Decoding promoted leads.

Thumbtack Employee TaylorS
Thumbtack Employee
2 14 2,430


When we launched the ability to promote your business, we thought we made it simple. First we slotted all pros into customer search results, then we saw that the top 10 pros in any search got the most leads.

So we said, ok, those spots are up for grabs. But they should only go to pros who are a great fit for the job. So we started letting people promote their business. You tell us what leads you really want and commit to paying for them automatically, and in exchange you’ll get a boost in rank so those customers can find you. And you get 20% off.

At the time, it all seemed clear. But there’s a lot of confusion. Hopefully this can help:

FALSE: When you promote your business, you lose all control.

Signing up to auto-pay for leads sounds scary. We get it. But when you set your preferences, you can get really, really specific about which customers you’re willing to pay for. So if you promote yourself for jobs within 10 miles, you will never, ever auto-pay for a job that’s 11 miles away. In other words, only promote yourself for the kinds of jobs that you don’t mind automatically paying for.

TRUE AND FALSE: Customers will still be able to find me, even if I don’t promote myself.

There are only 30 spots in customer search results. If you don’t promote your business, you might not get one of those spots and customers won’t be able to find you at all.

However, there will always be jobs you aren’t promoting yourself for. If you’re a great pro and don’t have a ton of competition, you might show up in search results for those jobs. In that case you could still get contacted — we won’t know if they’re a perfect fit, so you can decide whether to pay for them or not.

FALSE: You have to promote everything or nothing.

We only recommend promoting your business for the kinds of jobs you’d actually be happy to pay for — ones that are within 10 miles, or happen in the mornings when you’re never busy, or are for birthday parties but not weddings. You can set your preferences to be as narrow or as broad as you like. Whatever makes sense for your business.

FALSE: You only show up in search results if you promote your business.

You’ll show up in customer search results even if you don’t promote yourself. But if you’re not promoting, you might not show up high enough for anyone to find you.

FALSE: If you promote your business, you’ll spend more money.

You control your weekly budget — that’s the limit of how much money you’ll pay. You also get a 20% discount on all your promoted leads. So if you don’t want to spend more money, you don’t have to.

Although yes, the idea is that if you promote your business, you’ll get more leads. The more leads you get, the more you’ll pay. But the idea is that you’ll get so much work that’s right in your sweet spot that you’ll be happy to pay for them.

14 responses
Community Regular

After my experience I think we should clear this up a bit more....

When you promote your business you lose all control:

This is more true than false. Yes you can set your preferneces to be very specific and that's all nice but if you're too specific than you won't show up very high on search results. Hence you lose control of ranking high in the results.

Example: In my DJ business I don't like to work 1 or 2 hour events. Just not worth it to me. What was explained to me by a TT account manger is that most people don't put in their time when looking for a DJ so I had to give in and change that option to start accepting those parties in order to show up higher in the results even though I didn't want those evnts. And yes I paid for people who messaged me for a 1 hour event. Lost control of that too.

You only show up in search results if you promote your business:

This is mostly True. If your inan industry that is very popular (ie carpenters, handyman, painter, housekeeper, DJ's, Photo Booths, etc) you will never make top 30 unless you pay for it. Excuse me, I mean Promote it.

Example: January of 2019 I spent a little over $500 on useless leads from TT and didn't book one event. BTW before that I was booking 7 out of 10 client with Instant Match. Anyway, I immediately turned off promote and fell off the face of the earth on all my services. When speaking with the TT account manger I found out that because there are so many other DJ using TT and have their promote turn on they get to be up higher than me. So in a huge diservice to their clientle, TT decides to give a better search result to a DJ that has 1 review, 1 hire and is just starting out in the business instead of myself who is a two year in a row Top Pro, with over 40 hires, 50 reviews, average response time of 44 seconds and 4.9 stars. Shouldn't the client be offered the best options first? With or without making the Pros pay extra for it?

 If you promote your business, you’ll spend more money:

This is absoultely, 100% true! If you want to promote your business you are going to be restricted to the types of preferneces that you can set in order to show up at least in the top 5 of results. Since the preferences won't be set to your liking, you will be paying for client request that you're not really interested in. In other words, yes you will be paying a lot more money with promote.

I like using thumbtack. There has been times where my business has made money using you guys. Especially last year with Instant Match where I got less leads but when I did get one, more times than not I was booking them because I was indeed a perfect match for their event. Now Promote has done a complete 180 to my business and I'm not generating clients as much as we use to. TT is kinda like my Apple iPhone so I will keep Promote turned off and wait for the new iPhone model/TT idea to hit.





Community Regular

Couldn't agree more DJeddieb.

Community Expert


as @HeartsofFilm said, I couldn't agree with you more! Your sentiments is what I've been trying to stress for months now.

As a fellow DJ, I don't like working 1-2 hour jobs either. It's not feasible for me. My bread and butter are weddings, and at least 3 hour events.

I like using Thumbtack as well, and got many bookings from when I started over a year ago, but the bookings have dwindled since November of last year. I'm using manual system now and will not turn Promote back on until major changes are made.

Community Newcomer

I'm not sure what happened, I'm a thumbtack pro, but I think I fell off the face of the earth, I haven't had a referral in a month, in 2018 I had a lot of business, I really likes the 'bidding' thing. Now even if a job comes in, I don't get an email, I have to happen to see it. I tried promote on/off, it doesn't seem to matter. I think it may have something to do with my late afternoon to evening hours that I no longer get anything, I'm not sure. 

