Catch Up with ServiceMagic

I had an interesting call with ServiceMagic today, catching up on their efforts and ad programs. The company recently started publishing a print directory that contains advertising (from manufacturers) in addition to highly rated local contractor listings. Similar to the printed guide that Angie’s List publishes and the now defunct “best of” guide from InsiderPages, ServiceMagic told me they’ve see terrific response rates from it.

The company also said it’s doing more consumer marketing to build brand awareness. They were unable to tell precisely whether the print directory had given their site any lift because those same markets are also seeing the consumer marketing as well.

Currently the company has two ad programs: “market match” and “exact match.” The former is its “traditional” lead-gen program that comes out of a direct site visit and sends leads to several would-be vendors after a battery of questions are answered by the consumer. Exact match is a search program that delivers calls to local contractors from major search engines and other sources (e.g., 800-Free411). I was told that exact match is the program that has higher value because it’s one-to-one and doesn’t require the local contractor to follow up. In fact, ServiceMagic’s call center fields many of those calls for local businesses.

Here’s an example of exact match on Google for “Denver Painters“:

Search results

That leads to this page, which drives a phone call (that is tracked by ServiceMagic and billed as PPCall):

Landing page

ServiceMagic was really ahead of the curve when it came to ratings and reviews several years ago, but now that directories and other local search sites have adopted them they are now in the middle of a crowded field. However only actual customers get to rate businesses and those reviews are verified by ServiceMagic personnel. They contend that’s a significant differentiator (Angie’s List does something similar). Negative reviews also result in an investigation that could result in the ouster of the local contract from the directory database.

ServiceMatgic is a long-term survivor from the very early days of local on the Internet. But with their PPCall orientation and widespread syndication and distribution strategies (including mobile) they have to be considered one of the more progressive companies operating in local.

7 Responses to “Catch Up with ServiceMagic”

  1. Kenny Says:

    I personally really like ServiceMagic for home repairs. But through experience I found that there are several key tips on using Service Magic to make sure you find the best contractors for the job.

  2. ServiceMagic a Local Success Story « Screenwerk Says:

    […] recently the company has embraced SEM, SEO and other forms of distribution for its advertisers, including free directory […]

  3. ventureblogalist Says:

    any idea on the premium paid for exact match?
    any idea what % of calls are fielded by sm versus going direct to market?

    I spoke to a rep who told me that they have flat pricing? I am curious what their sales reps incentives are.

    the exact match landing match does not necessarily lead to an exact match…the consumer gets to choose. I was offered the connection with only one service provider but given the option to get phone numbers for others.

    What was strange is that they did not have rate cards or hours for the service providers…maybe this is because then the consumer would opt out of certain providers leading to less recycling/lead sales of the consumer’s need.

  4. SEO Consutling Says:

    Haivng worked at SM the incentives for sales reps are basically BULK additions of contractors and if they remain in the system long term.

  5. Nils Says:

    ServiceMagic is notorious for not including negative reviews (1 and 2 star). This grossly distorts the value of the user feedback and I have personally be burned (and unable to submit my review). Other people have had similar experiences. See Amazon for ServiceMagic reviews.

  6. Greg Sterling Says:

    If that’s correct, it’s unfortunate.

  7. Judy Says:

    Sad to hear. I had 2 wonderful experiences with 2 different ServiceMagic contractors 2-3 years ago – both went WAY beyond expectations and the costs were very reasonable. Now I need some work done but due to all the negative reviews I’m having second thoughts about using them. I looked into Mr. Handyman – the reviews for them are even worse!

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