When you're searching for a service provider, business, or product online, how
do you decide which one to pick? If you're like most people – including real estate prospects – then online reviews likely play a starring role in informing your decision. It's difficult to overstate the importance of online
reviews, especially as young, tech-savvy people continue to grow into the largest demographic of real estate clients. Whether you're already familiar with the concept of social proof or you're just getting started with online reviews, now is the time to take advantage of this powerful tool for growing your business.
Why Social Proof Is So Important to Your Real Estate Brand
Word of mouth has always been one of the most powerful, reliable ways to generate highly qualified leads, and that remains true in our modern, digital world. The difference today comes in how the word is spread — via social media, online reviews, and testimonials. Social proof is like word of mouth for the social media era, and it's one of the most important tools you have for attracting new business.
Online reviews, especially on websites that aggregate large numbers of reviews, are a quick, easy way for prospects to see that you're trustworthy and learn about how you serve clients. Testimonials are a more personalized, narrative-driven form of social proof, perfect for sharing on your website and social pages. And reviews on social media offer an interactive, engaging form of social proof.
No matter what form they take, online reviews have so many benefits. As we'll get into shortly, though, you can't automatically expect your clients to provide reviews and testimonials. Acquiring that social proof will often require a little effort on your end, but the payoff is more than worth it.
Knowing When and How to Ask for Reviews
While some clients will take the initiative and leave reviews on their own, many will require a little nudge from you in order to take that crucial first step. Naturally, you will want to wait until after the client's real estate transaction is complete before you ask for a review. But, once you have reached that point, the general approach to asking for reviews is pretty straightforward.
You can frame the request for a review in a variety of different ways, but remember that it's important to ask for specifics. Ask the client about how happy they were with your services, what they liked, and what feedback they would give on the overall process. Let them know why online reviews are so important to your business, and direct them to popular review platforms like Yelp, Facebook, and Google. Of course, you'll want to let them know how much you appreciate them leaving a review.
Testimonials Are Like Gold for Your Real Estate Marketing
Testimonials are all about showcasing the positives of how you serve your clients, which is why they should be featured front and center in your real estate marketing. A client who was happy with your services may be willing to provide a testimonial that can be featured across your digital marketing platforms.
Just like with reviews, it's important to ask for specifics from clients who are willing to provide a testimonial. In order to get those specifics, it's helpful to have some questions prepared that your client can answer in their own words.
Always encourage clients to be authentic. Prospects are used to encountering inauthentic or flat-out fabricated testimonials, which they'll quickly tune out. If possible, ask your client to provide a photo so that you can pair a name and face with their testimonial. This step alone will significantly boost the credibility of the testimonial in the eyes of prospects.
Once a testimonial is ready for the world to see, you'll want to showcase it as much as possible across your online platforms. Put the best testimonials on the homepage of your real estate website, and create a page where website visitors can find even more testimonials. Highlight testimonials on social media, and integrate them into your marketing materials.
How Video Reviews and Testimonials Change the Game
We've already touched on how pairing a face with a review/testimonial adds major credibility, and putting it in video form takes that concept to the next level. Video reviews provide a level of authenticity that a text-based review can't match and help the viewer form an emotional connection with the reviewer. Video content is also incredibly popular online and more likely to be shared on social media. People simply trust video content more for reviews and testimonials.
So if a client is comfortable in front of the camera and willing to go the extra mile, then you should do everything you can to help them create a video review or testimonial. You can even consider running a contest or giveaway to encourage clients to leave video reviews by offering the chance to win a prize in return for their effort.
How to Handle Negative Reviews
Let's be honest. No matter how well you typically serve your clients, every real estate business will receive negative reviews on occasion. Maybe the client is hard to please, maybe their real estate transaction didn't work out how they had hoped in a challenging market, or maybe they simply have some genuine concerns about the process. No matter the reason for a negative review, the last thing you want to do is panic or ignore the review.
The best thing that you can do is respond thoughtfully. Start with a public response, where you address their review in a general way and let them know that you will be reaching out privately to discuss their concerns directly. In addition to showing the reviewer that you care, this public response shows anyone else who encounters that negative review that you're proactive about addressing client concerns.
When you reach out privately, remember to be courteous and listen. Learn the specifics, and do everything that you can
to solve the issue. If you're able to remedy the situation, ask if the client is willing to update their public review. When a prospect discovers a review where the client had some concerns that you ultimately addressed in a positive way, that reflects well on your business.
In some cases, the person who left a negative review won't be happy no matter what you do to address their issues or won't bother to respond at all when you reach out after they leave a review. When that happens, it's generally best to move on and let it go. As long as you serve your clients well, your positive reviews are likely to far outnumber the occasional negative feedback.
Make Reviews and Testimonials Work for Your Real Estate Brand
No matter the size of your real estate business, your market, or your target demographics, online reviews and testimonials should be a critical element of your marketing mix. Make sure that you're taking all of the necessary steps to encourage clients to leave reviews and testimonials. Then make it as easy as possible for prospects to find that social proof when they're researching your business.
