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7 signs that your website design is out of date

(MARKETING) Just as styles of clothes come and go, website styles can date your business. How can you tell if your design is stuck in the past?

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Just as styles of clothes come and go, website styles can date your business. How can you tell if your design is stuck in the past? Here are 7 things to consider about your design style:

1. Sans serif or not? With 4K in full effect, serif types are coming back into vogue. A serif typeface is one with small lines attached to the end of a letter.

Sans serif typefaces, those without those small lines, were introduced for readability on mobile devices which used to have much lower resolution.

2. Are you constantly changing colors to keep up with trends? Although the “best” color for marketing changes annually, it’s not really about what color you use. It’s about consistent design with color saturation.

3. Where do you work? Sitting at a desk waiting for inspiration is a thing of the past. Get out in the world and work on your tablet to enhance your ideas and take pictures to bring more elements into your design.

4. What’s your perspective? Look through your social media account and look for variety in your photos and posts. Find a new angle for photos and text to give more interesting content.

5. Are you using trends to brand your company? Coloring books have been the hot ticket item in 2016 and 2017, but the population has already moved on to the next thing, so why would you hop on an old trend and send out branded coloring books?

Use trends in marketing, but not for branding.

6. What’s your design style? Flat design is a trend that is going by the wayside. Get one step ahead by using elements to add depth to your site.

7. Do your templates look like templates? WordPress is great for small businesses, but when you use one of the templates without any customization, you look like you don’t know what you’re doing.

Spend a few dollars and get some help implementing your own images and graphics to fully adapt your site.

This assumes that your site has already been on the cutting edge. We’re still seeing a number of small businesses who don’t have much content about their business.

Having a website is vital in today’s economy, and even if you’re the only one in your community that provides your service or product, you cannot expect to stay on top by just having a minimal website.

Make it a part of your marketing strategy to update your site weekly and keep your customers engaged.

Dawn Brotherton is a Staff Writer at The American Genius, and has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Oklahoma. Before earning her degree, she spent over 20 years homeschooling her two daughters, who are now out changing the world. She lives in Oklahoma and loves to golf. She hopes to publish a novel in the future.

Real Estate Marketing

The rise of Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) systems

(REAL ESTATE MARKETING) The emerging success of “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) systems in the pandemic world has breathed fresh life into consumer confidence.

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Credit card being held out to our point of view, part of a buy now pay later system.

Within the last few years, a new payment option has slowly been rolling out across websites for consumers in the form of “buy now, pay later.” This system gives consumers the ability to split a payment up across a longer period of time and in small increments, and also tends to skip on interest or other standard monetary fees. In essence, this makes them a new style of layaway plan for modern day, and proponents of ‘buy now, pay later’ systems are stating this is one of the best chances to revitalize a worldwide marketplace rocked by the COVID pandemic.

On the European side of things, Klarna has an evaluation of $10 billion, which firmly cements it as the most valuable privately owned fintech firm in the country (and fourth overall globally). Australia’s Afterpay is another big player with its own substantial platform, while the United States based Affirm is looking to start its own IPO in the $5-$10 billion range. Of course, Paypal has long been in this market, and other companies – including Visa – are working with their own offerings.

Put another way: It’s big business. Big, big business. Forbes estimates as much as $24 billion annually. That’s definitely something. There are millions of users globally for these apps, with millions of purchases annually, and more are growing by the day.

Traditionally, consumers were relegated to using credit cards to facilitate purchases that they needed additional time, giving them the ability to obtain funds while retaining their ability to bring home goods and services. This comes with interest so that merchants and vendors have an incentive – they still make a sale, gather money over time, and get a little extra on top.

By contrast, ‘buy now, pay later’ systems are geared differently, aiming instead to address a growing digital market where sales are primarily online (or steadily getting there). Consumers may window shop even on websites, and ultimately abandon their carts when the purchase screen finally appears. This is where BNPL shines – it suddenly gives these shoppers a way to still move forward while lessening the initial monetary blow and giving them a way out of dreaded interest. Especially in these uncertain times, this has become a lifesaver for customers and vendors alike. The former gains the ability to purchase more with few penalties (if any), and the latter sees greater conversion and increased sales.

Meanwhile, the BNPL merchant is able to charge a higher percentage commission to the vendors – more so than credit cards even – to net themselves their own piece of the pie. Even with BNPL’s higher merchant fees of 4-6% in revenue compared to credit card companies, the pure numbers emphatically prove that this system is beneficial to everyone. As pointed out by Fintechtris, “Even though higher fees are being paid, retailers are able to take advantage of: an increase in shopping cart size (up to 30%), decrease in abandonment at checkout (down up to 25%), and repeat customers (up to 20% more). In particular, Affirm, Afterpay, and Klarna (some of the largest BNPL fintech companies) saw average order value (AVO) rise 85%, 30%, and 45% respectively.”

