#137 Mail-Right Show With Special Guest Doren Aldana The Testimonial Expert
Why Are Testimonials So Important in Growing Your Real Estate Business?
Doren Contributing author for the following publications: to The Mortgage Journal, MBABC Magazine, AMBA Magazine, CMP Magazine, Mortgage Professional America and many other mortgage industry publications.
Doren has founded several highly acclaimed training programs, including the Database Marketing Acceleration Formula, Realtor Marketing Acceleration Formula, and the 7-Figure Lender Academy plus he is the founder of the MyTestimonialEngine.
Here’s a Full Transcript of Our Interview With Doren Aldana
Jonathan: Welcome back folks to the Mail-Right Real Estate show. This is episode 137. My co-host Thomas Nelson can’t be with us so I’ve been allowed full access to the toy shop. So whatever happens, it’s got nothing to do with Thomas. But, no, we’ve got a great guest. We’ve got, I’m going to butcher his name, unfortunately. I’ve got Doren Aldana Obviously, I’ve butchered that completely Doren.
Doren: Pretty close.
Jonathan: Not bad for me. Would you like to introduce yourself?
Doren: Doren Aldana.
Jonathan: All right. Would you like to introduce yourself quickly to the audience?
Doren: Yeah, certainly. First off, thanks for having me. I’m looking forward to this. This is going to be fun. So I’m a husband. I’m a father of four. So I’m a certified, bonified and qualified sucker for punishment. As soon as you hear that, you know that to be true. I’m also a serial entrepreneur. So I’ve got a couple different businesses and I love the game of entrepreneurship and taking ideas and turning them into solutions that produce impact and value for clients and profit for myself and my team. I live in beautiful Canada, British Columbia, a place called Kamloops.
Most probably would not know where the heck that is because it’s a relatively small town just East of Vancouver in the Western part of Canada in British Columbia. And Spring is on the precipice right now. The snow is melting. So I’m excited about a fresh new season. But, yeah. That’s a little bit about me and I’m looking forward to talking with you, Jonathan, about the game of building trust through the power of reviews and testimonials.
Jonathan: Yes. That’s great and a very relevant discussion for our audience which are Real Estate professionals of all types and sizes. So, let’s start why testimonials, in general, are important and powerful. Would you like to start off why that is?
Doren: Sure. And I think, I don’t need to belabor this point Jonathan much because we all intuitively know how powerful reviews are because virtually every week, perhaps on a daily basis, we’re leaning on reviews in some form or fashion, whether it be looking for a new restaurant in an area that you’re normally not patronizing. You onto Yelp, you go on to Google and you’ll see what other people are saying about these restaurants before you partake because we all know that pioneers get arrows in their backs. We don’t want to be one of them. We don’t want to be the guinea pig who gets poisoned. So we try to mitigate risk. And more and more as people start to get on the smartphone bandwagon as the Millenials and the Gen X, Gen Y, Gen Zs, who knows what they’re called nowadays, are becoming more and more tech savvy, Internet savvy and smartphone savvy, this leaning on reviews is becoming inextricably linked with what it means to navigate through life.
Whether it be buying something on Amazon and trying to avoid a lemon by looking at the review, whether it be looking at reviews on iTunes before we buy a song or an album, whether it be looking at reviews before we book a vacation package or book a room in a hotel or a resort, everywhere we go we’re looking at reviews. And studies show that consumers trust online reviews, 79 percent of consumers, rather, trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation from a friend or family member. So that’s almost 8 out of 10 people, Jonathan, who deem what your customers, your clients, your followers say about you, as being just as legit, just as powerful in their decision-making process as a personal recommendation from a friend or family member. And that’s precisely why we want to strategically put this on the front burner of priorities and use this to our advantage because if we don’t, our competitors are going to leave us in the dust.
Jonathan: Oh, that’s greatly put, actually, Doren. I’ve had a few Agents say to me though that, when is it a good time to actually ask for a testimonial when you’ve worked with a client in the process of selling or buying a house?
Doren: That’s a great question, Jonathan. And frankly, it’s kind of like going to the gym. There’s never a bad time to exercise unless you’re sick. But provided, of course, you’re in good working form, there’s never a bad time to take care of your body, to eat healthy, to exercise. Same thing here. There’s never a bad time, per se, to ask for a review. But the real question is, when’s the best time? And the best time is during the sweet spot called the MMS, the moment of maximum satisfaction. So that’s at the point where they’re most elated, most jacked and juiced about what you’ve done for them.
