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Get rave online reviews from homebuyers and sellers

Client online reviews and testimonials are a powerful way to boost your business and build your brand, yet many real estate agents overlook this step in the marketing process for fear of looking pushy or bothering their clients.

Here are some tips on how to ask your clients for reviews to strengthen your online presence, increase your digital word-of-mouth, and bring in new clients.

Why real estate agents should ask for reviews

Most consumers start the buying process online, and that includes shopping for a home. In fact, 84% of people say they trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, with 93% of consumers saying online reviews for local businesses were as helpful as product reviews on sites like Amazon. Only 18% of consumers say they don’t read online reviews of local businesses, so imagine the potential of reaching the 82% who do.

Before you assume you’d be bothering your clients by asking them to review you, one survey showed that 76% of consumers were willing to leave a review when asked to do so.

Reviews can have a big impact on your business, and asking your clients for reviews has several benefits including:

  • Social proof: People use online reviews as a main source of recommendations when researching real estate agents. Testimonials and reviews let buyers and sellers know you’re knowledgeable and competent and that your clients would work with you again.
  • Improved ranking in search results: Reviews mentioning your name can affect SEO and potentially lead to a higher ranking in search engine results pages (SERP).
  • Chance to improve: Even a less-than-glowing review can provide you with insights into your customer experience and highlight areas where you might improve. It’s important to address any negativity professionally and with an open mind toward improvement. 
  • Marketing assets: Positive reviews and testimonials are great building blocks for marketing your business on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or YouTube — although a good LinkedIn header or Twitter bio is important, so is the content you share. You can also incorporate reviews into your personal website or printed marketing materials. Reviews and testimonials are particularly important to younger generations such as millennials, who make up 37% of the home-buying market. 

When to ask a client for a review

Some real estate agents use a multi-step approach that lets the client know from the beginning that, if all goes well and the client is happy, the agent “would love to get a review from you once the process is complete.” Typically the agent will remind the client as the closing date approaches, once more after the closing, and send a reminder after 30 days if the client has not left a review in that time.

Customers who had an above-and-beyond experience are, of course, more likely to write a review, particularly if you helped them navigate a complicated transaction such as buying a foreclosed home, helping them find a specific dream home, or saved them capital gains taxes by recommending a 1031 exchange company if they were selling an investment property. Sometimes, just doing a great job of selling their home fast goes above and beyond meeting your client’s expectations, and they’re inspired to leave you a glowing review.

How to ask for a review

Consider taking the word “review” out of the equation and invite clients to provide “feedback” instead. Clients are more apt to feel as though they are a valued part of your process and more invested in helping you improve your services.

There are a number of ways to ask clients for a review, and there are plenty of examples and templates that offer guidance on customizing the right words for your voice and brand. You might consider using a combination of any of the following methods to ask for reviews:

  • In person/over the phone:  A client singing your praises to you in a one-on-one conversation is a great opportunity to thank them and ask if they’d mind writing what they just said in a quick review. Follow up in writing and make it easy for them by including a link to the platform you’d like them to use, such as Google or Facebook.
  • Email: Email is an easy way to connect with your customers on their schedule and allows you to include a link to the review platform in the body of the letter. You can create an email blast that goes to your customer list, asking them to partake in a quick scale of 1-10 survey. You can also segment your customer list and send a personalized email with your request. In either case, make sure your request is brief, clear, and shows your gratitude.
  • Text: Some companies have an internal review request text that can be forwarded to clients and takes them to a review form on your agent profile page. If the text is standardized, it may seem impersonal, so it might be a good idea to ask your client first if it’s alright to send them your request, so it doesn’t feel like a robo-text.
  • Video testimonial: Not every client is going to feel comfortable on camera, but for those who do, consider asking them to film a short video testimonial about their experience with you to share on social media. Make sure they’re enthusiastic and their testimonial tells a story. Incorporate your client’s name and your company logo. If a client is hesitant to be filmed, you can still create an eye-catching post using a still photo of your happy client and animated graphics to tell the story.

Don’t offer incentives for reviews

Steer clear of offering gifts or incentives in exchange for reviews. Yelp and Google My Business  have specific policies against these practices, along with stiff penalties for users who violate their code of ethics. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently made fraudulent consumer reviews an area of focus for enforcement and advises businesses against incentivizing for positive reviews.

How to respond to reviews

Acknowledge and thank every reviewer, regardless of whether it’s a five-star review or an angry diatribe. It’s not only the courteous thing to do, but it’s a marketing opportunity.

Your reply is actually directed at future prospects, more than the client who wrote the review. Your responses show potential clients you respect their time and effort and are grateful for the great reviews and are also able to acknowledge a disappointed customer and are working to improve the experience in the future.

Make it a goal to start asking happy clients for quality reviews. The more you ask, the easier it becomes, and you can use those testimonials to build your brand and grow your business.

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