Blog content, social media posts, and other online real estate marketing ideas get visitors to your website. What really drives buyers and sellers to work with an agent, though, are real estate testimonials. Hearing past clients relay their satisfaction with your work via real estate testimonials gives those visiting your site and researching agents a clear indication of what to expect from your business. But how exactly do you secure client feedback to use on your real estate website, across your social media accounts, and in your email marketing? It’s all about using the right techniques and tools to garner positive evaluations.
Questions to Ask Clients for Real Estate Testimonials
Some clients may decide to write online real estate reviews or provide testimonials without even asking. More often than not, however, you have to reach out to buyers and sellers you worked with to get their feedback about your business. Once you’ve identified customers who wouldn’t mind taking the time to comment on your work, ask them specific questions about their experiences working with you, like these:
“What led to your decision to buy or sell your home?”
Context is paramount for effective real estate testimonials. Ask your clients what drove their decision to put their home on the market or find a new residence. You may already know their answer — they needed to find a bigger home for their growing family, they wanted to downsize for retirement, they wanted to get out of their starter home, etc. — but having your clients explain the specifics of their personal situations and motivations can help paint a clear picture for prospective buyers and sellers perusing your website.
“Why did you hire me to represent your home sale/purchase?”
Prospective clients want to know what your actual clients thought about you: specifically, your background in real estate, qualifications, personality, and niche sales specialty (if you have one). Hearing about your positive attributes, professionalism, character, and effectiveness on the job from several clients can also greatly influence your real estate website visitors’ decision-making. No need for them to drone on and on in a testimonial — just include enough positive client feedback to help convince leads to sign up with you.
“What did I do best to help your home sale or search?”
In other words, what did your clients most enjoy or appreciate about working with you? What one thing made them say, “Wow, I made the right decision hiring him/her”? It could be something big, like the fact that you helped them get a higher sale price for their home, or something more minute, like going the extra mile with staging their property. Whatever it is your clients enjoyed, make it a focal point of their testimonials.
“What could I have done better to help you buy or sell?”
Useful information from past clients may not always be positive information. After all, the only way to better your sales and marketing tactics and improve your bottom line is to consider all feedback — including and especially criticism. Determining where you can improve your business may not be something you’ll share in your testimonials, but securing this type of feedback post-deal from clients can help you figure out how to become a successful real estate agent.
“Would you ultimately recommend my business to others?”
At the end of the day, what good are testimonials for real estate agents if they don’t recommend (either overtly or subtly) that other buyers and sellers hire them? Be straightforward with clients and ask point-blank if they would suggest your business to friends, family, and colleagues. Assuming you had a good working relationship with clients you reach out to, chances are good they’ll be willing to recommend you, but getting them to detail exactly why they would is important. Every buyer and seller has different criteria for what they look for in agents, so securing a broad array of reasons regarding what made you such a great agent can help broaden your appeal to your site visitors.
Tools to Help Get Real Estate Testimonials
Realize that some clients won’t want to take the time to write several hundred words about your business. Instead, consider using certain apps, tools, and services that allow you to secure feedback from former clients without inconveniencing them.
One such customer feedback service is Boast, a video testimonial collection resource. Simply embed the Boast feedback form to your website and send the link to the page featuring the form to your clients. They can then record short videos at their own leisure (via desktop or mobile) that detail what made you so great to work with. Once they’ve submitted their feedback, you can share their thoughts anywhere on your site (more on that below). Having written content to accompany these videos is optimal, but not a necessity. Ideally, just provide a short description of who’s featured in the video and what kind of deal you helped the person in question close.
If you’re keen on getting written reviews, turn to a tool like Typeform, which allows you to send out customized surveys to your clients. Create unique templates for your surveys that look beautiful and provide a simple user experience for clients. Ask one question or 100 (though we honestly don’t recommend that many) and add a thank you page at the end to show customer appreciation. You can even add a call to action of sorts at the end of each survey that link to certain pages on your site (perhaps your blog?).
As noted, you might as well try to get more than just accolades from past clients when reaching out to them. With SurveyMonkey, you can create surveys that help secure feedback from buyers and sellers you worked with, but you can also secure feedback from your agents (if you run a brokerage), poll clients and leads on their home search, and request sales and marketing preferences from current clients. The great thing about SurveyMonkey is the ability to add custom logos and branding to your surveys and integrate the tool with other software like MailChimp.
