Online Lender Puts Spotlight on Service

Online consumer direct lender E-Loan this week launched an integrated advertising and branding campaign with the company’s new tag line: “E-Loan. Radically Simple.” The campaign will appear on local and national cable television, radio, online, and outdoor billboards, and at select music and community events.

“We found that we had gotten away from our core values in our messaging,” said Catherine Muriel, chief marketing officer at E-Loan. “We had moved away from talking about one of our core values — treating people fairly.”

Previous messaging had focused on the “fast, easy and affordable” aspect of online loans, Muriel said, while the new campaign touts E-Loan’s “safe, reliable and honest” values. E-Loan’s online advertising currently centers around paid search and display ads on financial portals like Bankrate.com. The E-Loan site was also redesigned to present a better visitor experience.

The company is currently in negotiations with a “top interactive agency” to extend E-Loan’s reach online, Muriel said. Initially, the online budget will be allocated above and beyond current offline spending, but the long-term plan will include shifting some of the spend from offline to online ads. The company declined to say how much it currently spends on online marketing, or divulge how much it plans to spend in the future.

“For now, TV is critical for branding. Down the road, we’ll be optimizing and shifting our spend as we deem appropriate,” she said.

Offline media placements, handled by Hill Holliday, include cable and national news, ESPN and HGTV cable channels, and radio and outdoor ads in local markets like San Francisco.

The campaign, created by Merkley + Partners in New York, highlights E-Loan’s consumer lending experience. The spots portray individuals in everyday situations who are frustrated by traditional lenders. One spot opens on an individual holding a placard with the words “Honk if you don’t like getting ripped off,” while another focuses on a sign hanging from a half-finished construction project that says, “Clap if you deserve respect.” Merkley handled creative, strategic planning and came up with the overall “Radically Simple” theme.

Meanwhile, the company has shifted its email marketing strategy to focus on retaining existing customers rather than on acquiring new ones.

“We’ve reduced email substantially. When people say it’s not expensive, we disagree — there’s a high cost that comes with the risk of losing the interest and respect of a customer. We’ve put in place a CRM strategy with relevant targeting, where we touch the customer only when necessary.”

The latest retention email campaign includes financial content that E-Loan has licensed from MarketWatch. It’s designed to add value and maintain a dialogue with customers, she said.

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