The Importance of Social Proof: Reviews and Testimonials

Online ratings, reviews, and testimonials—known collectively as social proof—are some of the most important tools in a small business owner’s arsenal. After all, most of us turn to the internet for guidance before trying a new restaurant, seeing a movie, or buying a product. The same is true for enlisting the services of a business. Reviews and testimonials make an emotional appeal to consumers, while providing first-hand insight into a business’s ability to deliver. Consider a few pieces of rationale below to understand the value of social proof and why its inclusion on your website can make all the difference when fielding new business.

  • Social Proof Bolsters Your Identity - For those who have come across your business online but don’t know you, reviews and testimonials act as a firsthand account of who you are as a service provider. Because reviews and testimonials are cited to specific people, sometimes with their e-mails or social media handles attached, there’s a personal component at play, as well. This allows potential consumers to buy into the positive message of your reviews and testimonials, knowing that it came from a past consumer who was once in their shoes. Potential consumers will consider your business through the reviewer’s experience. That’s one reason why positive reviews and testimonials can be so powerful.
  • Social Proof Separates You from the Competition - Let’s say you’re a real estate agent, operating in an area with dozens of other professionals. While your qualifications and area specialties may be the same, you can set yourself apart by highlighting personal reviews and testimonials that speak to your character, personality, and working style. Imagine you are faced with two agents with near identical experience and credentials, but only one has glowing testimonials recounting positive experiences and lasting connections made with clients. Wouldn’t you be more inclined to work with the agent who has a proven track record of success with his or her clientele?

Now that the importance of social proof has been made clear, how do you go about collecting reviews and testimonials from former clients?

For starters, remember that reviews and testimonials don’t have to be lengthy or long-winded. A straightforward sentence or two about a positive personal experience with your business can go a long way. At the close of a transaction, consider providing a comment card with room for clients to write a few reflections. You can also touch base via e-mail and ask politely for a review of their experience working with you. If you have regular and repeat clientele, these are excellent candidate for reviews and referrals, as they’ll know your business well and will likely be happy to contribute their perspective. If you’re unsure about asking for reviews and testimonials, you could always incentivize this process in a small way. For instance, you may offer a slight discount in exchange for feedback you could later use online.

Whichever way you gather social proof of your business’s positive performance, there’s no question that public reviews and testimonials are invaluable in drawing new clientele. If you want to stand out and inspire interest, there’s no better way than to have past clients vouch for your work.

Brandon Doyle is a Realtor at Doyle Real Estate Team — Re/Max Results in Minneapolis and co-author of Mindset, Methods & Metrics – Winning as a Modern Real Estate Agent. He continues to be recognized as one of the industries leading tech gurus. In 2014 he was nominated for Inaman Innovative Realtor of the Year and has been acknowledged for his use of aerial photography and videos tours, along with conducting the world's first virtual broker open house using VR goggles. Brandon has a Bachelor’s of Science in Real Estate from St. Cloud State University and is pursuing his Masters of Science in Real Estate at the University of St. Thomas.

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