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Experian credits partners for helping to reach new customers

  Article , Financial services , Success stories

Microsoft Advertising and Skai boost consumer credit innovator

The Experian story

Experian provides consumer credit information to lenders and other companies, but it also aims to empower consumers to improve their credit information by providing transparency and helping make smarter financial decisions.

Experian company logo

One of the three primary credit reporting bureaus in the U.S., Experian employs nearly 18,000 employees across 45 countries and has been named as one of the “World’s Most Innovative Companies” by Forbes magazine.

Consumer services offered through the Experian website and its app include access to personal credit histories and products that protect against financial fraud and identity theft. Experian also recommends credit cards and insurance deals on its site. For more than 125 years, they’ve helped consumers and clients prosper, and economies and communities flourish — and they’re not done.

“We provide credit monitoring and credit scores. We are a place where consumers can understand their financial health, as we can find ways to help them understand their credit,” says Chris Barcinas, director of Integrated Marketing for Experian Consumer Services.

Within our financial ecosystem, we’re addressing events that people experience throughout their lives. We want to help people find the best financial solutions related to life moments, such as securing a new mortgage, getting insurance, buying a car.

— Chris Barcinas, Director of Integrated Marketing, Experian Consumer Services

Strong focus on personal finance

“Within our financial ecosystem, we’re addressing events that people experience throughout their lives. We want to help people find the best financial solutions related to life moments, such as securing a new mortgage, getting insurance, buying a car,” Barcinas says. “We’re a one-stop shop for finding the best deals out there.” To help customers increase their credit scores, Experian launched a service called Experian Boost in May 2019 which marked a new business model and product for consumers. Experian Boost provides insights that results in a 12-point boost on average in individual scores. Boost accomplishes this by letting customers with free or paid accounts link to information about their routine bills.

Experian Boost is a completely free service that helps consumers increase their credit scores fast, giving people transparency, more control and access to their credit score, and the ability to boost their scores for free. “Boost allows consumers to connect their payment history with utilities like their phone bills and electric bills,” says Kyle Koch, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Director, Experian. “Experian Boost will take that data, that good payment history, and use it to instantly boost your credit score.”

Experian offers attractive, useful products relevant to a wide swath of consumers, so the company’s challenge is to make its name and services familiar to potential customers. Microsoft Advertising has helped solve that challenge.

Acquiring customers through paid search

Experian primarily uses Microsoft Advertising automated bidding strategies in paid search to attract potential customers to visit Experian’s site — where most of its consumer traffic comes from — or download its app. Those paid search efforts are focused on reaching and engaging people looking for credit management and related personal finance services.

When engaging customers through demand capture, Experian promotes Boost and other free products first, then working to upgrade customers into paid subscriptions and products. This approach, promoted since the launch of Boost in late 2018, has resulted in greater customer engagement than previous campaigns. The company has a holistic advertising strategy, pairing its online efforts with advertising on TV and streaming channels to create brand and product awareness. But using paid search tools from Microsoft Advertising and others has been a cornerstone to its integrated content marketing strategy, accounting for a “huge percentage” of customer acquisition totals, according to the company.

“Paid search is definitely a large piece of our marketing puzzle,” Koch says. “If you’re using many marketing channels to create demand, you need to be there to catch customers and Search Engine Marketing allows us to do that.”

Experian added that Microsoft Bing has been a notable partner in its paid search efforts, as the percentage of Bing users who click on Experian’s ads tends to be higher than on competing search engines. Bing also brings in a slightly different audience of potential customers than the competing sites.

Help from Microsoft Advertising partners

Microsoft partner Skai has helped enable Experian’s outstanding results from paid search as Experian focuses on acquiring new customers and keeping existing customers aware of its growing financial service offerings. A multiple-time Microsoft Advertising Partner Award winner, Skai is a technology platform for digital advertisers. It helps companies plan, activate, and measure effective marketing across search, social and ecommerce channels.

“Skai has been working with us for quite some time, and they’ve been an invaluable partner,” Koch says. Microsoft Automated Bidding uses machine learning to select the bid that is most likely to achieve the desired volume of conversions or conversion value. With Skai Search Signal Enhancement, advertisers can provide custom conversion data to enable Microsoft Advertising automated bidding to optimize towards the marketer’s key business KPIs. This combination has created the most dramatic result for Experian. The automated solutions from Microsoft Advertising and Skai also help Experian to adjust its online advertising during its busiest times of the year, including the U.S. tax filing season and during increased ad campaigns via media channels.

“Having that automated solution has been a huge benefit that’s unlocked volume and maximized returns,” Koch says. “They allow us to set targets, and they layer on top of the auto bidding features we’re implementing.”

The results have been impressive. During the initial month where Experian ran A/B testing against Skai's bidding algorithm, Experian increased conversions 97% within their target CPA.

Paid search is definitely a large piece of our marketing puzzle. If you’re using many marketing channels to create demand, you need to be there to catch customers and Search Engine Marketing allows us to do that.

— Kyle Koch, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Director, Experian

Insights, support, and strong results

Experian uses various online advertising providers but has found the audience for Microsoft Advertising search ads “typically convert a little better,” meaning they create more clicks to the Experian site than competitors, leading to a lower cost per action in Experian campaigns.

Once Skai and Microsoft help direct customers to Experian, the site strives to keep them immersed in its ecosystem as Experian offers new products, including information about auto insurance, credit card deals, and other services. But getting customers there remains the key, so Experian is stepping even more into automated bidding and other online advertising tools.

Experian will continue to work with Skai and Microsoft to identify ways to make their advertising tools even more effective. And when Microsoft Advertising presents Experian with new ideas, the company’s marketing team is ready to try innovative tools that can further boost its online marketing results.

“We try to run, or at least test, everything Microsoft Advertising offers us,” Barcinas says. “We’re definitely in the ‘always be testing’ mentality, so when there are products or updates or anything like that, we will give it a go.”

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