6 Lead-Generation Platforms for Local Businesses

More than a quarter of consumers say they use the internet to find local businesses every day, and yet a whopping 29% of small businesses still don’t have websites. That figure jumps even higher in the home services industry, where many professionals—like house cleaners, contractors, and plumbers—are in business for themselves, with little to no time available to handle digital marketing tasks.

When word of mouth alone isn’t enough to keep their schedules full, these professionals are increasingly relying on lead-generation platforms. Platforms like Thumbtack and TaskRabbit connect consumers to qualified businesspeople, using location technology and online payment systems to streamline the process. In exchange for the service, businesses typically agree to pay a referral fee or a percentage of the total revenue generated by customers referred through those platforms.

Here are six examples of lead-generation platforms that small businesses are using right now.

1) Thumbtack
It’s been almost 10 years since Thumbtack first entered the lead-generation market. In that time, the company has grown to become one of the largest players in the industry. The platform is used by consumers to find local professionals for nearly any task. Consumers can filter search results based on any number of factors and contact professionals through the web-based platform. Thumbtack’s local professionals only pay when they’re contacted or hired by leads, and they have the freedom to accept or decline any job. Thumbtack also provides its business clients with information on how they compare to other professionals in their areas, in terms of prices and number of gigs. Because the pricing structure with Thumbtack can be complex, professionals need to contact the company directly to find out how much they will spend on individual project bids.

2) TaskRabbit
TaskRabbit’s business model has evolved since the company was founded in 2008. Today, the company calls itself an online marketplace, matching freelance labor with local demand. TaskRabbit’s service professionals—called “Taskers”—are less specialized than those on other platforms, usually handling everyday tasks like cleaning, moving, and handyman work. The platform notifies Taskers when potential jobs are nearby, and gives them the ability to select the jobs they want to complete through a mobile application. TaskRabbit charges Taskers a 15% service fee from the total price paid for each task. Customers can also leave tips for Taskers through the online platform. Unlike a number of other platforms, TaskRabbit does offer in-person onboarding sessions in selected cities.

3) Pro Referral
Developed by Redbeacon in 2008, the platform now known as Pro Referral was acquired by Home Depot in 2012. That connection to Home Depot means that service professionals who use Pro Referral get some benefits when they shop for their projects at Home Depot’s retail stores. Contractors and other home improvement pros using Pro Referral’s lead generation platform post profiles with photos of past work, which potential customers can browse. Contractors can also sign up to receive project leads, which they can reach out to themselves. Leads are paid for through a points-based system. The more contractors spend at Home Depot, the more points they receive to spend on new leads.

4) Bidvine
Bidvine takes a more generalized approach than some of the other lead generation solutions on this list, offering a platform that can be used by solo-preneurs and small businesses in hundreds of industries. Consumers enter basic information about what they need—for example, a piano teacher or a handyman—and Bidvine sends those requests to local pros. Those pros have the option to bid on a job or pass. Pros pay Bidvine a fee for each job they bid on. The fee varies depending on the work and competition in the local area. Communication with potential customers happens through the Bidvine platform, and a robust reviews system helps users decide which pros to pick for each job.

5) Zaarly
An established player in the lead generation market, Zaarly bills itself as a proximity-based, real-time, buyer-powered platform. In layman’s terms, that means consumers in local markets can hire service providers to complete all sorts of tasks. Zaarly offers consumers a number of protections against scams or poor work, by guaranteeing all projects that were setup through its platform. Zaarly’s service providers are vetted by the company, including undergoing background checks and insurance verification. Rather than charging for leads, as most other platforms do, Zaarly charges businesses a 10% transaction fee at the end of each finished project. That means businesses don’t pay for leads that don’t pan out. The platform also provides its business users with tools to keep their customers organized and track revenue.

6) LeadsForward
LeadsForward is a lead generation tool for contractors and home service professionals. LeadsForward handles more of the heavy lifting than some other platforms, nurturing leads and helping its business users convert those leads to paying customers. LeadsForward attracts those local leads largely through custom websites, online ads, social media, and email marketing, and it continues to tweak the messaging of individual campaigns and website layouts based on ongoing analytics. The company says it works with contractors to turn leads into paying customers through its own customer acquisition techniques, and it only charges contractors once leads have become paying customers.

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Source : https://streetfightmag.com/2018/12/18/6-lead-generation-platforms-for-local-businesses/

Thumbtack Creates Work By Giving the Yellow Pages an AI Twist

A roundup of today’s big stories in hyperlocal publishing, marketing, commerce, and technology…

How Thumbtack Creates Work By Giving the Yellow Pages an AI Twist (Fast Company)
Although the company, which charges service providers a fee when customers contact them in response to a quote, is not yet profitable, Zappacosta predicts it can be by the end of 2019, thanks to Instant Match.

Understanding the Proxies That Can Undermine Location Data (Street Fight)
Rob Friedman: For marketers, the ability to deploy technology that identifies and bypasses online users who may be masking their locations and digital traits yields improvement in the form of targeted campaigns and fewer wasted impressions.

