Personal relationships will always be key in the title industry, but your online reputation is also critical for attracting clients. This is especially true if your title company focuses on a certain locale. According to a Google Mobile Movement Study, about 88% of Google searches on mobile devices are for local services. This means that potential clients who are looking for information on local title services can be persuaded by online reviews.
So, what exactly is an online review? It’s a digital rating of a business created by a consumer that appears on a website. Reviews can appear on the company’s own website (for example, Amazon built reviews directly into its website) however, a third-party review aggregator service like Google Business Profile (formally Google My Business) is one of the most common ways reviews can surface for a business when a client is doing an online search.
Below are 3 reasons why online reviews matter, and how you can leverage them to grow your title insurance business, enhance the client experience, and even improve your operations.
1) Grow your business via digital word-of-mouth
In the days before the internet, if you had a positive—or negative—experience with a business, you would tell a friend or two and they might tell a couple of their friends. Nowadays, your online review for a business can be seen by thousands. These ratings are an important factor in a homebuyer, lender, or real estate agent’s decision on whether to work with you. The latest research indicates:
• 90% of consumers read online reviews
• 88% trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
• 31% are likely to spend more on businesses with “excellent” reviews
• 72% say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more
• 94% of online shoppers say that they will avoid a business with negative reviews
Knowing that clients rely on reviews to inform decisions is helpful, but how does that equate to improving a title company’s bottom line?
My digital marketing agency works with Allied Title & Escrow which has over 70 five-star reviews on Google. Cultivating client reviews helped them make connections with real estate agents and other sources of business who looked them up online. The reviews also boosted their placement in search engine results, which increased their visibility and helped expand their online presence.
How to take action
Set up a Google Business Profile (GBP) or a listing on your preferred review website. Most review sites are free and provide an easy way to showcase your business. In some instances, you may need to “claim” your business because some review sites allow anyone to create a listing, even if they don’t own the business. Claiming the business allows you to edit important details (such as locations and contact information) and respond to reviews.
The simplest way to start receiving client reviews is to ask for them. By integrating this ask into your process, you can start to gather reviews at scale. Tools like Qualia Connect allow you to automate the review collection process by triggering customized emails to be sent to a client after every closing. These emails can include a note to the client thanking them for choosing your title company and inviting them to submit a review on Google or another review site.
2) Gain insights on ways to improve your business
Client reviews are not only an effective way to earn social proof, but they also present a powerful way to gather feedback and improve your business. Celebrate the good, but also be sure to address the bad. When a client provides you with a less-than-stellar review, consider it as an opportunity to listen carefully and improve your business accordingly. Once you address or resolve the issue, your client may feel compelled to update their review with a more positive sentiment.
It’s also important to remember that a bad review doesn’t need to be a lost cause. It can be an opportunity for your business to get an honest look at what’s working and what isn’t to improve. For example, if you notice that clients often leave reviews about slow processing times or inefficient communication, then you have the opportunity to adjust your sails and make improvements to your workflow with the use of more streamlined closing software and technology tools.
How to take action
Search for yourself and your company name online using Google or another search engine. Some title companies may have set up a GBP listing or other review site listing years ago but haven’t monitored it closely. There is a good chance that there are reviews you haven’t seen. Be sure to thank happy clients by replying directly to their review.
If there are negative comments, do your best to understand the customer’s perspective and offer to make things right. As mentioned earlier, a negative review can be an excellent opportunity to address issues and turn a negative reviewer into an advocate for your business. When responding to negative reviews, don’t lose your cool, as this can reflect poorly on your overall customer experience.
3) Increase your online visibility
One of the not-so-obvious benefits of having online reviews is their impact on how search engines rank your business in their search engine result pages (SERPs). A search engine’s goal is to provide its customers (people searching online) with the best possible experiences and SERPs. To that end, it sees businesses with a significant number of four and five-star reviews as “good” and rewards them accordingly by showing those businesses higher up on the search results page. Moz, a leading search engine marketing resource provides a brief guide that outlines important search engine ranking factors including the importance of reviews.
What this means is that positive customer reviews are an increasingly important factor in search engine optimization (SEO) – the process of improving how high up your website shows in the search engine rankings. All things being equal in terms of a website’s content, Google and other search engines will likely show a title company with a higher quantity and quality of reviews (4 and 5 stars) higher up than a competitor without many reviews.
How to take action
Evaluate your online presence or ask a digital marketing agency to provide an audit of your search engine visibility. Chances are you are not fully taking advantage of online reviews and their ability to help you show higher in online searches or you’re missing opportunities to respond to reviewers and turn negative sentiments around.
It’s important to note that online reviews are not the only factor when it comes to your SEO rankings. In addition to online reviews, there are many factors that can affect how prominent your business appears on search engines. For example, the content of your website and how well it indexes with what your target audience searches for, can be a major factor in how well your business ranks on search engines.
How to get reviews for your title company
We’ve discussed some of the benefits of online reviews, from growing your business to improving your title company operations. But how do we go about actually getting reviews? Here are a few tips.
- Always provide exceptional client service. This should go without saying, but it’s worth emphasizing. If you treat your clients well, they will advocate for you.
- Ask clients to leave reviews. Yes, it’s that simple. It is amazing what you will get if you just ask.
- Make the ‘ask’ part of your closing process. As noted above, title companies can use closing tools like Qualia Connect to make requests for reviews part of the closing workflow every time. If you prefer to use a more manual approach, ask your processor to add “request review” to their closing checklist as a final step.
- Start small. Building up your online reviews won’t happen overnight. Be sure to ask for reviews moving forward, but also consider reaching out to recent clients, while the closing experience is still fresh in their minds.
Online reviews play an increasingly vital role in how your clients research, evaluate, and partner with your title company. Understanding their feedback can also help you to improve your operations to better serve your clients. By providing your customers with a means to sing your praises online, you’ll be on your way to increasing your online, growing your business, and improving the closing experience.