HomeAdvisor vs. Angies's List: Get the Scoop on the Top Lead Generation Websites to Build Your Customer Base
Online home service directories seem to be everywhere these days.
Porch. Thumbtack. Bark. Houzz. And yes, even Google Home Services.
Those are just five of the creatively named (one maybe less so) home service marketplaces where contractors and service providers can connect with the homeowners who are seeking them out.
Amongst the crowd though, two directories rise above all others - Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor.
For a service provider, these websites are both a blessing and a burden. Each provides the promise of connecting you with new clients. But is the time and effort to monitor your presence (and the peer review systems of each site) worth it to grow your business. Or could those resources be better spent elsewhere?
Let’s take a closer look at the industry leader Angie’s List, and its primary competitor, HomeAdvisor, to see if either is a fit for your company.
How They Work
In both instances, onboarding with each service is a snap. Sign up online, complete your profile, and in no time you have your listing ready to go. While the companies are mostly the same - there are only so many ways you can sell leads - there are subtle differences with how homeowners approach each service.
Angie's List has built a dedicated following. A lot of users pay to use the site (more on that below), which gives them a more direct stake ensuring the best contractors are front and center.
HomeAdvisor is more of a free-for-all. The service is, well, free (more on that later), so homeowners are moving in and out of the platform. But don't mistake that for a less than passionate user base. HomeAdvisor has millions of committed users. The slightly more dedicated users on Angie's List, pay for their access.
But that's a minor distinction in comparing the two services. After all, the nature of a particular city or market may favor one service over another.
Does it mean that leads on Angie's List are higher quality than HomeAdvisor? In some places, it could. But there's little doubt that competition for leads is pretty fierce on both sites.
Another contrast between the services is HomeAdvisors commitment to applying technology to enhance its platform. While both directories have mobile apps, HomeAdvisor also employs their "Instant Booking" tool. The feature allows consumers to directly book openings on a contractor's calendar.
That may not work for everyone, but it can have a significant impact in filling open slots on your calendar. It could also mean the difference in landing a job if convenience is a deciding factor for a homeowner (all other things being equal).
So what is the biggest difference between the two listing services? It comes down to who pays for what and how.
The Fine Print
Before we get started on the Angie’s List versus HomeAdvisor comparison, there is one disclosure that should be made known - both websites share the same owner.
New York City-based InterActiveCorp or IAC oversees ANGI Homeservices, which is the parent company of both Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor. Then current owner of HomeAdvisor, IAC, acquired a stake in Angie’s List in May 2017, thus creating the ANGI Homeservices brand.
It’s not an uncommon pairing considering the current climate of corporate mergers and holdings. It is, however, an important distinction since the following comparison is really about the services each one offers.
Yes, these are still both lead-generation tools for your business. While each maintains separate operations and run independently of one another, understand that any monetary investment you might make with either service ultimately ends up in the same spot.
Recent acquisition notwithstanding, both Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor have long histories and are the clear 1A and 1B of localized service provider directories.
Each has relatively humble roots, but their principal missions have remained consistent throughout their history: provide peer-based recommendations and reviews for homeowners and lead generation for contractors.
As the oldest of the service provider directories, Angie’s List has weathered all competitors to remain atop the field for over 20 years.
As a startup in Columbus, Ohio, Angie Hicks went door to door to sign up consumers for the Columbus Neighbors service that reviewed home and lawn services. Once the service reached 1,000 members, it acquired Unified Neighbors and moved its headquarters to Indianapolis.
Since that time, the organization expanded to include contractors, home repair and general maintenance, as well as automotive service and health care providers.
At the time of its 2017 acquisition, Angie’s List was valued at over $500 million with over 5 million members and more than 50,000 professionals as part of its platform. The site has also exceeded 10 million reviews.
Originally founded in 1998, HomeAdvisor started its run as ServiceMagic, a service similar to Angie’s List with a few clear distinctions.
First, it offered members estimating tools to help determine the costs of home improvement projects or repairs. It also provided free membership whereas Angie’s List required paid subscriptions.
In 2004, IAC acquired the brand and a little over ten years later they had $300 million in revenue, with a total user base of 30 million. The site also claimed 3 million reviews and a network close to 100,000 service professionals.
Pricing and Fee Comparison
For contractors, finding viable leads and connecting with future customers is a challenge. It's made even more so when the promise of future business comes with a fee structure that is unclear.
While both services offer relatively straightforward membership options to the consumer - Angie's List is a freemium service, HomeAdvisor is completely free - the provider investment is less simple. It's not overly complicated, but with both sites, you could end up paying more than you planned.
Between each service, Angie’s List provider fee structure is the murkier of the two.
