Bills.com’s Ethan Ewing says to evolve in lead generation, take a more holistic approach

By Shahnaz MahmudFebruary 17, 2015

Bills.com’s Ethan Ewing was the company’s first employee back in 2006. Ewing was tapped as president of the personal finance resource firm and has remained in that role ever since. Just shy of 10 years later, Bills.com now has over 40 employees, enjoying “practical and steady growth,” as he says, clearly with a point of pride.

Ewing will be speaking at the upcoming LeadsCon Las Vegas conference in March on the “Unlocking the Power of Search Engine Marketing: Getting Results that Matter” panel.

Bills.com’s purpose is to help people make better money-related decisions, says Ewing. It provides a great deal of content and tools designed to give practical advice to people who are facing difficult, complicated financial decisions. First and foremost, it is a publisher. But Bills.com also has a robust lead generation business that supports it. The company doesn’t run banner ads or charge for email. It generates revenue by generating leads helping consumers to find the appropriate solution and then sells those leads to financial service providers.

Ewing says he is surprised that the online space hasn’t actually evolved much during this past near-decade since he started with Bills.com.

To evolve, be more holistic

“The experience that online users see is different and improved and better,” says Ewing. “But the mechanics of how it works and how lead generators and their clients (our clients) work together has only improved a little bit. Nowhere to the degree that it can.” He sees great potential for growth. “To evolve into a better, more holistic service for users is really the next evolution in this industry,” Ewing adds, noting it’s not a simple task, but his firm is eager to rise further to the challenge.

During the panel at LeadsCon Las Vegas, Ewing says conference-goers should expect a very rounded perspective on searches and marketing that should help them refine their strategies and determine how marketing sits in overall business goals. Noting the industry already recognizes the value of ROI benefits related to search, Ewing emphasizes it can truly be a part of a broader strategy.

Sitting among search engine marketers, for his part, Ewing will contribute the advertiser’s angle, “which is how we measure performance and how we feed that back into our campaign,” he explains. Ewing will touch upon such things as effectively generating a lead through keywords and how that translates to Bills.com’s clients’ performance on the back end and, of course, how that turns into a sales transaction.

Ewing stresses the importance of being on top of your numbers, taking stock of the way you examine certain metrics and how you measure certain things. These, he says, are still blind spots among industry players. During his panel at the conference, Ewing says his aim is to “reinforce to people just getting into the space or just starting to buy leads how important it is to really monitor and measure the performance. That’s the true benefit of online marketing — that it is so much more is measurable. But, if you are not measuring it, you are at a severe disadvantage. You’d have to keep evangelizing. This [monitoring and measuring] is the key to success.”


Focus on the feedback loop

From his purview, the industry, in the curve of things, does well in monitoring and measuring when it comes to bidding. But marketers tend to falter on the “feedback loop” to help the lead generation validate their strategy. This can be handled much better, he insists. Moreover, in this data-driven world, Ewing says marketers need to be better at using the information they are gathering across their entire business, essentially taking a more holistic view of data. “[Once you do that] you really end up changing strategies quite a bit,” he says.

That’s precisely where Bills.com has been focusing a great deal of its growth efforts — around a full, holistic mortgage and debt experience. “We’re trying to change the way consumers think about shopping for a mortgage,” says Ewing. “There’s a lot of folks in the field — a lot of people doing it. But for us, we feel like the volume we generate in the space with the amount of visitors we see — something’s got to give, something’s got to change in the industry. The online mortgage shopping experience has got to get better. We’re going to make it happen. It’s just a question of how long it takes.”

Looking imminently ahead to LeadsCon Las Vegas, Ewing says he is looking forward to seeing clients and learning what marketers are doing. Importantly, he adds: “And to see if we can break through a little bit from our perspective and evangelize the benefits of developing deeper trust and grow together more effectively. You have good conversations [at LeadsCon], but the challenge is really getting traction as far as getting people to modify their business models.”

It takes a village, so they say.

Click here to register for LeadsCon Las Vegas 2015. 

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