Moderator Meckell

@shaorn I'm going to look over your account and see what's going on. Keep an eye out for a private message from me within the next couple of days. I'll make sure we get you some answers!

Active Community Member

I'm not excited to use TT anymore. It has changed so much in the last 2 years. I don't like to promote and end up paying for random leads where they're not even looking to book me. I rather just bid on the ones that I know I'd have a better chance at securing vs shoppers who are just asking for more info.

Community Regular

TT tech told me that you guys are at an 80% miss on all leads right now.

I used to get three jobs a week or more.  I have yet to land a job in 2019 with you.  

Spending my money on good old google advertising.  scored two jobs last week and I did not pay a penny.

Thumbtack and Homeadvisor type lead machines are only going to have hack companies working for them.  The good guys are droping TT 

Moderator Meckell

@FinishCarpenter It sounds like there may have been some miscommunication. Before we switched to the new system, 80% of customers who came to Thumbtack didn't even see a pro in their inbox. Now, that's not a problem anymore as every customer is able to see a pro right when they tell us what they're looking for.

I am sorry to hear that you aren't finding success, and I want to help in any way that I can. If you'd like me to look over your profile and see what tips I can give you, just send me a private message! 

Active Community Member

As of late, I'm not promoting but receiving jobs outside of my area I want to focus on. Is this something Thumbtack has control over now? I tried changing it to 60 miles but it's sending me jobs 100 miles or more. This is wasting my time to even look at these jobs.

Moderator Kameron

@mmyang99 When you Promote your business and give us all of your job preferences (the jobs you do or don’t want), we can match you with as many quality leads as possible.

When you’re not Promoting your business, we’re not sure of which leads you do and don’t want, so we’ll send you those that are related to the services you provide within 150 miles. These won’t all be perfect leads, but you can decline whichever ones aren’t a good fit for your business without being charged.

Community Expert


Thumbtack should have a way to use job preferences for both Promoting and not promoting. Telling us that Thumbtack isn't sure of what leads we want or not, is not helping.

How about telling higher ups to use those preferences for both!!! Makes sense to me, and I'm sure many Pros as well.

Active Community Member

When you’re not Promoting your business, we’re not sure of which leads you do and don’t want, so we’ll send you those that are related to the services you provide within 150 miles. 

If I wanted to chase leads 150+ miles away, I would have opened up my service area to include those locations. But I didn't, in fact, I specifically blocked out certain towns/cities, so my vehicle wouldn't get stolen!!  That's what was so great about the map of service areas!! 

Community Expert


I hear ya, but unfortunately, from my understanding, the map of service area only works for us if we have Promote on.

Community Veteran

The creators of the promote "feature seem to believe that they understand how our preferences work. The "leads" that come in are vague and missing a lot of vital information necessary to calculate a good quote and specified response. 

Changes in the format of customer's leads are needed to make promote and the jobs tab work: 

Mandatory message box with details that do not exist in the three woefully generalized preferences we pros are offered. I am a caterer and most leads on TT have either contradictory or incomplete information as to the customer's budget, chosen venue, projected attendance and TYPE OF PARTY. 

Examples of the problems that exist now are:

1) 50-99 guests. Or, "less than 50". Really? This person has been encouraged by TT to be vague. After numerous contacts, many hires and stellar reviews, NEVER has a prospect given me so broad an estimate of attendance. The norm is by tens, as in 50-60 guests.

2) "Outdoor Event". Ok.... and this means??? A park? A backyard? A rented facility? A church? Who knows?

3) Budget: There are about 6 choices with decent ranges of about $15 between; such as: $35-$50 per guest, less than $15, more than 100. This is great. Now it becomes a little simpler to come up with a fair quote. Unfortunately, TT allows a complication: customers may click on EVERY budget option. No thanks. Too silly.

4) Type of event: who actually believes that a baby shower and bridal shower are the same? Or a communion and baptism are the same? A birthday and anniversary? Thumbtack does! Anyone else?

5) If an exchange of texts between the customer and pros were allowed BEFORE accepting a lead and setting a quote, that would inspire us to pay more to TT for their contact info so to take it to the next level. Here's why: customers LIKE talking about themselves. They LIKE being heard by a pro who is engaged and asking questions about their SPECIFIC needs and concerns. This exchange will show them that he/she is talking to a knowledgeable person that can serve them well. The PRO will also see that this is no ghosty click happy tire kicker.

6) One may assume that you have staff available to fix these "simple" problems; if not, why not hire a web design pro from here? 

Sure, I am a bit snarky about this, but then again, I have stuck by TT for 5 years and graced this site with a top notch profile. Additionally, These very observations are truthful and have been shared with support for three years and have been ignored. Now I see that TT believes they have made the process simpler. NO they have not. Here's some real life data about "getting in front of the customers": I have responded to leads in both the jobs tab and inbox within 15 minutes more than once. It did nothing. I am yet to see any actual data that supports turning on promote is beneficial. And a 20% discount on a $30 lead won't sway me. 

In conclusion, I wish to make clear that I feel no frustrations that need to be understood, no links to which I should be redirected, and certainly need no "pro tips" from non pros. This entire response to the thread has been about clarification and the enduring hope that TT will return to it's former "complicated" policy of pay as you go credits.