A company listing on the site is free (but is owned by Angie’s List), and if you hope to achieve any level of visibility, there are a few necessary requirements.
Similar to Google Ads, if you hope to rise above the organic search, you’ll have to pay for it. The benefit is that more of your company info is visible to potential clients, but the per click ad rate is market driven and can run anywhere from $4 to $8. This cost can quickly increase.
The other consideration to posting on Angie’s List is discounts - the discounts you offer to a possible new customer. These are a big player on the site due to it being one of the perks of paid membership by a homeowner (paid subscribers get access to specials, free users don’t). Again, nothing earth-shattering, but it can drive up your costs.
Beyond that basic structure, there is a catch to your listing that we'll cover in the pros and cons section below.
With HomeAdvisor, the pricing is more straightforward, if a bit more costly.
To list your company, there is a $350 annual fee. However, as a lead-generation site, if you want to connect to possible clients directly, it can start anywhere from a $15 to $20 per lead on up to $50 or more. In some markets, the number can get as high as $80 to $100 per lead.
There are instances where you are granted a refund of the lead fees if they do not result in actual work, but you might have to chase those down.
Membership and User Totals
As much as we all probably hate to admit, leads are a numbers game. To make sure you can build a large volume of business, it requires a large number of leads. That, of course, requires you fighting through a lot of tire-kickers and price lurkers to score the jobs where there's a genuine service need that will actually pay.
First, let's look at the raw numbers.
Membership wise, HomeAdvisor reports an estimated 45 million users. That's a testament to their sheer size. Its an international firm, so it has a massive presence not just here, but also abroad. It also helps that a user doesn't have to pay anything to search for contractors, so that will certainly help pad those numbers.
On the other side of the coin, Angie's List claims a far smaller active user base - 5 million members, although some reports show that number to be higher. But they are engaged. The service boasts over 10 million reviews of contractors whereas HomeAdvisor, even as the far larger service, has only half that number. We'll cover the rating system in greater detail in the next section.
Another point to mull over beside participation stats is that both services do perform background checks, which is good. It's not fair for you to operate legitimately and compete against contractors that don't.
Angie's List background checks are relatively standard. HomeAdvisor is much the same, but have run into issues with some of their background check claims. If your firm maintains its own high-level background checks, this should not impact you directly. In some areas, where the validity of marketplace background checks is questionable, it could affect consumer confidence in the marketplace as a whole.
The Pros and The Cons
It’s hard to avoid the fact that both of these websites are very much alike. Together they are the behemoths in the home service marketplace. Their extensive history and solid financial backing do not hurt either. Its little surprise they remain the preferred choice for the majority of homeowners.
Both sites require a background check on their providers and offer some level of customer service when you are listed - even if the service itself leaves something to be desired (a common complaint amongst service providers).
In addition, each service is well established within Google's’ organic search, which means if you type “HVAC repair near me” in Google, both Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor are at the top of the results.
There are differences, however, and though each service has redemptive qualities, there are notable drawbacks worth considering before aligning with either service.
Angie’s List is by far the most widely known marketplace, and it's "from the ground up" backstory endears it to plenty of homeowners looking for maintenance or repair services. It is free to sign up, and that does provide you with a reasonable listing from which to build your site presence.
However, that is where things can turn sour for a provider hoping to raise their status to "preferred."
As we alluded to in the pricing section, the big gotcha with your listing is that for it to advance in the rankings, you’ll need customer reviews. Lots of them. And they all better speak highly of your services.
Your visibility can rise and fall with the reviews and ratings you receive, which it should be noted you have zero control over. Of course, if you are stuck down at the bottom of the rankings, you can overcome the placement by purchasing ads.
For all its popularity with homeowners, Angie’s List, from a provider standpoint, best serves Angie’s List legacy companies - those who’ve invested time and money over many years in the marketplace to strengthen their rankings, acquire a ton of positive reviews, and spend money when necessary to ensure consistent visibility.
It may not have equal billing or the notoriety of its competitor, but HomeAdvisor does have a loyal base of homeowners who swear by the service.
The site also presents itself as a better fit toward larger scale projects like home remodels, which means those specific contractors can more easily find a ready and willing base of new clients. Overall, the site also presents a fairer field of competition versus the Angie’s List pay to play in the big leagues model.
However, the lead-bid approach can unknowingly drive up costs without any promise of actual work coming from your efforts. That bidding also means a lot of competition amongst service providers for a less than comparable volume of work.
With its skew to larger projects, HomeAdvisor is not always the best site to cultivate repeat customers. Plus, as a completely free site for the homeowner, there are plenty of window shoppers with hands in their pockets and only simple estimates on their mind.
