to do in college.

Lenders must understand their potential buyers and their behavior, and adjust their marketing strategy accordingly. Considering that their target audience is using non-branded keywords to find the best provider, these companies would be wise to work with third-party websites that provide useful data, comparisons and reviews to help users make their decision.

Companies that implement smart intent marketing strategies while offering the best value for money have the greatest chance of attracting new buyers. And, as brand loyalty gets tossed to the wayside, the field is wide open for both new and existing players to thrive.

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