So, in the Real Estate game, it’s usually after closing. In some cases, it might be after approval. In the Mortgage space, after approval might be a good time. But usually, it’s after closing, after the deal’s done, after the transaction is officially complete. If I was in the massage game, giving people massages, it would be after they’re in that afterglow bliss experience. Now their body is jelly and jello and they’re just feeling this blissful joy from working out all those kinks. The point I’m making is you’ve got to ask when they’re most jacked and juiced about what you did for them. So that’s the best time to ask.
Jonathan: That makes sense. Got any kind of tips? I also get a lot of Agents, they understand Google. But one area that causes a lot of Agents frustration is Yelp and how it works. Can you give some idea about how Yelp works and how you should approach getting testimonials specifically on Yelp?
Doren: Yeah. Well, Yelp is a difficult animal. For anyone who’s been in the game for any period of time, you’ve found that to be true. They’re the most difficult review site bar none by a long shot. They screen reviews very very diligently if that’s the nice way of saying it. If you get 10 people giving you a review, you might get one or two to stick. So they are the bane of most local businesses existence when it comes to trying to get positive reviews to stick. But the same principle really applies regardless of whether you’re trying to get reviews on Yelp, Google, Facebook, Yellow Pages etcetera.
And that is, you need really a system for getting the review. So we need a system so we’re not relying on our own whim, motivation or memory because if it’s reliant on us remembering to ask, we don’t have a real business, we have a glorified job. We’re on the time for money treadmill and if we don’t show up to work, everything falls apart. Ideally, you guys are in business because you want freedom, you want lifestyle, you want prosperity and you can’t have that if everything’s just locked up in your head and everything’s contingent upon you. Then you have a you-based business as opposed to a systems-based business. And a you-based business enslaves you to the office ball and chain. A systems-based business sets you free. So I’m assuming you guys who are listening to this podcast, you’re looking for ways to hack the code on creating more freedom and creating a better lifestyle and getting better marketing and having it all be system-based and this is certainly no exception. You need a system. Otherwise, it’s just going to fall off the wagon the moment you don’t feel like it and that’s not a real business.
Jonathan: Oh, that’s great. So when it comes to Yelp, have you got any kind of tips about or is it just a volume game and it’s just that Yelp dismisses a higher percentage of testimonials that come through their system or is there any kind of tricks that can increase the percentage that is accepted by Yelp?
Doren: Yeah. First time Yelpers, generally their reviews will not stick. So keep that in mind. So, generally speaking, I like to get the review first. Make sure it’s positive first and then I’ll tag them as a positive reviewer and then I’ll follow-up and say, “Hey. Thank you so much for the review. If you’ve already given reviews on Yelp before, if you’d be so kind as to give me a Yelp review. That’d be much appreciated”. Now, if you get that review submitted through an online website, for example, there are software out there. I own one called the Testimonial Engine. We’ll be talking about it today. There’s lots of different software out there for automating the whole process of getting and publishing rave reviews for your business.
Well, if you have the Ask for the Yelp review coming from a URL and it ends up being the same URL, in SEO terms they call it a referral URL. Well, Yelp is watching to see if it’s the same referral URL for multiple Yelp reviews for your business. And if they see a pattern, they’re going to basically say, “These are all fake reviews”, and they’re going to block them all. So, ideally, you want to get the review first and we’ll talk about the most efficient and effective way to do that in a moment. You want to get the review first. Once you know it’s positive, you want to tag them in your CRM as a positive reviewer and then send them a follow-up email and perhaps even a phone call but certainly an email or a text asking them now if they’ve ever given you a Yelp review before or, pardon me, if they’ve ever given a Yelp review, period before, to review you on Yelp.
But it needs to be a separate follow-up process. And now, when they click the link from their email, there’s no referral URL. So Yelp will see it as legitimate and it’s more likely to stick. Does that make sense?
Jonathan: Oh, that’s great. What I’m getting the picture here is that what you’re saying is that to be effective on Yelp is that you’re going to have to go through a few more steps. But what I also think you’re saying is it’s one of the more powerful testimonial platforms. So I get the feeling you’re saying there is a bit more work involved. Maybe you should check out to see if the person that you’re asking the testimonial from already has a Yelp account and then make this personal outreach to them. But you also seem to be saying that it’s well worth the effort as well.
