CHANGING BRAND PERCEPTION WITH CONTENT
Changing the brand perception of credit management company, Lowell, through targeted keywords and content.
Lowell is a credit management company based in Leeds. Because Lowell buys debt from lots of different places, sometimes customers might not be aware that their debt has been purchased by a debt collection company. In some cases, they might not even know that they have a debt at all. This can often mean that Lowell customers don’t know they’re customers until they’ve received a letter from Lowell.
This has resulted in two key challenges; the first being that upon receiving their letter from Lowell, many customers feel unsure if they need to act. This is mostly down to a) doubts around Lowell’s legitimacy (having never heard of them) and b) confusion around Lowell being the new owner of their debt.
Consequently, lots of first-time customers will search for queries such as “Is Lowell legit” or “Is Lowell a scam”. Because Lowell didn’t have content that actively targeted those keywords – or much of an online presence at all – new customers were instead finding unregulated online forums at the top of their search results, often full of misleading or inaccurate information. On these forums, users would suggest that Lowell isn’t a legitimate company, with no legal rights to the debt held, and advise customers to simply ignore any letters or calls until Lowell eventually went away.
Ignoring debt can have serious consequences, so this is particularly dangerous advice (not just for Lowell customers, but for anyone in debt) to read. As well as your mental and financial well-being taking a hit, ignoring problem debt can often have an adverse effect on one’s credit file and can sometimes even result in legal proceedings. These were just some of the reasons why it was so important to make sure that when customers were doing their research, Lowell were at the top of the results and in control of their own narrative.
The second challenge facing Lowell is that usually, content is created to increase organic traffic and conversions – but because their customers can’t be obtained this way, we had to shift the way we think about content. Instead, we needed to focus on shifting perception, combatting negative content online. We wanted to build brand awareness of Lowell amongst their current and newest customers, and to also show them that Lowell is dedicated to helping all their customers manage their debt in an affordable and flexible way.
Working with the SEO team, we pulled together a list of “brand negative” keywords that other, untrustworthy sites were ranking for, and providing false information about Lowell.
With this list of keywords, which included the likes of “is Lowell a scam”, “can Lowell force entry,” and “can Lowell send bailiffs”, we then overlaid our own non-branded keyword research, so we could build a comprehensive list of every single question about debt that was being searched for.
Once we’d collated this, we decided to break out our content approach into two sections:
POPULATING THE BLOG
This hub was to become a one-stop-shop for anything to do with debt. We created long-form guides for specific subjects such as “How to deal with bailiffs”, and “What happens if I ignore a debt company?”; and targeted every single question that was being asked about that subject; enabling us to optimise the content for both branded and non-branded keywords.
THE DEBT GUIDANCE HUB
Lowell had recently gone live with a new blog, so it made sense that this became the place to showcase Lowell’s personable side, with more branded pieces. We put together a blog roadmap that would target some of these brand negative keywords and allow us to write myth-busting content, as well as explaining how Lowell works, and how they help customers – articles included “How do we support our customers’ mental health?”, and “Myth: Lowell is a scam artist”. The blog also became a place where we could house PR campaigns.
As we were talking about sensitive, emotive subjects, we wanted to be considerate in our approach, ensuring we provided customers with all the facts, without giving specific financial advice or trying to lean them towards a specific decision. To do this, we worked closely with Lowell’s legal, compliance, and customer experience teams, to ensure that only factual information was included and that the tone of voice was always on point.
Tone of voice is incredibly important to Lowell. Their internal research suggests that some of their customer base have a low level of literacy, so our content has to be accessible and easy to understand, even when writing about complex and sensitive financial topics. Simple sentence structure and more accessible forms of content like bullet pointed lists and clearly separated heading structures were key, especially for long debt hub guides.
One internal challenge we faced when putting the roadmaps together, was conveying the importance of ranking for non-branded keywords to Lowell. While they can’t acquire customers organically, we knew that optimising the content for non-branded keywords would show Google that Lowell was an authority on the subject of debt, which would ultimately help them to rank higher for all-important brand negative keywords.
It’s important to mention that alongside the creation and implementation of our content strategy, the PR team created and outreached a range of digital campaigns, and our SEO team worked with Lowell to implement various technical fixes.
We started working with Lowell in October 2020, with our first pieces of content going live in December 2020. Because we had to liaise and gain sign off from multiple departments within Lowell, it took several months for content to go live, which meant that results initially took a little longer to gain.
However, a year and a half on, from October 2020 to May 2022, the debt hub and blog have driven a combined number of 35,955 organic sessions, directly resulted in 81 payment plans being set up, and rank for 1,739 keywords. For comparison’s sake, in 2020, the two drove a total of 44 organic sessions, with no payment plans set up.
The debt hub guide – with its main aim being for SEO – has been the main driving factor; ranking for 83 keywords in positions 1-3, and 247 keywords in positions 4-10. At the time of writing this case study, our content has gained 16 featured snippets, including “What is a default on a credit guide”, and “Can Lowell remove a default”.
Because of the work undertaken on the account, Lowell’s overall brand negative traffic share is currently at 76.9%, the highest level it’s ever been.
Some of the higher ranking and bigger keyword movements for brand negatives since we started working with Lowell are:
What powers do Lowell have
Position 1 in May 2022 (+99 increase)
Can Lowell force entry
Position 2 in May 2022 (+98 increase)
Can Lowell issue a warrant
Position 1 in May 2022 (+12 increase)
“The connective3 team have been an absolutely indispensable part of our marketing since we started working with them. They’ve delivered consistently performing content that understands our business and tone of voice, and the results speak for themselves. We have a huge amount of trust and belief in the work they do, and the c3 content team are always happy to help, going above and beyond whenever we need help with anything related to content.”
– Neil Costello, UK Marketing Director at Lowell