Perception is reality in our digital world today, and the real estate industry is no exception. Protecting your brand should always be one of your top priorities—Xpressdocs knows this to be true! And a key component of brand protection entails managing your online reputation.
The real estate industry is unique. As a real estate professional, your success hinges on reputation. Your prospects and leads are looking to connect with a real estate professional who not only meets, but also exceeds, their expectations.
The importance of online reviews boils down to trust. Word-of-mouth is still the most popular way of recommending a local business (such as real estate agents and brokerages), but according to BrightLocal, 9 out of 10 consumers value an online review as highly as they do a personal recommendation.
Considering online reviews are often posted by complete strangers, it’s a powerful realization to know your potential clients get value and confidence from them. Yes, people still ask their neighbors or seek input from their Facebook friends, but today’s home buyers and sellers know they can find legitimate realtor reviews online.
Realtor reviews can change the face of your marketing strategy. Agents who have proven successes and are known for their professionalism and capabilities generate referrals and plenty of repeat business. If you actively care for your online reputations and reviews, it can pay off in the long run in the form of a growing, loyal customer base.
The benefits of realtor reviews extend beyond displaying your industry expertise, and commitment to providing excellent customer service. Reviews can impact buying decision behavior, search rankings, conversion rates, and your overall bottom line.
HELP CLIENTS FIND YOU. HELP CLIENTS CHOOSE YOU.
If someone is looking to buy or sell their home, an online search is often the initial step. If you are not actively caring for what your clients are saying (or not saying) about you, your marketing strategy is missing a key ingredient for success and your visibility could suffer greatly.
Having a dedicated section on your website for customer reviews and testimonials inspires people to hire you as their real estate professional. Featuring online reviews and testimonials portrays you in a positive light, but it also helps home buyers and sellers land on your webpage and find you in the first place.
When a new review is added, it increases the unique content on your webpage, meaning it’s seen as being more influential and relevant. Each new review essentially helps boost your website’s organic search rankings in search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
Due to Google’s local search algorithm, the customer reviews you have featured on external websites—such as Yelp, Angie’s List, Thumbtack, and Zillow—can have an even bigger impact on your search rankings than those featured on your own webpage.
Regardless of your personal feelings toward certain third-party websites, you should embrace the opportunity to gain visibility in the digital space. Remember, when it comes to picking a real estate agent, people are not just reading a solo review. They are reading multiple reviews, on a number of sites, to ensure the reviews are honest and tell an accurate story of your services.
Ignoring the opportunity to display feedback via reviews is not only a disservice to you, but essentially deprives a large portion of your prospective clientele of information that could lead them to making a decision to employ you.
What many would likely consider the biggest benefit of online reviews, and what makes them so important to real estate professionals in particular, is that they ultimately increase the number of leads that become clients. Simply put, potential home buyers and sellers are more likely to give their business to a realtor who is recommended by others—so give them the information they need to cement their decision.
START THE CONVERSATION. THEN SIT BACK.
Being proactive about online reputation management doesn’t have to be daunting or stressful. In fact, the reviews will do the majority of the work themselves (without taking a bite out of your marketing budget).
You first need to create a dedicated section to house reviews on your own site, as well as set up your online profiles on major sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, and even Facebook.
Encouraging past and present clients to contribute reviews falls on you. Sometimes you can offer an incentive or kickback if someone posts a review, however, be sure and read the rules and regulations for different review sites. Each forum has its own set of policies and guidelines they strictly enforce.
Previous clients who take the time to compose a review are far more likely to feel loyal to your services, give you their repeat business, and refer you to others. It deepens your relationship and shows them you value their feedback.
Once you have some reviews in place, it’s time to let the reviews do their job and market for you. A handful of positive reviews can boost your real estate business a great deal and continue working long after a campaign finishes, giving you and your brand a continual presence.
Be sure to monitor your reviews from time to time and take action when necessary. Like most industries, for every 100 highly satisfied customers that leave a glowing review, there’s potential someone will say something you perceive to be negative.
People by nature are interested in the opinions of others. A critical review can show you aren’t hiding anything and increase the sincerity of your positive reviews, boosting trust and confidence as a result. In fact, a new trend finds customers are trusting businesses with only positive reviews less and less.
Additionally, a bad review isn’t an immediate death sentence, as long as the negative reviews don’t outweigh the positive reviews. With a negative review you have an opportunity to set it right and display your dedication to clients and commitment to customer satisfaction. When dealing with negative reviews, take the following best practices into account:
• Respond promptly
• Provide restitution if it’s warranted
• Correct inaccuracies
• Highlight your strengths
• Write like a person, not a corporation. Remember, a personal reply to the complaint can appease the reviewer more than a forced, default apology
Not only do you want your online reviews to be positive, but you also want them to be fresh. The more recent the testimonial, the more weight it carries for the reader. If someone is interested in buying or selling their home, and goes online to do some initial research for a realtor, they will likely favor a stellar review dated within the last year over a stellar review dated 2007.
Things change, businesses evolve, and if someone is looking to entrust the buying or selling of their home to you, they want to know what you can do for them now. The appearance of realtor reviews will give your new and current clients confidence to add their own experience with you as their real estate professional. Luckily online reviews tend to breed more reviews, keeping your reputation up-to-date.
It’s important to have the tools and resources in place to help you thrive in the digital sphere. Social HQ is one tool that helps you manage and grow your online networks. Carve out a small amount of time every week or so to check in, respond to comments and feedback, and encourage further input. Doing so will also help you develop a better understanding of your client base.
Online reviews have changed the landscape of online marketing. They give your clients and prospects a positive foundation to build upon when striking up a business relationship. Plus, they can help you stand out against competitors who are actively vying for the same business in your market.
If you want a successful, lucrative career in real estate with longevity, it pays to stay in control of your online reputation through reviews.