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3 Reasons Why We Stopped Advertising on Thumbtack (be warned!)

Despite the fact that SEO Web Designers has stopped advertising on Thumbtack due to the lack of responsive so-called “high-quality” leads, they still give us the 2015 Thumbtack Award of Best Website Designers in New York (see here).


This comes to us as a surprise because in 2015, we only acquired a minuscule number of clients on Thumbtack sometime in the beginning of the year, then soon after that we became inactive on their site. Yup, we completely crossed Thumbtack from the list of places to spend our marketing budget.

Most of the good reviews and credentials on our Thumbtack business profile is actually from 2014. Yet, for the entire year of 2015, not a single professional was able to gain up and outrank us despite that we literally paused our profile. What makes it worst is that there are hundreds of professionals competing in the same arena as we are within the world’s busiest city (NYC).

So why did we still come out on top and remain #1?

I personally believe that Thumbtack was great sometime between 2012 and 2014, but eventually consumers started to benefit greatly from the bidding wars between desperate professionals. That was when we experienced a dramatic downfall in lead responsiveness which is the main reason we stopped spending money on their platform.

We always kept our prices the same, and we used to get compliments about how affordable we are compared to the other bidders. Now let’s fast-forward to 2015….

…when asking leads why they did not choose us, they would tell us that even though we had the best presentation out of the others, you were still more expensive.

As marketing experts, we know that any place where you have to keep reducing prices just to win business…IS VERY BAD BUSINESS!

The reason I believe that so many other active professional’s on Thumbtack could not outrank us may be due to the very same reason we stopped buying leads…VERY BAD RESPONSE RATE DUE TO BIDDING WARS!

In essence, a lot has changed since we first wrote about Thumbtack a couple years ago, which you can read here: Thumbtack Vs. Yelp Vs, AngiesList Vs. HomeAdvisor

Top 3 Reasons Why NOT to Buy Leads on Thumbtack

1. Most Leads on Thumbtack Look for Cheapest, not Quality:

At some point during 2015, we burned very quickly through $2000 to $4000 without able to close a single deal (EPIC FAIL and the worst ROI we ever experienced anywhere). The biggest problem on Thumbtack is that leads are now always looking for the “cheapest” possible quote.

With that being said, leads would immediately disregard us without even reading or clicking on any of our work. They would go with the cheapest guy without ever understanding the difference in quality and value.

This problem may have been solved if Thumbtack only made the “your budget” field “required” for the person seeking services so that way we know when and when not to bid on a lead.

Furthermore, just about everyone we were competing with was offering pre-made website templates that are not even worth using for free. Many of these templates can be bought online for a measly $15 and do not even require a web designer to install.

We, on the other hand, actually use a whiteboard to draw and come up with a comprehensive design strategy based on the clients end-goals of the website. Not mentioning that we put much effort into conversion optimization and on-page SEO.

The difference between us and the others was night and day.

2. No One can Contact you Directly when Finding your Thumbtack Business Page:

We are experts with on-page optimization, the only problem is, when you setup and optimize your Thumbtack profile, your not doing it for yourself, you are doing for Thumbtack…

They benefit from ranking and getting free search engine traffic from listings that professionals setup. However, they don’t allow a single lead to contact you directly…they don’t even reveal your phone number! That is where sites like Yelp accel over Thumbtack.

Instead, a box appears that tells the user to make a free request to start getting quotes. What happens then? You either lose the lead that YOU helped get, or you pay for the lead that YOU helped get (and you still may not get it)!

Here’s a snapshot of our profile:

seo web designers thumbtack profile


3. Most Leads Are Not “Local” As Thumbtack Proclaimes

This is not an issue for us since our job is SEO and web design, and it can be done regardless of the client’s location. We have many happy customers across the States (and other countries).

The real problem is that most leads prefer to work with a local SEO company. They simply do not trust anyone outside their proximity.

About 95% of all the leads that Thumbtack sends to us are outside one of our local offices. About 50% of those leads cancel the entire request altogether because they did not receive any local quotes (as Thumbtack makes it seem).

No matter how many good reviews we have, they will always turn us down just because we are not local. Often times, they act confused because they were under the impression that Thumbtack was going to connect them with local businesses.


Thumbtack…the California startup that showed promise to be better and different than the other big players in this industry also has it’s flaws just like the rest. While it’s true that many people found success advertising on Thumbtack, you are still forced to charge less and deal with constant unresponsive leads before you find a winner.

Everyone must determine for themselves if Thumbtack is worth the time and investment, but for us, it has proven to be a waste of both.

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