You know all that stuff you want potential clients to know about you? How easy you are to work with, how experienced and knowledgeable you are and how you saved a particular transaction?

You can, as many agents do, create a space on your website to list all of that. But most of these pieces come off as far too salesy and way too much like what every other agent in town says about themselves.

And, it’s not just real estate agent marketing that creates skepticism in consumers – today, any claims by any company that aren’t backed up by consumer reviews are treated with suspicion.

If you aren’t collecting agent reviews – aka testimonials — from your clients, you should start

More than 85 percent of consumers check a local business’ reviews online, according to the Local Consumer Review Survey 2018 from BrightLocal.com a firm that offers reputation management services, among others.

And, 27 percent of these consumers looked for a business review online daily, the study claims.

Sadly, more than half of those in the ideal real estate demographic (ages 35 to 54) are more likely to read reviews for restaurants and cafés than real estate agents.

But that doesn’t mean they don’t check real estate agent reviews, because they do.

It’s “social proof” and all agents need it

“ … we determine what is correct by finding out what other people think is correct,” according to psychologist Robert Cialdini, who coined the phrase “social proof” in his 2009 book, Influence: Science and Practice.

It’s a bit hard to admit that we’re basically sheep, looking to others to find out what is correct, what is “best.” But that’s exactly what we do, especially when we’re feeling uncertain.

“Uncertainty is the fuel that activates and feeds the mechanisms of social proof. When faced with an unfamiliar situation, an unsure individual would feel the need to refer to other people for guidance,” claims an unnamed writer at PsychologyNotesHQ.com.

In real estate, social proof offers proof of your credibility, removes that uncertainty (thereby instilling trust) and helps consumers get to know you.

How to choose which testimonials to use in your marketing

Believe it or not, not all reviews that seem “good” are actually good for your marketing efforts. Thankfully, surveys and studies show us which ones to trash and which to use.

Regardless of how amazing a review is, don’t use it if any of the following apply:

  • The review is older than three months. Consumers find these reviews irrelevant.
  • Reviews that are unsigned or use initials. Zillow or Yelp usernames instead of real names destroys the value of a review. Consumers think they are “fake.” Ask your clients to use their first and last name when they leave a review.

According to the Bright Local survey, consumers place the most value on the number of stars in a rating and then, in order of importance to them:

  • Quantity of reviews
  • Recency
  • Length/detail
  • Sentiment of the review
  • Business response or non/response

How to use your real estate agent reviews

Naturally you should have a section of your website devoted to your testimonials, but don’t stop there.

Choose one line from one of your favorite reviews. Ensure it encapsulates exactly why a real estate consumer should choose you above all other agents in your market.

It’s tempting to choose the most flattering-to-your-ego testimonial, but don’t do it. A REALTOR® Magazine survey of real estate consumers finds that they are “strongly critical of agents who posted testimonials that appeared overly self-serving.”

Instead, choose one that highlights your success in overcoming a typical real estate consumer pain point.

A testimonial that mentioned how the agent sold the home “in 19 days for asking price” was particularly attractive to the panelists in the aforementioned survey.

One panelist said that the days on market mention gave the testimonia credibility, “considering many online agent reviews are less detailed and sound automated.”

Consider this when choosing that one line from a testimonial. If you’re having trouble choosing, ask a non-real estate related friend or family member to read your testimonials and pick out one sentence that would make them want to call you.

Then, use that one-line quote above the fold on your website, in your email signature and wherever else you can plaster it.

Real estate reviews allow consumers to get an idea of what you’re like to work with, how well you negotiate, market and overall perform your job.

They can also help boost your credibility and instill trust.

Whether it’s where to eat dinner on Friday night, which movie to watch or which real estate agent to choose, social proof, in the form of reviews, is one of the most powerful marketing tools around.