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How you can use data visualization to boost your business in 2021

(REAL ESTATE MARKETING) Data visualization and illustration SAAS is like a vision board for your business! Skip the Pinterest project in 2021, and get serious with these tips.

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Four people around a computer with chart behind them talking with data visualization to guide them.

Why is IKEA so successful?

…Okay, great meatballs and mediocre sawdust is the real answer, but at least a bit of their sweet sweet furniture takeover included their pictograph instructions!

Face it, as a species, we’re not great at visualizing data. You can tell someone how much more a billion is than a million, but what REALLY illuminates the point is illustrated data like these graphics from the good folks at the MegaPenny Project.

See, here’s a million in pennies.

A visualization of one million pennies, that reach the example person's shoulder.

That’s about… one extra friend who has a pickup, a pizza with three toppings, and an Epsom salt bath worth of moving?

And here’s a billion.

One billion visualized in huge stacks behind the same man, now dwarfed by pennies.

That… requires a fleet of professionals with Class A Commercial Drivers’ Licenses. And you’d probably need to let them use your Epsom salts too.

Interactive Visualization Exhibit with person seated behind it, showing moving mountains beneath their hands.

So as we move into a brand new year, how do we GET better at data illustration? I always stood by the idea of finding someone with equal parts mathematical and design capability to live in my house (graphics arts nerds, slide into my DMs, please and thanks).

But for those of us with companies to run and reasonable expectations, there’s data visualization software out there!

Niel Patel was nice enough to shout out a few different services for us, and I definitely appreciate his list of what to look for when you’re looking! I paraphrased him a little here:

 

Visualization Capabilities – How pretty do you want it, and what does sexy data look like for you?

This category was further broken down into the types of visualization you may need for different species of presentation:

Different types of charts, with bars, lines, and pie charts.

  • Simple Charts and Graphs: Lines, Pies, and Bars (but the GOOD for you kind).
  • Infographics: Sleek n’ sultry shareables, with the easiest viral capability…and the greatest amount of art theft.
  • Interactive Visualizations: Lets the viewer manipulate the data, enter different parameters, zoom and enhance, and generally play god.
  • Business Intelligence Tools: Super complex data shredders. If you need to turn a forest of multi-sourced info into an insight smoothie, you gotta bring out the BIT guns.

Connectivity – What existing file types does it work with, and how much of a pain in the butt will migrating be?

Skill Requirements – What do you need of the people working it? Interns or certification holders?

Mobile Compatibility – Is this toilet scrolling data, or boardroom only data?

 

Example of a Timeline Infographic

 

Helpful, no? Google Sheets, as anyone who’s worked with me in person can attest, is my mortal enemy, so taking data out of its probably-not-that-confusing-if-I-really-tried clutches makes me happy.

 

We’re walking into a brand new year as of writing. Let’s get our 2021 pictures drawn up nicely.

Happy 2021, y’all. We need all the best wishes we can get!

You can't spell "Together" without TGOT: That Goth Over There. Staff Writer, April Bingham, is that goth; and she's all about building bridges— both metaphorically between artistry and entrepreneurship, and literally with tools she probably shouldn't be allowed to learn how to use.

Real Estate Marketing

Warning: User-generated content hikes your business insurance rate

(MARKETING) User-generated content is a phenomenal marketing tool when used properly, but it can impact your business insurance rates and potentially E&O rates…

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user-generated content

The use of “influencers” on social media and the sharing of user-generated content (UGC) isn’t a new thing in social media marketing. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to generate excitement and curiosity about your brand.

The best reviews are always those from real users, and the best advertising is the one you didn’t have to create: Those are social media marketing golden rules.

The implementation of user-generated content however, is rife with some potential troubles, especially when added to your own website.

A lot of businesses can operate under the idea that the average social media user is okay with the sharing of their content. While some of them will be, you run the risk of crossing an invisible line with someone who then generates negative press about you and/or your company. And of course, there is always the possibility of litigation.

Some insurance companies aren’t taking UGC into account, even today, while others will certainly ask whether you’re using it (and will charge you accordingly). This could impact your business insurance rate and potentially your Errors & Omissions rate.

It’s in your best interest to be above board on user-generated content and it always begins with the first step – asking for permission. How you ask for permission depends on the medium, but be sure to get a DM, email, tweet, or something that clearly shows the content creator giving you the right to use that image (and document that permission in a way that you can locate it in the far future). This prevents you from getting into a whole lot of trouble, and allows you to use user generated content most effectively.

