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7 ways to maximize your email productivity and reduce clutter

(MARKETING) Emails tend to stack up and make it hard to organize and to find anything useful, here are several apps and ways to make your life easier.

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emails stacking up

Despite the availability of numerous platforms and ways to reach your customers, statistics show, and business experts know, that email still remains the primary tool that businesses use for communication and collaboration. Email is the backbone of productivity, so if you’re looking for ways to increase efficiency and make your job a little easier, optimizing your emails is a great place to start.

Just in time for the new year, here are seven ways to maximize your productivity when it comes to email.

1) Please, please stop with the no-reply emails. If you haven’t figured it out by now, it’s time you knew – if your customers can’t reply to your messages, it sends the message that you don’t care about them and stymies communication. Instead, create a persona or department that can handle replies to your messages. If you must use a no-reply email, be sure to include contact information for customer service so that a customer can get ahold of you if they need to.

2) Don’t waste time reminding a customer that they have an appointment. Get an intelligent machine to do it for you. Remindr is an app that sends text and email reminders to clients, patients, and customers, reducing the number of no-shows.

3) Turn your email inbox into a to-do list. If you use Gmail, consider trying the app Drag, which helps turn your inbox into a super-organized to-do list by sorting your emails into To Do, Doing, and Complete categories. It makes your email box look a bit like Trello and is more efficient for tasking than using Gmail’s colorful stars system or disappearing messages into folders, only to have them forgotten.

4) Reduce inbox clutter by using a disposable email address when signing up for subscriptions and accounts. AnyAlias lets you create an infinite number of disposable email addresses, all linked to one account so that you can check them all simultaneously, while still keeping your personal email address private.

5) Track the effectiveness of email marketing with Polymail, the inbox that shows you statistics about open and reply rates and creates detailed profiles of all of your customers, among other super helpful marketing tools.

6) Find files in attachments more quickly. How many times have you scanned through pages of your Gmail, clicking on anything with a paperclip next to it, trying to find some long-missing file? Dittach is a Chrome extension that creates a sidebar specifically for displaying information about attachments, as well as a thumbnail preview. Attachments can be sorted by file type or date, making it easier to find files, forward them, download them, or print them. Brilliant.

7) Clean up your digital hoard. With the new year, why not go Marie Kondo on your email. Make it easier to find the things you need by getting rid of all those outdated emails you no longer need. After all, digital clutter is still clutter.

Don’t overlook this important aspect of running your business. Chances are you send and receive dozens, if not hundreds, of emails per day, and may also be using your inbox to store and find files, market to customers, and manage aspects of your personal life as well. Streamlining your email experience can save you a ton of time, energy, and money, and make your day-to-day tasks more efficient and pleasant.

Ellen Vessels, a Staff Writer at The American Genius, is respected for their wide range of work, with a focus on generational marketing and business trends. Ellen is also a performance artist when not writing, and has a passion for sustainability, social justice, and the arts.

Real Estate Marketing

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.

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Real Estate Marketing

Turning your blog posts into tweets: Marketing or distracting?

(MARKETING) Wordpress has unveiled a new feature to turn your blog posts into tweets. But just because you can’t doesn’t always mean you should.

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Blog post being written on laptop in front of colorful TV

If you’ve got both a WordPress blog and a Twitter account, it’s now easier than ever to share content between the two platforms. This week, WordPress introduced a new feature that allows you to turn entire blog posts in tweetstorms, with “just two extra clicks.” The question is, should you?

The tool will automatically break up your post into Twitter-sized chunks, and will do it’s best to start a new tweet at the end of, rather than mid-sentence. However, it will also let you see a preview of the tweetstorm before you publish so that you can make sure you agree with how the content has been broken up. Videos and images in the post will also be added to the Twitter thread. You can add an introduction, if necessary, and a link to the original post will be included at the end of the thread.

You’ll need to connect your Twitter account to your WordPress, if it isn’t already. The feature can also support multiple Twitter accounts so you can post in multiple places at once. However, the feature only works on new posts – you can’t go back and turn an old post into a Twitter thread.

The reverse process – turning tweets into blog posts – has already been available on WordPress for quite some time. When you embed a tweet into WordPress there is an “unroll” option that imports the full tweetstorm into your post.

While some bloggers have responded positively to this option, Twitter users seem less than thrilled that their feeds may now be flooded with lengthy tweetstorms.

One user, @theregos, sarcastically tweeted, “Can’t wait for food bloggers and their 87-tweet threads on a recipe.” Another, @elliottrains, said, “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” Many people love Twitter precisely because its word count limit forces creators to be concise and feel that Twitter is no place for longform content.

Meanwhile, marketing experts question whether there’s much use in diverting traffic away from your site and onto Twitter, where you can’t as easily assess metrics or monetize your following. If you have an enthusiastic Twitter audience, it might be worth it, but otherwise you’re just giving more traffic to Twitter instead of to your own site. As one AG editor put it, site owners will be “cutting off their traffic nose to spite their marketing face.”

What do you think? Is this new feature more helpful or harmful?

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Real Estate Marketing

All brokers should require agents to shadow their clients for a day

(MARKETING) Knowing what your client wants is essential to make the sale and improving relations, and the best way to do that may be shadowing them.

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shadowing your clients

When it comes to moving, the phrase “the devil’s in the details” can take on a whole new meaning. Most people have adjusted to their current living situations in ways they might not even notice – and some of those aspects of their living space might be more crucial than they realize.

This could be anything from power outlet locations to kitchen cabinet sizes to a doorway free of steps. These small details can easily be lost during a hectic house hunt.

So, how can you, as a Realtor, keep track of details that the clients don’t even think to bring up? One potential solution is to shadow them for a day before offering housing options.

Okay, yes, at first glance “shadowing a client” sounds an awful lot like the awkward career shadowing we were put through in high school and college, but hear me out.

Spending an average day with your clients can give you better insight into how they operate and what they prioritize. Maybe they take more advantage of the kitchen bar than they’ve let on. Maybe they’re utilizing doorways to set up child barriers – something that might not work as well in a more open floor plan. Maybe their kids like to read in window nooks. Sure, a client might be able to live without things they’ve gotten used to, but think of how great it could be if they didn’t have to compromise.

Point is, with a cheerful attitude and a perceptive eye, you might be able to gain more insights into your clients.

Not only could shadowing help you understand how a client operates, though, it can help deepen your bonds with them. Getting to know each other can help establish a level of trust that could make the upcoming house-hunt easier on both of you. After all, it helps make it clear that you are looking out for your client.

Plus, creating good relationships with clients will make them more likely to use your services again – and recommend you to others!

Did you know that the National Association of Realtors (NAR) requires everyone on their staff (and we mean everyone) to shadow a Realtor for a day so they understand their members’ needs? If they take this meaningful step, why don’t you?!

Shadowing clients might seem unorthodox, but it could also be a great way to get to know individuals and their unique needs.

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