Social evidence is a powerful differentiator in the real estate market. As a local agent, two key sources of new clients are referrals from existing clients, and positive online reviews or rankings. Reviews matter because they help build your brand and boost your visibility on crucial online platforms. They highlight the things you do well, help you achieve featured placement in listings, and give you powerful testimonial to leverage in your marketing materials.
With all of these reasons, it’s no wonder top agents make asking for reviews and referrals part of their marketing strategy. Here’s how to make it part of yours.
Ask when you’ve delivered value.
There are often several times during the buying and selling process that it becomes natural to ask for a review. For instance, when you’ve answered a difficult question or provided advice; when you’ve taken a client through a home – or a couple of homes; and after helping the client close on their home. Your client might not buy or sell in all instances, but they’ll often still be amenable to writing a review given the time you’ve invested with them.
Prime your client to provide a review by mentioning it throughout the process, sharing a review link when applicable, and reminding them of anything you’ve gone out of your way to do for them so that it’s top of mind. This can also help encourage them to make a referral in future. But always choose a positive moment to ask!
Here’s some sample language you can use – but adjust it according to your brand, client and the situation:
Hi [name], you mentioned that you found out about me on [name of platform]. You probably chose me based on my reviews, so if at the end of the process you’re happy with my services, would you be able to provide positive feedback in the form of a review to help other people like you decide whether I’m the right agent for them? The most impactful platform is [link to Yelp, Zillow, Google My Business or other].
Follow up once they’ve settled in.
Moving homes is a major undertaking that doesn’t end when you hand over the keys. If your clients don’t leave a review right away, check in again in a couple of months to see how they’re enjoying their new home – and ask then. It’s easy for things to fall through the cracks or end up on the backburner when you’re juggling the myriad to-do items that come with a new home.
How you decide to follow up depends on your overall approach and your relationship with the client. A text message or email with a link works for some; a phone call with a quick mention of a review is great for others. Some agents will stop by in person with seasonal gifts or invitations – and mention reviews or referrals then. Including a link to leave a review in your email signature and marketing materials can also encourage additional reviews.
You can add a review link to your signature by navigating to the “email signature” section of your email client, adding a line of text saying “I strive to offer five-star service. If you’re pleased with my work, then leave a review!”, then click “add hyperlink”. In the box that opens, link to your review page on Zillow, Google My Business or even a Google Form, depending on your preferences. There are also plugins and services that can help you customize your signature.
You can use a similar approach in digital marketing materials. For printed materials, you can simply highlight your number of five-star reviews alongside the name of the website they can be found on, send them to your social media or professional website, or use a QR Code to make it easy for them to navigate to the website in question.
While requesting reviews and referrals is normal, and following up is fine, be mindful about how many times you’ve asked a client for one. Asking more than three times in total can feel pushy and unprofessional – and a negative review is much worse than no review. Additionally, consider your client’s situation and background when asking for reviews and referrals. Someone who has just moved to an area and doesn’t yet know anyone is unlikely to be able to refer a new client to you. But someone who has moved within a suburb they know well is a much likelier candidate for referrals.
Make it easy for them to leave a review
Even happy clients might hesitate to leave a review if the process is complex or will take too long. Boost your review numbers by simplifying things for your clients. Provide a direct link to the places you want them to leave a review, and share bullets or suggested verbiage that might help guide them in what to say. Bring up anything special you did, or anything unique to their situation that can be used to show your strengths. If the platform offers a star rating, specifically request a five-star one.
For example, you might write:
Hi [name], thanks for choosing me to help you find/sell your home. I had a great time working with you and was glad to help you [describe a particular problem specific to this client]. Could I ask a favor? Reviews help people like you decide whether I’m the right agent for them, so if you were happy with my service, I’d appreciate it if you’d leave a five-star review at [link, with any extra information about signing up or what to expect]. I appreciate your time, and look forward to hearing more about your experience!”
Remember that in this age of social media you can even take charge of the reviews yourself. Photograph or film happy clients at the closing (with your favorite title company), and ask them to share their story – and how you helped make it happen. You can then share the resulting media to your social accounts with a quick verbal quote about the work you’ve done for them. You can easily combine these with testimonials from other longer reviews, such as those on Zillow or Yelp, giving your reviews greater reach across different platforms. If you’re after referrals, leave a business card or other marketing materials with your contact details on them so that the client has them at hand if necessary. Magnetic calendars and notepads are a good option for this.
What to do if you receive a negative review
Real estate transactions are a major milestone in your clients’ lives, and tensions can run high, even if you’re doing a great job. If you do receive a negative review, act quickly. Contact the client in question and try to resolve the situation or clear up any miscommunication – this can be enough to inspire the client to take down or amend the review. Depending on the platform they’ve posted on, you can also publicly respond to reviews offering to resolve the situation. If you take this route, be mindful of your language and avoid any statements that sound accusatory or like a deflection.
For example, you might write:
Hi [name], thank you for taking the time to share your feedback. I’m sorry to hear that you were disappointed with your experience, and would love to learn more about the situation and how I can put your mind at ease. Please get in touch with me on [contact details] so we can talk further.
If the review is a fake or spam review, you can report it to the review website in question and request that it be taken down.
You can minimize negative reviews by checking in with clients throughout the transaction process to ensure that all is well, and by requesting reviews at key positive milestones, when their opinion of you is at its highest. Specifically soliciting reviews or testimonials from happy clients or by recommending the use of a specific feedback template will also help ensure that your reviews skew towards the positive.
Be consistent, and garner those reviews
Asking for reviews might feel uncomfortable at first, but by building it into your marketing strategy, you’ll find it gets easier, and more effective. Keep asking, and keep tweaking your approach to ensure that you not only get more reviews, but that they showcase the value and expertise you offer clients in your local area – and what sets you apart from the rest.