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How to make sure a client actually reviews you online

(MARKETING) Actionable customer feedback is one of the most valuable assets at your disposal. Unfortunately, it’s also incredibly difficult to obtain ratings and reviews.

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Actionable customer feedback is one of the most valuable assets at your disposal. Unfortunately, it’s also incredibly difficult to obtain, as angry customers rarely leave coherent reviews and satisfied customers often avoid them entirely. Here are a few ways to achieve positive feedback without breaking the bank.

Before embarking on a crusade to pester your customers for their time, take a second to identify pain points in your services.

Are your negotiating superb, or do they end up a bit lackluster from time to time? Does your customer interfacing garner largely positive results, or do you get the feeling that you’re putting people off? Knowing what to look for when asking for feedback and reviews will help you narrow the number of choices your customers have, making an answer significantly more likely.

Once you have a general idea of what you want to address, it is ideal to implement a universal online reviews strategy that all clients are asked for, and you never cherry pick for marketing purposes, rather publish all of the ratings for an accurate picture, given that consumers want real transparency. For example, RatedAgent.

But maybe you’re a solo agent with a broker that doesn’t invest in anything (especially not a ratings and reviews strategy) and you’re on your own.

In that case, start putting together a form with specific questions targeting your established weak spots – naturally, the fewer the better, but don’t lead people – transparency is good. In most cases, you’ll want to stick to three main topics and a general suggestion area; anything more than that, and you risk intimidating your prospective critics.

Following up directly via email is a good way to catch a customer’s attention, but it’s also a good way to end up in your customers’ spam folders, and it can get expensive quite quickly. If you decide to run an email campaign, make sure your intent is in the subject line.

You might even want to pair your email with a promotion, such as a free annual fire inspection or something similar, but be careful not to skew your potential feedback.

An alternative to mass-emailing your client list is installing a pop-up box on your website. After seeing the same box multiple times, some of your clients are bound to cave eventually; as long as you keep the box clean, concise, and easy to exit, you shouldn’t receive negative feedback inspired by annoyed web-goers. You can also add your message to a modal box or a similarly less-intrusive graphic in order to account for the ad-blocker crowd if you don’t see enough feedback within a month or so.

Acting on customer reviews is perhaps the clearest way to improving your customer-facing image — as long as the feedback itself is clear. Knowing what to look for and implementing a pleasant campaign to obtain will get you one step closer to raking in the critiques.

Jack Lloyd has a BA in Creative Writing from Forest Grove's Pacific University; he spends his writing days using his degree to pursue semicolons, freelance writing and editing, oxford commas, and enough coffee to kill a bear. His infatuation with rain is matched only by his dry sense of humor.

Real Estate Marketing

Chill, Zillow! Real estate giant gets yet another patent

(MARKETING) Zillow grabs yet another broadly worded patent that stands to screw over small businesses. When will it end? …Can it end?

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Pen drawing blueprints, another Zillow patent in the works

In a move that’s surprising to pretty much no one, Zillow gained another patent this year — this time having to do with the presentation of and navigation through photos. Even for the patent fiends themselves, this one is a stretch.

We’ve covered Zillow’s overzealous patent-grabbing before. Between snatching 17 patents over the last decade—one of which deals with the simple matter of filtered searches—and going through a few rounds of finger-pointing with IBM over patent trolling, the real estate company hasn’t exactly endeared itself on this front.

Now, Zillow has succeeded in securing a patent that is sure to throw a wrench in the operation practices of plenty of websites.

The patent itself addresses “image transition sequences between viewing locations”, but the parameters of that description are imaginably vast. Among these parameters are “simulated movement”—whether that be through zooming or simple sequential arrangement of photos—and other effects such as blending, blurring, or rotating.

Presentation methods such as panoramas, videos, and animations are also covered in the patent.

It’s not that Zillow shouldn’t be able to patent something that they pioneered vis-a-vis the field of real estate. But the language in this particular patent is problematic. By securing such a broadly worded option, Zillow has the power to severely restrict the operating potential of competitors. Considering how established Zillow already is in the real estate market, putting another obstacle in front of any feasible competition feels like a cheap shot.

More importantly, Zillow has demonstrated that a feature used by tons of different services can be intercepted and controlled with, apparently, little in the way of regulation. If Zillow wasn’t already under a microscope for their patent-nabbing escapades of the last decade, there’s little hope that the real estate giant will have to answer for this obvious power grab as well.