How to Write Real Estate Testimonials
Unless you have clients who offer to write glowing, 1,000-word essays on why you were the best real estate agent of all time, you will have to package their testimonials. This doesn’t mean you get to editorialize and add in your own commentary. Rather, it simply means you’re in charge of what information to include (and exclude) in the final testimonials and how you structure them.
Include positive feedback in testimonials … but know when to stop.
The whole point of real estate agent testimonials is to use compliments to advance your business’s reputation, earn more leads, and close more deals, but it’s ideal to remember a few things when incorporating this feedback. A major item to take into account is your website visitors’ attention spans. Most people didn’t come to your site solely to read testimonials — and even if they did, it’s likely they don’t want to spend more than 30 seconds glossing over them before heading back to your listings. Make each testimonial comprehensive enough to aptly promote your business but short enough for visitors to digest quickly.
Try different formats and styles.
Play around with different content types to create testimonials that are succinct and accessible. For instance, try a Q&A format to show questions your clients answered or a bullet point structure to simply summarize their thoughts about working with you.
Video offers a powerful non-written structure to use for your testimonials. Whether you use a service like Boast or set up your own plan to film client feedback, real estate video testimonials can prove very effective in swaying leads’ decision-making.
Take this video testimonial from California-based luxury property specialist Tracy McLoughlin of Pacific Union International Christie’s Great Estates, for instance. She actually includes multiple clients in one 3-minute video, making it simple for buyers and sellers to hear multiple views about her business:
Add multimedia elements to make testimonials more compelling.
Images and videos that accompany a real estate testimonial can help leads put faces and voices to names: yours and those of your clients. Not every client will be okay with having their photos up on your real estate website or being included in a video, so not every testimonial will be able to feature multimedia components. Having said that, do everything you can to get visuals of your clients and their homes (the ones they either bought or sold).
Places to Publish Real Estate Testimonials
You’ve rounded up a bunch of feedback from happy customers and now need a place to put them. You’ve got many options to share the wonderful words your clients have provided about your business — starting with your website.
Dedicate an entire page on your real estate website to testimonials.
Writing blog posts featuring testimonials is one way to share them, but a better idea is to create a unique landing page dedicated entirely to exhibiting testimonials. With blog posts, your audience would have to scour through your pages of content to find commentary about your business. A dedicated page, however, allows you to create a link in your site’s navigation bar that leads visitors to every single piece of feedback you’ve published.
This real estate testimonials example page from Fidelity Real Estate St. George Associate Broker Odete Cesar, a Placester customer, is well put together. Notice the photos of her clients’ new homes, as well as the search and lead capture forms — making it simple for visitors to also check out her listings and contact Cesar:
There are countless other real estate testimonials samples you can get inspiration from. For instance, if you work at a big brokerage, ask your colleagues what they do to create appealing testimonials. You may even get new testimonial promotion ideas from them.
Schedule social media posts featuring your testimonials.
In addition to a page exclusively featuring real estate client testimonials, share them on your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other social media accounts. Use a marketing automation tool to schedule tweets, status updates, and other posts with links to your testimonials page or specific testimonials.
Create images featuring your clients and some information about what your relationship is with them to serve as context (e.g. “The Johnsons: Helped Them Purchase Their Dream Home”). Mix these types of social media posts in your schedule along with your blog posts and listing updates.
You can also leverage your social media presence by asking satisfied clients to review your services on your Facebook and Google+ pages as well. Countless search engine optimization (SEO) experts believe online reviews play an increasingly more pertinent role in SEO. So on top of gaining social proof with reviews and testimonials, your website and social media accounts also get favored in search results.
Incorporate your real estate testimonials into your email marketing.
A more bottom-of-the-funnel real estate marketing tactic to employ with your testimonials is to develop an email campaign that regularly highlights one or more of your former clients. For instance, set up a biweekly promotional email that includes a snippet of copy from a real estate client testimonial, a photo of happy clients with their purchased or sold home, and a call to action at the end that leads back to your testimonials page on your site.
Check out the Insider’s Guide to Online Reviews for Real Estate infographic to learn how to get customer reviews and their importance to your business.
Do you use real estate testimonials on your website? How do you incorporate them in your marketing? Share your strategy with us below.
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Published on January 30, 2015
Written by Matthew Bushery
I'm the Sr. Content Creator for Placester, where I educate real estate professionals about modern marketing and, in turn, help agents and brokers make the most of their online presence, earn more traffic, and generate more leads and business.
