When it comes to brand, reputation is everything. Today’s tech-savvy consumers have the power to look up information whenever they want, wherever they want, and that means how you advertise and manage your brand image is paramount to running a successful business. When it comes to the multifamily industry, this is especially true.
So what’s the secret to building an online reputation that will help you generate more leads? Reviews, reviews, reviews.
Here’s a stat: In a 2016 study by J Turner Research, 83% of respondents reported using online ratings and reviews when searching for an apartment.1 That’s a huge percentage. Whether positive or negative, reviews serve as a first impression of your community and they can leave prospective renters with either a bad taste in their mouths, or with a desire to come back for seconds.
If you’re just starting out it can be tough to build your reputation. But by collecting reviews, you can strengthen your online presence and start generating more leads in no time. Collecting reviews also improves your SEO rankings which, over time, drives more traffic to your business.
How do reviews help you gain more web traffic? Let us count the ways.
Your first task should be to gather as many reviews as possible from satisfied residents, past and present. You will have a better chance of edging out the competition if you have a higher number of reviews. According to a consumer review survey by BrightLocal, the average consumer wants businesses to have 34 reviews before they will trust the accuracy of their star ratings.2
To give you an example, let’s say a renter uses Yelp and finds two properties of interest. One has 65 reviews and ratings while the other only has 20. Based on the total number of reviews, the prospect will likely go with the property that has more reviews because they feel the higher number is more trustworthy. This means that businesses listed in similar categories on review sites tend to rank higher in search results than those lacking sufficient reviews and ratings.
You’ve heard it before: quality over quantity. But is it really true? When gathering more reviews, remember that balance is key. Focus on quality and quantity. Just because a community has 100 three-star reviews doesn’t guarantee that they’ll beat out a community with 50 five-star reviews. When surveying residents for their opinions, it’s important to focus on increasing the number of positive reviews if you want to improve where you appear in search results.
Keep in mind that when actively pursuing reviews, authenticity is important to renters. There’s no way to make everyone happy. So if your property has 200 reviews and all of them are perfect fives, renters may interpret the lack of negative reviews as untrustworthy and inauthentic. Don’t shy away from negative reviews. Consider them an opportunity to visibly address concerns and demonstrate your commitment to resident satisfaction. By managing issues proactively, you can generate more positive reviews down the line and, in turn, help your search rankings.
Widen the scope of where prospects can find reviews on your community. If your competitor has reviews across Facebook, Instagram, Yelp, and Foursquare while your property only leverages Facebook, you’ll want to focus on expanding your digital presence to drive better search results.
Beyond more reviews and positive ratings, search algorithms consider all of the different places where reviews are found. By appearing in several different platforms and social media sites, search algorithms will recognize your business as having a larger digital footprint and that bolsters your SEO performance, giving your community more clout.
There you have it. By collecting the right mixture of reviews and diversifying your review platforms, prospects are more likely to find your communities online (and like what they see). And that helps you generate more leads. By establishing your reputation as a trustworthy and pleasant community to live, you’ll see fewer vacancies and more interest. And that’s a formula for success.
Happy collecting. Be sure to check out How to Protect Your Strong Reputation for ways to stay on top of your hard-earned brand image, or see our blog post on reputation management for additional tips that will help you market your business online.