TransUnion, known as one of the big three credit-reporting giants, has undergone a metamorphosis as it looks to position itself as a provider of data analytics and information services across the 33 countries in which it operates.
- The work we do impacts the whole world. It’s not just a B2B brand and Ken [Chaplin] applying the brand platform to the B2C business. We have one brand.
- Using data helps us make decisions, and it’s helping us improve the way we market and how we attribute conversations.
- We need a solution around addressable audiences. It’s the holy grail of being able to understand cross-device connectivity.
The undertaking has meant changes for both the B2B and B2C sides of the business—and that involves chief marketers Julie Springer and Ken Chaplin. Springer manages the credit giant’s B2B marketing, while Chaplin is responsible for the company’s consumer marketing.
In the job for a year, Springer was previously vice president of marketing and product development for TransUnion Interactive. Chaplin, who has been CMO for 18 months, has more than 20 years of global marketing, brand management, brand architecture, and strategy development experience for brands including The Walt Disney Co., Crocs, and Experian.
CMO.com spoke with Springer and Chaplin about the rebranding—“It was like an archeological process,” Springer said. The marketing leaders also had plenty to say about their own use of data to inform their decisions.
CMO.com: Julie, earlier this year you launched a new brand campaign for TransUnion that seeks to reposition the brand from consumer credit data provider into a broader role as an information solutions provider for consumers and businesses. Tell us about that.
Springer: We’re moving beyond our role as a provider of reporting on consumer credit and have begun using data and analytics to offer insights to consumers, businesses, and several new vertical markets. Our new brand reflects our broader purpose: We want to help all of our customers unleash the power of information. We call this “Information for Good.”
CMO.com: What do you want people to think about TransUnion as a brand, and what does “Information for Good” mean?
Springer: TransUnion has been evolving for several years. We reached a point where the brand didn’t represent who we were well enough anymore. We are a global information solutions provider, not just a credit provider. We aren’t just about a series of features and benefits. We felt strongly that the work we do impacts the whole world. It’s not just a B2B brand and Ken [Chaplin] is applying the brand platform to the B2C business. We have one brand. “Information for Good” resonates with our business partners, because their clients are consumers, and it resonates for the consumers who work for TransUnion as well.
So whether that’s helping consumers get loans at acceptable rates, helping companies better quantify risk, or helping law enforcement catch dangerous criminals, there are many worthy objectives we support with our data and analytics capabilities. One example of our positioning is that we’re now in a position to help hospitals and doctors identify patients who don’t know they might be eligible for coverage benefits from government programs.
CMO.com: What kinds of customers are you serving?
Springer: We service global financial services and other categories, as well—anyone who’s making decisions that are fraught with risk. We’re very broad-based.
CMO.com: How challenging was it to create a new brand positioning?
Springer: It wasn’t challenging at all; it was like an archeological process. The brand was already there, but we had to uncover and refine it, and to put it into words that our employees agreed with. The crux of the campaign is demonstrating how we are able to use information for good for the people who are ultimately impacted by it—the consumers.
Chaplin: Information is at the core of the brand. We wanted something consumer-focused with a call to action. What we found that worked was the idea of being in the know, gaining knowledge about your financial health. We were able to leverage this with our employees in a cross-channel conversation and embrace the positioning in a holistic way.
CMO.com: TransUnion sits on top of a lot of data. What’s your take on all that data?
Springer: As marketers, we’re fascinated about the value that data can bring to us. Data is the business we’re in. We’re excited about the value that information can bring us. We offer a different way for consumers to see their credit scores that will bring 60 million additional consumers into the credit economy.
Chaplin: I look at data from a different perspective. If I look at first-party data, I use it in everything I do. I want to connect individuals across devices, and juxtaposing it against second and third-party data, we can paint a pretty good picture of who our consumer is.
Springer: What’s new is that instead of viewing a score as a static moment in time, we can provide our partners the ability to see how the consumer is ascending or descending on the credit scale. It’s directional. It allows us to offer more of a decision and risk profile. Even more germane, it takes the traditional credit information and brings some alternative data to it so we can get a broader swath of information in a credit decision.
Chaplin: We also help people from an identity protection standpoint. We’re the only company that allows people to freeze or unfreeze their credit at the swipe of a finger, instantly. It’s an app and on the website. We launched it in early 2014, and it became a central feature of our ad campaign in January 2015. We’ve been promoting it aggressively.
CMO.com: Can you offer an example of how that feature works for consumers?
Chaplin: For example, in the holiday time frame, retailers offer instant credit in-store. Using TransUnion, you can unlock your credit and let the application go through, and then lock your credit again. We see this as putting consumers in control of their own data.
Now through year-end is a heavy shopping time. We want to be there to support people to clean up their credit and take control of their financial future. The primary goal of our site is for people to understand their decisions about credit. We want to educate people.
CMO.com: How else do use data to inform marketing?
Chaplin: Using data helps us make decisions, and it’s helping us improve the way we market and how we attribute conversations. It’s all being fed by data. We’ve been able to take a more sophisticated approach to evaluate our data by using a fractional-attribution method to get at the value of an impression fairly far upstream, and taking the data we get from that to see what contribution that message made to the conversion. I can take data from any form of advertising and see which channels contributed to that conversion. I can say, “Here’s the value of this channel vs. that one.”
People say display advertising is dead, but if you look at the fractional attribution method, I know the ad was served and to which audiences. I can see that it’s having an impact on branded mindshare in a positive way. The display impression I paid for helped pay for it.
At TransUnion, we’ve also been fortunate to be friends with the tech side of the business and the CIO.
CMO.com: What are your top business objectives heading into 2016?
Springer: My objective is to use incredibly smart performance-based marketing to help support our revenue and align our work with the various business units. I want to further awareness and brand engagement. We’re one brand, and we have a responsibility around reputation and making sure we are able to communicate, educate, and support all our constituents’ needs.
Chaplin: On the consumer side, my No. 1 goal is delivering a great experience for our customers. We also need to be in mobile and other channels so we can deliver connected experiences. We need to make the mobile experience convenient and easy for people when they’re searching for information.
When people are searching for information, I want to develop an experience for the specific channels they’re using. For example, if you’re on a real-estate site, you might be served a TransUnion ad as you’re researching neighborhoods and looking for homes. The search engine could deliver a real-estate-specific landing page. Delivering the right experience that correlates with a search across any device is where we want to go.
It’s where product development meets marketing—our product marketing team reports to me. We are marketing to people on any device. There are things that allow us to prepopulate forms, and I’m pretty excited about click-to-call. We have consumers who’ve made the decision to opt in for more information, and they’ll complete the forms later on a desktop. Or we can enable them to click and link back to the site at their convenience. Or say I noticed that you were on your mobile device, and I know you’re interested but want to complete the transaction later. We’ll send an email to remind you—email remains a core marketing channel.
CMO.com: What would you like to learn more about in your business?
Chaplin: Right now, we’re still lacking in terms of device connectivity. We don’t know that the same people who saw us on their phone, tablet, or desktop is the same person. Connecting across devices is still a challenge. We have a limited ability. We need a solution around addressable audiences. It’s the holy grail of being able to understand cross-device connectivity. We can get at it in a rudimentary way, but I’d like to see a more sophisticated approach.