Patent trolling remains a major issue in plenty of sectors, and real estate certainly isn’t exempt. Especially during a period of time in which small businesses will inherently struggle, patent hoarding and trolling should be met with the strictest of penalties. For now, though, competing real estate services will need to find a new way to conduct virtual tours without stepping on Zillow’s over-large toes.

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Real Estate Marketing

Expand your small business influence with these Instagram analytics tools

(MARKETING) Instagram analytics are crucial to small business success, and it’s worth looking outside Instagram’s in-app analytics for options.

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Instagram symbols on paper over a phone, analytics tracking that.

Chances are if you’re a small business, you’ve probably heard about social media analytics, whether you use them or not.

Instagram specifically has become one of the best platforms for brands to engage users. Businesses are using Instagram Reels to engage a younger audience already familiar with the TikTok format, as well as Instagram Shops which continues to revolutionize ecommerce. As a result, Instagram has 16x higher engagement for top brands compared to Facebook.

When taking advantage of all the features Instagram has to offer, it’s crucial to track user activity so that your brand can produce the most optimal social media presence possible. Here are some top-notch analytics suites geared specifically for small businesses.

Instagram Analytics Tool

The native analytics tool provided on the app may not be the most in-depth, but it is extremely user-friendly, as well as being fast and responsive. If you’re just starting out (or are simply curious about how your content is being consumed), check out Instagram’s native tool.

Owlmetrics

Owlmetrics focuses on demographic and audience analysis, meaning that it can assist brands in getting a clear understanding of their follower base. By using Owlmetrics for demographic breakdowns and tracking follower likes and dislikes, you can more accurately understand your brand’s audience. This is a great option for smaller brands that want to produce and deliver informed content that truly resonates with their followers.

Pixlee

Though not the most thorough of reporting solutions, Pixlee reigns supreme in its ability to quickly create sleek, sharable reports that track key metrics for broad analysis. It is free, but there are additional Pixlee features for a premium (such as an influencer discovery tool). If your brand doesn’t have an expansive social media marketing solution, Pixlee is a fantastic instrument to help with UGC and direct to consumer campaigns.

Iconosquare

When it comes to visualizations of follower growth, reach, and impressions, Iconosquare functions much like Instagram Insights, but does so more efficiently and in a more aesthetically pleasing fashion. Smaller businesses that are looking for a cheap, easy-to-use platform specifically for Instagram and Facebook should consider Iconosquare.

There are countless other analytics platforms out there that can help you and your brand thrive on social media. The trick is to find the right balance of cost and reward – and to invest in a suite that can help you best utilize all the features Instagram has to offer.

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Real Estate Marketing

DOJ prepares antitrust charges against Google, possibly this month

(MARKETING) The Department of Justice indicates that it may soon be bringing forth its antitrust charges against Google and alleged monopoly.

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Dino holding Google logo on campus.

After a year of investigations, the Department of Justice is preparing antitrust charges against Google. Signs indicate the case may be brought to the company as soon as the end of this month. The most indicative of which is Attorney General William Barr’s dismissal of the career lawyers. They had previously requested more time to build their case.

The DOJ has told lawyers conducting the antitrust inquiry into Alphabet Inc. to complete their work by the end of September. Alphabet is Google and YouTube’s parent company, which exercises a wide control over online search engines, video, and advertising markets.

A subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary panel has raised major concerns regarding the company’s ability to exploit and monopolize the market to fuel their own business ventures. Subsequently, the DOJ is asking Google about how it utilizes a mixture of strategies to entice advertisers and online publishers, such as bundling offers, giving discounts, or creating restrictions.

Other critics have pointed out how Google deploys software to manage each step of online advertising, playing both sides of the market. “In no other market does the party represent the seller, the buyer, makes the rules, and conduct the auction,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, in this week’s hearing. He also called Google’s monopolizing position “indefensible”.

Google’s president of global partnerships and corporate development, Don Harrison, responded to these allegations by pointing out that while the company leads in general online searches, consumers are more likely to turn to Amazon for product and commercial queries.

Google currently controls roughly 90% of online searches globally, aided by the fact that it’s become the default browser on phones through its Android operating system. About one-third of every dollar spent on online advertising also finds its way into Google’s hands. It’s likely we’ll see more movement in this massive case heading into the end of the year.

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