Generating Referrals with Online Reviews

By Alex Camelio, CEO - Posted on
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Did you know that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation? Nowadays people put a ton of stock in what they’re able to find online, especially when it comes to product and business reviews. Good or bad reviews can literally sway a consumer from one extreme to the other which has a direct and instantaneous impact on their buying decision. 

In real estate, while people may not be looking for you quite the same way as they would a product, you can be sure of one thing (even if it’s a referral), they will look you up online before working with you. So, do you have a plan for getting people to consistently leave great reviews? 

Understanding the impact online reviews can have on your business is one thing, but knowing how to get them, how to manage them, and how to turn them into referrals is a completely different ball game. Taking charge of your online reputation can really change your business, increase referrals and even reduce the amount of marketing you have to do, because word of mouth is the most powerful business champion you can have!

Setting the Stage

When it comes to reviews, taking charge means putting a strategy in place. For one thing, consumers don’t automatically leave reviews about REALTORS® (even though they certainly look for them before doing business with you). For another thing, people don’t leave positive reviews as a standard practice, but will go out of their way to leave a negative review as an outlet if they’re not happy. 

It’s not all bad news though. With these 5 Simple Steps you can consistently bring in positive reviews and mitigate negative reviews before they’re ever posted.

  1. Preview
  2. Give
  3. Guide
  4. Ask
  5. Appreciate

Preview

Getting reviews starts long before your client is ready to post online. Reviews are all about how the customer’s experience matches up with their expectations.

As you probably know from working in real estate, buyer and seller expectations can be all over the map. So, do you want people basing their reviews on their own expectations? Of course not!

To make sure you get that great review (and a smooth transaction) take some time to set expectations when you begin working together. Outline what their expectations should be from you, and that you’ll be asking for a review, and possibly a referral at the end. 

By setting these expectations, you’ve already established a guideline for the review they will leave you, before you’ve even begun working with them. Plus, it gives them some time to think while everything is happening so they don’t have to do all the heavy lifting when you ask at the end.

Give

There are easily a dozen review sites out there, but they’re not all equal. While you might prefer a review on Realtor.com or your own Website, consumers might be more likely to find you on Yelp or Facebook. Plus, they all have different standards for what a verified account is and your ability to have reviews removed.

So, take some time to look into various sites where you can get reviews and match them up with your overall business strategy. Then, pick ONE and give it to every client you work with at the end of the transaction.

However, when I say give, I don’t mean just send them the link. Include a quick overview of the review site, specific instructions for leaving the review, and a guide that helps them write a great review based on the expectations you set early on.

Guide

While we all know by now that consumers read reviews, don’t make the mistake of thinking that everyone knows how to give a good review. Once you’ve given instructions for how to leave a review on the review site, make sure you are also guiding people on what kind of information they should be including in their review. You’ll want to encourage them to be specific, concise and relevant, because those are key pieces of information that potential clients are searching for when looking through reviews.  

I do want to caution you not to overstep when guiding your clients on what to leave in their review. You want the reviews to be natural and authentic, even if you do have a hand in what they’re focused on. A great way to guide them without overstepping is to use some of the expectations you set early on as an outline. People respond well to information they’ve seen before.

Ask

Giving instructions and guiding your clients is a great start, but you can’t ask once and expect to get results. It normally requires 7 to 8 emails to get someone to respond. It’s not that you’re bugging them – in fact, most people say that they were just “busy” and meant to do it. You really need to make repeated asks in most cases to receive those reviews, but they’re worth it!

Appreciate

Saying “Thank You” is incredibly underrated, but it’s an amazing way to create reciprocity in business and I highly recommend you get in the habit of appreciating those clients of yours! Even if it’s for the simple fact that they’ve left you a review, that small expression of gratitude is an important bonding agent for any relationship.

You might even want to thank them publicly. This shows the outside World how much you appreciate your clients and how those clients are willing to recommend you. Plus, knowing they’ll get appreciation creates an incentive for others to leave reviews in the future.

A Warning

I must warn you though, this strategy has a very big “IF” statement. This strategy only works IF you create an experience worth reviewing and referring! At the end of the day, reviews and referrals are all about being remarkable and inspiring confidence. All of the strategies in the world won’t help if you’re not incredible. BUT I KNOW YOU ARE!!

In the words of Maya Angelou – “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” So, go out there and create an experience that’s worth reviewing by making your clients feel amazing. 

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Alex Camelio
Throughout his career, Alex has personally helped over 15,000 Agents and Brokers, including some of the Top REALTORS® in North America. His passion for marketing, technology and business development has translated into more than a decade of cutting edge technology and contributions to the real estate industry. As the CEO of the Agent Inner Circle®, a 40,000-member real estate agent community, Alex focuses on providing agents with education and actionable strategies to grow and optimize their business, ultimately building some of the most successful careers in real estate today. Alex is an internationally recognized educator who’s shared his thoughtful and energetic presentations with various National Associations and industry organizations. As always, Alex is excited to share his expertise with everyone.
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