Every real estate brokerage website has listings. Some have local content. Some have blogs. But nearly every site is missing one thing.
Why is that?
We hear over and over that despite all the gains in being able to access information online, consumers still want to work with an agent and they still tend to find that agent through referrals from friends, family and colleagues. Just like when buying a new TV, consumers care what other people think when choosing a real estate agent.
Regardless of where you sit on the agent data debate, consumer experience – social proof – is relevant to the people visiting your website. It’s something that can start to put a face on your brand – connect a human touch to the listings engine that is your online front door.
It’s like a referral for those who don’t already have one.
In the software world, testimonials in most cases don’t give consumers or businesses a reason to buy something. But they do reinforce the decision to buy something from a particular company. The psychology behind that makes them critical, which is why you see them used so much in online marketing outside of real estate. Two examples:
What makes you different from your competition? Maybe you have more local information. Maybe you have a better platform with a cleaner interface. Maybe your site is responsive. These are all great things. But at the end of the day, they’re all largely replicable.
What’s not easily copied, though, is your people. Specifically, your agents, customers, and their experiences together.
You could take a deep dive into these experiences like Red Oak Realty has done with its home buyer stories. Or you could simply start collecting and curating some meaningful testimonials. Easy sound bites.
It’s not as hard as you may think. Start by giving your agents a handful of open-ended questions to ask every client at the end of a transaction. These could be things like:
- In your own words, how would you describe your experience with me?
- What was an obstacle or challenge that came up that I was able to help you with?
- Would you refer my services to a friend? Why or why not?
Keep it simple. No one wants to write a dissertation after just closing on a home and staring at the daunting task of moving.
You could set up these questions in SurveyMonkey or Google Forms and send via email, or use robust applications like Testimonial Tree or Real Satisfied. Either way, your agents should talk with the clients first so they understand why they’re being asked and what their answers could be used for. An unannounced email is too easy for them to ignore. Let them know how much it would mean for you and your business to share their experiences so other people like them could be helped in making a decision.
And if they’re not camera shy, get their pics while you’re at it.
Wait, is this even the broker’s domain?
Things can get hairy in the real estate value chain. Buyers and sellers for the most part work with agents, not brands. But if you view your agents as an extension of your brand, it’s meaningful to gather consumer experiences with those agents and show others exactly how it reflects your company values.
You may even use the experiences to start to build a culture around your brokerage values, and as a way to recognize your agents for service. It’s a small gesture that can go a long way toward building a brand that’s different – yours and yours only.