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Building connections and conversions

  Article , Success stories

HomeAdvisor reaches new customers with Bing Ads targeting

The leading website for home projects

The home industry is a $300 billion-plus space. For close to 20 years, HomeAdvisor has been a leader in that industry, helping homeowners connect online with prescreened, top-rated service professionals for help with home improvement, maintenance and repair projects.
In 2015 alone, HomeAdvisor connected more than 10 million homeowners to its network of 120,000 service professionals, generating upwards of $30 billion for small businesses across the country. Since 1999, the Golden, Colorado-based company has helped more than 35 million homeowners tackle home-related projects.
So how does it all work? “HomeAdvisor has two types of customers. Homeowners on one side — people who have any type of home improvement need. Then on the other side, we have service providers. These are usually local, small businesses who are looking to acquire customers,” says Diana Boyles, vice president of marketing at HomeAdvisor.
The site also offers advice and how-to help. All services are free to the homeowner. “Anyone who wants to look for a service professional can go on the website, search for whatever task they're interested in and get matched,” says Russell Kalbach, senior manager of digital marketing at HomeAdvisor.
For service professionals, HomeAdvisor provides a great way to grow their business. “Oftentimes, we get people who have just finished trade school and are starting out,” Boyles says. “They’re skilled tradespeople but probably not as skilled at marketing. We connect them with homeowners who have a need and help them build their business.” While accredited service professionals pay to use HomeAdvisor, the results typically prove more than worth the effort. “We have professionals that have built their whole client book using HomeAdvisor,” says Brooke Gabbert, vice president of corporate communications at HomeAdvisor. 


The secret sauce

Screenshot of website.

HomeAdvisor —

To ensure the company only works with the best of the best, HomeAdvisor thoroughly vets its professionals. “We prescreen all of our contractors before they get listed,” Boyles points out. “We do background checks, including criminal and financial, to make sure they’re qualified and have the proper licensing in place.” And because they get rated and reviewed by customers, these tradespeople have to continually prove their worth. For HomeAdvisor, processes such as these help separate them from competitors in the field.

Another differentiating factor is that the company matches homeowners to service professionals on the back end. “We ask you all the details about your project and then find the exact pros who can do that project for you,” Boyles says. To ensure a prompt response, HomeAdvisor typically provides a homeowner with several names. Because service professionals want the business, they call back promptly, meaning there’s hope for you if your sewer backs up during the chimes of midnight.

A final key advantage for the company is that it keeps things simple. “People want simple tools to connect easily,” Gabbert says. As an online-only resource, the company focuses its efforts on delivering innovation in the field and with user performance. “Homeowners want things done fast,” Gabbert says. “So we've created tools that help them connect through the website, a mobile app or directly on the phone, just through a click of a button.”
Bing Ads gives us greater insight and more types of customers than other players. We see how we're performing and how different audiences are performing for us.

Russell Kalbach Senior Manager of Digital Marketing HomeAdvisor

Earning ROI in search advertising

As important as these factors have become to HomeAdvisor, they’d mean little if the company couldn’t reach its audience. To do that, the company relies heavily on paid search and digital marketing. “We grew up in digital and we’re very ROI focused,” Boyles explains. “Paid search for us has, by far, the greatest ROI, so that’s where we invest the most heavily.” John Sheesley, a marketing analyst at HomeAdvisor, concurs. “The greatest ways that we've found to push our message out to the world about how we're different is through our search advertising.”

As with any paid search strategy, keyword planner plays a crucial role in the company’s success. “We bid on terms that ensure people can find us when they need our service,” says Allie Leininger, an analyst at HomeAdvisor. “We want to know our best-performing terms so we can expand on them and bring them into new categories.”

Audience targeting with Bing Ads

Photo of the HomeAdvisor executive and marketing team members.

The HomeAdvisor executive and marketing team members.

HomeAdvisor’s goal is to drive traffic to its site and then offer help as opposed to just listing professionals. “We've found that to be really useful because people see us not just as someone trying to sell them something, but as someone who's actually trying to help them,” Sheesley says. That requires knowing a target audience within the moment. “We want to know if someone is ready to complete a task so we can match them with the right message at the right time,” Kalbach says. For example, if your toilet is leaking, are you looking to fix it yourself, search online for a solution, go to a home improvement store, or hire a professional?
When it comes to audience targeting, HomeAdvisor finds Bing Ads to be a huge asset. “We’re a company that loves data,” Boyles says. “Bing Ads gives us greater insight and more types of customers than other players. We see how we're performing and how different audiences are performing for us.” 

A true partnership

Ask anyone at HomeAdvisor what they like best about Bing Ads and you’ll get a variety of answers. For example, Sheesley finds value in Bing Ads Intelligence. “It’s an Excel add-on that allows us to download our account performance and then use Bing Ads’ internal tools to generate recommendations for us.” Kalbach loves how Bing Ads integrates into Microsoft’s ecosystem. “I can pull our data from the Bing Ads user interface directly into Excel with the push of a button.”
For Leininger, Bing Ads weaves a tale of thought leadership. A lot of that comes from simply taking the time to listen. “When we share our goals with the Bing Ads account team, they come back with high-level insights. For example, how we're growing on certain devices. They also come with tactics such as, ‘Do these five things and you’ll grow your conversion volume.’” 
From a big-picture perspective, Kalbach thinks Bing Ads helps his company reach a broader, high- value audience. “Our Bing audience skews a little bit older than some of the other search engines,” he says. “Bing allows us to access some of the demand that isn't necessarily available through other search engines.”
If you eliminate all the processes and tools that Bing Ads offers, there’s still one overarching benefit that HomeAdvisor considers priceless: the people. “With Bing Ads it’s more of a partnership and less them pushing us to try to spend more money,” Kalbach says.
Sheesley feels that working with the Bing Ads account representatives is like having another member on the team. “They support us so effectively. If I have a question, a lot of times I get more than just an answer. They’ll tell me how to do it and then offer to do it for me,” he says.
Boyles loves the proactive insight that comes through open and frequent communication. “They look at our data and goals and then use their tools to recommend new products they think can help. I really love that.” Maybe that’s the story within the story here for HomeAdvisor — the human side to using Bing Ads for paid search. “I can tell that we're not just a number with Bing Ads. It's like having a partner as a business rather than just doing business with someone.”

See a summary

View or save an infographic recap of how HomeAdvisor uses Bing Ads to target a valuable audience and build conversions.

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