If your small or medium business mainly provides construction, carpentry, tiling, and other remodeling services, then by now you are aware of the importance of online lead generation.
While your site has an undeniable function, chances are very few contractors and home remodelers can benefit from having strong, organic searches given the competitiveness of this niche. With this in mind, you are probably constantly searching for marketing solutions provided by review sites and local listing sites. Perhaps your business is already listed in key third-party review sites such as InsiderPages, Yahoo Local, and Yelp, and you may have received a call or two from Angie’s List.
Depending on the nature of your business, Angie’s List may have approached you with marketing proposals ranging from a discount to their members, to fees as high as $14,000 per year for a preferred listing. If you are deliberating on the value of engaging with Angie’s List, then we want to give you the facts to help you make an educated decision, and point your marketing resources where you are likely to secure the most valid and profitable business leads.
Angie’s List Is Gated and Yelp Is Not
To us, this may be the most important consideration. Even if Angie’s List had better and more reviews than Yelp (note that they don’t come even close as far as speed in review acquisition), the fact that reviews are gated and subject to a paid membership that can range from $30 with coupons and cost as much as $100 in some markets makes Angie’s List a less desirable proposition as far as overall exposure for your home remodeling business.
Even if Angie’s List were to rank above Yelp for searches related to “best providers” for remodeling-related trades, those conducting searches are very unlikely to be persuaded to sign up for Angie’s List in order to have access to their reviews. We are talking millions of viewers versus thousands. The numbers speak for themselves.
Yelp Is Highly SEO-Responsive and Angie’s List Not So Much
Gating content – in this case, reviews – means less for Google crawlers to identify and correlate in association with business-relevant searches. While Angie’s List does not necessarily have a terrible standing when it comes to organic ranking, there is no comparison to the frequency in which Yelp is likely to be among the top three results when a potential customer is searching for reviews associated with construction and remodeling trades.
If your goal is to be found by customers, then your marketing allocation will yield the best results if invested in the management, monitoring, and engagement of Yelp and similar sites such as Google+ (which also has collects local business reviews).
Angie’s List Has Limited Reach Compared to Yelp
Before a shopper can see your reviews on Angie’s List, he or she must sign up for the service. This alone eliminates 90 percent of potential shoppers looking for services associated with home remodeling.
Yelp, on the other hand, provides you with a free interface that will even allow you to communicate with reviewers directly and privately, and will provide potential shoppers with a variety of unsolicited and unbiased opinions about the services you provide. The truth is that consumers inherently trust sites that have easier access and no cost to users.
Yelp Is Free to You and Consumers and Angie’s List Comes at a Price
When consumers are searching for a remodeling company, they are already prepping for a big expense. Adding the expense of a membership that may or may not provide the consumer with sufficient options to make an educated vendor selection is not a risk many are willing to take.
Angie’s List has raised its prices year after year, making it cost-prohibitive for those that may only need reviews to validate one or two big-ticket items each year. The for-pay model reduces the lead pool significantly, without increasing the quality of the leads. In short, Yelp shoppers are as likely to remodel their homes as Angie’s List members are.
Yelp’s Brand Helps You Leverage Yours and Angie’s Does Not
While it is true that Yelp has encountered many detractors, and businesses have questioned the reliability of its reviews, the fact is most small businesses stand to benefit from Yelp. A listing on Yelp imparts credibility to your business profile, triggers community engagement, and provides potential customers with free, readily accessible peer insights about your business.
Angie’s is neither popular enough nor accessible to all, providing minimal advantages to the majority of its listings. As with everything, we must admit that there are exceptions, and some small businesses in trades related to home remodeling report significant success using Angie’s List as their main resource for advertising and lead origination.
Angie’s Fees Vary by Market and Yelp Is Free for All
As we mentioned before, an Angie’s List membership can cost a consumer from $35 to over $80 per year. This fee alone is a significant deterrent for engagement, particularly in the preliminary stages of vendor selection. Many shoppers may first look at Yelp, and if the services they are trying to secure demand additional validation, there is a chance they may resort to a paid membership, but only when Yelp and other free review sites do not provide sufficient review volume to make the customer comfortable enough to move forward with a contract.
Even Bad Reviews Can Add to Your Credibility in Yelp
Because Yelp provides shoppers with both negative and positive reviews that are served at no cost, potential shoppers can see the whole story. For many, this means understanding how worst-case scenarios could look. Or, in some instances, if you have been managing your reputation, it may provide potential shoppers with insights regarding your customer commitment and ability to resolve complaints voiced through negative reviews. When it comes to building credibility and trust, a well-managed Yelp profile can truly benefit your home-remodeling business. According to Nielsen, Yelp is the most influential, credible and quality oriented customer review resource on the Web.
As with everything, there is a time and place in business for Angie’s List, and you should not dismiss it as a potential channel for lead generation. Having said that, we strongly encourage you to work toward creating a review-rich, highly engaging environment within your Yelp business profile. Take time to learn best practices in review management, and be intentional and expedient in handling leads from Yelp on first contact. Great reviews in tandem with great first impressions are the secret formula for long-term success.