In the thousands of conversations I’ve had with trade business owners, I’ve heard this question a lot: Is HomeAdvisor worth it? How about Thumbtack or other pay-per-lead services?
While many handyman and contractor businesses use (or have used) pay-per-lead services, here’s the truth:
These services are a short-term marketing fix, and ultimately a bad investment of your marketing dollars. I’ll further explain in this article.
So is HomeAdvisor worth it? No. Invest in YOURSELF, YOUR business, and YOUR marketing strategy! You are better than pay-per-lead services, and deserve better results than they can provide.
HomeAdvisor BBB profile – at the time of writing this: 1 star with 1,783 customer complaints
Important note: I have talked to a small portion of business owners who’ve been happy with pay-per-lead services, and that is fantastic! I would argue, however, that if they invested that same amount of money into their own marketing strategy they would experience better results. Still, it should be noted, some business owners prefer the simplicity of using a pay-per-lead service. After all, that is why they exist – charging a premium for marketing simplicity.
First, let’s talk about the ONLY benefit of these pay-per-lead services, which is why they exist in the first place.
The 1 Lonely Benefit Of Pay-Per-Lead Services
There’s one benefit to using pay-per-lead services: they require zero-to-little effort to set-up. All you have to do is fill out basic information, setup your payment account, and you’re off to the races!
I can’t fault new businesses for being sold by these companies. Instant leads for a brand new business is pretty alluring, right?
… Unfortunately, the pitfalls far outweigh the benefits.
7 Reasons To Avoid Pay-Per-Lead Services Like The Plague
Convenience is a bad reason to invest in anything, including your hard-earned marketing dollars.
Marketing is an investment – you get a return. Have you ever received financial advice to invest in a particular stock because “well hey man, it’s easy to buy!” NO! Neither should you invest your marketing dollars into things just because they’re quick and easy to setup.
With slightly more effort, you can setup a far more effective marketing system for your handyman business that benefits YOU, not a pay-per-lead company.
If you haven’t yet, download our free Marketing Guide – it’ll show you, step-by-step, how to setup your own effective marketing system.
Let’s get into the specific reasons of why pay-per-lead services are not good for your business.
1. Leads Are More Expensive
This doesn’t take much reasoning to figure out: HomeAdvisor is a middle-man. They’re essentially an SEO company that ranks for your keywords, then sells you their leads at a drastic markup.
HomeAdvisor leads can range from $15 to upwards of $60. By contrast, our Google Ad campaigns produce $2-$10 leads for our handyman customers.
These companies are MASSIVE and have tremendous overhead – how do you think they pay for the hundreds of sales people that are blowing up your phone every day?
They charge a high price for their services (i.e. LEADS for your business). This high price-per-lead allows them to be in business and get paid.
2. The Leads Are Bad, Man
Lead quality from these services are relatively bad. You don’t need to look further than the typical consumer that uses a pay-per-lead service:
- They don’t have a personal referral for a handyman, nor cared to ask for a referral (which someone will typically do to ensure quality work)
- They aren’t taking the time to research businesses that would be a good fit for them – searching Google, reading reviews, etc.
- They are looking for an easy, convenient way to shop for any service provider, rather than choose a specific service provider
- They understand, because the pay-per-lead service tells them, that they will receive MULTIPLE quotes. To a degree, they are pre-qualified to be price shopping (similar to the point above). Price shoppers are typically not ideal customers for professional contractors who provide quality service.
When you get inside the head of a consumer who uses a pay-per-lead service (at least a good number of them) – they are relatively bad leads to begin with.
3. The Same Lead Goes To You And Your Competitors
Looking at the example above from HomeAdvisor, you can see that a lead’s project details and contact info goes to UP TO 4 service providers.
That wouldn’t be a big deal if it weren’t for this fact: all 4 providers pay for this lead, even though only 1 gets the job… (Assuming that the 1 even gets the job.)
Keep in mind, not all pay-per-lead services send leads to multiple providers. While Thumbtack (by my latest knowledge) does have a system like this, most leads reach out to a single provider they find within a “top 10 list” (similar to Yelp).
The difference between Thumbtack and Yelp is you, the business owner, pays for the lead on Thumbtack…
Wait… Did I just make Yelp sound good? 🤣
Not the topic at hand, but worth mentioning: regardless of your opinion on Yelp, do your online presence a favor and complete a free profile with your website link.
4. Is HomeAdvisor Worth It? Major National Players Don’t Think So
A great strategy on your way to achieving success (whatever that means to you) is looking at what successful people do. And, just as important, what successful people DON’T do.
Does Warren Buffet invest in a “lottery fund”? I don’t think so! (There is no such thing as a “lottery investment fund”… Hmm 🤔…)
In the same vein, small businesses should look at major competitors in the marketplace, and see what they’re doing.
Big companies have spent millions in mistakes, and have learned what works – this holds true for marketing.
You won’t find Mr. Handyman or Handyman Connection (bigger handyman franchises) on per-per-lead services.
Why? Because their marketing dollars yield a higher return in other areas.
5. When you stop paying, they stop playing
The moment you stop paying for the pay-per-lead service, you’re done! There is no “residual” marketing benefit that comes from these platforms.
Example: if you use Google Ads (for professional management see our handyman marketing program) that drive traffic to your website; when you stop your campaign, you still have your website and SEO for leads to find and contact you.
In fact, on some platforms, when you stop paying your profile gets dusted! Deleted from the interwebs with no trace of it ever being there.
