Sales are key to the success of any business, but you can’t get sales without leads.
Generating new leads is one of the most challenging aspects of running a business. Every business owner recognizes this—in fact, according to a 2016 survey, attracting new customers is the number one thing that keeps 86 percent of business owners up at night. Your lead generation strategy is a critical component for your overall business growth, and knowing where to advertise your services is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle.
Enter lead generation sites. Lead generation sites help connect your business to leads in your service area. It’s easy to jump onto a home services lead generation platform, create a profile, and start advertising your services to interested prospects in your surrounding area. Some of the most popular lead generation sites for small businesses and contractors include:
- Angi (formerly known as Angie’s List)
So, what role should lead generation sites play in your marketing strategy? Which sites are best for your business? The short answer is that the right choice will depend on the needs of your business. Here’s what you need to know about lead generation sites for home services businesses before handing over your credit card information.
Why Contractors Need Effective Lead Generation Strategies
In some industries, like retail, transactions are quick, simple, and don’t require much lead nurturing. That’s not the case for home services businesses. Homeowners need to know that contractors can get the job done right, will do it reliably, and won’t exceed their budget. And with so many businesses competing for the attention of the same potential leads, local homeowners need to research their options before choosing a business.
To even be considered, you’ll need to get noticed by those potential clients and show them you’re worth hiring. That means you need to strike the perfect balance between hard sales pitches and personalized marketing messages.
Here’s where lead generation is important. Lead generation helps you narrow your focus to qualified leads so you’re not wasting time, energy, or marketing dollars on people who aren’t going to hire you. It also helps prospects learn more about your business and feel more confident in their decision to hire you.
While countless contractors rely on lead generation companies to find new clients, an efficient lead generation strategy requires a few more ingredients. You’re going to want to optimize your website, create social media pages, and start practicing SEO so customers can find you when they need you. When paired with a proven lead generation strategy, lead generation sites can take your business to new heights—but only if you use them correctly.
Benefits of Lead Gen Sites
Lead generation can be time-consuming and expensive, and most contractors just don’t have the time to sacrifice generating new leads.
If your business needed new leads yesterday, you need a lead generation strategy that maximizes your ROI, stretches your budget, and saves you the time and frustration of finding new customers. Lead generation sites can help you jumpstart your lead generation strategy, grow your online presence, and sell your preferred services.
If you’re thinking about using a lead generation site to connect with local homeowners, here are some key benefits to consider:
1. Expand Your Market
If you need leads quickly, joining a directory with a large, established base of traffic is one of your best options. When you start building your lead generation strategy, you’re going to need to target a specific group of people. Lead generation websites help you learn about your customers, show you who’s interested in your services, and connect you to a wider demographic.
Maybe you’re getting engagement from first-time homeowners and other demographics that you haven’t included in your marketing campaigns. With lead gen websites, you’ll be able to review trends and adjust your marketing campaigns accordingly.
2. Build Brand Awareness
Maybe you’re running an up-and-coming landscaping company that hasn’t gotten that much business this past season. Or you’re an established electrician that’s operated behind the scenes for years—and you’re just getting started with digital marketing. Either way, you want to draw attention to your company, raise brand awareness, and show potential leads why you’re worth hiring.
Building brand awareness and boosting your online visibility are important ingredients for your overall success. You can do this by signing up for lead generation websites and creating strong, compelling profiles that put your business in front of interested leads. This way, more local homeowners will learn about your business, brand story, and the services you offer. Then, when they’re ready to make a decision, you’ll be there when they need you.
If you don’t have the budget for a professional web development team or a reputable SEO partner, lead gen sites can help you hit the ground running with short-term projects. In fact, the 2020 Home Service State of Lead Generation Report found that 100 percent of contractors found jobs on at least one lead gen platform without paying to advertise. Meanwhile, only 70 percent of respondents reported finding jobs on Facebook and Google organically.
3. Gather More Customer Reviews
When it comes to converting leads into appointments, social proof is everything. Customer reviews show prospects why your business is better than the competition. Reviews show customers exactly what they can expect to get from hiring you, from the quality of your services to the finished product. And there’s no better way to get them than from previous clients. An automated review platform like Max Feedback can simplify the process of requesting and obtaining reviews from your customers.
Of course, you won’t always get reviews automatically, even when your services exceed expectations. Especially for new businesses, lead generation sites offer quick access to one-off, short-term projects, which make it easy to gather customer reviews.
After completing a job and requesting a review, you can use these reviews to fuel your digital marketing strategy. You might post them on your website, social media pages, or even create infographics showcasing your expertise.
