Stop Counting Sheep, Start Counting Stars!

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Stop Counting Sheep, Start Counting Stars!

Real Estate Agents are sleeping on online reviews: 65% are not collecting them. Here’s how to collect those reviews.

You’ve heard this before! Online reviews and ratings are becoming more and more important for being found by prospective clients and for legitimizing your real estate business. When you’re looking for a place to eat, more than likely you’re going to search online. The same is now true when people are looking for an agent to help them find or sell a home.

The Digital Marketing Team at Academy Mortgage has compiled a list of what we believe to be the top five client review profiles for Real Estate Agents, ranked from least visibility to most:

  1. Realtor.com is the second-most trafficked real estate website after Zillow. Being owned by the NAR, Realtor.com has access to license information for all NAR members across the country and automatically creates profiles that can be claimed and branded with minimal effort. They have recently made a big push to improve the functionality and look and feel of the website and are beginning to see the benefits. Part of the rebranding was the debut of the standard 1- to 5- star rating system that is the cornerstone of other review and rankings websites. The primary disadvantage of Realtor.com reviews is the lower visibility they receive in comparison to other profiles on this list. However, this may change over time, so it is worth getting reviews here.
  2. The biggest advantage of Facebook is the more than a billion active users on the platform. The visibility of your reviews is influenced by the following you have on your professional profile, so your page becomes more visible to prospects if someone they are friends with has “liked” or “reviewed” your Facebook professional page. A disadvantage of Facebook reviews is the lower level of trust due to a perceived lack of objectivity. Many times an agent’s family and friends leave reviews without actually having used them as their agent. In an attempt to compete with review sites, specifically Yelp, Facebook has launched its new services feature that ranks local businesses based on how many reviews they have received and their overall star rating. Have you checked your local ranking?
  3. When potential clients go to search for Real Estate Agents, more than likely they are starting with Google. While Google+ is struggling to gain traction as a social media platform, most agents are unaware of the option of a Google My Business profile (a fusion of Google Maps and Google+). These attention-grabbing profiles show up directly on Google searches and unlock the coveted Google review functionality. Maybe the biggest plus of utilizing Google My Business is the SEO benefit it provides to your website (reviews help bump up your website in searches in and around your area). You can get started by visiting this link and sending a verification postcard to your address.
  4. Zillow rules the present and the future, when it comes to generating leads from agent reviews. One of the biggest plusses of Zillow is that it is real estate specific, highly-trusted by prospects, and extremely prominent on your Premier Agent Advertising. You have the ability to rank in areas outside of where you are physically located because they collect information on where the reviewer bought their home. One negative of Zillow is that it is heavily weighted to 5-star reviews, so you end up competing on quality over quantity of reviews, and a negative rating can easily derail your appearance in their top-rated spots.
  5. Having a glowing Yelp profile with a lot of positive client reviews can provide a huge boost to your real estate business. Yelp earns the top spot on this list due to two factors:
    • Its high visibility in web searches for local agents.
    • The SEO boost it gives your website, and its syndication with Bing, Yahoo, and Apple Maps (meaning your Yelp reviews also show on these listings sites). Yelp typically has the highest level of trust due to its sophisticated review filter that removes reviews submitted by people associated with the agent or users who don’t consistently leave reviews for other businesses. One disadvantage of Yelp is that it is not generally considered a real estate resource. Another negative is a review from a seasoned Yelp user can have a profound and lasting impact on your online reputation.

Academy believes that earning good reviews is a process. Great reviews come from great service.

Academy gives these recommendations on how to go about getting great reviews that help you generate more web leads for your Real Estate Business:

  • Ask: One of the easiest things to do can also be the hardest. Asking for reviews can be an uncomfortable thing to bring up, but you will see the number of reviews go up if you just simply ask. A lot of people make the mistake of not asking for a review until they get close to closing. If you talk about how much reviews mean to you from the beginning and continue to talk about the importance of reviews, then it is at the top of your client’s thoughts.
  • Simple: Make leaving a review as simple as possible. Put in direct links to review websites in your emails asking for reviews. This will make it easier for your clients, which means they will be more likely to go and review you.
  • Routine: If you consider reviews important for your business marketing, then you need to treat them as important to-do tasks. You need to spend time putting together email campaigns or calling your clients asking for a review. Each time you meet with your clients, don’t forget to bring up customer reviews. It is always a good idea to ask for a review when the client is most happy about something that you did. It also helps to coach them along by giving them a specific example of a time you did a great job. This way you can get a specific story, not just a generic review like “they were great.” Make it a routine of asking your clients for reviews, and it will become less of a chore and just a part of how you do business.
  • Creative: A good way to get customers to give you a positive review is to give them an incentive. Hold a monthly gift card giveaway where you randomly select a client who left you a review. Or you could have a summer BBQ and invite all of those clients who left you a review to a free lunch.

Client reviews are a simple and important way for Real Estate Agents to reach new prospects. They are the cornerstone of an Agent’s online presence. The Real Estate Agents who are consistently collecting client reviews are pulling ahead of their competitors who continue to ignore them. Still 65% of Realtors are not using reviews to boost their online marketing. Are you part of the 65%, or are you thinking ahead?