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The home and trade leads space was getting a lot of attention a year ago, with a number of social media driven leads companies hoping to cut in on longtime leaders such as ServiceMagic and Angie’s List. Among the contenders: Cox’s Kudzu, Redbeacon, Likelist, HelpHive , Sears’ ServiceLive and Thumbtack.

Not much has been heard from the space since then, but it hasn’t been standing still. Redbeacon landed a deal with Yahoo; some new contenders have jumped in (i.e., The Washington Post’s ServiceAlley); and Angie’s List has landed another $24 million in financing as it heads toward an apparent IPO.

Angie’s List and ServiceMagic, in fact, are all over the airwaves with their commercials — among the most prominent ambassadors for the Interactive Local Media ecosystem.

Thumbtack, too, says it has been quietly making inroads. The 11-person, San Francisco-based service, landed an angel round in June 2010. Since then, it has signed up 110,000 home and trade pros (and rejected 5,000 that did not pass its background checks).

The site has generated 100,000 leads in the past three months (30,000 in the last week). It also has done well with consumers, generating 390,000 unique visitors last month.

The site’s traffic comes largely from SEO, rather than from media partnerships. It works efficiently because only job specific information ends up in the search results (i.e., San Francisco Plumber). “It means we have what you are asking for,” says CEO Marco Zappacosta.

The service, which is national in scope, rather than focused on individual markets, works with home and trade pros in two ways: They can either opt to pay for leads upfront or pay commissions after they get the job.

Leads are only provided to home and trade pros on an opt-in basis, allowing for vacations or full schedules. That differs from lead gen providers that require pros to accept a minimum number of leads towards a monthly commitment.

Which revenue model that is ultimately chosen varies from category to category. More established professionals in higher end categories, such as roofers, want to pay for the lead upfront. They have internalized their sales cycles. After they have gotten a lead, they don’t want to monkey around (with leads providers such as Thumbtack).

On the lower end, home and trade pros such as tutors or handymen want to pay a commission. They don’t have a lot of cash flow, and they may not trust the leads provider to provide a good lead, at least the first few times they use them, says Zappacosta.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. For me this article seems to raise more questions than it give answers.

    Some of the questions it raises about Thumbtack are:

    1. How have their SEO efforts gone after the Panda update? It seems like the type of SEO that they have suggested isn’t the type that would be looked upon favourably by the Panda update.

    2. How did the 11 person team scale to successfully distribute 30,000 leads in a single week to quality local service providers?

    3. Did they fill all of these quote requests? Or did they leave their consumers hanging?

    4. At 390,000 unique visitors per month that equates to less than 100,000 visitors per week, if that’s correct how did they successfully convert 100,000 visitors into 30,000 leads. A 30% conversion rate from web traffic is unheard of.

    5. Did the dramatic increase in traffic come from SEO only? Its very rare for Google to send a site a spike of SEO traffic to a particular site. What else did they do to get this spike?

    6. Most importantly how did their 11 person team go about successfully collecting the revenues from the leads that they generated.

  2. There’s a new site where people could post jobs and get estimates from business at no cost.
    This new site also currently offers their services to businesses and contractors for free, no strings attached, no contracts, no payments (Because their just starting up).

    After everything is setup, contractors’ memberships start from $20 to $550 Monthly, and there are discounts given to those taking up a yearly plan.

    There are no charges for won jobs.
    Their support team are easy to talk to.

    So far, no requests have gone unanswered.

    Contractors looking for new avenues of jobs could use this site, because it’s totally free.

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