5 minute read

Research indicates that 90 per cent of purchasing decisions are influenced by online reviews.

You simply can’t underestimate the power of social proof and client testimonials. Translate that to real estate and there is no doubt that home sellers are checking out your reviews online to determine if they will call you or one of your competitors.

Let’s examine how you can influence online reviews to your advantage.

Establish a Presence on Big-Name Reviews Sites

More often than not, the buying process begins with home sellers doing their homework on brands before even considering interaction. In a world full of real estate agents that claim to outdo each other in sold prices and service, reviews are a telltale sign of success.

One of your first goals should be getting your brand on the radar. Websites such as RateMyAgent, OpenAgent, domain.com.au and realestate.com.au are a few of the most popular websites for vendor/landlord reviews. RateMyAgent alone has over 500,000 seller reviews across Australia (as at 23 November 2018). Having a strong presence on each of these platforms is important for garnering the attention of home sellers just starting their agent search, but haven’t yet noticed you or your company.

Social media is also an extremely powerful tool for customer testimonials and brand advocacy. According to our recent Real Estate Industry Social Media Marketing Survey, 95% of real estate businesses use social media in their marketing efforts. With around 17 million active users on Facebook alone, incorporating social media into your company’s interactive review process is a must.

Why You Absolutely (100%) Need To Put More Focus On Google Reviews… NOW!

In many cases, Google still acts as the first point of contact between a potential vendor and your business. So the first impression they have about you can be paramount for an individual’s transition to seeking your services.

People enter keywords into Google such as ‘real estate agents insert_suburb‘. Right away, Google allows people to see a number of reviews displayed in both the search results and map results for real estate businesses in close proximity to where they’re located.

Another important factor, and probably the most important, is that Google reviews are a major search ranking factor.

Yes, Google reviews are great for your Google rankings.

Having a good Google rating (4 stars and above) will likely increase the click-through rate to your website and enquiry. This star rating serves as a trust builder, reassuring potential clients to consider you in their agent selection process – or reassure someone who has already signed an appointment with your agency that they made the right decision.

These stars have been shown to increase click-through-rate (CTR) by as much as 20%. Which in turn, helps boost your ranking on Google search for highly competitive search terms. See below.

Your clients will need a Google account to leave you a review. I’ve always hypothesised that this is one of the main reasons why agents put Google reviews at the bottom of their priority list when asking for reviews.

But don’t be swayed… you might be surprised to know just how many of your clients have a Google account connected to a non-Google email address (yes, this is possible).

For the technical people out there, you can even have clients leave a Google review with one-click.

At the end of the day, Google doesn’t care who is leaving a review for your business. All they care about is the nature of the review i.e. how many stars, sentiment, keywords etc. The more positive reviews you have, the better chance you have of ranking higher in Google for highly competitive phrases such as ‘real estate agents insert_suburb‘. So don’t be scared to ask happy tenants, landlords, buyers AND sellers to leave you a Google review.

If you are annoyed at all those scathing reviews from ex-tenants (whether they’re true or not) or you’re worried that those reviews are tarnishing the reputation of your entire business, you can’t simply delete them. But here’s something you can do… bury them in a see of 5-star reviews.

Your presence in Google depends on it and you should be putting far more emphasis on Google reviews than you’re likely doing right now.

What’s the best way to get rid of negative reviews? Bury them in a see of good ones.

For many home sellers looking for an agent, Google is (and will be for the foreseeable future) the first place they go. It pays to put time and effort into your presence on Google, especially if you’ve let it go for some time in exchange for other sites on the web.

Quickly Respond to Reviews, Good or Bad

Customer reviews should be approached as a two-way street. The name of the game is being receptive. Set aside time every day (or at least, weekly) to monitor the platforms where your company is listed and the ones you’re not.

Type “Your Company Complaints” into Google and see what comes up. Reviews about your brand could be happening on websites you never knew existed.

Take the company in this video for example and an actual review from productreview.com.au, where they have over 100 one-star reviews (ouch!).

Online reviews are a spectator sport.

If you receive a negative review and you don’t respond, what does that say about you and your brand? Forget whether it’s true or not. It will reflect poorly on your brand. If you do respond but don’t receive another response, you still win. People will see that you’ve taken time out of your day to acknowledge the review, good or bad, and you will be rewarded for it.

Regardless of the customer input, do not procrastinate on your responses. A quick reply indicates that you value customer input and are committed to resolving any issues. Following a review, be sure to thank them for their input.

Attentiveness to both the good and bad reviews shows you are truly dedicated to improvement based on customers’ opinions and reactions. Responding to a negative review is not always an easy task. However, the way you phrase your message is very important in demonstrating your brand value.

Conclusion

If you rely on the internet for new business opportunities (which you do!), then you will, to a large extent, also rely on reviews. Whether we like it or not, the internet has allowed us to say what we think about any company or individual. Whilst reviews can be a mixed bag and won’t always be entirely positive (learning how to respond to negative reviews warrants an entire article all of itself) they have become extremely important in the way they influence the purchasing and business decisions we make online every day.

Happy review collecting!

If you have any questions or experiences you’d like to share regarding your online reviews, please leave a comment and we’ll reply ASAP.

Author: Josh Cobb

Phone Number: 0427 184 183

Email Address: josh@stepps.com.au

Stepps was founded by Josh Cobb in 2014. Josh has advised more than 100 brands since starting the company and hundreds of agents who have attended his workshops. He is the host of the popular Real Estate Pros podcast, oversees digital strategy for top performing real estate agents and teams, and travels the globe with several international speaking engagements each year.

Recently, Josh was named as a finalist in the 2017 REB Awards for Industry Thought Leader of The Year and the winner of  Brisbane Young Entrepreneur of The Year 2017 – Marketing, PR & Events.

In addition to web development and digital strategy consulting, the company also runs Stepps Media, a fast-growing education company that produces an iTunes top-ranked podcasttraining events, email and webinars.