Drawbacks to Using Lead Gen Sites
Lead generation websites can be the cherry on top of your lead generation strategy, but that’s not always the case. As with any marketing strategy, there are some important drawbacks and risks to consider before devoting your precious marketing dollars toward directory and pay-per-lead sites.
Even though lead generation sites can help you make more sales and boost your revenue, not everyone is winning. According to the 2020 Home Service State of Lead Generation Report, almost 7 percent of businesses reported losing money each month to lead generation sites, with cleaning companies being the most likely to see a negative return on investment.
Our clients have a love/hate relationship with these sites, so it’s important to consider your long-term business goals and current marketing strategy when weighing the pros and cons. Here are some drawbacks to using lead gen sites:
1. Your Success Depends on Time, Effort, and Strategy
Lead generation isn’t as easy as signing up, describing your services, and choosing your service area. Instead, you’re going to need to dedicate time and effort to lead generation. You’ll want to spend some time creating a detailed profile, responding to potential leads (expect some back-and-forth before they hire you), and gathering reviews.
And, of course, you’re going to want to respond to leads faster than the competition—if you’re not contacting your prospects within 5 minutes of them requesting additional information, you run an exponential risk of losing them to the competition. With the high costs of lead generation sites and the fierce competition in the home services industry, you can’t afford to waste any time.
Even with a winning strategy and fast lead response times, don’t expect lead generation sites to be the source of all of your leads. Choosing the right sites for your business is important, but creating profiles isn’t inherently going to be effective. We’ll suggest some techniques for choosing the right platforms for your business, but remember that you’ll be up against some fierce competition.
2. Nurturing Leads Requires Other Assets
Nurturing leads is a lengthy process. You’re going to need to attract interested leads, convert them, close the deal, and then impress them with your services.
Between the initial connection and scheduling the appointment, your leads are going to take several trips to your websites and other online assets (your social media pages, Google My Business page, etc.). Basically, to show prospects that you’re worth hiring, you’re going to need optimized landing pages, engaging social media posts, and a great web design.
“You can’t avoid having a top notch website these days even if you use [a site like] Angi as a lead gen tool,” says John Antognoli, Senior Client Advisor at Company 119. “If you have a great website with awesome content, and it’s user friendly, you are going to get highly ranked organically. So when someone [looks for your services online] and you show up in the search result and so does Angi, now you have a chance to get that same lead without paying a site like Angi.”
As a result, building lead generation assets you control—your website, email lists, and social media pages—might be the smartest move for your business. Think of lead generation assets as buying vs renting. It’s going to take a lot of time before you start seeing results, but investing in the right places will pay off in the long run.
3. Lead Gen Sites Aren’t Ideal for Repeat Business
Directory and pay-per-lead websites can generate short-term leads, but whether or not the effort is worth it all depends on your execution. When you connect with leads on Porch or NextDoor, you’re not building any long-term connections. Instead, most homeowners are looking for a contractor for a one-off project.
In other words, investing in lead generation sites might actually make the road to long-term growth more difficult. Think about it this way: If you’re investing in an enhanced profile from Yelp, and Yelp primarily gets its audience from Google, your investment might reduce the performance of your website. By investing in directory listings, you’re contributing to that site’s resources. If that website spends your investment on larger PPC or SEO marketing budgets, you’re creating stronger competition for your owned lead generation assets.
Are Lead Generation Sites Worth It?
So, should you invest your precious time, money, and effort into lead generation sites? It all depends on the needs of your business.
Especially in the home services industry, business owners need to develop affordable lead generation strategies, find new customers, and keep an edge over the competition. New companies haven’t been around for long enough to reel in repeat business, and they don’t have the sales volume to thrive from referrals. Meanwhile, too many seasoned business owners stick to traditional marketing strategies, failing to realize the importance of digital marketing in lead generation. You need sales and leads now—and you can’t afford to wait.
Powerful lead generation is essential for home services businesses, but building your strategy takes time. Some of the most affordable, effective strategies take months—or even years—to master. For example, an optimized website, an opt-in email newsletter, and a strong social media following can help generate a handful of qualified leads each day, but most businesses won’t have any luck building these assets overnight. Some businesses just don’t have time to wait.
In this case, it might be tempting to sign up for directory sites like Angi or pay-per-lead sites like Thumbtack to find more leads. There’s nothing wrong with using lead generation sites, but you’ll need to proceed with caution.
What Lead Generation Sites Are Best for Your Business?
Ready to use lead gen sites to grow your home services business? Stretching your marketing budget, selling preferred services, and finding quality leads all boil down to choosing the right lead generation websites for your business. Here are some key factors to consider:
1. Your Industry
Not all lead generation sites are created equal—and some lead generation sites are better for certain types of businesses. For example, Porch focuses on home services like moving and landscaping, while Thumbtack caters to a much wider range of businesses. Meanwhile, HomeAdvisor is ideal for contractors searching for bigger remodeling projects, and Angi is your go-to for small, one-time home projects.
