How Online Reviews Will Grow Your Real Estate Business (and How To Get More of Them)

Why are Online Reviews Important?

Your businesses best marketers are your previous customers. The easiest way to take advantage of their marketing power? Reviews. 
 
Reviews are a simple way for someone to assess your business. This makes your review rating one of the most powerful tools available to your business. In a few minutes a potential client can learn:
  • How the aggregate of customers felt through a quick numerical rating
  • How many customers felt strongly enough to take time out of their lives and leave a review
  • What exactly customers liked about their interaction

That’s powerful stuff.

A study of online reviews showed 91% of people age 18-34 trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. These are the people that make up the largest block of home buyers.

You might be thinking, OK well, that’s great for an online business but I’m a real estate agent. I get my clients through word of mouth and referrals.

Online research is the new norm. The same study shows 86% of people read local business reviews. Online reviews supplement word of mouth and referrals during the decision making process.

This is where having online reviews is a must.

Agents with many, high quality reviews are in the best position to win a customer.

The merit of online reviews for your business should be fairly obvious, so lets move on to the good stuff…

Where Should I Focus on Getting Reviews?

Well, everywhere…

It’s really important to diversify your online reviews, but we’ll dig into that more later. It’s common sense to focus on the sites that are most likely to produce customers, ‘fish where the fish are’ as they say.

Any website that buyers and sellers visit (and that allow agents to create a profile) is a potential candidate.

At the end of the day it’s ideal to focus on 2 or 3 primary sites for reviews.

So how do you find the best sites for real estate reviews?

An easy way is to do a Google search for “syracuse real estate agents”. These are the same sites home buyers and sellers will see when they are looking for an agent.

Additionally when people search for your name, “Jane Doe Syracuse agent”, you’ll want to make sure the search results show a healthy list of positive reviews. And your Google My Business(GMB) listing.

How and Why to Diversify Your Reviews

This is a really important part of your overall review campaign for two main reasons.

  1. You can never be certain of a potential clients “buying” journey. They may use Yelp or Angie’s list religiously and go directly there to look for an agent. It’s best to cover your bases and have some reviews on all applicable sites.
  2. Having a volume of positive reviews on a site reduces the impact a negative review has if you ever get one (You can’t please everybody!). If you have two five-star reviews and get a single one-star review, your overall score just became 3.7. However, if you have 10 five-star reviews and a single one-star, your score stays at a respectable 4.6.

You’ll want to focus on 2 or 3 primary sites long term, while also adding a few 2nd tier sites in the mix.

A goal of 10 reviews on each 2nd tier site is ideal. Research shows that it takes 10 reviews to move the dial for a potential client. Once you get to 10-ish reviews on your 2nd tier sites you can forget about them and focus on your primary sites.

For almost any situation Zillow and Google and should be primary targets.

A Few Potential Review Sites

Zillow – Arguably the most important site for agent reviews. It’s both a powerful resource for home buyers and ranks high in Google.

There are many Syracuse agents killing it on Zillow.  The current Zillow leader has over 220 reviews, and there are many agents with over 50 reviews.

If you have 30+ reviews here start to think about some other sites. That said, you don’t want reviews at an important site like Zillow to become old and stale, so don’t completely abandon the site.

Google — THIS IS A HUGE OPPORTUNITY! — Google reviews are posted to your Google My Business (GMB) listing. If you aren’t familiar with GMB, check out this guide that walks you through the setup process A-Z and explains why it’s crucial to your online marketing.

The Google review landscape for Syracuse area agents pales in comparison to Zillow. No one is dominating on Google reviews. At the time of writing the most reviews of any agent or agency in CNY on Google is in the mid teens. Any agent or agency that can position themselves to have 20+ reviews in short order is going to get a lot more attention from potential clients. Additionally, one of the major ranking factors in Googles local map pack (see link above for explanation) is the quantity/quality of GMB reviews. That means more potential clients for your business. That’s a win, win.

Realtor.com – Realtor.com has both reviews and recommendations. Their review list ranks high in Google so it should at least make your 2nd tier of sites with a goal of 10 reviews.

Your Personal Site – Probably the website on your business card. Whether you have your own site or use a page on your agencies site, get reviews or copy and paste reviews from other sites as testimonials and/or provide links to your profiles on other sites so clients can easily see all your reviews.

Facebook – Not quite as useful as it once was but still worth 2nd tier status. If you have an active Facebook presence for your business it might be a good primary option. Facebook reviews are likely to be seen on your GMB listing (see the link above for more info), so there is value there.

YelpGetting reviews on Yelp is hard.

It’s against Yelp policy for businesses to ask customers to leave reviews. Yes, you read that right. Also, If the reviewer isn’t active on Yelp there is a high probability the review will be removed by Yelp’s overly aggressive review filter. This especially includes people who create an account and leave a review or two and never use Yelp again. So don’t even bother with Yelp UNLESS…. you know your client is an avid user of Yelp. Then it’s worth asking them verbally to leave you a review on Yelp. Verbally because if you send your client an email link the review will probably be filtered out.

This list isn’t meant to be comprehensive and there are definitely other options for you to consider getting reviews on.

Proven Methods to Get More Reviews

You need to ask every single client for a review.

This doesn’t need to be a chore.

If you have the tools or your business is large enough this can be easily automated. If not, simply send your client a short email thanking them for their business and in a very directly ask them to leave a review.

Make sure to provide a link to at least two different sites you would like a review left on, with the primary site on top.

It’s as simple as that. 

Here is a template you can copy for your email if you’d like.

The most important part of asking for a review, other than simply asking, is to send it soon after your business with the client has concluded.

Waiting even a week, is too long. Typically, the person has already moved on, because life. You will have a MUCH higher conversion percentage by sending the email the day of or day after.

Lastly, you will see a much higher conversion rate if you make a personal face to face acknowledgement/ask. Let the client know you are going to send an email and if they have you sure would appreciate a review.

Followup emails can be helpful as reminder to those who have gotten busy but aren’t crucial. Definitely don’t ask a 3rd time.

Worried about getting negative reviews?

Don’t.

Studies have shown that when a business or product has negative reviews it can help. Potential clients are more likely to trust the reviews and it also provides them with extra information. So having a bad review isn’t a terrible thing if its mixed in with 10 positive reviews. No one expects perfection.

Here’s what you shouldn’t do…

Don’t offer discounts or money or any other harebrained scheme in exchange for a review. It’s illegal. And federal & state governments do take action on this.

That’s  it, no rocket science involved.

It is as simple as:

  • Having a system in place to ask for a review every time
  • Directing folks to the review sites and giving them at least two options
  • Asking for the review within a couple of days of business ending

It’s sales 101, you can’t get a yes if you don’t ask.

Scott - Brightside Home Inspections - Headshot

Scott Brown is the owner and founder of Brightside Home Inspections. He also dabbles in eCommerce through his business yayak. Prior to that he was on the executive management side of a large residential remodeling company and graduated from Syracuse University. He once ran a 14 minute mile. Scott resides in Camillus, NY with his wife and son.

Have questions about home inspections or marketing? ➡ [email protected]