To view past Real Estate Marketing and Technology articles and read more from the February 2022 issue, click here.
79% of customers trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations. In younger demographics, the figure can be even higher — up to 91% for consumers aged 18-35. Regardless of age, most people read online reviews, and many customers won't buy until they've read a review.
Don't think online reviews only matter for e-commerce stores: 87% of consumers used them to compare local businesses in 2020, up from 81% in 2019. Only a meager 48% of all respondents would even consider using a business with fewer than four stars.
What does it all mean? If you don't have online reviews, you don't exist!
When your neighbors go online to get help buying or selling a home, odds are they type in "real estate agents near me." On Google, that provides a list of agents along with their average star rating — and easy access to their reviews. Sites like Yelp also centralize reviews, serving as a proxy of a company's reputation.
In effect, your future customers use the same methods to compare real estate agents as they do to compare pizza places or burger joints. Say what you will about whether that's fair or not: to excel in a fast-paced real estate market, you need to find ways to use it to your advantage.
The best way to do that is to make sure you have customer reviews right on your website.
Customer Reviews On Your Website Build Trust and Motivate Leads
You can't stop people from looking on Google, Yelp, or wherever else they might search around — and most big review platforms also penalize you if you incentivize reviews in any way. But you are always entitled to ask for reviews, and all of your best online reviews should be displayed prominently on your website.
Some great places to showcase reviews include:
The footer that appears on each page of your site
Your website's "Contact" and "About Me" pages
Your calendar or scheduling app, if you use one
Your social media accounts and YouTube channel
When you give online reviews pride of place, you are doing more than just encouraging more business for yourself. You are adding value by creating ways for leads to make an informed decision. That's something everyone can appreciate, even though not everybody who sees your website will ultimately work with you.
Let's consider some of the benefits of using online reviews on your website:
Reviews Foster Trust
Your website is a terrific way to introduce yourself. It helps people understand who you are and what you can do for them. But that doesn't mean they want to take your word for it! Reviews function as social proof, giving greater weight to everything you say. When leads see that others "just like them" have had great experiences with you, they feel more comfortable reaching out. That helps you build rapport and work together.
Reviews Help People Avoid Scams
On the flip side, remember that many of your clients will be first-time buyers or sellers. They may have limited or no experience working with a real estate agent. Being unfamiliar with the industry and its credentials, they are on guard for foul play. Reviews on your website are among the most important trust signals you can send. Your site may help guide others so they know what to look for in a reputable expert.
Reviews Draw More Website Traffic
Online reviews have a major role in driving more traffic. Yes, reviews posted on Google or Yelp may inspire more people to check your site, but it goes beyond this. The reviews you post and promote help search engines to recognize you as an established and trusted local authority. Over time, posting reviews can help your website become more visible when prospects search for topics related to your business.
Reviews Act as "Tiebreakers"
When two businesses seem similar from the outside, which one gets the sale? Usually, it's the one with a bigger roster of positive, credible reviews. This goes back to the idea that many future clients won't know the ins and outs of real estate — they depend on their agent to keep them informed. Your reviews highlight your successes, skills, customer service, and other points of comparison that could be harder to spot otherwise!
Whether you're new to real estate or an old hand, it's valuable to make customer reviews an ongoing part of your practice. That means recognizing the right time to ask for reviews, following up, and cultivating reviews on your own website, as well as responding to the reviews you collect on other platforms.
With its state-of-the-art real estate CRM, social media, and email marketing automation, DeltaNET is the AI-driven premier pro-tech solution to energize your promotional efforts. To find out more, contact us today.
Your reputation is one of your most valuable assets as a real estate professional. Every satisfied client presents an opportunity to advertise yourself to potential future clients. Still, even the most satisfied clients may need a little nudge to offer a testimonial or online review. Once a client shares their feedback, it's up to you to make sure that new prospects can easily find that information. That's why sales associates and real estate firms need to take an active role in reputation management, both in acquiring feedback and sharing it for the world to see.
Reputation management has evolved in recent years thanks to digital tools, but the basics remain the same. The feedback that you collect from clients can be a powerful marketing tool, but it's what you do with that feedback that ultimately determines how useful it is for your business. With the popularity of online review sites, the power of social media, and the reach of your real estate website, you have extensive options for managing your reputation online. But it's hard to get feedback if you don't ask for it, and it's harder to connect new prospects with that feedback if you're not sharing it in the right places.
Today's real estate agents have a lot of new tools at their disposal to help their businesses grow. Blog content, social media, and other online marketing tools have become indispensable. Still, one thing has not changed: prospective clients will always want to know what your previous clients think about your services.
Reviews and testimonials are essential for growing your business. But why are they so important, and how do you get them? We're here to offer up some answers.
Harley Wolfarth walks us through the Customer Reviews system in DeltaNET 6 in this week's episode of Tech Tuesday and unveils a new update in the platform that allows us to incorporate reviews placed on Facebook Pages onto your websites.