Before spreading yourself too thin across every single lead generation website, take the time to choose the best platforms for your industry and services. To get started, you’ll want to figure out exactly where your services fit in the lead generation website market.
Next, start researching. Look at local contractors who are already using the platforms you’re considering. Do they look like direct competitors? Do they offer the same services as you? Are you going to be the odd one out? You’ll also want to scope out their profiles—have they been updated recently? How many client reviews do they have?
If it seems like similar businesses are getting quality leads and maintaining their profiles, it’s a good sign that a particular website is a good fit for their industry. Be sure to pay attention to their rating volume—this will show you that people are looking for that specific service through the website and actually using it.
2. Your Local Competition
Want an insider look at what works and what doesn’t for lead generation? Spy on your local competition. When you’re scoping out a potential lead generation website, you’ll want to see where your competitors are, how they’re doing, and how dense each website is for your industry. Are only a few claimed profiles on Yelp? Are there a lot of search results, or are you struggling to find your competitors?
Sure, competition can be fierce, but you want to pick a platform that draws in a lot of consumers. To figure out which platforms are popular in your area, conduct a quick search of lead generation websites based on your industry, service area, and biggest competitors.
If you’ve never done competitor research before, here’s an easy way to get started: Check your competitors’ websites and see which lead generation websites are linked on their Home page. Search for them across different lead generation websites to see if they even have a profile. Once you start getting results, check how long they’ve been using the platform, how many jobs they’ve scored, and how active they are.
3. Your Budget
Getting your business off the ground? Looking to spend less money acquiring new leads? If you’re just getting into lead gen websites, you’ll need to consider your budget. Every lead generation website charges different fees. Without a set budget, you might end up sacrificing too much of your marketing budget on lead generation. Some questions to ask when setting a budget include:
- Should you go all-in for an annual membership?
- How much profit will you make from a single lead?
- Does this potential profit make paying for leads worthwhile, or does paying a flat rate make more financial sense?
- Is lead generation something you need to invest money in?
Ultimately, the best choice for your business will depend on how much money you make per job annually and how many jobs you complete in a year.
Mastering Your Lead Generation Strategy
Just researching different lead gen websites and creating profiles isn’t enough. Most lead generation websites are only as good as the time you put into them. In other words, the more time you devote to building up your profile, connecting with leads, getting reviews, and quoting projects, the more likely you are to grow your business.
Of course, lead generation sites shouldn’t be the only piece of your lead generation strategy. Although lead gen sites can help you connect with new clients, don’t rely on them to bring in all of your clients, all of the time. Start small, grow your profile, and measure your success carefully. Most lead generation sites offer interactive dashboards that track metrics, but you’ll want to use a third-party platform to track your growth.
Also consider how to nurture and connect with the leads you already have that have not yet turned into customers.
“Send them emails and automate your outreach. Remarket to them every so often. Find something to say that is useful to them so that when they need your services, you are top of mind,” says Antognoli. “You should consider them a potential client until they opt out or become an official customer you have done business with.”
Maybe you’ll realize that you need to increase your lead response time, follow up with more leads, or adjust your listings. When you track your results, you can shine and polish your techniques as needed to reel in even more leads. This will help you allocate your budget wisely, work toward your goals, and win at lead generation.
If you want to maximize your ROI, spend less time acquiring new leads, and get noticed by local homeowners, you’ll want to spend some time piecing together the perfect strategy. Invest in professional web development, start marketing on social media, and invest in PPC ads to reach your target audience. And if you decide to use lead gen sites as part of your strategy, make sure you’re willing to put the time and effort into growing your account, sharing the link on your website, and asking clients to leave reviews.
Grow Your Home Services Business With Powerful Lead Generation
Lead generation sites can help you spend less time acquiring new leads, but they’re only one piece of the puzzle. As an independent contractor or home services pro, lead generation sites are great for getting cash flowing, but they’re not conducive to the long-term success of your business. To achieve your business goals, you need a powerful lead generation strategy that incorporates email marketing, social media, and an optimized website to draw in consumers, guide them down the sales funnel, and encourage repeat business.
A great lead generation strategy can make all the difference for your home services company. From selling your preferred services to being found when people need you, lead generation is key to growing your business and stepping out in front of the competition. If you aren’t sure where to begin, start by taking a step back and assessing your company’s current lead gen efforts, what’s working, and what you could start doing differently today. We’re here to help if you need a sounding board or advice on moving forward with a stronger lead generation strategy.