Amazon Plans to Open As Many As Six More Amazon Go Stores This Year (Recode)
Amazon’s much-heralded convenience store of the future, Amazon Go, may seem like a crazy experiment. But the company plans to open as many as six more of these storefronts this year.

How Local Healthcare Providers Can Imitate Advances in Retail to Boost Efficiency (Street Fight)
Jon Schepke: Providers need to do, ironically, what the best retailers do: make the experience better. To that end, data management is key. Here are some steps providers can take to address patients’ need for access and control.

Twitter Tightened Up the Requirements for Its Amplify Publisher Program (AdWeek)
Twitter made a move to protect brands from having their advertisements appear alongside objectionable content by tweaking the requirements for participation in its Amplify program for publishers.

GQ Buys Into Commerce Content (AdExchanger)
People who read about brands on GQ’s site spend twice as much time with its content overall – around 14 minutes – and are nearly 10% more likely to return, according to research commissioned from Skimlinks and Parse.ly.

NBCU Adds Refinery29 to Its Growing List of Digital Publisher and Platform Partners (Digiday)
NBC Sports and Refinery29 are embarking on a yearlong social editorial and marketing partnership focused on telling stories about female athletes and other women in sports.

Facebook Simplifies Metrics After Data-Reporting Issues (WSJ)
Facebook is trying to clarify and simplify the metrics used to gauge the performance of advertising on its platform after coming under scrutiny for a series of measurement mishaps and learning that some people are confused about its data.

LBMA Podcast: Verizon, Omnicom, Ericsson & Placecast (Street Fight)
This Week in Location Based Marketing is a weekly video podcast from the Location Based Marketing Association with Asif Khan, Rob Woodbridge & Aubriana Lopez. On the show: Denver airport, LinkNYC, O2’s Weve, Radius8, Selfridges.

Street Fight Daily: Thumbtack Brings AI to Local Services, Amazon Go Model to Expand

How Thumbtack Plans To Become The Amazon For Home Services

Thumbtack started eight years ago with one goal in mind: to become an Amazon of sorts for home services like plumbers, home inspectors, and house cleaners. Today it moves a little bit closer to that goal with the launch of Instant Match on the service, a new feature that instantly connects customers with service providers who are available to work.

“When you think about it, there are very few things at this point you have to work hard to buy. The internet has made them dramatically more accessible and more convenient and yet the entire local services category, not just plumbers, not just home services, remains an exception to that broad trend,” says Thumbtack CEO Marco Zappacosta.

He thinks that hiring someone to perform a service in your home should be as easy as ordering a book online.

Marco Zappacosta [Photo: courtesy of Thumbtack]

“Over the last eight years, we’ve made an immense amount of progress toward that dream. We’ve helped more than 25 million Americans find pros and have sent cumulatively billions of dollars to our pros from these customers,” he says.While Zappacosta feels like the company has made great strides toward its goal of becoming an Amazon of home services, he notes that the company still has a bit further to go.

“The reality is if you sort of take me at my word and say we want to make hiring a plumber as easy as buying a book, we have not yet accomplished that,” he says. “But today we’re going to take a big step in that direction.”

The way things used to work on Thumbtack, you would make a request for a plumber, for instance, who would come and unclog your shower drain. That request would get sent to all the available plumbers in your zip code, who would then respond to your request with their price quotes. You’d look through all those bids, and then make your selection.

That made it dramatically easier than looking through a directory and calling all those plumbers one by one, but it also wasn’t perfect.

“The reality is you still had to wait to get options, and nobody wants to wait. We all want things instantly,” Zappacosta says.

With the company’s new Instant Match feature, your wait time is cut down from hours to seconds.

The process starts with the Thumbtack app as a brief 5- to 15-question interview. If you’re looking for a house cleaner, for instance, interview questions might entail asking you how big your home is, how many bedrooms need to be cleaned, and if you have pets.

[Photos: courtesy of Thumbtack]

Once you’re done answering questions, Thumbtack will instantly return a handful of automated quotes from professionals in your area it knows are available to do the job. You can look at all of them, read reviews, and decide which one best fits your needs. When you find a pro you like, you can message them within the app to set up an appointment for the service.“Really what Thumbtack is doing is interviewing and sort of replacing the conversation that you used to have to have with each and every individual pro to basically tell them ‘Hey, here’s what I need. Can you do it.? And if so how much are you going to charge,’” says Zappacosta.

The instant quote saves plenty of time–previously, a pro would have to look over the survey and decide how much to quote you. Now, It’s instant due to some inputs that Pro has already put in. A housekeeper, for instance, can say they’re available to work 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays, and charge $100 for a 1-bedroom apartment, $150 for a 2-bedroom apartment, and $300 for a 3-bedroom. When I put in my request for my two-bedroom apartment to be cleaned on Thursday, I’ll get their quote seconds later, saying it can be done for $150. If I want my cleaning on Friday, then that person won’t be part of my returned quotes since they’re not available.

It streamlines the whole process by eliminating the need to find out if someone is available or how much they’ll charge for your specific job.

