Angie’s List: Home Repair Referrals, Trust but Verify and IoT Land

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Picture Credit: DataDrivenNetworks.com

Update: In early October, according to the Street, “As Angie’s List (ANGI) continues to implement a turnaround effort, the consumer review site’s M&A path is getting more complicated. The Indianapolis company announced Friday that former Bankrate (RATE) CEO Thomas Evans had been elected chairman of the board. Evans replaces John Chuang, who resigned as chairman and director. Director Steven Kapner also resigned.” Barry Diller’s IAC Interactive bid at $8.75  (about $500M) from November 2015 was rejected as too low.

NEVER underestimate a driven female entrepreneur who is motivated by a journalism model, want high renewals, and seeks out loyalty from its membership ranks. When Angie Hicks Bowman started “her list” in 1995 as a call-in service, she insisted on having home repair service provider reviews provided by paid network members to build credibility. As a customer reviews-based search engine for paying members, as a directory site, a homeowner pays a yearly fee to be a member and has access to the site where they can browse business profiles and search for home service providers. Members can also read in depth reviews of service providers that were written by other members. “When talking about services that we cover — you know, having a roof done on your house, replacing your furnace — these are high-cost-of-failure transactions, and the need for high-quality information is important. I think there should be more accountability online,” she told Huffington Post host Mike Sacks in 2013.

So these referral networks are a compliment to a measurable media marketing site like Blue Corona which offers a user friendly website and SEO optimized content , as do many other web site contractors. But what Angie’s List has achieved a high loyalty rate based on trust (service providers can be listed for free here but can’t submit their own skewed reviews, though maybe “members” do.) Of course, as the graphic above demonstrates, all business activity is focused on data-driven networks tied to the ever present “cloud” which is undergoing a data explosion due to the Internet of Things. (IoT). The latest estimate is the “Internet of Everything” — all of the people and things connected to the internet — will generate 507.5 zettabytes (1 zettabyte = 1 trillion gigabytes) of data by 2019, according to Cisco.

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After logging $344M in revenues in 2015, Angie’s List has begun to morph into a broader consumer space that now includes health care services under (relatively new) President and CEO Scott Durchslag (who turned around [some] Best Buy? and Expedia, and grew Skype). Scott clearly states the Angie’s List mission: “to relentlessly elevate the local home services experience.” So here are the key elements of this turnaround which link quality to perceived value:

  • Update the www.angieslist.com platform to accelerate innovation, launch new marketing initiatives and add new features and services including a service provider dashboard;
  • Shift sales efforts from a “transactional model” (hello, Wells Fargo) to a service quality/ customer relationship model so that members and business clients get their issues and concerns addressed;
  • Eliminate “member pay walls” so that membership grows, reviews increase and then service provider jobs grow as a bi-product;
  • Develop and deliver new personalized, customized and data driven tools and products to help service        providers better manage and grow contractor businesses;
  • Allow members to specify what advertising they want to see and then that permission can be monetized        with selected advertisers and your existing service providers (IAI occasionally engages in consumer surveys); and                      Picture Credit: NGDATA
  • Online consumers should emphatically reject the idea that force-fed advertising is acceptable and accept that there is NO SUCH THING as a “free” Internet service as Facebook has aggressively shown by redefining the meaning of “private information”).

At the root of the Internet of Things was data collection in the energy industry, especially for utilities. In the coming Green Revolution, IoT will enable a community of customers with shared interests in energy efficiency retain the benefits from their conservation efforts. McKinsey points out that IoT works best with networks but has some serious privacy concerns for households (are you listening GoogleAmazonAppleIBMYahooFacebookTwitter?) as there are already concerns about: 1) identity theft, 2) household hacking and 3) privacy intrusion.

McKinsey frames it correctly here:

The Internet of Things refers to the networking of physical objects through the use of embedded sensors, actuators, and other devices that can collect or transmit information about the objects. The data amassed from these devices can then be analyzed to optimize products, services, and operations. Perhaps one of the earliest and best-known applications of such technology has been in the area of energy optimization: sensors deployed across the electricity grid can help utilities remotely monitor energy usage and adjust generation and distribution flows to account for peak times and downtimes.

 

 

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