Pro tip: If you’re going to be working with the same brand ambassador or influencer, make sure any contracts or agreements you have include a waiver that allows you to repurpose content they create that impacts your brand.

This is an easy thing to do, and it will help protect the integrity of your brand and your online presence – make sure it’s part of your social media strategy.

But it should be noted that there are merits to only using content that you create yourself – it’s more secure, more controlled, and it typically decrease the cost of your business insurance as it’s less risky. Because a lot of brands don’t ask for permission, UGC takes on some risk and skyrockets insurance rates.

The decision to use UGC should be a smart one, and if you do decide to use it, just follow the golden rules: Ask nicely and keep a paper trail.

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Real Estate Marketing

What skills will help real estate marketers survive the AI takeover?

(MARKETING) Quality marketers are constantly evolving, but getting your head around artificial intelligence can be a challenge – let’s boil it down to the most relevant skills you’ll need.

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Woman leaning on a glass wall separating her from wall of data servers managed by AI.

When Facebook and Twitter were born, a new era of social media was ushered in, opening the gates for new areas of expertise that hadn’t existed before. At first, we all grappled to establish the culture together, but fast forward a decade and it is literally a science with thousands of supporting AI technology companies.

So as Artificial Intelligence (AI) takes over marketing, doesn’t that mean it will replace marketers? If you can ask your smart speaker in your office what your engagement growth increase was for your Facebook Page, and ask for recommendations of growth, how do marketing professionals survive?

Marketers will survive the same way they did as social media was introduced – the practice will evolve and new niches will be born.

There are 7 skills marketers will need to adapt in order to evolve. None of these are done overnight, but quality professionals are constantly grooming their skills, so this won’t be stressful to the successful among us. And the truth is that it won’t be in our lifetime that AI can quite process the exact same way a human brain does, even with the advent of quantum computing, so let’s focus on AI’s weaknesses and where marketers can perform where artificial intelligence cannot.

1. Use the data your new AI buddies generate.

In the 70s, the infamous Ted Bundy murders yielded the first case that utilized computing. The lead investigator had heard about computers and asked a specialist to dig through all of their data points to find similarities – a task that was taking months for the investigative team. After inputting the data, within minutes, they had narrowed their list of suspects from several hundred to only 10.

We’re not dealing with murderers here in the marketing world (…right, guys?), but the theory that algorithms can speed up our existing jobs is a golden lesson. As more AI tools are added to the marketplace to enhance your job, experiment with them! Get to know them! And continue to seek them out to empower you.

Atomic Reach studies your content and finds ways to enhance what you’re delivering. CaliberMind augments B2B sales, Stackla hunts down user-generated content that matches your brand efforts, Nudge analyzes deal risk and measures user account health, and Market Brew digs up tons of data for your SEO strategy.

See? Independently, these all sound like amazing tools, but call them “AI tools” and people lose their minds. Please.

Your job as a marketer is to do what AI cannot. Together, you can automate, do segmentation and automation, beef up your analytics, but no machine can replicate your innate interest in your customers, your compassion, and your ability to understand human emotions and predict outcomes effectively (because you have a lot more practice at being a human than the lil’ robots do).

2. Take advantage of AI’s primary weakness.

As noted, you have emotions and processes that are extremely complex and cannot be understood by artificial intelligence yet. Use those.

How? Compile all of the data that AI offers and then strategize. Duh. AI can offer recommendations, but it cannot (yet) suggest an entire brand strategy. That’s where you come in.

And more importantly, it cannot explain or defend any such strategy. One of the core problems with AI is that if you ask Alexa a question, you cannot ask how it came up with that information or why. This trust problem is the primary reason marketers are in no danger of being replaced by technology.

3. Obsess over data.

AI tools are young and evolving, so right now is the time to start obsessing over data. What I mean by that is not to use every single AI tool to compile mountains of useless data, but to start studying the data you already have.

The problem with new tools is that marketers are naturally inquisitive, so we try them out and then forget they exist if they didn’t immediately prove to be a golden egg.

Knowing your current marketing data inside and out will help you to learn alongside AI. If you aren’t intimately familiar, you won’t know if the recommendations made through AI are useful, and you could end up going down the wrong path because something shiny told you to.