It’s also good for professionals. When they set those rates, Thumbtack uses its database of historic prices that’s it’s collected over the past eight years to let them know the average cost for that service in that zip code. For instance, if most housekeepers charge $250 for a 2-bedroom, then the person who is charging $150 knows they can probably charge a little more. If the average cost is $75, then they can know they’re overcharging a bit based on the norm, and that’s probably why they’re not getting much business.

“We can get you quotes that are as intentful, as specific, as the pros doing it themselves but programmatically, Zappacosta says. “This is admittedly straightforward. But this represents I think the biggest step that the service sector has taken in basically its entire existence. It’s about moving it from the 20th century to the 21st century.”

Going back to that Amazon example, he thinks that one of the biggest reasons Amazon is so successful is because you can go to the site and instantly see everything that is available, read reviews, and take action to buy the item you want.

The way they’re able to do that is because they have data on what’s in the warehouse ready to be shipped. In a way, having professionals fill out their availability and pricing within Thumbtack gives it the same power.

[Photos: courtesy of Thumbtack]

Asking for quotes from professionals is free for everyone involved. When you as a customer ask for more information or contact one of the professionals, then that professional is charged for the interaction, regardless of whether or not you ultimately choose them for the job.It’s a process somewhat like Google AdWords. A plumber, for instance, can say he’s willing to spend $100 a week on getting new customers. The pricing for how much an interaction costs changes a bit depending on how expensive the service is and how many other professionals are on the platform doing the same thing. A house cleaner might pay $12 for a connection, but that might lead to a $200 job every single week.

That’s a bit of a difference from Thumbtack’s previous model, in which it charged professionals each time they gave a quote to a customer. Now the charge happens a little further down the pipeline, so they have a greater chance of success. It’s also a bit cheaper, something Zappacosta says Thumbtack has done because it thinks Instant Match is better, and it wants to incentivize pros to come over.

Currently, Thumbtack has a supply problem. There’s more demand for services on the platform than it’s able to fill. The hope is that Instant Match will help move the process along faster, and make it easier for professionals to find work, and customers to find them. It also makes it so that house cleaner, plumber, or landscaper can focus on what they do best, without having to figure out marketing in the process.

Thumbtack has been trying out Instant Match with roughly 7,600 of the professionals currently on its platform. Tuesday’s announcement opens that program up to all of the professionals using the service in 11 categories nationallly; 65 categories are available in at least certain markets, with more on their way.

“Phase one is all about the supply side, enabling this sort of instant match product by building out this whole inventory system, sort of like the equivalent of our fulfillment center,” Zappacosta says. He says that Phase two, which will likely be announced next year, will take things a step further and make them every more streamlined, allowing you to make that purchase even faster.

“There’s no magic in terms of what customers want. They want things instantly. They want to see prices, they want to see reviews, and they want to take action with confidence. We’re going to do that for the whole service sector.”

Source : https://www.fastcompany.com/40472921/how-thumbtack-plans-to-become-the-amazon-for-home-services

Small business owners across Florida feel good about economy, study says

Small business owners in Florida and Miami are feeling pretty optimistic about the economy, according to a recent study.

Data released by Thumbtack.com on small business sentiment shows that 66.72 percent of Florida small businesses felt optimistic about the economy last month. This ranks Florida sixth out the 18 states Thumbtack analyzed this month in small business optimism, increasing .36 percent percent from October.

Small businesses owners in Washington state had the most economic optimism, with 68.55 percent feeling confident, the study said.

Overall, 65.25 percent of small businesses expressed confidence in their small businesses and the economy at large out of the study’s 2,718 respondents.

But the study also showed that only 44.47 percent of small businesses with employees report they’re currently hiring, making November the fourth-slowest month for hiring in 2017.

Similar to Florida, Miami small business sentiment was also on the upswing with about 67 percent of small businesses feeling somewhat positive in November, placing the city 8th nationwide.

Miami business owners said the top problems in November they faced were: acquiring new customers, competition from other small businesses, and uncertain economic conditions.

Thumbtack’s monthly Small Business Sentiment Survey captures the economic sentiment of thousands of small businesses nationwide based on survey responses collected the second week of every month.

The survey’s results fall in line with a recent study by Bank of America, which found that 87 percent of Miami entrepreneurs are confident that their year-end revenues will exceed those of 2016. In addition, 22 percent of Miami entrepreneurs are planning to apply for a loan in the year ahead, which was the highest among business owners surveyed in 10 major cities.

Source : https://www.bizjournals.com/southflorida/news/2017/12/07/small-business-owners-across-florida-feel-good.html

Thumbtack: Is It Really Better than Angie’s List

Referral and directory companies like Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor and Yelp have all tried over the past decade to break into the fragmented market made up of small local businesses. A market that is made up of mostly plumbers, movers, professional trainers, caterers, and photographers…but so far success has been limited, that is until now!

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Comparing Angie’s List, Home Advisor, Thumbtack, and Yelp for Service Contractors

Over the last decade, a new wave of consumer-driven agencies such as Angie’s List, Home Advisor, Yelp, and Thumbtack have

Continue reading Comparing Angie’s List, Home Advisor, Thumbtack, and Yelp for Service Contractors