All property professionals have a good idea of how to attract new instructions. Although a silver tongue definitely helps, it’s your agency’s reputation that usually seals the deal. If your ‘For Sale’ boards are ubiquitous in local streets, and people can see that you’re selling houses like hotcakes on the property portals, then they’re far more likely to trust you than an anonymous outfit with zero street cred.
If you’ve sold or let properties in your area for a good price then you’re highly likely to make a potential customer’s shortlist. However, what’s the secret to going from a shortlist of three to appointed sole agent? According to Which?, customers end up choosing the agent they feel most comfortable with. And that’s usually the one that comes recommended via word of mouth or an online review.
Why word of mouth is the best advertising
The marketing world has changed enormously in recent years but one thing remains constant: it’s really hard to cut through and get noticed. It’s even harder on websites populated by pop-ups and cluttered click-bait. Buying media space can be an expensive business so a good return on investment isn’t guaranteed.
Good reviews and positive word of mouth, on the other hand, costs you zip. What’s more, according to Nielson Global Media, an eyebrow-raising 92% of People trust recommendations from friends and family over advertising. Why? Because it’s authentic. Advertising is how an agent wants to be seen, whilst a review reflects real-life experience.
Talk is cheap, literally
Whilst paid advertising can be great for creating a memorable meme, word of mouth carries more weight and resonates in the ears for much longer. Marketing activity is also ephemeral. It’s here today but gone tomorrow. Online reviews, meanwhile, are etched into the ether. They’re available for all to see for years.
The popularity of review websites like Trustpilot is on the up. Research shows that 91% of people read online reviews and 84% trust these reviews as much as personal recommendations. It’s also intriguing to know that 68% make up their mind after reading between one to six reviews.
Online forums and chat rooms are another arena where estate agents can shine. Did you know that 50 million people (out of a total population of 68 million) use social media in the UK? The average number of friends per person on Facebook is 200, and the average number of Twitter followers is 208. An online recommendation can therefore go a long, long way.
Get more of the good stuff
Oddly enough, people tend to write reviews for estate agents less than they do for other professionals like tradesmen. In fact, our own research has shown that only 60% would leave their agent a positive review; therefore happy home movers might need prompting to reveal their opinions.
Actively encouraging feedback is the way to conquer this. Send out online forms and tell your customers that all their opinions, both good and bad, are valued. Agents are often too close to the day-to-day to see things from a fresh perspective. Asking for reviews, therefore, has a dual purpose: it builds your online reputation whilst simultaneously telling you how to improve your service.
Lighten the load
Of course, the only way to guarantee good reviews and positive word of mouth is to provide a cracking service. According to our recent survey, 30% of home movers rated their agent’s service as poor to average; therefore there’s plenty of scope for agents to surprise clients by going above and beyond.
One way to add value is through load-lightening propositions like our Home Setup service. This is where we sort all the arduous admin for your customers by arranging everything from their removals to council tax. We can also find them an excellent broadband deal and a great green energy tariff.
Services like this are a fabulous way to reduce your clients’ stress levels during a move. They only need to make a single call and we’ll do the rest.
People love to talk
Moving home is a big deal for most people; therefore they love sharing their experiences whether that’s one-to-one with a friend or on public websites and social media. Although this might make you slightly nervous – after all, things do occasionally go wrong – even bad reviews are nothing to be feared.
Research shows that dealing with complaints promptly and courteously can actually help to build relationships with customers. What’s more, the presence of the odd bad review shows that the others are real. If every review is perfect, then questions will be asked about their authenticity.
The power of testimonials
Always remember that a happy customer will become a walking endorsement for your agency for years to come. And don’t be afraid to ask them for a testimonial that you could use on your website, brochures, or flyers.
Genuine testimonials always bring added credibility to marketing communications. Plus, unlike all those expensive advertising campaigns, they don’t cost a penny. Why shell out for a talking meerkat or a rotund tenor to sing your praises when your customers can blow your trumpet for you?
Just look at the power of our Trustpilot, for example. We've recently hit the 1000 review point, and our social proof has increased because of it.