Black Friday is just around the corner, and you might be planning to make a big purchase this holiday season - maybe a new TV, tablet, or jet ski (If it’s the last one, I’m jealous.) When you’re about to make a big purchase, you’ll probably take the same first step as every other modern buyer - look up reviews online. When someone is thinking about purchasing or selling a home, likely the most expensive deal of their life, they’re going to do the same thing. That’s why if you aren’t actively requesting testimonials and promoting them, you could be missing a valuable marketing tool.
Why testimonials matter
Buyers are becoming more empowered to do their own research online. While a lot of your business may still come from referrals, many home buyers or sellers will search the Web instead of asking their mother/neighbor/friend for a suggested real estate agent or lender.
By collecting and marketing your testimonials, you can have a leg up on your competition when potential clients search for reviews of local agents and lenders. If they’re able to see your happy clients, they’re more inclined to reach out and get in touch with you. You’re building trust and influence, which is key for any inbound marketing strategy.
How should you ask for testimonials?
First, you have to get rid of any fear of asking for them. Testimonials will rarely appear organically. You have to seek them out. If you’re genuinely afraid of what your client has to say about you, then you better take a good look at the level of service you’re offering. If you’re quick to respond, accessible, and well-informed, then it’s likely your clients will have positive things to say about you.
What’s the worst case scenario? Your client’s reply is less than stellar, and you’ll learn something about your service that you can improve for future clients. Best case scenario? You have a new testimonial to share on your website, Facebook page, and in an e-mail campaign.
There are several different approaches to collecting real estate or lending testimonials. You can talk with a client in person and take down their testimonial in writing, or you could request it over e-mail and follow up with a phone call to discuss how you did more in depth. If you want to record video testimonials, you can use a service like Boast, or set up your own plan to interview a past client on camera. This can be hit or miss with people - some just don’t enjoy being on camera.
If a client agrees to a video testimonial, be sure to plan well in advance if you’re filming in person. It’s normal for people to want their hair a certain way or to wear a particular shirt if they’re going to be on camera. You want to give the impression that your client is talking to the camera, not to you. If it looks too much like an interview it will feel forced and unnatural (Of course they only have nice things to say, they’re right in front of their agent!)
Edit out your talking if possible, and instead include an intro slide saying who the client is, what kind of deal you worked with them on, and when. Keep your video close to a minute if possible - attention spans are short.
What questions should you ask?
There are some people that love leaving reviews and can write you a glowing testimonial without any help, but most of your clients will need some interaction and prompting to get there. Here are three questions to ask to get them talking, and to highlight specific, concrete examples of your interaction that will make you stand out:
What was your biggest fear in hiring me to _____ (sell your home, help you find a home, assist you with your loan)? Did this fear come true? If not, what happened instead?
In what area of ____ (the home buying process, the home search, the mortgage process) did I excel the most?
Would you recommend me to your family and friends? If so, what would you say?
How to market your testimonials
Once you receive testimonials, they should absolutely be displayed prominently on your website. Real estate copywriter Marte Smith said in this ActiveRain post that websites without a testimonials section have a “very strange and very noticeable hole,” that will leave visitors wondering why no one has ever left a review for you. People look for them, so make sure they’re visible.
A rotating carousel on your site’s home page is a good, compact way to display reviews if you have a couple you’d like to highlight. United Residential Mortgage has chosen a great design that puts their testimonials front and center.
If you want to include several, create a dedicated page on your site for testimonials, like this one from Trust 2 Move Real Estate in San Antonio.
What’s great about this design is that it links directly to their Google business page for clients to leave their own reviews, and lets the visitor see more if they choose. Most people won’t sit on your site and read dozens of reviews, so include a diverse handful of recent reviews to put directly on your site, then link to the rest on Google, Zillow, or Yelp.