Further, BNPL users have a variety of reasons for choosing this method over credit cards, including avoiding interest, the ability to borrow without a credit check, and being able to go outside of an existing budget without straying into troubled territory.

BNPL graph: growth is being driven by people who can't or don't want to use credit cards

Image source: PaymentsSource

Perhaps even more interesting is that BNPL companies are suffering lower delinquency rates compared to credit cards, with problematic payments at around 1.1% compared to 5.7% elsewhere. BNPL – with its lack of punitive measures – seems to attract all kinds of customers; it’s not just for those that might represent risk.

There is still something to be said about the dangers of overborrowing, with the possibility of charges sneaking up on someone. It should also be noted that avoiding using a credit card means that someone might build their credit history more slowly and sluggishly, and this could have negative ramifications long term.

Everyone is looking for ways to improve their cash flow right now, and as such, evaluating each and every option out there is vitally important. We might even see an accelerated push toward a cashless society following the pandemic. BNPL is still in some early stages, but it’s likely to see increased acceptance and usage as we continually push toward online sales.

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Real Estate Marketing

Retargeting: are you really getting the most bang for your buck?

(MARKETING) Retargeting cookies can eat up more budget than you would expect, but these simple code solutions will help cut that cost down.

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Retargeting ad graph

Up to 80% of visitors to your site will leave within seconds. Are you wasting time and money retargeting this demographic — one that has shown no interest in your services or products? If so, you may be able to save a substantial amount of your retargeting budget by adding a simple script to your website’s code.

Retargeting is a massive part of any marketing endeavor, but it has its downsides—chief among which is that retargeting cookies are indiscriminate and thus are often applied to clientele who aren’t spending enough time on your home page to warrant the attention. This in turn leads to overspending on underwhelming conversion results.

One solution, proposed by Kevin Ho of Wishpond, involves adding a simple script that delays retargeting cookies for the first 45 seconds (or so) to your website’s overarching code. In doing so, your cookies will not be wasted on anyone who bounces from your site within moments of arriving at it.

Of course, your site may have nuanced clientele which require you to adjust the parameters around the retargeting delay code. Given the relative simplicity of JavaScript and HTML coding, you should be able to change the amount of time for which cookies are restricted with ease.

Variations of the retargeting delay code itself can be found on sites such as GitHub and SlideShare. Once you’ve edited the code to accommodate your needs, you can paste it directly into your website’s home page file to prevent people who leave your site within your specified timeframe from receiving retargeting emails or ads.

Using a this code has a couple of huge advantages. Since the code itself is open-source and easy to modify, you don’t need to outsource to a web developer or spend extra cash trying to implement your delayed retargeting cookies. On the flip side, you could easily (and cheaply) commission a custom version of the code should the open-source version not work with your site.

Either way, cultivating and installing a retargeting delay on your website is quick, painless, and about as cost-effective as a marketing strategy can be.

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Real Estate Marketing

Tech startup seeks to make cold sales suck 800% less

(REAL ESTATE MARKETING) This one service can help you get a jump on creating or expanding your business through cold sales, lead generation, and management.

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cold sales tool

Cold sales are perhaps the most loathed aspect of any marketing process, a fact made worse by their sheer necessity for upward mobility and the lack of intuitive or convenient software for executing the sales. A full stack outreach program by the name of Mails.wtf may have a solution for at least one of those problems.

Mails.wtf — yes, you read that correctly — is a cold sales tool that offers nine individual tools for generating leads without needing to open a different service or outsource your marketing along the way.

On the surface, it’s a perfect way to consolidate the nasty business of hooking new clients — a process that sucks for so many reasons before you even discuss clunky UIs or unfriendly software suites.

The process begins, feasibly, with the built-in email finder–a service that, like its name suggests, allows you to look up potential leads by name and company. If that isn’t enough, Mails.wtf also offers website extraction, LinkedIn integration, company lookup, and domain search engines to help you generate as many actionable leads as possible from within their interface.

Once you have all of the email information you need on-hand, Mails.wtf has a couple of different options for automating and tracking your cold sales, including click, open, and reply logging. While some of these metrics may be offset by a growing awareness of pixel-tracking and many browsers’ decisions to block these kinds of trackers by default, there’s no denying that the Mails.wtf platform is comprehensive.

A lot of the Mails.wtf allure seems to come from its simplistic presentation of tools and information, and though the platform may appear to be bare-bones to veterans of the cold sales process, maybe it’s time to scale back. If so, this service is on the right path.

Upon signing up for Mails.wtf, you’ll be offered 100 free B2B (business to business sales) leads which doesn’t pertain to real estate, but perhaps the fact that this is NOT a real estate tool could put you ahead of competitors sticking to technologies everyone else in the biz is already using.

$99 per month earns you the full suite of tools and support, but you can spend about $2,000 for personalized help from the Mails.wtf team themselves. If you’re looking for a new cold sales platform with minimal setup and an intuitive interface that the industry hasn’t yet adopted, this is a strong contender.

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