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Boost Your Business With Online Reviews

by Sara Bonert

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We all know home buyers use the Internet to shop for homes. Now, more than ever, they are shopping for the people they want to assist them through the real estate transaction. So how do really good agents stand out online? One answer is to build a strong virtual reputation through amassing online client reviews, and here's how.

People review everything these days, from 99-cent apps in the iTunes store, to hotels on Tripadvisor, to their lipstick on Drugstore.com. It only makes sense that home buyers would turn to reviews for assistance in helping them through one of the largest purchases of their life. 

More importantly, having reviews can significantly impact your bottom line. In a recent study on Zillow, it was found that Zillow Premier Agents with five or more reviews tend to get about 160 percent more leads than those with zero reviews (Source: Zillow Internal, July 2011).  

Now that you understand the value of online reviews, how do you get them? And, more importantly, what do you do with them?

1. Ask for them – This can be as blunt as sitting at the closing table, asking the client if they’d mind reviewing you and whipping out your iPad. Or it can be as subtle as including links to a place where reviews about you can be left in your email auto signature and enewsletters. Be sure to market links that point directly to the place where a review can be left about you; don't make the reviewer search for you.  

2. Get involved – If it is a positive review, respond by thanking the client and giving some color as to why you enjoyed the real estate process with them. If it is a less-than-positive review, it is even more important to comment to let future readers know your side of the story. How you handle yourself in negative situations can sometimes be an even stronger selling point for you than having all positive reviews. 

3. Use reviews in your marketing efforts – Listing testimonials on a static page on your website is one thing. Having a dynamic widget with live customer reviews on your website or Facebook page takes it to another level. Zillow has free widgets for you to install on your blog, website or Facebook Business page that showcase unedited feedback from real clients about your service. You can download them at www.zillow.com/webtools.  

Reviews are a wonderful way to market your personal brand because they help great agents really stand out. Today, reading reviews and using them in the research process is a very natural way for people to shop for products and services. It is important that when they go looking online to find out more about your company, you allow them to find and see how involved you are with your clients.  

Sara Bonert is the Director of Broker Services for Zillow, one of the most trafficked real estate websites with more than 24 million visitors a month. Sara works with real estate professionals around the country, helping them leverage online marketing and social media opportunities, while also promoting ways professionals can market themselves on Zillow. Follow her on Twitter at @sbonert. 

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