The Power of Online Reviews for Real Estate
Once reserved for food and drink, online reviews have made their way into the real estate business over the past few years. It’s not hard to see why: real estate reviews offer consumers social proof of an agent’s service, and in turn, provide pros with leads and local search juice.
Still, to reap the benefits of reviews, you have to earn them–and bad reviews can be a blight on your business. With that in mind, here are some strategies for getting the most out of online real estate reviews.
For starters, you need to create profiles and business listings on popular review sites. While general review portals like Yelp and Google+ Local primarily feature shops, restaurants, and bars, some reviewers are using them to talk about other services like real estate. Due to their broad focus, these sites drive a lot of traffic–and while Google+ Local doesn’t have as many conversations, its integration with Google search means it’s worth pursuing.
Next, there are real estate-specific review websites. These include real estate publishers like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com, which offer consumers a variety of services, including property search, neighborhood information, and market data. There’s also specialty review sites like RealSatisfied, which allow you to request testimonials and ratings directly from your customers. While these sites drive less traffic, their users are much more likely to take the next step in contacting you.
Finally, you should use your own website to feature reviews from current and past clients in the form of written and video testimonials. You can also share these reviews on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networking sites to reach a wider audience.
While the vast majority of people read reviews online, only a very small minority write them. How can you convince your clients to rate you? First and foremost, never post fake reviews of yourself, or pay someone else to do it for you. These “sock puppet” reviews are often easy to spot, and can seriously harm your reputation. The most important step you can take to earn real estate reviews is simply to provide superior service. After all, clients who are extremely satisfied are more likely to share their experiences. Don’t forget to communicate with your clients frequently, so they have details to refer to.
Another way to increase your chances of getting a real estate review is to make the process as convenient as possible. For instance, after closing a deal, you should email your client, reminding them to rate you and providing a link to the “new review” form on the site of your choice. You should also invite visitors to your social media profiles to write reviews by prominently displaying links and buttons on your website and social media pages. Finally, you can provide clients with suggestions of questions they could answer or details they could include in their review: how much technology you used, how quickly you sold their home, etc.
Dealing with Negative Reviews
Unfortunately, not all reviews can be positive. How you deal with negative real estate reviews can have as significant an impact as the reviews themselves. Instead of ignoring these customers, take the initiative in responding. This shows that you’re attentive to your customers and interested in improving your service. Whether you reach out online or offline, keep your response private to avoid a public argument. Don’t get defensive. Instead, acknowledge your client’s negative experience, and discuss ways to remedy the situation.
Finally, you can minimize negative reviews by adding a layer to the review process–one that you control. The best way to do this is to create your own survey and distribute it to every client you work with. This will help you catch dissatisfied customers before they turn to review sites to vent.