“Hi. This is Angies List. First, we’d like to thank you for being a member. Now, please post more content on our site.”
That, in essence, was the middle-of-the workday call I just got at my desk from an Angie’s List representative. It took a minute or two to sort out the fact he wasn’t pitching a story (we are, of course on their press list). Rather, the purpose of the call was to ask me as a member to think back on any contractors or services I’d recently used and to urge me to post reviews of those businesses on the site.
This raises several questions, none of them particularly favorable to the site. Angie’s list is advertising heavily for members in New York tri-state area offline media. The fact they’re calling, rather than sending e-mail reminders, to boost content reeks of a bit of desperation. Are they selling paid subs to peple hoping to use the reference portion of the site without contributing to its content — hence, is the social nature of the list failing to meet expectations?
Another reason the choice of channel is unwise is because maany people find phone calls disruptive, particularly at work. This prompted me to visit the site for the first time in about a year, where I discovered my free membership expires in a couple of weeks. I can re-up as a paid subscriber — but now the company has both annoyed me and called into questions the adequacy of their offering. The paid subscription option is off the table.
Finally, my need for Angie’s List is over. My project is done. No new ones are on the horizon.
If Angie’s list needs content as badly as it appears they do, there are far better ways to encourage it. They could run contests offering prizes for the most reviews, or the best reviews (this could be a writing contest), or the best member advice/recommendations.
Angie has plenty of competition in both the off- and online world. My hunch after this phone call is, they’re feeling it.
Update: Angie’s list got in touch to say that annual calls are, in fact part of their customer outreach. The company provided the following breakdown (n their words):
– E-mails, on average, twice a month (one with the electronic version of the magazine; another with a checklist or helpful tips)
– Monthly magazine – always includes a promotional spot (s) about the importance of submitting reports
– Pssst – a lighter version of the magazine mailed out monthly (this is a new publication that’s in only 4 markets right now but will eventually be in all)
– Annual and monthly award we call List Feeder that rewards the members who has submitted the most reports
– E-mail message each time a member searches for a service provider but doesn’t submit a report
– An annual report drive that includes prizes and incentives to those members who submit the most reports. This is promoted on the Web, via e-mails and in the magazine
– Phone calls once a year (on average) to remind members of the importance of submitting reports.
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