Doren: And not just that they have an account but that they’ve given a review for another business before. You don’t want to be the first review or it won’t stick.
Jonathan: Right. But you feel that all the steps are worthwhile because of the power of Yelp?
Doren: Well, Yelp drives Bing. So if anyone is using Bing as a search engine and they’re searching for a local business, the very first thing that’s going to come up is Yelp on the search listings because Yelp drives Bing. And so, it’s really really important if you want to dominate on Bing that you have a dominant position and reputation on Yelp. Furthermore, Siri is also linked to Yelp. So if you grab your smartphone and you go, “Best restaurants in Kamloops”, it’s going to pull up all the records that are linked to Yelp on your smartphone using Siri. So again, keep that in mind. And Bing is a Microsoft product so that’s going to be linked to Google.
So if you have an Android, they’re using Bing to search. Or, of course, they have a Chrome app and maybe Chrome as well. But you get the idea. It’s really really important to be using both Yelp as well as Google for your review reputation management. You don’t want to just rely on Yelp because most people use Google when they’re doing a local search. So frankly, Google’s the 8,000-pound gorilla in the space that you really want to focus on, then Yelp, then any other niche specific review sites. Like in the Real Estate game, Zillow’s a really important one. Facebook, your own Facebook business page, there’s a review section on that. So getting reviews on Facebook, Yellow Pages, Yelp. But the big three in Real Estate, especially, for example, Realtors, would be Google, Yelp, Zillow. Those are the big three.
Jonathan: Definitely. Before we go into our break, and then we’re going to be talking about your platform, I want to ask about Google. Obviously, Google has their own testimonial. In local search, how important is it? Are the two linked together? And if they are, is it really important to get a lot of testimonials through Google and well that help with when people search where you show up more in local search?
Doren: Absolutely. In fact, I have one client in mind just as a simple case in point. When he came to us initially, he was nowhere to be found on the local search and he was basically in the bowels of cyberspace. No one could find him. And then, we uploaded his client database. I think he had about 200, 300, 400 past clients. We got him dozens and dozens of 5-star reviews almost overnight and a good number of those stuck on Google. So he went from like five Google reviews to now he’s got over 50. Now he’s in the dominant spot of the 3-pack. For the uninitiated, that’s SEO language for being on the three local businesses listed in the top 3 listing on the map. When you do a local search, you’ll see that box with the map and then there’s three companies listed. That’s the 3-pack. He’s now in the 3-pack. He’s got over 50 5-star reviews. His closest competitor I think has four. And you can imagine he is in a very dominant position now. Anyone in his market who is searching for a reputable Mortgage professional is seeing him at the top. He’s closing two to four deals a month at an average of 2 or 3 gs a pop in commissions just from his dominant position on Google. Do the math on that. Just think about how valuable that would be to you in your local market when you dominate your local Google listing. And that’s really the power of reviews because these reviews are all linked to your Google My Business account. And so, they’re going to give preferential treatment to your Google My Business account and they’re going to give preferential treatment to Google reviews because it’s all owned by Google. So if you want to dominate the 8,000-pound gorilla, you need a whole lot more Google reviews. That’s the big idea.
Jonathan: Oh, that sounds fantastic. I’ve got a couple more questions about that. But we’re going to go for our break first folks and we’ll be back in a few moments with Doren and we’ll be discussing this fascinating area of getting testimonials and the real power of referral power online. We’ll be back in a few moments folks.
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Jonathan: We’re coming back. Got a fantastic guest here. So knowledgeable and I just feel that we’ve just touched this whole area but we’ve been plowing through the questions folks. You mentioned, which was a fantastic case study, this Mortgage professional that you’ve been helping. But you said uploaded 300. How do you approach people that know you but you’re touching them on kind of slightly on mass. You’re asking for this testimonial and it’s outside this, as we mentioned in the first half of the show, this really juicy part of the sales or buying process, but you’re outside of that now. So is there a different way of approaching these people to get these testimonials that you’re looking for?
Doren: Well, you could certainly ask for reviews from people who know you, like you and trust you, friends, family, associates, colleagues, referral partners. Obviously, that would be more of a character reference because they haven’t necessarily partaken in your product or service. But there’s no hurt in asking. The more reviews, the more 5-star reviews the better. The most potent and powerful and persuasive obviously, are going to be people who have actually done business with you as a client or customer.
