Local business reviews are becoming increasingly important for reputation management, with recent research showing 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business and 72% say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more.
Reviews are very powerful as they can influence buying decisions and this is reflected in the enormous push by Google, Facebook and Trip Advisor to boost local business reviews. Google has experienced exponential growth in local business reviews submitted to it since inception. From 2015 to 2016, the number of reviews grew by a massive 278% thanks to Google’s sheer scale, visibility and influence as the no1 search engine. Every time someone searches for a local business, they’re offered the option to leave a review.
Further research shows that 92% of consumers will use a business if it has a four-star rating and 72% will only take action after reading a positive review. Reliability (27%), expertise (21%) and professionalism (18%) are the most important reputation traits for a local business.
According to PropertyHeads.com, online reviews present agents with one of the most powerful marketing channels to help drive instructions.
Ben Davis, CEO comments: “Many of the larger agents recognise the power of online reviews, with the likes of Purplebricks, aggressively pursuing customer reviews, as star ratings give agents ‘social proof’. This helps vendors to refine their research and make quicker decisions, on which agent they will use.
Rightmove also provides testimonials, but they are hidden away in agent microsites and it's questionable how many users know of their existence. They are not available to agents on the basic package and they differ from reviews because they are supplied by the agent and therefore are arguably less trusted.
All agents, large and small, should be pushing for more reviews directly from their vendors and buyers, as consumers are increasingly searching for and reading reviews on a regular basis. Reviews give agents a great opportunity to enhance their reputation online and convince potential vendors to get in touch.
Good reviews can also be used across all marketing channels including press, online and outdoor advertising, across social media and on agent’s websites. They can be very powerful and if successfully incorporated into a Google AdWords campaign, they can help agents to increase click-through rates and boost instructions.
However, some agents do struggle to get genuine reviews written. Asking outright can feel like asking a favour and risks souring an otherwise, good relationship and outcome. Agents may be tempted to ask vendors for reviews at a particularly favourable part of the process e.g. once an offer is accepted rather than at completion, or write their own reviews. Both of these are bad ideas. It always better to send a friendly message to the client via social media - thank you for your business, please let us know how we did, when they respond favourably, ask them if they would mind you sharing their comments.
PropertyHeads.com reviews are attributed to users, so compared with anonymous reviews online, are more accurate because of the accountability. They allow the agent to identify the reviewer and thus provide a more meaningful response. As PropertyHeads.com is a social network, a positive agent review will automatically be presented to the contacts of that reviewer, giving agents a great way to win new business, by word-of-mouth. For us, it's only word of mouth if you know who's mouth it's come from.”