Angie's List: What Landscape Contractors Need To Know
Two years ago we wrote a blog post about Angie’s List. Two and a half years later, are landscape and build businesses benefiting or hurting by using this home services marketplace?
From the Homeowner’s Point of View
Review websites like Angie’s List are popular with consumers looking for quality landscape contractors. Its main appeal is that the basic service is free, and reviews come only from verified (paying) customers. Due to a fairly large number of listed contractors, Angie’s List is an easy search solution for homeowners.
The biggest issue people have with Angie’s List is that they are required to provide contact information, which is an annoyance if they’re just browsing and aren’t ready to hire.
Is Angie’s List Worth the Money for Landscape Contractors?
Is Angie’s List worth the money for landscape contractors? The reality is that you need to invest in some kind of advertising; but Angie’s List may not be the most effective use of your marketing dollars.
Since only qualified paying customers can submit reviews, you can be sure that your customers (and not your competition) are the ones writing reviews.
Great reviews will organically reward you with more business.
One stop shopping: homeowners can now research and hire contractors directly through Angie’s List.
The quality of leads is high. Prospects are prequalified and may be pre-sold by virtue of your reputation on Angie’s List. In some cases, Angie’s List is the only place people will go to search for contractors.
You must pay to have your profile appear on the first search page.
You pay for advertisements, not leads.
You face high competition, as leads are distributed among multiple contractors as soon as they come in.
Angie’s List has a reputation for terrible customer service and a self-serving attitude: as a contractor, you must become a paying member just to read your own reviews.
Limited reach: compared with the sheer numbers of people conducting Google searches, the number of people visiting Angie’s List is quite small.
Confusion: prospects aren’t necessarily comparing apples to apples. Landscape businesses vary greatly in their ability to handle specific projects. Not all businesses are design-oriented, which is a big selling point if you’re looking to attract customers interested in creating a one-of-a-kind dream backyard. There are too many choices in the category menus the homeowners see: for example, entering “landscapers” in the Angie’s List search bar generates 15 category results ranging from sod install to front yard landscape install to landscape lighting install. Where does a homeowner with a big complex project even start? If you’re a landscaper who offers comprehensive services, you will need to advertise in several categories to ensure that you get noticed.
The amount and consistency of quality leads depends on you. Good reviews will generate more leads and entice people to choose you over the competition; however, this strategy requires time - and a lot of consistently great reviews.
Making Your Marketing Dollars Work For You
Unfortunately, Angie’s List gets dismal reviews from both homeowners, who give the home improvement services platform 2.2 out of 5 stars, and from contractors who give it only a 1.4 out of 5 rating (data from BBB and Yelp). With that said, it could be a good option for your landscaping business.
Advertising on Angie’s List may be for you if:
Your landscape business features quick and relatively straightforward projects that are not design-oriented or complicated, and if these services come with standard pricing.
You don’t mind competing with businesses that charge cut-rate prices, i.e. quantity vs. quality (and on the flip side of this, Angie’s List is great if you don’t mind working with people who are only interested in the lowest bidder).
You don’t mind paying for being featured on the first page.
Angie’s List is probably not for you if:
You do a lot of high-end custom work where projects run $20k or more, since it’s more difficult to compare bids on custom projects.
You don’t want to pay to see your own reviews.
Are there options, then, if Angie’s List doesn’t feel like a good fit? Yes.
1. SEO Strategy
Your website needs to attract traffic, which means your business needs to be easily and quickly found on one of the first few search pages (nobody will go past the first two pages if they don’t have to). Search engines point people to your site, and SEO content lets the search engines find you.
Generate solid leads and let your customers find you easily by using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices in everything you do. SEO lets you get traffic from natural (non-paid) searches that people do on search engines like Google. You make your business more easily searchable if you use keywords or key phrases that the search engines recognize.
The trick with SEO is to write great content that engages the reader and makes it easy for search engines to find you. There’s more to SEO than just words, though. It’s a fairly complex marketing discipline that involves carefully considering the way other sites link to yours, finding keywords that generate traffic, making your site search-engine friendly — basically making sure your website is structured in a way that grabs the attention of search engines.
It’s well worth consulting with a company that can help you optimize your online presence and guide you in applying your marketing dollars in the most effective way.
2. “Near Me” Searches
A smart SEO strategy takes location into consideration. With landscaping businesses, this is especially relevant — think about how many prospects will first start looking for you by typing in their location and what they want done in their backyard. Oftentimes, they don’t even need to type in their location — their web browser or mobile device already know where they’re searching from. In fact, mobile location-based searches are changing the way people find businesses. You can optimize for popular “near me” searches by:
Keeping your local business listings up to date with correct information
Displaying your contact information on every webpage, email, or social media post
Engaging with customers on review sites (encouraging and responding to feedback)
Using location-specific tags, links and keywords
3. Facebook Advertising
Most of the time, landscape designers and builders have a target customer in mind. They tend to attract — or hope to attract — people of a certain age, income and, of course, location. Some customers may even have similar interests. What if you can reach out those homeowners and only those homeowners? Facebook advertising campaigns make it so you can reach out to the exact demographic that is most likely going to be interested in your services the next time they need a property upgrade .
Plus, Facebook Ads are one of the most economical forms of advertising you can invest in for your business. How much you put into it is up to you — advertising and the management of it is flexible depending on your needs and budget. And unlike Angie’s List, you know that many of your clients and prospects are likely on Facebook every day.
4. Google Ads
Advertising on Google offers a similar flexibility — and the opportunity is tough to resist for design and build businesses that are only interested in local clients. But it’s also a complex endeavor — prices depend on the popularity of keywords and what people in your region are searching for. And the wording you use matters. It’s best to partner with experts who have run many Google campaigns and know how to get your companies like yours, in your industry, effective results.
Homeowners willing to invest in enhancing their outdoor living footprint want to know they can trust you and that you do good work. Show them exactly what you can do. Put your business to life by incorporating videography onto your social media pages. Brief narration can explain your projects and inspire viewers to do similar work for their homes. When your social media accounts are properly managed, customer outreach is seamless. It not about creating intrusive messages but sharing useful and relatable information that results in interaction — and leads.
There is no perfect lead source, but based on our own research and experience, we recommend that you don’t use Angie’s List as your only source of quality leads. Your cost of involvement (dollars, time and effort) may be unjustifiably high.
Landscape contractors, particularly those who specialize in high-end custom projects or those looking to build their business, are better off implementing a well-thought-out SEO strategy that will generate quality leads without the costs and challenges associated with Angie’s List.