Reviews and Ratings
For reviews and ratings, there's plenty of similarities in these two marketplaces.
First, no one's anonymous on either site - consumers or contractors. It's a welcome feature, that, for the most part, ensures that compliments and complaints are legitimate. You, as the contractor, also have a platform to respond to any less than stellar reviews.
As with any review-based website, the majority of reviews are honest, good-mannered, and very helpful. Of course, there will be plenty more that originate with unsatisfied customers who will never be made happy.
The primary variable with reviews is how the sites score services. HomeAdvisor uses a basic rating system of one to five stars. Angie's List bases their scores off "A" through "F" letter grades. As we noted earlier, they claim to have over 10 million verified reviews on their site.
Aside from the rating format, the primary distinction is Angie's List use of their grades as something of a reward system for contractors. In other words, a positive review on Angie's List will carry more weight than a good review on HomeAdvisor.
Companies that maintain a grade of B or higher are allowed to buy ads on the service, therefore improving their site ranking. C or below, and your listing remains on the site, albeit with a much lower rank.
As for the services themselves and how actual contractors feel about them - it's a different story. Considering how long both companies have operated and how large they've grown, its no surprise they've built up their fair share of fans and detractors.
Each company has an active presence with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Currently, HomeAdvisor has an NR (not rated) with the BBB. The BBB has asked HomeAdvisor to review and respond to a pattern of complaints that revolve around billing, product, refund, and customer service issues. Once resolved a new grade should be issued (in the past it's hovered around a B to B minus).
Angie's List, for their part, is in much better standing with an A+, although their overall customer rating sits just above one star, about the same as HomeAdvisor.
Before we get to the pros and cons of each service, we felt it necessary to cover one more aspect of these two marketplaces - how they handle your brand.
With HomeAdvisor, their terms of service outline their ability to use the information within your company profile to direct traffic back to their website. In other words, they use your brand to promote their own brand. Even with it stated in the fine print, many contractors - rightfully so - consider this to be a poor business practice.
Based on the user agreement for Angie's List, your listing may be free, but they basically own it. Their terms are similar to HomeAdvisor, though they are less blatant about promoting their brand at the expense of others.
With both marketplaces, it's crucial to understand the limitations you face when listing on either service. The more educated you are on your listing and content, the better off you'll be should a problem arise.
Popularity of Each Platform By State
Looking at the pros and cons of each Angie’s List and Home Advisor is critical when trying to decide which platform is best for your business.
But there is another aspect that you also must consider when deciding between the two platforms: which is the most popular in your state. Ideally, you want to be using the one that is used the most in your particular state. In other words, if more people are using HomeAdvisor over Angie’s List in your particular state, than you probably want to focus your efforts on HomeAdvisor, even if you feel that Angie’s List may technically be a better platform (or vice versa).
To help you determine which platform should get the majority of your focus, we scraped and analyzed data from Google Trends. This data shows which platform is getting a higher percentage of searches across each state in the United States. The thinking is that if more people are searching for a particular platform, then more people are also using that platform.
In many states, the search volume is relatively evenly divided between the two platforms. For example, in Alabama, 44% of people are searching for Angie’s List and 56% of people are searching for Home Advisor. But there are some states where the difference in search volume is significant. In Florida, for example, only 29% of people are searching for Angie’s List, while 71% are searching for Home Advisor.
You’ll want to closely examine your state to see which platform is getting more searches. If you close to the border of another state and do business across state lines, you may want to check on the search volume in the neighboring state as well. If the search volume is spread relatively evenly between the two states, you may want to consider using both platforms for your business.
With Angie’s List, you can create a free listing, have a few established clients post some positive reviews, and see what happens without spending a dime. For small startups, it could prove beneficial long term. If your business is well established without having used Angie’s List in the past, you’ll gain minimal benefit from it.
Of course, if you throw tons of cash at it, you can develop a strong presence in the marketplace and do so in fairly short order.
In HomeAdvisor, you get a level playing field. However, plenty of competition and an at times passive user base means you could be spending a lot of dollars and a lot of time for just a few actionable jobs. But if you're a large scale contractor or company with a few dollars and time to spare, leads can be found.
So, will your business find success with either Angie’s List or HomeAdvisor?
The answer is a resounding, maybe. Just don't put all of your marketing resources behind either service.
Each marketplace - including the new upstarts we mentioned in the opening - should be viewed as a small part in your company’s broader marketing plan.
Robust advertising that targets your specific client base, a healthy referral network and a reliable website that promotes customer engagement will do more to grow your business than anything else.
That said, if you’re struggling to find new clients or want to try a new marketing avenue, each service is worth a shot as long as you read the fine print, understand their policies, and go into with reasonable expectations.
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