Angie's List Is Free For Homeowners: What You Need To Know
Since service review websites like Yelp and Amazon have developed a large consumer base by offering their basic services for free, Angie’s List has had to up the ante by promising in March that it would join its competitors in the realm of free basic reviews. On July 1, 2016 Angie’s List came through on that promise. While this development gives clear advantages to homeowners, will business owners reap the same benefits? Here is what you need to know.
Changes to accessibility of Angie's List reviews
Remember: their claim to fame is that they're a reliable review platform.
The basic reviews that previously cost homeowners anywhere from $30-$80 per year (depending on the level of membership, more on that in a bit) to access, will now be free. There is merely a simple registration process, including a choice between three levels of membership, with no credit card information required. For homeowners in search of services, this change appears to be only a plus. Consumers will be able to access more business reviews as well as business replies, making it easier to develop a more accurate opinion of a company. Also, before this adaptation, people who did not pay for the Angie’s List membership often did not have access to many of the negative reviews. Unlike with Yelp (supposedly) however, this means that consumers won’t have to sift through potentially fictitious reviews, because they can be confident that they were written by reliable paying customers.
So what do these reviews mean for your business? In several facets, businesses are going to reap benefits the same way that homeowners will. If your business has received great reviews on Angie’s List, the amount of consumers that will gain access to those reviews will increase exponentially. The process is cyclical: a business that starts out with good reviews gains customers, those customers leave more good reviews, resulting in even more customers, and so on. Related: Word of Mouth Referrals Don’t Work Like They Used To.
Lengthy reviews from experienced consumers: good or bad?
The vast majority of reviews from Angie’s List, both good and bad, have been proven by many sources to be not only accurate, but “meaty.” The prior exclusively paying Angie’s List members tend to be those who are invested in getting top quality service (aren’t we all?), and as a result, are passionate about sharing their discoveries with the world of homeowners, which is noticeable in their in depth reviews. However, businesses that have survived with negative reviews on Angie’s List before due to the scarcity of the views, will not have such ease anymore. And these are the consumers who, as previously stated, can write copious reviews — one that might be bad on Yelp, could be devastating on Angie’s List.
How can this alteration of Angie’s List services help business owners combat the effects of these negative reviews?
Often times, negative ratings are a result of a misunderstanding on the part of the customer. This should prove very useful information to the business owner, because the new free basic review system will make it easier for customers to see not only reviews but business replies. So, if you as a business owner aren’t already sifting through reviews that may have been caused by a customer misinterpretation, you need to! Replying to these ratings to bring clarity to areas that need it can help or even negate those tough reviews.
Click to buy the service as a product
Angie’s List is subsequently increasing the use of other services they offer as well, one of which being the ability to easily and efficiently hire services directly from their website. This means more consumers will be able to reach out to your business straight through Angie’s List, which saves both the homeowner and the business owner time.
If your home services business offers quick and "easy" projects that aren't meant to be customizable and not very design-oriented, this can be a great feature (since prices are often pretty standard). On the other hand, many of our clients offer services that start at $5,000 (with majority being at $25,000+). So where do you fit in this highly discounted world of home services? You don't. It's a website you should be on. It's a great opportunity for a list. But this doesn't mean you should productize a service you offer. And don't worry, your target market doesn't expect you to.
So regardless of the size of your business, just like with yelp, go ahead: make sure you “claim your profile” on the website. Afterall, the right way to advertise your business nowadays is to be there when your target market wants you to be. So, if they're on Angie's List potentially looking for you, you should be showing up! And of course, since we're in a research driven world, expect they'll go to your website (and your competitors), so make sure they like what they see there. This way, you'll be sure you are able to be found by someone interested in your service and so that you receive a notification any time someone reviews your business.
Angie's List Freemium Business Model
So back to the level of memberships. Angie's List now encourages sign ups with their "free to join" claim. And yes, it's totally free to have quite a bit of features for homeowners. Angie's List is a lot more than just accessing reviews so it offers more services that they do charge for. The other two, higher, levels of membership provide more hands on services such as dedicated customer service and triage-type assistance. Consider it like a personal shopper kind of benefits.
How will this play out in the future?
The major big picture advantage that businesses will reap as a result of the free Angie’s List services is that there are likely to be more changes that will connect various facets of the business world. Angie’s List has clearly sensed the pressure from its competitors, and its new CEO has already made this drastic change. As its services continue to expand, Angie’s List will likely begin channeling other kinds of businesses as well, although how far its market will expand is yet to be seen. But any expansion of businesses can result in further networking opportunities and ways to make your business available to homeowners.
To sum up…
Despite any seemingly negative impacts it may hold, Angie’s List opening up its doors for free basic reviews can serve home improvement business owners substantially. Businesses only have to handle any negative scenario properly and with great care. Angie’s List has now offered a useful way for businesses to seize opportunities within their market, and perhaps even outside of their estimated demographic. Yes, it may require a bit more work, but the amount of effort put in by the business would be negligible compared to the vast opportunities for your business to receive solid, accurate reviews easily accessed by multitudes of homeowners.