It seems like every other week I receive a new email from an “online lead generation portal” promising high quality, and qualified, moving leads. These companies, or aggregators as they are called, are now ‘dime a dozen’ in the removals market and their numbers continue to grow at an alarming pace. These aggregators have a simple business model whereby they play the role of the middleman (or “comparison site”) between the consumer and the moving company.
From a digital technology perspective an aggregator is a lead generation portal that is built on the foundation of a strong ‘online’ presence and is supported by aggressive ‘online’ advertising to build visibility and drive traffic to their online portals. They attract customers to their website through the promise of convenience and cost savings.
Aggregators have commoditized moving, with more and more of them purely pushing ‘price’ as the only criteria and point of difference between movers. They’ve created the consumer mind-set that this is the only comparison needed. This forces movers to quote a ‘bare-bones’ service to secure the move and then try to ‘upsell’ clients on additional services.
Aggregators appear as allies and will often let you sign up on their website and “claim your free profile” with the promise of more ‘online’ visibility and the ability to manage your ‘online’ reviews. However, this can lead to them controlling your online presence. They are also of course competing for the same search phrases as you are.
Whereby once a consumer would have searched on Google for a moving company and contacted a local company directly they’re now more likely to find an aggregator promising them multiple competitive quotes and the “cheapest price”. The visitor then uses this comparison service to obtain moving quotes which are then sold to local moving companies whom, as noted earlier, have to aggressively compete to secure the move. The consumer often has no connection with these moving companies and will simply use them as a quick “price check” solution.
As most movers now generate their leads through search engine marketing and ‘online’ advertising in this digital age it is a fair assumption that these aggregators have cost the moving industry greatly in terms of unnecessary competitiveness. They have seriously increased the ‘lead acquisition cost’ for movers whilst providing little added value for the moving industry at large. Their business model relies purely on traffic arbitrage whereby the aggregator generates a moving lead (via Google AdWords or SEO) at the same price a mover generates a lead but then resells the same lead to anywhere between 3 to 6 other movers This is where they make their money.
There are 135,000 monthly searches on Google.com for the exact search phrase “moving companies” but getting your share is only harder since the rise of the aggregators.
How can moving companies compete against aggregators?
It’s important to note that the aggregators’ entire business model exists only with the support from movers purchasing their leads. If movers refuse to buy their leads their business model collapses. Firstly, do not be tempted by the lure of cheap leads and instead invest in developing your own digital assets and ‘online’ profile. Your Company has a story to tell and you should tell it. You want to focus on educating your potential clients with free moving advice, tips etc. This will help you establish and build ‘trust’ to convert your website visitors into leads (and hopefully clients). Your visitors will also appreciate that they are dealing with the actual mover, the service provider, and not some faceless middleman who doesn’t actually understand the service they’re marketing.
You can also work to form strategic partnerships with other websites which will provide you with exclusive leads. For example, you can try and secure a partnership with a travel blogger or real estate agent to provide you with quality leads.
With many aggregators now entrenched in the ‘online’ moving market space it is not an easy battle to win. When it comes to capturing your share of the ‘online’ market your biggest competitor is not another moving company but a third-party aggregator. There are no shortcuts to improving your online profile and levelling the playing field – but push on and do it!
This article by Matthew Woodley first appeared in The Portal Magazine in the May/June 2018 issue.