Why is that? One reason is that as people gain expertise, feedback serves a different purpose. When people are just beginning a venture, they may not have much confidence, and they need encouragement. But experts’ commitment “is more secure than novices and their focus is on their progress,” the paper’s authors said. Even labeling feedback as either negative or positive isn’t helpful, said Tim Harford, author of “Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure.” He noted that his karate teacher told him specific things to do, like bending his toes backward or rotating his hips. “It’s not useful to say, ‘That’s really good or that’s really bad,’ ” Mr. Harford said. “We need to separate the emotional side from the technical points.”
That, of course, is much easier said than done, which is why most of us have such trouble giving or getting critiques.
We don’t want to be the bad guy. But Laura Ching, now chief design officer for Shutterfly Inc., found that she wasn’t helping anyone when she tried to be, as she said, a people pleaser.
Early in her career, when she worked at Walmart, she had to tell an employee that she wasn’t doing a good job. But instead of spending 90 percent of the time telling her what she needed to do better and 10 percent encouraging her, “I probably did 50-50,” Ms. Ching said. “And she heard only the positive. So when the annual review time came, and she got, ‘does not meet expectations,’ there was such a disconnect.”
Mr. Harford knows the problem well. He calls it the “praise sandwich,” where we stuff the bad stuff between two slices of compliments. But people often hear only the praise.
“We say, ‘That was a great piece of work, there was just a small problem,’ ” Mr. Harford said. “What we tend to hear is, ‘That was a great piece of work.’ ”
The better way, Ms. Ching said, is to be straightforward.
Research bears that out. In a class she teaches, Ayelet Fishbach, a professor of behavioral science and marketing at the University of Chicago and co-author of the paper “Tell Me What I Did Wrong,” conducts a simulation where half the class gives one-on-one feedback to the other half. Although the feedback givers were supposed to indicate that performance was unsatisfactory, that improvement was needed and to offer ways to do better, in surveys filled out later, the half getting the feedback “thinks they’re doing great,” she said.
While many of us tend to hear what we want to hear, Professor Fishbach says she thinks the problem lies more with those providing the feedback. “The negative feedback is often buried and not very specific,” she said.
Professor Fishbach also said people giving feedback often didn’t give enough information, offered it too late or told subordinates what would happen if they did something wrong rather than what they were actually doing wrong. Employees need to know in detail what they should do to get promoted, for instance. If you tell them simply that they’re not going to get promoted, she said, “That’s not feedback — it’s already an outcome.”
Some companies have developed their own terminology for feedback. Peter Sims, author of “Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge From Small Discoveries,” said the film company Pixar used an idea it called “plussing.” The point, he said, is to “build and improve on ideas without using judgmental language.”
Here’s an example he offers in his book. An animator working on “Toy Story 3” shares her rough sketches and ideas with the director. “Instead of criticizing the sketch or saying ‘no,’ the director will build on the starting point by saying something like, ‘I like Woody’s eyes, and what if his eyes rolled left?”
Using words like “and” or “what if,” rather than “but” is a way to offer suggestions and allow creative juices to flow without fear, Mr. Sims said.
Brain scans of people show that judgmental language — or even being told you have to do things in a certain way — lead to self-censoring, Mr. Sims told me. Such scans show that when a musician is playing scales, for example, “the part of the brain responsible for judging lights up,” he said. “That doesn’t happen when playing jazz improvisation.”
Plussing is particularly helpful in the early stages, when there are lots of ways a character can progress, he said, but as ideas become more developed, it gets tougher.
“Animators at Pixar freely describe how painful it can be to have directors plussing their ideas until the smallest details, say a sliver of hair, seems just perfect,” he writes in his book. “But plussing allows for both pointed critique and positive feedback simultaneously, so that even such persistent criticism is not deflating.”
That’s the trick then: making negative feedback precise and timely enough so that it’s helpful but neutral enough so that it’s not perceived as harshly critical. That’s particularly difficult in a culture like ours, where anything short of effusive praise can be viewed as an affront.
But, again, if we look at feedback as an opportunity to make someone work better rather than feel better, we’re more likely to do it successfully. As Professor Fishbach said, “We’re probably unaware that people would like to know how to improve, and they deserve to know it. It’s their right.”Continue reading the main story