By: Angela Baker
A decade ago, people generally took the same approach when they wanted to purchase or sell a property through a real estate agent: asking around. Friends, family or neighbors were the main sources of referrals and recommendations for a reliable realtor.
Since then, a lot has changed. Word of mouth is still relevant for realtors and their clients, only that it now mostly takes place online, through reviews. About 32% of millennials are homebuyers, and we all know that their interest in technology is one of their defining aspects. So, it should come as no surprise that they turn to the Internet to find any type of product or service they need.
Why Reviews Matter in Real Estate
If you were to make the biggest purchases in your life, would you trust anyone to help you with your decision? The answer is probably “No”. You would likely want to make sure that you work with a real estate professional that can help you invest your money wisely. Homebuyers are in no way an exception from this rule.
Most people today won’t even book a hotel room, order food online, or purchase a product without checking reviews first. So, it’s only natural that people do ample research before hiring a real estate agent. Recent research from Brightlocal shows that 90% of consumers check online reviews at least occasionally. Even more surprising is that 84% of them claim to trust online reviews just as much as they trust the recommendations of their friends.
Mathew Warnock, a marketing expert at TrustMyPaper, explains: “No matter the industry of your business, having a positive online presence is a key part of branding. And, good online reviews are the best method to create a positive online footprint and to help you optimize your customer experience.”
That being said, it’s obvious that your real estate business can no longer rely solely on traditional word-of-mouth recommendations from previous to future clients. This can prove to be both an advantage and a disadvantage. While good online reviews may bring you more clients than you can even handle, negative ones can bring down your reputation in the eyes of thousands of Internet users.
So, it’s a good idea to pay close attention to what people are saying about you in online reviews.
Getting Clients to Leave Reviews
If there’s a homebuyer out there who is torn between choosing you or another realtor, the good news is that positive reviews about you can be a deciding factor. However, reviews can only help you get more leads as long as they are in sufficient number. So, you should ask your customers to leave reviews.
So, the question arises: Where can your clients leave you reviews? There are many places where your client can say how awesome you are as an agent but not all platforms are equally relevant. Moreover, it is also advisable to not become dependent o only one platform because that can negatively affect your online presence. If you had to pick one or two platforms where your clients can leave a review, we have a few recommendations:
- Google – The search engine giant should definitely be one of the platforms you focus on. Most people looking for a realtor start their search on Google. Moreover. Considering its popularity and its billions of daily users, the search engine giant will certainly be around in the longs run so you can count on the reviews you get there for as long as you are in business.
- Social Media platforms – This includes the most popular social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. More than half of the global population actively uses social media and a 2015 study from DigitasLBi Connected Commerce found that Facebook influences 52% of consumers’ online and offline purchases. So, there should be no doubt whether you should or not ask for social media reviews. Meg Peterson, a social media manager at GrabMyEssay, explains: “Whereas not everybody has a Google account, and setting up one might discourage your clients to the point where they won’t go through with making a review, Facebook is likely to be the first place clients will leave you a review.”
- Your Company’s website – Getting reviews on your website is another effective strategy to rank well in Google and make your brand more trustworthy. Your company’s website is like your business card and can play a major role in building brand awareness and attracting potential clients. So, you should probably give your website as an option when asking customers to leave reviews.
Replying to Reviews
Homebuyers don’t only want to see reviews from your previous clients, but they also want to see you take the time to answer them. Replying to reviews can do more than simply bring new clients – it can also encourage previous clients to become return customers. Moreover, it’s a nice gesture to offer honest replies and express gratitude, especially if you asked for feedback in the first place.
So, answering positive reviews will help you engage with happy clients which will benefit both your brand identity and your relationships with those customers.
But, what about negative reviews? Should you reply to them? Absolutely! Ignoring negative reviews is a huge mistake and can affect your reputation as a real estate professional. Dealing with negative reviews doesn’t mean entering an argument with the poster. Instead, it means accepting your mistake and owning up to it or standing up to it politely if the review does you an injustice.
In a world where people are increasingly turning to the Internet for recommendations, online reviews have become a major factor in who home buyers or sellers decide to hire. Use the tips above to get a steady stream of positive online reviews to stand above your real estate competitors.