uses SMS alerts to streamline sales and marketing communications

Thumbtack.comLaunched in 2009, is an online directory that connects trade professionals like plumbers, gardeners and dentists to customers in need of their services. Thumbtack did research and found that text messaging (SMS) was the best way to communicate with their customer base and enable the listed professionals to respond rapidly to incoming leads. When Thumbtack built SMS alerts into its sales and marketing processes with Twilio’s dead-simple cloud communications platform, the conversion rates shot through the roof.

Since integrating SMS alerts, Thumbtack has sent more than 175,000 job leads through the channel. That number is increasing every week.

As a result of its early success, has begun to build SMS alerts into the core of its communications with its entire set of customers.

Thumbtack’s business model

Consumers come to looking for a specific job to be done — anything from a root canal to a new bathroom floor. The customer can peruse the service providers listed in Thumbtack’s directory or submit a job request and have them submit competitive bids for the project.

In the latter case, service providers have to bid on submitted projects within a specific deadline. Once all bids are collected, the consumer chooses the business or person it wants to do the job. After the job is done, customers can go back to Thumbtack’s site and rate their experience. Because of the deadline-oriented nature of Thumbtack’s project bidding, fast and reliable communications between buyers and sellers are crucial to its business. diagram

SMS alerts with Twilio

Until Thumbtack began using Twilio in Spring 2011, the company communicated with its customer base entirely through email. Bids and other feedback would come, but they would be much slower than Thumbtack wanted.

The company did some market research and realized that the average trade service provider listed on its site is dependent on text messages. These trade pros don’t have smartphones. They rely on feature phones as their primary means of communication, so email is simply not the best way to connect them to their customers.

Thumbtack needed an easy, fast and flexible way to implement SMS alerts into its sales process. The company built SMS alerts into its platform with Twilio and says the results have been amazing. Thanks to SMS, the service providers in Thumbtack’s directory are now responding to consumers’ bids 14 times faster than they were with email. Using SMS means that service providers get more opportunities in a day and consumers get a more competitive price on their projects. SMS alerts also makes the transactions more real-time, so a local service provider can be at a client’s door within hours, not days.

How Thumbtack uses SMS alerts to generate its own leads

Thumbtack has more than 200,000 service providers spread across nearly every city across the country, but it has a database of millions more that aren’t yet Thumbtack members. When a bid comes in, Thumbtack not only alerts existing members, but sends messages to the appropriate businesses on that larger list, too. Non-members are then offered the opportunity to become members and place bids via the Thumbtack website.

Thumbtack says that using SMS alerts for new leads have brought a significant number of new service providers to its platform.

Using Twilio to turn SMS into a sales and marketing channel

Because of its ease of use, flexibility and economies of scale, Twilio’s cloud communications platform has enabled Thumbtack to build SMS alerts into the core of its sales and marketing processes. Thanks to making this simple change, Thumbtack has seen its customer base grow significantly and created a much better experience for service providers and consumers, alike.

Read about how Walmart Labs used Twilio for SMS alerts, or sign up for a Twilio account now.