Obsess over data not by knowing every single customers’ names, but be ready to identify which data sets are relevant for the results you’re seeking. A data scientist friend of mine recently pointed out that if you flip a coin five times and it happens to land on tails every time, AI would analyze that data and predict with 100% certainty that the sixth flip will be tails, but you and I have life experience and know better.

Staying on top of your data, even when you’re utilizing artificial intelligence tools will keep you the most valuable asset, not the robots. #winning

4. Don’t run away from math (no wait, come back!)

One of the appeals of marketing is that math is hard and you don’t need it in a creative field. But if you want to stay ahead of the robots, you’ll have to focus on your math skills.

You don’t have to go back to school for data science, but if you can’t read the basic reports that these endless AI tools can create, you’re already behind. At least spend a few hours this month on some “Intro to Data Science” courses on Udemy or Coursera.

5. Content is God.

We’ve all said for years that content is king and that feeding the search engines was a top way to reach consumers. You’ve already refined your skills in creating appealing content, and you already know that it costs less than many traditional lead generating efforts and spending on content is way up.

Content can be blogging, video, audio, or social media posts. Artificial intelligence will step in to skyrocket those efforts, if only you accept that content was once king, but is now God. What is changing is how customized content can be. For example, some companies are using AI tools to create dozens of different Facebook ads for different demographics, which would have taken weeks of human effort to do in the past.

Because content is what feeds all of these new smart devices, feeding your brand content effectively and utilizing AI tools to augment your efforts will keep you more relevant than ever.

6. Get ahead of privacy problems

Consumers now understand what website cookies are, and know when they’ve opted in (or opted out) of an email newsletter, but to this point, humans have made the decisions of how these data choices are made. Our teams have continually edited Terms of Service (ToS), all done not just with liability in mind, but to offer consumers the protections that they want and have come to expect.

But AI today doesn’t have morals, and consumer comfort is not a factor unless humans program that into said AI devices. But it still isn’t a creature of ethics like humans are. Ethical challenges going forward will be something to stay ahead of as you tap into the AI world. Making sure that you know the ToS of any tool you’re using to mine data is critical so that you don’t put the company in a bad position by violating basic human trust.

The takeaway

You’re smart, so you already knew that the robots aren’t taking your job, rather augmenting it, but adding AI into your marketing mix to stay ahead comes with risk and a learning curve. But seeing artificial intelligence for what it really is – a tool – will keep your focus on the big picture and save your job.

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Real Estate Marketing

No-reply emails: the modern-day horror story (don’t use them!)

(MARKETING) No-reply emails may be easy to set up and distribute for customer service, but it may actually be creating a problem with a simple fix.

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emails ugh

Let me tell you a modern-day horror story.

You finally decide to purchase the item that’s been sitting in your cart all week, but when you receive your confirmation email you realize there’s a mistake on the order. Maybe you ordered the wrong size item, maybe your old address is listed as the shipping location, or maybe you just have buyer’s remorse. Either way, you’ve got to contact customer service.

Your next mission is to find contact information or a support line where you can get the issue resolved. You scroll to the bottom of the email and look around for a place to contact the company, but all you find is some copyright junk and an unsubscribe option. Tempting, but it won’t solve your problem. Your last hope is to reply to the confirmation email, so you hit that trusty reply arrow and…nothing. It’s a no-reply email. Cue the high-pitched screams.

Customers should not have to sort through your website and emails with a microscope to find contact information or a customer service line. With high customer expectations and fierce ecommerce competition, business owners can’t afford to use no-reply emails anymore.

Intended or not, no-reply emails send your customer the message that you really don’t want to hear from them. In an age when you can DM major airlines on Twitter and expect a response, this is just not going to fly anymore.

Fixing this issue doesn’t need to be a huge burden on your company. A simple solution is to create a persona for your email marketing or customer service emails, it could be member of your team or even a company mascot. Rather than using noreply@company.com you can use john@company.com and make that email a place where your email list can respond to questions and communicate concerns. Remember, the whole point of email marketing is to create a conversation with your customers.

Another great strategy for avoiding a million customer service emails where you don’t want them? Include customer service contact info in your emails. Place a thoughtful message near the bottom of your template letting people know where they can go if they’re having an issue with the product or service. This simple change will save you, your customers, and your team so much time in the long-run.

Your goal as a business owner is to build a trusting relationship between you and your customers, so leave the no reply emails behind. They’re annoying and they might even get you marked as spam.

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