I always like to start there. If you have a backlog of past clients and you have not had an effective to ask them for the review, it’s never too late. I’ve had people who literally had clients in their database that they hadn’t talked to in years. We’re talking 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 years. And they uploaded them into the testimonial engine and they got an avalanche of 5-star reviews almost overnight. Now, I can’t promise you that would be the case for you because typically our system generates 20 to 40 percent conversion on these past customers into 5-star reviews unless you suck, then obviously, there’s not much we can do to help you. But typically, the response is pretty awesome. And the cool thing about this is not only did he get an avalanche of 5-star reviews, he got a bunch of additional transactions just because people were touched by him and reminded that he exists and also reminded of how awesome he was when they did work with him in the past. He got four additional transactions just as the hidden benefit of asking for reviews. How awesome is that?
Jonathan: It’s amazing. It’s just amazing, isn’t it? Let’s go on to your own product and service that really helps in this whole area in a powerful way. So that’s My Testimonial Engine. Why did you start it and can you explain some key parts of it?
Doren: Yeah. Actually, I started out, you guys probably noticed I’m talking about different case studies that are linked to the Real Estate game in general and Mortgage professionals in particular because I started my Coaching company in 2003 as a generalist just as a Joe Shmoe Life Coach. And then, I had a client who did really well with me who was a Mortgage professional and that kind of guided me into a niche working specifically with Mortgage professionals. And so, I launched that website called mortgagemarketingcoach.com to help Mortgage professionals grow their business with effective marketing. Well, we were plugging away with that for many a year. And then, of course, Google shifted gears on how they were serving up results for local queries, like best pizza shop, best Real Estate Agent, best Mortgage professional, best dentist.
And now, all of a sudden, it was showing up on this Google Map. And now, all of a sudden, getting reviews on your Google profile was becoming not just an option but mission critical and I started to get clients asking me, “So, how do I get more reviews? How do I get more testimonials? How do I use them once I get?”. And at first, I didn’t really have much of a solution. So I dug, I dug some more, I tinkered around with different options and eventually, just by sheer persistence beating resistance, we uncovered the necessity to have software automate the process.
And that’s where I actually launched, with my partner back in 2014, True Trust Marketing, which is the home of the Testimonial Engine. And so, now we have this automated shortcut ultimate easy button to be able to not just get more 5-star reviews but get them on key strategic review sites and automate the whole process. So it’s been a labor of love for the last 4 years and we’re just getting warmed up.
Jonathan: Yeah. It looks like a fantastic product. What are some of the key things you’ve learned through the process of developing this?
Doren: Well, to whom much is given much is required. Anytime you launch a business, reminds me of Richard Branson, the billionaire serial entrepreneur, owner of the Virgin brand, he said, “Starting a business and building a business is an adventure in problem-solving”. So this is certainly no exception. It’s been an adventure in problem-solving but I didn’t realize when I started how much, not just the importance of reviews is a key part of any marketing plan but how the trajectory of our culture is becoming more and more saturated and inextricably linked with the necessity to use reviews when patronizing businesses because we all hate buying a lemon. We hate buyer’s remorse. And all the search engines are catching on with this. All the review sites, Zillow, Yelp, Yellow Pages, Better Business Bureau, everything, Amazon. Everything’s moving towards social media and reviews. And so, I knew it was big. I just didn’t know how big.
Jonathan: Oh, that’s great. I think the other area is Zillow because I think a lot of Agents, obviously, Zillow is a very controversial platform in the Real Estate industry. I’m a little bit. I accept what it is and what it wants to achieve because it is what it is. But a lot of Agents, they get very negative about it. But what they don’t realize is Zillow offers a lot for free if you’re prepared to fill in your profile and get these testimonials on Zillow. Do you agree with that?
Doren: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. Now, it’s good to have dominance on Zillow. It’s great to have Zillow reviews. But keep in mind it’s in third place. When you do a local search, typically what you’re going to find is that Google comes up first, then Yelp, then Zillow. So it’s important but most Real Estate professionals put it at a much higher importance than in actuality it is on the local search.
Jonathan: That’s a fantastic point. Thank you so much for saying that.
