30 July 2019

A matter of trust

Trust is a significant issue for real estate agents. Working in an industry that regularly hits the headlines as among the least trusted, agents are often faced with a perception problem. That’s why, now more than ever, it’s important to build a trustworthy online agent brand.

By IMOGEN CALLISTER

Trust is a powerful thing – and, as an agent, you need to create raving fans both offline and online to connect with property seekers. Building trust in your agent brand drives business growth and helps to shift customer perceptions. And in today’s interconnected world, the mechanisms you need to use to build that trust have changed dramatically.

Property seekers are becoming more and more adept when it comes to finding information about real estate agents. According to a recent realestate.com.au survey, 78 per cent of all sellers now research agents online before making a decision to engage their services.

Above all else, their objective in doing so is to find the most trustworthy and credible agent. This is why building trust in your online brand is essential.

As a brand and marketing specialist, I love helping agents build rapport online so they reap the rewards of having a trustworthy presence. Here are my key tips to building a brand that resonates as trustworthy.

1. Do a digital health check

Google yourself on a monthly basis. Go on, do it. Try it now. What are the top four search results that appear when you type your name into Google? Are there inconsistencies? Is the information out of date? Inconsistencies in your brand online and out-of-date information can significantly impact the way your customers see you.

All too often, I see agent profiles on property portals like realestate.com.au with out-of-date information. Your online profile isn’t a print brochure. Unlike print, with online it’s not a case of writing the copy and then never updating it again. Quite the contrary. Your online agent profiles and websites need to be revised regularly, as they’ll commonly appear among the top ranked results when your name is typed into Google.

That’s why working on the top results will work wonders and dramatically improve trust in your brand. Ensure your unique selling point, experience and negotiation skills are showcased in each instance.

2. Declutter your brand

You may be good at decluttering a home prior to sale, but are you great at decluttering your brand online?

The most common – and worst – mistake I see is agents signing up to a platform or website and then totally forgetting about it.

Do you have a LinkedIn profile? When was the last time you updated it? Like your agent profiles on property portals, your LinkedIn profile will most likely appear among the top results when you type your name into Google.

Property seekers see this as your digital resume. But if it’s out of date, not used or you have two profiles because you forgot the password for the first one, you’re damaging your brand.

Refine and declutter your online agent brand and get rid of anything you’re not using. If you want to build trust you can’t look great on one website and terrible on another. By focusing your energy on keeping things updated, you’ll always look your very best when a customer is researching you online.

3. Reviews are essential

Thanks to the internet, the concept of trust has changed because of online reviews. While you may think it’s made things more difficult and complicated, it hasn’t. Let me explain.

According to Deloitte’s Media consumer survey, online reviews are now one of the top three factors influencing consumer behaviour in Australia. In fact, 55 per cent of consumers read online reviews before making a purchasing decision.

It’s no different in real estate. Sellers want the best agent representing them, and your reviews can provide them with transparency and peace of mind.

In the ‘old days’, building trust was primarily handled by word of mouth. One happy customer would tell another, who told two more, who then told three of their friends.

Now we have online reviews. We’ve gone from word of mouth to word of mouse. Information about you is only a click or two away. This transition has created transparency for your brand. Now you know if someone is unhappy with you and you can respond to that complaint, rather than them just telling others about their poor experience with you.

And don’t worry if your reviews aren’t all five stars. Research shows that consumers don’t really believe your reviews if they’re all good, so don’t be afraid of a bad one. If you receive a bad review, respond quickly, show you care and take the issue offline.

Check each online profile, social media site or website you have. Does it have a review from a customer in the past three months? If not, update it.

4. Create raving social media fans

Video testimonials are a great way to build trust in your brand.

For almost a decade, we’ve been hearing that video marketing is the future because it’s a medium that lends itself to being engaging and it makes it easier for us to consume content in this busy, fast-paced world.

Asking your customers to tell the rest of the world how fabulous you are through this most powerful medium is a great way to build trust in your brand.

It’s not always that easy though, as many of us don’t like being filmed. So if you can’t get your customers in front of the camera lens, try getting them to share content about you or a photo of the ‘sold’ sign.

5. Use technology and data

Businesses large and small, and in all sectors, have had to undergo a digital transformation in the last 10 years to remain viable.

This transformation means that we all now consume a lot more ads. According to Forbes, the average person is exposed to around 5,000 ads every day. Therefore, it’s vital you build trust with property seekers by not spamming them with unwanted ads. Instead, use artificial intelligence and retargeting to ensure they’re seeing the ads they’ll be interested in and won’t get annoyed.

“Property seekers are becoming more and more adept when it comes to finding information about real estate agents. According to a recent realestate.com.au survey, 78 per cent of all sellers now research agents online before making a decision to engage their services.”

IMOGEN CALLISTER is a Branding Specialist at realestate.com.au

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