Use Online Reviews To Grow Your Real Estate Business
“Consumers trust peer recommendations 6.5 times more than traditional advertising” ~ T3 Experts
Most consumers scan reviews online. The internet is a crowded place, and clients want to be sure they know more about you before setting out to make one of the largest purchases of their lives. Unfortunately, reviews are an aspect of marketing and branding agents often forget.
According to BrightLocal’s 2014 Local Consumer Review Survey, 88 percent of customers review online ratings to determine quality of local businesses. And, 88 percent of consumers say they trust those reviews as much as personal recommendations. The trustworthiness of other reviewers is up from 79 percent in 2013.
While you might not have poor reviews, no reviews can almost be as off-putting to potential clients. Instead of letting your online reputation suffer, follow these five steps to help you bulk up your recognition.
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1. Put Yourself Out There and Ask
Clients are most likely to review you when you ask upfront. Bring it up early, preferably before closing, so they understood the significance of giving feedback online.
If you’re looking for reviews from past clients instead of simply making it a habit moving forward, give a call instead of an email. Emails are easier to ignore and might not be taken as seriously if they are automated, while phone calls feel significantly more personal.
If you remember them sincerely, clients will be reminded of the constructive and rewarding relationship you built.
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2. Make It Simple
When asking for reviews, provide some direction on what you believe to be highlights. Otherwise, clients can be overwhelmed at the idea of writing a supportive statement without knowing what helps you stand out.
Communicate strengths you were commended on throughout the deal, such as:
- Local market knowledge
- Buyer education
Ask your clients what areas you excelled in the most. Creating a stream of ideas makes it easier for clients to compose a thoughtful, practical and hopefully positive evaluation of your business.
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3. Be Proactive With Responses
Negative reviews are difficult to respond to, especially when they feel like personal attacks. What’s worse, you might feel the relationship was relatively seamless until you read the opposite on your profile.
Most review systems, including Zillow’s, allow agents to respond to all submissions.
Keep replies to negative feedback affable, and publicly offer to personally speak with your client in another forum. And don’t forget the clients who recognize your hard work and dedication.
Respond to positive reviews with a heartfelt message and offer your services for future buying, selling or renting needs.
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4. Thank Reviewers, But Don’t Bribe Them
Show your appreciation for clients taking time to write you a review with a small gift like a Visa or Starbucks gift card. For new homeowners, a home goods or garden store gift card is a bit more personal, although you may have covered one of these areas in a closing gift.
Leaving a review can be tedious, and a small token of appreciation says a lot about how much you value your client’s time. Plus, this helps establish positive rapport for the long term, leading to better client retention and future business.
5. Highlight Your Reviews
You can sync your reviews with a personal or company website to give potential clients going directly to your page proof of your expertise.
With the Zillow Tech Connect platform, brokers, agents and MLSs can publish word-for-word reviews found on Zillow.
Agents with 10 or more reviews see a 300 percent increase in contracts versus agents with no reviews.
Consumers highly consider your online reputation, and by incorporating these on your personal website, you can establish trust with future clients – no matter where they end up after searching for an agent.
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Real estate is a competitive industry, which makes standing out imperative. Allowing 20 minutes a month for review requests from past clients and providing responses to current reviews is easy. These ratings won’t disappear, so it’s important to focus on the long-term strategy and the benefits reaped from an encouraging reputation.
By Jennifer Riner