Content Marketing Smackdown: NerdWallet vs LendingTree

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Online lenders face off
By Annabel Hodges, contributor. 11 January, 2017
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Up next in our Content Marketing Smackdown series are two newer players in the finance industry: NerdWallet and LendingTree.

Both brands approach the loans market in a modern, no-nonsense manner, providing customers with simple answers to common questions. Banking, loans and the inevitable T&Cs that go with them can be a veritable minefield for customers, something both NerdWallet and LendingTree have clearly understood.

New kid in town

NerdWallet is a young company which clearly targets the Millennial; the site is sleek and modern with a simple breakdown of options that quickly directs the user to relevant information. The combination of comparison tools, in-depth articles and calculators gives the visitor the reassurance the brand is an expert in its field. The site has the advantage over its rival of clearly being newer, with a UX that ensures its content stands front and centre.

The old guard

LendingTree is the US’ leading online lending exchange, founded in 1996 and very well established in the industry. The site uses calculators, comparison tools and real world examples to provide as much as value as possible to its visitors, thus encouraging a conversion. LendingTree’s blog covers a host of subjects related to its services, but doesn’t have as modern an approach as NerdWallet. The use of traditional blog devices such as tags, comments and views gives the site a more dated approach, which perhaps undermines some of its potentially valuable content. This contrasts with more contemporary content such as its Top Ten Tips articles, which are much more integrated into the site with a more up-to-date feel. The contrast between the two content sections suggests older content has not been fully updated to match updates to the site.

LendingTree’s blog covers a host of subjects related to its services, but isn't as modern as NerdWallet

Who's winning SEO and UGC?

The NerdWallet team clearly have an excellent understanding of content marketing and its impact on SEO. According to a report by Linkdex on US Personal Finance 2016, NerdWallet boasts an impressive 22.3% share of all organic search traffic for personal finance keywords. Much of this traffic is likely to stem from its huge variety of blog content, covering every question from the most common to the most specific. In addition to a plethora of articles however, LendingTree provides the added service of Lender Reviews, which offer great user-generated content with invaluable insight for potential consumers. This content takes a long time to build up and ensures a direct connection with visitors, and adds an additional layer of trust that cannot be ignored.

The great data divide

However, NerdWallet has also upped its game by recognising the value of data, using proprietary data gathered from their tools to build hugely shareable content pieces that are great for PR, SEO and brand visibility. A perfect example of this is the infographic they created to show where insurance premiums are most affected by driving infractions across the US. Using proprietary data to create unique content is a guaranteed way to generate publicity for your brand organically, without direct marketing.

And the winner is...

Overall, LendingTree has a more solid base of content, covering all areas and providing the consumer with all the information they might need. The addition of reviews is certainly a bonus for the user however it does feel like the site isn’t quite keeping up with new opportunities in content marketing techniques. The use of strong SEO techniques combined with clean UX and clear PR incentives through the use of proprietary data means NerdWallet just inches ahead in this smackdown from my perspective. However, with a solid foundation and ongoing great content from LendingTree, it wouldn’t be difficult for places to switch.

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Originally hailing from the UK, Sydneysider Annabel is a digital marketer with over a decade's experience working with global agencies and brands. A data and spreadsheet aficionado, she recently swapped SEO for motherhood and we eagerly await the analytics report! She is also maternally bilingual in French and English and speaks fluent Spanish.