MarTech Interview with Jake Weatherly, CEO at SheerID

Let me start with the problem we solve: simply put, getting the attention of consumers has never been harder. What we offer is “Identity Marketing,” a new type of personalization that helps marketers engage and verify people who belong to consumer tribes such as medical professionals, essential workers, military service members, students, and teachers, to name a few.

These consumer tribes share important parts of their identity, such as occupation, life stage, and values. They are also socially connected and often share information with one another, including special product offers, services, and unique experiences that are exclusively provided by brands to the group. This has the dual benefit of boosting marketing reach while decreasing customer acquisition costs, often producing ROAS (return on ad spend) results of 25 to 1 or higher.

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For instance, Lowe’s uses our platform to acquire new military customers. Lowe’s recognized early on that active military and vets align perfectly with their brand as many of these folks are do-it-yourselfers. As a result, Lowe’s had been offering a military discount for years. However, the company had struggled to accurately verify that everyone who applied for the special military program was indeed a service member. To cut down on fraud and design an excellent customer experience, Lowe’s turned to SheerID. Now, when someone tries to redeem a Lowe’s military discount, our technology platform instantly checks the person’s credentials against our partner databases, including those from the Department of Defense.

Our verification technology works the same way for other tribes. For instance, Spotify uses SheerID to protect its student program globally. We digitally verify student enrollment in real-time with the office of the registrar for every college and university in the United States and a growing number abroad. So, when someone applies for a Spotify student discount, SheerID instantly checks if they are eligible.

Roughly 30% to 35% of the requests that our system processes are from people pretending to be part of a consumer tribe. In total, we save our customers several billion dollars a year by eliminating fraud.

Tell us more about SheerID’s recent financial services solution?

This is something we are very excited about. There are three ways in which we help banks and other organizations within the financial services sector.

The first use case is geared towards helping companies acquire new customers. For instance, a bank can create a gated offer for an “exclusive” credit card for students, teachers, or members of the military. Or, they might offer one or more of these groups a preferred rate on a loan. SheerID handles the verification, ensuring that only eligible consumers can apply for the offer.

We think there is a particularly large opportunity to deliver real value to college students. We recently conducted a survey of young people and learned that 92% of students identify with being in college more strongly than they identify with their religion, family role, nationality, or cultural background. What that tells us is that when you reward a person for being a student, that offer is likely to resonate.

Our platform can also help with decision support when considering an applicant for a personal loan. Today, as a financial institution, there is no fast and easy way to verify the employment status of many thin-file and credit-invisible applicants, such as part-time workers or people with multiple jobs. Conversely, we are able to identify the employment status of these people because, through a number of unique partnerships, we have access to the most recent employment data for 51M employers in the United States.

The third use case concerns the topic of regulatory compliance. Banks can use the SheerID platform to quickly verify the military status of applicants to ensure they are in compliance with SCRA and MLA regulations. Our solution has the added benefit of helping financial institutions identify applicants in order to meet AML regulations.

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