Doren: Yeah. They don’t realize how many tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars they’re leaving on the table because they’re neglecting Google, they’re neglecting Yelp. In many cases, they don’t even have an account. They don’t even have a Google My Business Account let alone getting reviews on it. So that’s a big eye-opener for a lot of Real Estate professionals when they realize how much money they’re leaving on the table and I call that positive perturbance. May that be the lava flow under your butt to put this as a top priority in your business. Stop neglecting, stop drifting and start driving.
Jonathan: Oh, I think that’s just a fantastic point. Are there any new kind of areas, you know, website portals, social media areas that are coming up that are also important to have reviews on?
Doren: Well, the way to find out is do a local search as if you’re a prospective customer or client and just see what comes up. If you’re not located in the area market, use an incognito window. If you don’t know what that is, just Google it or search it on YouTube, it’ll explain it. But just find out what your prospective clients or customers would see when they’re searching for your category of business. So if you’re in Real Estate, it might be Realtor in your city, Real Estate Agent in your city, Real Estate in your city and see what comes up and you’ll see a theme. And you want to look at the top 3 sites that people see because most people are not going to dig into the bowels of cyberspace when they do their research. They’re going to look at the top 3 and that’s all they’re going to look at. So you want to dominate in the top 3. And when you dominate in the top 3, it’s like have a faucet pouring cash in your wallet every single day.
Jonathan: Oh, I think it’s just been a fantastic interview. We’re going to wrap it up now for the podcast part of the show folks but Doren has been gracious to say he will stay on for a little while. And you’ll be able to see the continuance of this fascinating discussion on our website with a full set of transcription of the show notes of our interview. And also, I think you’ve got a bit of a special offer for our audience. So basically, how can people find out more about you, what you’re up to and maybe find out a little bit more about this special offer?
Doren: Sure. One of the areas, before I share about how you connect with me guys, one of the areas that’s often overlooked is not just getting more reviews, mitigating negative reviews so they don’t tarnish your reputation. So that’s one of the things our system does is quarantine any negative reviews so they don’t spew on to your review sites tarnishing your reputation forever. But also, taking the reviews you do have, getting them on key strategic review sites and then turning those reviews into referrals. Because think about it folks, who better to ask for a referral than somebody who just gave you a 5-star review? I mean, that’s your raving fan, right? So we want to take those people and we want to turn them into evangelists. One of the best ways to do that is using mail the right way. We’re going to tie it into the name of this podcast Mail-Right. And so, we came up with a killer way to use direct mail the right way to get your reviews, not just reviews but more importantly, referrals by sending out a magic wand letter in the mail with a toy magic wand enclosed. And then, they open it up. They have to because it’s lumpy. Their curiosity gets the best of them.
And the headline says, “I wish, I wish, poof, I could have more clients like you”. Cheesy, right? But it will put more cheese in your wallet so who cares. So I have a client who sent out 50 of these letters. He brought in $18,000 and it cost him 200 bucks. How’s that for an ROI? Not too shabby, right? So what we want to do is turn reviews into referrals and one of the ways you can do that is with the magic wand letter and I put together a really powerful package called the Ultimate Testimonial Toolkit with Swipe and Deploy best practices for getting the reviews, getting the reviews on key strategic review sites that matter to your business and turning those reviews into referrals with the magic wand letter.
You can get it all 100 percent free complimentary by going to mytestimonialengine.com/mailright. There is a disclaimer. I don’t have it up there yet. It’ll be up in an hour. So go to mytestimonialengine.com/mailright in about an hour and I’ll have it live and ready to rock so you can get all that goodness.
Jonathan: Oh, that sounds fantastic. And if people want to get a hold of you in general, what’s the best way?
Doren: You can go to mytestimonialengine.com. We have a Contact Us form there and there’s lots of interesting and insightful and helpful articles on our blog. And you can also connect with all of our social media channels there as well.
Jonathan: That’s great. And folks, if you want to get a hold of me, it’s really easy. Go to the Mail-Right, mail-right.com website. There’s a ton of information, all the interviews we’ve done plus with full transcriptions and relevant links. Or the other best way is to go to the Mail-Right USA Facebook page. All the live interviews are on there and some more interesting content as well. So thanks Doren for being our guest today. It’s been a fascinating discussion. We’re finishing off with the podcast but you can watch more of the interview like I say on the website or on our YouTube channel. We’ll see you next week where we’re going to have a fascinating guest that will give you great advice and lead to more leads for you. We’ll see you next week folks. Bye.
Doren Aldana of MyTestimonialEngine.
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