Word of mouth (the digital kind) comes from online feedback in the form of reviews and testimonials. Find out how to gather and use good words from your past clients to attract your next ones.

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Word of mouth used to mean real-life conversations between neighbors and acquaintances, but now your word-of-mouth reputation can be built online by former clients and can reach all around the world. That’s the power of social media, websites and other online resources and the power of client testimonials and reviews.

If you provide exceptional client service, you may assume that, since the cream rises to the top, your good work will be rewarded with a positive online reputation. In reality, you’ll need to help cultivate that reputation with a solid strategy for gathering and using testimonials and reviews.

Why testimonials and reviews matter

In decades past, we’ve depended on friends and family members to let us know who to work with, where to shop, which restaurants are best, and so on. This is called social proof, and it’s based on the idea that when people who are like you and close to you recommend something, their recommendation carries weight in helping you make your own decision and evaluation.

Nowadays, when our friends and family also include our online friends and followers, recommendations through review sites and testimonials shared on a website or social media platform can carry just as much weight as reviews from personal friends. In fact, according to Square, user-generated reviews are considered more trustworthy than even professional reviews and evaluations of a product or service.

Testimonials and reviews from satisfied clients who’ve been successful in their home purchase are sale can increase a real estate agent’s credibility and reputation. Because they can help potential leads learn more about how you work, where you work, and the real-world experiences clients have with you and your team, they are a powerful tool in helping to sway a consumer’s decision-making process.

Think about the types of leads you normally encounter: cold, warm and hot. A cold lead who sees a positive review or testimonial instantly heats up and may be swayed to make a decision to contact you based exclusively on that real-life positive experience shared by your former client.

How to gather testimonials and reviews

When you’re implementing a plan to start gathering and posting testimonials and reviews, it’s a good idea to begin at the beginning of the transaction. Let your clients know up front that your goal is to earn an exceptional review from them, then follow up with a specific way for them to submit their review.

Choose a place to focus your efforts, whether it’s Yelp, Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business), Realtor.com, Zillow or another platform or portal. You can then pull those reviews over to your own website and social media platforms and post them as testimonials as well.

Most portal profiles will offer you a link to use when gathering reviews from previous clients. Implement an automated email sequence to send the link after closing, then follow up regularly if no response is recorded.

The easier you can make the process, the more likely your clients will be to post a review or testimonial. Don’t forget to follow up with a thank you and let them know that you appreciate their help.

How to use testimonials and reviews

As we’ve said, you’ll want to use reviews and testimonials on your own website and social media platforms.

Here’s how to maximize testimonials and reviews in real estate:

  • Create a dedicated testimonial page on your website and curate it to provide the best and most positive testimonials and reviews from across your various platforms.
  • Use Canva to create attractive graphic versions and quote cards that are sharable and engaging.
  • Pair a testimonial with a photo of the client, and tag them on social media, if they will allow you to do so.
  • If they’re willing to do so, ask your clients to record a video testimonial to share their experience working with you.
  • Expand testimonials into blog posts or case studies, outlining challenges or unusual circumstances and how you were able to help the client overcome them.
  • Incorporate testimonials in your email blasts or drip campaigns. You may consider ending each email with a different, positive endorsement.
  • Add testimonials and reviews to marketing collateral like listing presentations, geographic farming mailers, listing flyers and postcards.

How to respond to negative reviews

For an in-depth discussion of responding to negative reviews, check out: Inman Handbook: Optimizing your Zillow profile for maximum impact

On most platforms, you can write a response to reviews, both positive and negative. Make sure to stay positive and professional in your response, while avoiding blame, accusations or defensiveness.

To keep one or two negative reviews from standing out, respond graciously and with appreciation to all of your positive reviews as well. This allows you to deepen your engagement with satisfied clients while offsetting the effect of negative feedback.

Even if you’re already well-established in your market, it’s important for you to create a plan for gathering online feedback, if you haven’t previously. Decide who to reach out to, how you’ll reach out and what you’ll do with the feedback once you’ve gotten it. Then get to work building your online reputation.

Christy Murdock is a freelance writer, coach and consultant and the owner of Writing Real Estate. Connect with Writing Real Estate on Instagram  and subscribe to the weekly roundup, The Ketchup.

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