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How COVID is driving the whole economy

(MARKETING) Coronavirus is turning the traditional consumer-model on its head. How are our changes in needs purchases affecting the economy?

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Woman grocery shopping, showing economy changes

The consumer landscape has shifted since the start of COVID-19. Americans are going out less frequently, which means less money is being spent on eating out and travel. As a result, consumers are splurging more on luxury foods, clothes, and other items. The logic is: When you don’t need to fill up the gas tank to commute to work or bring your children to school, that money can be used on other things that you might not have had the disposable income to buy before. But there is more to this new COVID-era economy than a simple reshuffling of what we spend our money on.

There are indistinct, whole-sector trends regarding what Americans are now buying or not buying. For example, there was a massive e-commerce push in the fashion industry when brick-and-mortar stores began to shut down, but since people aren’t going out as much, there is less incentive to buy new clothes and keep up with fashion trends. There has been, however, an increase in luxury athleisurewear sales, such as Lululemon yoga pants ($105) – the demand for which has increased, driving the price up. If you’re going to be spending most of your time at home, might as well do so in luxury comfort.

The money that one would have typically spent on going out to eat a few times a week, or for purchasing a daily coffee on the way to work, is now increasingly being spent on at-home alternatives. Americans are now spending more on coffee, eggs, and ketchup – to name a few.

These changes in consumer culture are also affecting how manufacturers are packaging items. For example, Cal-Maine Foods Inc.– the egg market leader – has reported a shortage of cartons. Pre-COVID, Cal-Maine was mostly providing powdered eggs to restaurants whereas now their focus has shifted to egg cartons for grocery stores, as COVID-19 has elicited higher rates for household egg consumption.

This trend can also be observed in the condiment industry, where there has been an increase in demand for domestic, fridge-sized bottles, and a decrease in the gallon-jug sized products intended for supplying restaurants. In the case of market giant Kraft Heinz, consumers are spending 10% more ketchup, mayonnaise, and vinegar this year – a price mark-up that many see as opportunistic and profit-seeking during a pandemic, but which the company claims is due to increased difficulties in manufacturing during this time.

Amidst mass layoffs, many Americans are actually doing quite well financially, all things considered. Along with decreased overall spending, the majority of Americans are either working from home or collecting unemployment. With the added cushion of the first stimulus check – which was distributed in the spring – some Americans are even more well-off monetarily than they were last year, which typically drives the economy.

However, the first round of COVID-related benefits expired on July 31st, which left around 30 million unemployed Americans without the additional weekly $600. As of now, there is no solid federal plan to continue the COVID-19 benefits. With many Americans adjusting to life without the disposable income they had in the spring and early summer, analysts predict recessionary spending behavior in the fall and winter.

Because so much is unknown about government assistance, the economy, and the coronavirus itself at this time, it’s difficult for economists to predict future market trends. While it’s not good for business, almost all remains uncertain.

Anaïs DerSimonian is a writer, filmmaker, and educator interested in media, culture and the arts. She is Clark University Alumni with a degree in Culture Studies and Screen Studies. She has produced various documentary and narrative projects, including a profile on an NGO in Yerevan, Armenia that provides micro-loans to cottage industries and entrepreneurs based in rural regions to help create jobs, self-sufficiency, and to stimulate the post-Soviet economy. She is currently based in Boston. Besides filmmaking, Anaïs enjoys reading good fiction and watching sketch and stand-up comedy.

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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Real Estate Marketing

Your website copy may be too hard to read; these services help

(REAL ESTATE MARKETING) Your website copy may be too dense, unreadable, and turning away sales. Here’s some tech to help you out.

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Man browses website on tablet with a cup of coffee nearby.

You’ve got a killer product or service you’re about to unleash on the world. The bank accounts are made, coffee pot is running, and you’re ready to start reeling in the sales. With your slick new website, you just know your phone is going to start ringing off the hook. But then, it doesn’t.

What gives? Bad UI? Typo in the phone number? One possible reason you’re not getting DM-ed may surprise you – your web copy.

Developing the clear-as-water copy that is going to get you hired or your product sold can be a toughie. Those words you loving poured your time and energy into might be making your potential leads mash the back button. Why? If you or one of your employees wrote the website, you can know your subject too well.

That expertise and familiarity, which makes you amazing at your job, can make it difficult for an outsider to understand what you do. The more difficult you make that understanding for your reader, the less likely you’ll turn a sale.

Case in point: Most people browsing the internet spend less than 15 seconds on a website. That means you have less than 15 seconds to hook your potential client before they remember they have a cat video to finish.

Many a great business has died on piles of jargon, dense sentences, and trendy buzzwords. But never fear! Since hiring an army of copywriters is cost-prohibitive, we’ve got some suggestions on services you can use to make that copy do work.

Clarity Grader

Clarity Grader allows you to put a website’s full text into its grading portal or even analyze a url. What you get is a free plain language report and clarity score emailed to you. Of course, if you want the ultimate features, you’ll definitely have to pay for them.

But Clarity Grader’s paid options runs hundreds of checks on your copy, including spell checking, broken link checking and consistency checks. Plus, there’s a free trial to figure out if you want to spend the dough on the premium features for this nifty proofreader.

Jargon Grader

If you’re more worried about relying too hard on jargon, Jargon Grader is a free web-based service without many bells or whistles. Just paste the concerning text into the text box and it’ll run checks and highlight which words detract from your writing. Jargon Grader also reminds you “that some over-used words may be acceptable in context.” A quick run through Jargon Grader, and you’ll be zapping all your buzzwords in no time.

Hemingway Editor

Hemingway Editor isn’t just for fiction writers. Another free web-based service, Hemingway Editor helps you emulate the bold and concise style of Ernest Hemingway. It flags words and phrases for readability, passive voice and conciseness. Hemingway Editor even highlights adverbs to keep you crystal clear.

If you’re trying to make a sale, web copy shouldn’t hedge or hide under lots of needless words. Run your words through Hemingway Editor and be bold.

Grammarly

The Big Daddy of web and desktop freemium apps, Grammarly is a must for any small or solo enterprise. Grammarly does seemingly countless grammatical, spelling, and clarity checks on what you write. It does paywall some of the clarity features, but by cobbling together all the other services plus free Grammarly, you should be covered.

And, bonus, the extension can be installed in almost every facet of your business (email, web-browser, phone apps). That means no one will be confused by how your website reads crystal clear and how your emails read like a ransom note.

So whether you’re a broker trying to save coin or an army-of-one real estate tech freelancer, arm yourself with a few nifty tech tools, and you’ll start improving your lead generation efforts.

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