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.