All your reviews? Gone. All your business information? Gone. Customers trying to find you on Google? Good luck!
This is a major pitfall in investing in one pay-per-lead platform! When you stop paying, you get dropped.
6. No SEO Benefit
A benefit of running pay-per-CLICK ads (like Google and Facebook) is that it drives traffic to YOUR website! Rather than HomeAdvisor, Thumbtack, or whoever’s website.
Website traffic is good for your SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and you aren’t getting website traffic from Thumbtack, HomeAdvisor, and most pay-per-lead services. They make money by people coming to THEIR website, not yours.
Website traffic is an easy SEO indicator for Google: all else equal, one website gets 1,000 monthly visitors, another gets 100 – which seems like the best #1 result to show?
By using a pay-per-lead service, you are forgoing valuable traffic to your website. Also, for more complex marketing strategies, you miss the opportunity to “retarget” your website visitors – or, show them ads after they leave your website.
Is HomeAdvisor worth it for your SEO? Definitely not!
Note: If you’re looking for ways to boost your website’s search engine optimization, check out our DIY SEO for contractors article.
7. 100% loss of control over design and branding
You want your marketing to make a positive impression, you want it to be memorable, and you want it to be consistent across all your marketing mediums.
Every pay-per-lead profile looks exactly the same. There is no control over colors, fonts, layout, extra details, etc. The only noticeable distinguishing features is your profile image and business name at the top.
Compare the impression you get from a HomeAdvisor profile to a professional designed website – you can imagine there’s quite the difference!
On your way to becoming a top local service provider, you want to make a great first impression. You can make a far better impression with other marketing mediums like:
- unique website design
- Facebook and other online marketing channels
- mailers and other print marketing
- in-person at trade shows and networking events
You get the picture!
Okay, But Is Thumbtack Worth It?
I want to create a little segment for Thumbtack, because I have seen customers successfully use this service enough times to give it a special mention.
So is Thumbtack worth it? Here is where this pay-per-lead service CAN be good for you.
Please note: your success can vary on many factors like: market you serve, type of trade you’re in, level of competition.
When is Thumbtack worth it for your handyman business
I have seen Thumbtack used successfully for brand new handyman businesses starting with zero-to-little budget.
It’s a decent space for new businesses to build some initial clientele while getting their marketing foundation setup. Also, the horror stories of them wrongfully extracting money from your bank account are dwarfed by HA.
Keep in mind: the specific market is important, because the cost-per-lead can get out of control quickly. Some markets will have drastically different cost-per-lead – like higher populated areas with more people bidding for leads. Supply and demand is real!
If Thumbtack seems like it would be worth a try for your business, please do yourself a favor a setup a Google My Business (mentioned below) and start accruing reviews there.
You shouldn’t have to be on Thumbtack long, no more than a few months, to make the proper margins to invest in YOUR OWN marketing system.
Alternative Ways To Generate Leads Online
There are unlimited ways to market a business online. However, within each industry, there are “best ways” to market your business online.
For Home Services (like contractors and handymen), here is a short list of marketing strategies we advise investing in.
Download our free marketing guide for a detailed walkthrough in setting up your own marketing system.
Google My Business (GMB)
The first thing any local business owner should do online is create a Google My Business profile.
Check out our GMB Optimization Guide to do it right.
Professional Website Design
Your website is your business’s “home” on the internet. All your online profiles, marketing, and even print advertisements should lead people to your website.
It goes without saying, it should be designed to make a great impression, inform your visitors, and encourage them to contact you.
Modern, effective web design for contractor and handyman businesses is what we do. Check out our plans and pricing.
Create Online Profiles And Get Reviews
There are dozens of free online profiles you can setup. The priority ones are:
- Google My Business
- Facebook Business
- For a full list, download our Marketing Guide
Getting reviews on these online profiles is incredibly important! It will increase your online visibility for specific profiles and also improve your SEO.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising
Once you’ve got a website and your important online profiles setup, use your marketing budget on pay-per-CLICK campaigns.
The three most common ways handyman business owners run DIY PPC campaigns are through Facebook (boosting posts), Google Ads Express (found in your GMB Dashboard – business.google.com), and Yelp.
Expert Google Ad Management For Handyman & Remodeling Contractors
The Handyman Web Design team specializes in Google Ad campaigns to maximize your ad spend – providing monthly reporting so you’re fully informed on your return on investment.
Check out our Handyman Marketing Program for more information. We’re able to get cost-per-lead to $2-10 for handyman services.
A big benefit of leads from Google Ads is this: they are quality leads!
Leads from Google Advertising are prequalified in:
- they have a need for your services
- they are looking to hire someone right now
A drastically different type of lead than Facebook and pay-per-lead services!
Verdict On Pay-Per-Lead Services
So, is HomeAdvisor worth it?
If you’ve made it this far, you can probably guess what the verdict is…
In most cases, no, Pay-Per-Lead Services are not worth it!
If you are sales wizard over the phone, and can contact leads lightning fast, you’ll probably do better than most. Even still, use those sales skills for higher margin marketing mediums.
Rather than spending your money by-the-lead, spend it on building a marketing platform that will support your business’s long-term success.
Invest in a marketing system that won’t disappear if you stop paying for ads because you’re so busy (or any other reason);
Invest in YOUR business… Impress YOUR visitors, YOUR leads and YOUR customers with YOUR awesome marketing program….. Not the marketing program of an overpriced lead generation company.