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Lending Tree’s new marketing chief says customer experience is king

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Lending Tree's new marketing chief says customer experience is king


In January, LendingTree appointed Shiv Singh as their first Chief Marketing and Customer Experience Officer. Singh came to the company from The Expedia Group, where he was SVP and general manager. He’s also served as CMO for medical technology startup Eargo, and has also held high-level positions at Visa, PepsiCo and Razorfish.

CX is sometimes overlooked in marketing, so we were very interested in hearing about Singh’s approach to this new, combined role.


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Congratulations on your recent appointment, and how was the role of chief marketing and customer experience officer created at LendingTree?

Until the start of the pandemic, there was a CMO in place and CX was separate. When that CMO left, the business decided what was the right structure for the future. Doug the founder/CEO believes that a big part of the future of marketing is that it works effectively both in terms of revenue generation and performance on digital channels.

Why is the importance of CX in organizations on par with marketing overall?

We’re looking to make this a lean, mean and incredibly successful marketing team. On top of that, it’s about getting behind the brand more strongly and getting the entire customer experience to work for the brand effectively. We are in an age where, and I blame Google and Apple for this, where we as consumers expect enjoyable and delightful experiences. It’s not just about the transactional value, but having an uplifting experience contributes to us having an affinity for an organization.

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Read next: What is customer experience and why does it matter?

In what ways does LendingTree make customer-centricity work for your audience, and how do you communicate that when engaging customers?

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LendingTree has an incredible legacy around focusing on the customer. You used to have to physically run from one bank to another to compare rates. There had to be a better way. LendingTree had early success with the message, “When banks compete, you win.” It was about being on the side of Main Street. We have their personal finances and we can guide consumers to what financial products to use – they have someone on their side. The LendingTree business has grown much larger to include business loans, insurance products, solutions for students, but still very rooted in our DNA is that we’re on the side of the consumer, their ultimate advocate in a more complex finance world.

There’s so much noise in the financial services space, and even more broadly in culture. Layer on top of that the most polarized views in the history of our country. As a result of that, people don’t know who or what to trust. When I think about the opportunity at this stage in LendingTree’s history, we’re reminding consumers why we are the best company to be trusted with their finances. Finances are immensely personal, and we inform customers, educate and, in some ways, inspire [with the message that] when you take care of finances well, it’s a positive experience that can even change your view of life. We are reframing the role that personal finances play in our lives. We play to that higher purpose more than other brands.

To get that message out, we are the top display advertiser in the country and a top ten search advertiser. The business works incredibly effectively to acquire new customers and serve them. The team is doing an incredible job, and there’s more to do to push boundaries. I don’t know as much about TikTok as a third of my team. They’re better skilled at living in that world, engaging consumers around their finances. We also have a pretty sophisticated martech stack, whether analytics or our CRM or the adtech infrastructure. We’re constantly evaluating and assessing, with a renewed focus on CX and making all the channels work together.

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About The Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.



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B2B customer journeys that begin at review sites are significantly shorter

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B2B customer journeys that begin at review sites are significantly shorter

The B2B customer journey can be a long one, especially when the purchase of expensive software subscriptions is under consideration.

“The average B2B customer journey takes 192 days from anonymous first touch to won,” according to Dreamdata in their 2022 B2B Go-to-Market Benchmarks — a statistic described by co-founder and CMO Steffen Hedebrandt as “alarming.”

But the report also indicates that this journey can be significantly sped up — by as much as 63% — if accounts begin their research at software review sites, gathering information and opinions from their peers. Journeys that originate at a review site often lead to deals of higher value too.

Fragmented data on the customer journey. Dreamdata is a B2B go-to-market platform. In any B2B company, explained Hedebrandt, there are typically 10 or even 20 data silos that contain fragments of the customer journey. Website visits, white paper downloads, social media interactions, webinar or meeting attendance, demos, and of course intent data from review site visits — this data doesn’t typically sit in one place within an organization.

“We built an account-based data model because we believe that there’s such a thing as an account journey and not an individual journey,” said Hedebrandt. “So if there are two, three or five people representing an account, which is typically what you see in B2B, all of these touches get mapped into the same timeline.”

Among those many touches is the intent data sourced from software review site G2. Dreamdata has an integration with G2 and a G2 dashboard allowing visualization of G2-generated intent data. This includes filtering prospects who are early in their journey, who have not yet discovered the customer’s product, or who have discovered it but are still searching. This creates a basis for attributing pipelines, conversions and revenue to the activity.

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“Strategically, our ideal customer profile is a B2B software-as-a-service company,” said Hedenbrandt. “B2B SaaS companies are particularly ripe for understanding this digital customer journey; their main investment is in digital marketing, they have a salesforce that use software tools to do this inside sales model; and they also deliver their product digitally as well.” What’s more, it takes twice as long to close SaaS deal as it does to close deals with B2B commercial and professional services companies.

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Read next: A look at the tech review space

The Benchmarks findings. The conclusions of the 2022 Benchmarks report is based on aggregated, anonymized data from more than 400 Dreamdata user accounts. Focusing on first-touch attribution (from their multi-touch model), Dreamdata found that customer journeys where a review site is the first touch are 63% shorter than the average. In contrast, where the first touch channel is social, the journey is much longer than average (217%); it’s the same when paid media is the first touch (155%).

As the Benchmarks report suggests, this may well mean that social is targeting prospects that are just not in-market. It makes sense that activity on a review site is a better predictor of intent.

Hedenbrandt underlines the importance of treating the specific figures with caution. “It’s not complete science what we’ve done,” he admits, “but it’s real data from 400 accounts, so it’s not going to be completely off. You can only spend your time once, and at least from what we can see here it’s better to spend your time collecting reviews than writing another Facebook update.”

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While Dreamdata highlights use of G2, Hedenbrandt readily concedes that competitor software review sites might reasonably be expected to show similar effects. “Definitely I would expect it to be similar.”

Why we care. It’s not news that B2B buyers researching software purchases use review sites and that those sites gather and trade in the intent data generated. Software vendors encourage users to post reviews. There has been a general assumption that a large number of hopefully positive reviews is a good thing to have.


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What Dreamdata’s findings indicate is that the effect of review sites on the buyer journey — especially as the first-touch channel — can be quantified and a value placed on it. “None of us questioned the value of reviews, but during this process you can actually map it into a customer journey where you can see the journey started from G2, then flowed into sales meetings, website visits, ads, etc. Then we can also join the deal value to the intent that started from G2.”

Likely, this is also another example of B2B learning from B2C. People looking at high consideration B2C purchases are now accustomed to seeking advice both from friends and from online reviews. The same goes for SaaS purchases, Hedenbrandt suggests: “More people are turning to sites like G2 to understand whether this is a trustworthy vendor or not. The more expensive it is, the more validation you want to see.”


About The Author

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Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space.

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He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020.

Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.

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