The jury is in: Google reviews are the new word of mouth. But how can you make sure your clients give you a review? Find out how in today's article.
As we often mention in this blog, real estate marketing has evolved in ways that would be unrecognizable to people living just 20 years ago.
That’s because it’s no longer enough to rely on time tested methods such as roadside signs, for sale signs, or even (*gasp*) word of mouth.
Now, don’t get me wrong, those methods are still valid, and should NEVER be replaced or pushed to the side. But if you want to be a local real estate leader, or even just remain competitive, you have to implement a digital marketing strategy TODAY!
While we could talk about all the different ways you can implement a solid digital marketing strategy (as we’ve done so in the past and we’ll continue to do in the future), today we’re going to talk about a particularly effective one.
This strategy is simple, easy, and costs next to nothing: leveraging Google Reviews.
In Google We Trust
That’s right, we’re talking about the all-mighty Google again.
Among its many features, Google gives you the option to create a Google Business page (we have a tutorial on how to do that by the way). This one can be used to make it easier for prospects to find you, and leave a review of your services.
And these reviews can prove invaluable in attracting more leads to you.
According to BrightLocal’s 2019 Consumer Review Survey, 76% of customers trust online reviews as much as referrals from family and friends - one of our most valuable sources of business.
And consider the NAR’s Real Estate in a Digital Age 2019 Report, where it’s stated that for the large majority of real estate buyers, the first step of the journey is to go online and do a search.
For reference, Google searches for “real estate agent near me” have gone up since 2015 by 1,279%... That’s 25 TIMES.
Review Marketing Is A Thing Now
Let me quickly explain why managing your online reputation is so worth it, especially on Google.
Consider the following:
First, Google LOVES fresh content where it makes sense, which it does for real estate, and each review counts in favor of your "freshness factor."
Second, there are HUGE keyword opportunities that hyperlocal agents can play with, with more geo-local possibilities coming in the near future. For reference, the search trend for the keywords "sell my house" has gone up by 150% since 2015.
Finally, those reviews signal to Google that you are a reputable business - another major ranking factor especially for local searches.
In a nutshell, Google reviews help drive traffic, literally put you on the map, and tell prospects that you are a reliable and skilled professional. This is the epitome of a well-oiled customer behavior machine.
You could gain a major upper hand just by being disciplined with your review management - as much as you are with prospecting, marketing, and any other profit-building activities.
In other words… DO IT!
How To Generate Google Reviews for Real Estate Agents, Realtors, and Brokers
1. Integrate the Request into your scripts
The best time to ask for a review is right after the transaction. However, by asking for a review at the end of your first appointment, you have a chance to trigger reciprocity and put your best foot forward.
Here’s some sample dialogue you could use:
“Mrs. Williams - I’m really excited to get started on this. Once we’ve successfully gotten you into your dream home, would you mind giving my service a review? I’d appreciate the feedback, and it really helps local businesses like ours stand out.”
Will your clients say yes? Of course! You’re betting your reputation on your ability to serve the client. That kind of verbal agreement is easily upheld for a job well done.
Remember to give a reason for your client to leave a review - for example, it helps your business and gives you feedback. Most people, by nature, want to help others.
2. Review your sphere of influence
Who can you ask? Any customers from 3 months ago? 3 years ago? For newer agents, do you have any friends and family that you did some work for in the past?
These people can vouch for your character and it may be enough to convince a prospect into becoming a client - for some, seeing a set of stars is all it takes, especially if you have a good online presence.
3. Make your follow-ups personal
If you’re emailing a lot of people, it’s reasonable to use a template - but we really suggest emailing clients one by one. See, the key is to jog their memory about specific details that can make for an authentic and keyword-rich review.
Check out this review posted about one of our clients, Penny Maillette:
Isn’t this review much more convincing than the typical “Penny is such an amazing real estate agent!”?
4. Treat the Request like a CTA (Call-to-Action)
What do good CTAs have in common?
1 - They’re frictionless, and 2 - They’re everywhere.
Generate a link for your Google reviews page and put it in your email signature, embed it on your website, print it on your business card, handouts and in buyer books.
Ideally, all they would have to do is click the link, but if they’re copying it from your business card to a browser, for example, make sure to shorten it using bit.ly.
If you use QR codes, why not use get one for your code for your Google Reviews Page? There are a bunch of premium solutions out there like QRCode-Tiger.com that let you track data and change the URL without having to reprint the QR code, but there are lots of free solutions as well.
5. Turn it into a system
Reputation management can be a powerful addition to your marketing arsenal, so do an audit on a regular basis. Here are what you need to monitor:
- How many stars do you have?
- How long ago was your latest review?
- How many reviews do you have?
- Are there any negative reviews you need to address?
- Who else can you ask?
If you lead a team or a brokerage, train your agents to keep tabs on their reviews and remind them to ask - especially right after a transaction.
Monitor progress on a regular basis because remember, Google loves fresh content, and prospects are more likely to trust businesses with updated reviews.
6. Use Reputation Management software
The shift in customer behavior caused an interesting disruption that actually spawned SaaS companies who specifically handle reputation management.
Off the top of my head, there’s Podium, BirdEye, PulseM - a quick Google search will yield many results.
These guys not only take care of generating the reviews themselves, but they elevate the entire customer experience from sending texts to confirm appointments, to creating contractor profiles that show clients all the information they need.
7. Respond to ALL reviews
Google confirmed that responding to reviews adds to a business’ credibility and positively impacts your visibility online.
Leave a simple thank you for the positive review, and if you get a negative review, just apologize and ask if you can address their issue in private.
Another strategy is to add a second link in your email signature with the anchor text “Unhappy with my service? Tell me about your experience here.” which takes the client to a fill-out form.
Most of these people just want to be heard, not flame your business to the ground. This way, you get valuable feedback and prevent a 1-star review from showing up on your profile.
Just remember - 1-stars can and will happen. Nobody’s perfect. Just make sure to always act with finesse when addressing them.
The real estate marketing landscape is changing again, and Google Reviews will be a major game-changer for hyperlocal agents - especially as Google continues to update its localization.
The search gods are clearly favoring professionals who are consistent, reliable and deliver honest value to their clients, so make that your number one priority.
But remember: make it a habit to monitor your online reputation… Don’t miss out on this huge opportunity that you can instantly leverage whether you’re a real estate veteran or just starting out with your career.
How would you rate this article? Leave a review in the comments 😁!
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