Missing out on real estate business
In a down economy, no matter how busy a real estate professional gets, there is always room for more business, which is the focus of this article today. According to Leota Higgins, the brand manager for ZipRealty, “Realtors pour a good deal of effort and money into online and printed marketing materials, but many are overlooking (or flat-out avoiding) the area that resonates the most with potential clients: online consumer ratings and reviews of their services.”
Typically marketing associated with real estate involves traditional methods (direct mailing, flyers, billboards) or digital (Twitter, blogging), and Higgins notes that “all of those marketing platforms and tactics essentially serve the same two purposes: first, to put you in front of potential clients, and second, to convince them that you’re the best fit for their real estate needs.”
The important question remains – are these methods effective? Below are five reasons in Higgins’ words as to why Realtors should embrace online ratings and reviews, particularly as a marketing tool.
1. Consumers trust other consumers more than they trust marketing
The days of “work with me because I’m the best” marketing are over. Too many businesses have claimed that same thing but not delivered on the promise, leaving consumers leery of anything that sounds too good to be true.
Instead, they turn to online reviews to get the real story.
Real estate agents are not exempt. In a recent survey done by ZipRealty, home buyers revealed that the number one reason that they would choose to work with a Realtor is if that agent had authentic online reviews from past clients. And consumer studies back that up, showing that when a service or brand is reviewed by consumers, it gives them a definite edge over their competition – for services with online reviews the “look to book” ratio is 4 times better, and they boast a 12.5% higher conversion rate than those without.
In short, a business tooting their own horn is nothing but noise. But if a client toots that horn for them? It’s music to consumer’s ears.
2. You’re getting Googled (and so are your competitors)
A steady stream of referrals is what keeps an agent’s business alive and kicking, but without online reviews, you may soon begin to see that river dry up. Over 70% of home buyers said that they would Google a real estate agent before deciding to work with them – even if they’d been referred to that agent by a friend or family member. Keep in mind that home buyers and sellers are likely getting more than one agent referral, and with so many other agents jumping on the ratings train, you could actually be hurting your business by not participating. If business doesn’t have online reviews, it can appear that they’re either not relevant enough to be reviewed, or that they’re hiding bad service. Either way it’s a turn off.
3. Bad reviews = good conversion
Still… what about bad reviews? It’s something every small business is afraid of – that one terrible review that will turn off every potential client, sinking your reputation and your business in one fatal swoop.
In fact, having one or two less than positive reviews isn’t necessarily such a bad thing. According to a recent study, 68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad scores – and building trust with the consumer is what online reviews are all about.
And remember, a poor review isn’t the end of the story. On many reviews sites the business can post a response, and these responses can carry more weight with potential clients than the original review does.
Additionally, a study done by Reevoo.com found that a response to a negative review can be an incredibly valuable conversion tool: when customers left a negative review and received a response, 33% turned around and posted a positive review, 34% deleted the original negative review, and 18% of these people became loyal customers as a result.
4. Local reviews demonstrate local expertise
When home buyers or sellers are choosing who to work with, local expertise remains a big factor. Online reviews are an excellent way to instantly demonstrate that you’re working with real, local people. For a agent who is just starting out, or a buyer-side agent without a big listing business, establishing yourself as a local expert can be a challenge, and online reviews are a fast and authentic way to ramp up your visibility and credibility.
5. Build trust with your social sphere
Posting a link to a positive review to your Facebook or Twitter account is the easiest – and most effective – way to remind your social sphere that you’re “one of the good ones.” It’s a safe bet to count your social sphere as part of the group of people who know you, but still need to be convinced that you’re the right person to work with.