4 step guide to managing your agency’s online reputation

Can you afford not to manage your online reviews?

With 74% of consumers saying that positive online reviews make them trust a local business more, and only 5% saying they don’t pay attention to online reviews – can you afford not to manage your online reputation?

Let’s take a look at the research a customer may do when deciding to sell their property:

  • First, they’re most likely to ask friends and neighbours for a personal recommendation. Word of mouth is still the most popular way to recommend a local business, with 68% of consumers saying they would do this.*
  • Next, they’ll probably go online. 84% of people say they trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.*
  • The customer may start by checking they’ve remembered all the estate agencies in their area, by googling ‘Estate Agents in {location}’

Google search for estate agent

Google is increasingly placing emphasis on reviews and ratings, so agencies with ‘social proof’ are more likely to appear in higher positions in the Pay-Per-Click Ads and organic search results. Agencies with star ratings are also up to 20% more likely to receive clicks through to their website.

Customers are most likely to seek out reviews when making a high value or high risk decision such as buying or selling a property. So after browsing agency websites, the customer may proactively look for reviews. Research shows that 91% of consumers regularly or occasionally read online reviews.*

Given online reviews are increasingly part of your customers’ decision making process, how can you make sure that your agency is represented fairly online? We’re all busy, and managing reviews can be very time consuming.

 

So we’ve put together a 4 step process for managing your online reputation.

 

Step 1: Audit your existing reviews

  • Start by googling your agency name, plus the word ‘reviews’.
  • Bookmark all the pages you find, even if you currently have zero reviews – as you need to keep an eye on all sites.
  • Next go to Visual Ping. This is a free service which alerts you via email when changes are made to specific web pages. Set up alerts for each of your bookmarked URLs, to ensure you are notified whenever a customer posts a review about your agency. Tip: Set up the service to notify you only when sizeable changes are made, to avoid being notified about irrelevant page changes.
  • Then set up a Google Alert on your brand name. Google will notify you via email when new content is created about your agency. Make sure you put your brand name in inverted commas, to ensure you only get notifications that exactly match your agency name.
  • Finally, make a note of how many positive and negative reviews your key competitors have on each review site – you’ll need this in section 3

 

Step 2: Make review collection part of your everyday business

Research shows that if asked directly, 50% of customers are prepared to leave a review for a business.*

It’s really important to achieve a steady flow of recent reviews, as the older the review, the less weight it will be given when the customer is choosing an agency.

Make asking reviews part of the way you do business.

  • Build links into email templates.
  • Ask your team to request reviews when a property is sold or let.
  • Include a link to your chosen review site in each employee’s email signature, on your website, even on your invoices.

Make it easy to leave a review. Don’t say ‘Please leave us a review on our Facebook page’. Say ‘We’d love to hear your feedback at www.facebook.com/youragencyname. For more on this, see how to collect Facebook and Google reviews below.

 

Step 3: Choose the right review sites

Realistically, it’s impossible to get good reviews on every site – so which do you choose?

Our advice would be to ensure you have a number of good reviews on Google (at least 5 per branch), 5-10 reviews on Facebook, then concentrate on one other review site.

 

Google Reviews

Google reviews are believed to influence the position of estate agencies in the organic search listings and the Google ‘local pack’ – the results shown just below the ads, opposite a map.

We’ve written a separate Guide to managing Google Reviews, including how to give your customers a link to leave a review directly.

Facebook Reviews

Even having 5-10 Facebook reviews will make a difference to the perception of your business. Take a look at our guide to getting Facebook Reviews.

Dedicated review sites

Once you’ve covered off Google and Facebook, decide on a review site for the majority of your solicited reviews (remembering to top-up your Google and Facebook reviews with recent feedback when possible).

There are many options, but our clients tend to use one of four sites:

When making your choice, take a look at the sites that are being actively used by your competitors. Choose the review site most frequently used, as this is where potential vendors and landlords are most likely to end up when searching for reviews.

Your own website

Last but not least, it goes without saying that it’s well worth including testimonials on your own website. We tell you how to add testimonials to your Homeflow website in this video guide.

 

Step 4: How to deal with negative reviews

Unfortunately, the nature of the property market is such that it is almost impossible to keep all clients happy all of the time.

Of course, reputation has always been important for estate agencies, but in the past, any negative feedback was limited to word of mouth.

Nowadays, a disgruntled customer can post a damning review in a matter of minutes.

Golden rules when receiving a negative review:

  • Always respond if you are given the option to do so. This has been shown to partly ameliorate the damage caused by poor reviews.
  • Don’t get defensive, even when the customer is in the wrong. Give a detailed, personal response, politely answering the concerns of the reviewer. Offer to follow up offline. Never accuse them of lying. Demonstrate your commitment to customer service by explaining how you deal with problems.
  • If the review is on Facebook or Twitter, try to respond quickly.

The only way to counter negative reviews is with many more positive ones. If you inadvertently end up with negative reviews on a review site, you may need to switch your focus to that site for a period of time to redress the balance.

So there you have it, the Homeflow guide to building and maintaining your online estate agency reputation. Just let us know if we can help you with your website or any other aspect of your online marketing.

*Source: BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey 2016

 

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