Last week at LeadsCon Tree announced their new plans for the Tree.com website. Doug Lebda, CEO of Tree took 15 minutes and briefly described the revamped site.
The goal is to provide quality content to the consumer regardless of what service they are interested in. No longer will Tree only focus on just a few large categories, but rather a whole host categories ranging from Attorneys to travel. Tree aims to gain market share by taking a bite out of the “web 2.0″ strategy book. By allowing businesses and consumers to create their own pages and also allowing them to manage and create their own content Tree hopes to build a highly organic web presence. This strategy is nothing new for most companies and whether or not Tree will be able to pull it off will remain to be unseen, and likely for a while. This organic strategy takes time, a lot of time.
According to Mona Marimow, VP of Marketing for Tree.com, via DMNews.com, the majority of traffic will come from organic search, online marketing and possibly offline sources in the future.
The announcement at LeadsCon was a little uneventful and frankly had critics saying, “what, that’s it?” The idea of creating a site, that will not only cover “life’s biggest decisions”, but ALL decisions seems like a big mistake with a hint of wishful thinking. The new site will encompass all the web 2.0 social media strategies that one could think of. Things like reviews, friends, followers and status updates will all be included on the site.
As I mentioned, Tree will look to the companies participating on the site to generate a portion of its content. There are a number of social network owners that will tell you that it is very difficult to get people, let alone companies, to participate on a regular basis and provide regular updates of content. Nonetheless, its a good SEO strategy, but will be very hard to make work unless the Tree.com brand really takes off.
This new path seems to make sense with all that has gone on at Tree in the last few years. Over that time period there have been a number of layoffs, year over year decline in LendingTree revenue, a significant decrease in market size for mortgage lead buyers, and therefore an initiative to diversify into other verticals. Two contrasting happenings would be layoffs and diversification into new verticals. This means less man power with more tasks on the agenda. The new Tree.com site is there way of consolidating their efforts into one focused strategy, which frankly is nothing new if you have been listening to Lebda for the last two years talk about their goals. According to Lebda the goal will be to market Tree.com and allow the traffic to funnel down to their other properties, LendingTree.com, DegreeTree.com, etc. Will this work?
Let me back up a minute and get back to LeadsCon and then you can decide for yourself. While I was in a taxi cab making my way back to the Mirage hotel I received a direct message via twitter saying that I had the opportunity to interview Doug Lebda, but had to be there in 30 minutes. It was going to be close, but I accepted the invitation and told the cab driver to step on it! I had no formal questions prepared, but came up with a number of questions regarding the Tree.com initiative, Google and what the 12 month plan was for Tree.com. Here is the interview I recorded on my iPhone, which surprisingly the sound quality is not too bad. Hope you enjoy it.
Enjoy and let me know what you think: