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This new “no-fuss” customer support tool focuses on privacy

(MARKETING) Letterbase’s website widget lets customers send a quick email to businesses without worrying about who’s looking at or selling their info.

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Letterbase is a contact form widget to help customer support

Giving your website users a timely, low-friction way to talk to your business is essential, yes? Live chat can be cool for customer support, but do you really need it? If it feels like overkill, check out Letterbase’s email-based tool.

The website widget for facilitating customer feedback was designed to be “simple, fast, and privacy-friendly.”

Through a branding-friendly, customizable box that can appear on each page, customers can quickly send an email initiating a conversation. They don’t have to wait around for a chat reply before clicking off the site; they get a response in their inbox. Businesses don’t have to use a separate tool to respond and log conversations; the person monitoring email does that. Hence, the “simple.”

The “fast” comes with what they promise is lightweight script installed with a quick copy and paste.

It’s that “privacy-friendly” part that maker Richard Chu says prompted the idea for the product. After combing through messaging apps’ privacy policies, Chu says, he found the “spying” and data sharing to be intrusive.

You might not be aware of how much data collecting some website messaging and chat apps do – and that they sell that data to third parties. Capturing users’ IP addresses, monitoring their browser history, setting cookies, collecting personal information such as drivers license numbers, even tracking users’ location, can all come with a site’s chat or messaging platform – unbeknownst to users.

Having a chat or messenger widget prominently on a website shows that a company cares about customer support and service, but there are things to consider with Letterbase and similar apps.

Some good points:

  • Privacy friendly: Letterbase’s privacy guarantee should allow website owners to assure users that their data is not being collected or sold – a potentially huge trust-builder with customers.
  • Data ownership: Website owners own the data and Letterbase doesn’t store any user conversations.
  • Easy to use: Letterbase should be an affordable customer support tool for small businesses and groups who don’t have dedicated IT people or a high knowledge of tech.
  • Simplicity over analytics: There are no frustrating chat bots that don’t really understand customer questions, and no paying for complicated analytics bells and whistles like sentiment analysis, which requires a team of people just to understand.
  • Trust: Sending an email directly feels better than contact forms, which are often perceived as a communication “black hole.” Users need to trust that they will get a quick reply.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Data collection: If users are being tracked, website owners can assume at least some of their own data is being tracked, too. Read any tool’s privacy policy and contract carefully.
  • Privacy policies: Do you need to alert users that you have an app that is collecting, sharing and/or selling their data? It’s not clear, but being transparent about privacy assures users that their data is safe is a huge potential trust builder. If a company is selling their data, it could quickly become obvious when a user starts to see targeted ads based on your conversation – a potentially huge trust-buster.
  • Security: If conversations might contain any sensitive information, like phone or credit card numbers, make sure your email client offers end-to-end encryption. This also can protect your company network from malware.
  • Response time: You need a crack email monitoring person who will be conscientious about timely responses and categorizing, analyzing and storing conversations. Consider auto-generated responses if that person can’t monitor all the time.

Currently, Letterbase has a 14-day free trial, then an early adopter price of $9 per month.

According to their public roadmap, they plan to eventually integrate with Slack.

It’s clear Letterbase could work for small businesses or groups that care about privacy and want a simple, no frills way for customers to ask questions or request support. Privacy is a the top of mind now, so lack of tracking could be a real benefit.

Sure, understanding and targeting customers through tracking what they do online is pretty much the foundation of digital marketing. For many businesses, though, simple email conversations could be all they need. Plus, it shows they care about privacy by not adding another layer of data surveillance in messaging, which could be the nudge that pushes a prospect to the next step in the customer journey.

Lisa Wyatt Roe is an Austin writer and editor whose work has been featured on CNN.com/Travel, in Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine and in the book “Seduced by Sound: Austin; 100 Musicians on Why They Make Music.” Travel and live music feed her soul. Volunteering with refugees feeds her sense of purpose. And making friends laugh feeds her deep (yet possibly sad) need to get all the laughing emojis on Facebook.

Real Estate Marketing

This mobile app logs your sales calls data to skyrocket your performance

(REAL ESTATE MARKETING) Salestrail is a startup that automatically logs calls so you can improve the performance of your sales calls with less hassle.

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Man on the phone in front of a laptop, making sales call.

Logging sales calls are important because they provide valuable data to businesses. Capturing inbound and outbound calls gives you insights on how to improve your calling strategies to boost your sales team’s efficiency.

Manually logging all that information can be a pain, but it doesn’t need to be. There are several call logging solutions, which make it easier to keep track of all that information. For instance, Salestrail is an automated call tracking software startup that automatically logs sales calls to an analytic dashboard.

Meant for business and remote sales teams, it uses a mobile app to capture and record calls and a cloud-based analytics dashboard to view and analyze call data.

The company’s mobile app works on both Android and iOS devices. It can log incoming and outgoing SIM and WhatsApp calls. Call logs can be viewed by date and phone number, and you can even configure the app’s setting to choose which calls you want to keep track of. However, recording calls is available on Android only, which you can manage and share through the dashboard.

In the Salestrail Dashboard, a variety of metrics are available at your disposal, such as the number of inbound and outbound calls, answered and missed calls, and the duration of a call. Reports can be customized and exported to Excel files. And with the captured data, you can also see which sales rep is performing the best. So, if you’d like, you can give them a pat on the back!

Most importantly, according to the company’s website, their product is “super-easy to use”, and it’s “made by salespeople, for salespeople.” No technical implementation is needed to use their product, and you can get started in less than one minute. Which, in my opinion, is a good thing, especially when it comes to non-tech savvy sales reps.

To get started, you create an account to access the dashboard and download their app. Once your account is set up, you can invite team members to join. You can do this by sharing your company’s sign-up link or emailing invitations directly through the dashboard.

Also, through Salestrail’s APIs, you can connect to your CRM. Call data can be automatically pushed to Salesforce and Hubspot.

Salestrails offers different pricing tiers for both monthly and annual plans. If you’d like to see if they’re right for you, you can sign up here.

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Real Estate Marketing

Steal this Apple marketing method to crush your competitors

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apple copy

Apple is a $2 trillion monolith of a company, and for countless good reasons. One of the primary reasons is their powerful marketing – one could argue they’re more famous for that than their actual product. Alex Garcia has a clear and concise guide to the process Apple uses to create compelling website copy, and it’s something you should absolutely try in your next round of marketing.

Garcia, a known marketing expert, breaks Apple’s copy down into 13 distinct techniques, the majority of which can be lumped into 3 categories:

  1. Appealing to customers
  2. Appealing to experts
  3. Appealing to the algorithm

Like any good marketing scheme, the majority of Apple’s techniques fall into the first category, but the overlap between these groups is what makes Apple’s copy stand out.

When appealing to customers, Apple tends to make things as simple as possible, sticking to a modern adaptation of the phrase “less is more.” This is a process that involves anything from rhyming (yes, seriously) and using alliteration all the way to creating short, energetic sentences that place the reader in the driver’s seat.

Apple also likes to focus on specific product details – edgeless screens, faster chips, camera abilities – as individual selling points, complete with supporting images. In theory, this makes it easier for the consumer to keep track of the benefits of the product.

And that energetic copy, often stemming from short sentences with the words “you” and “your” appearing organically, always accompanying those product details.

For what Garcia identifies as “scanners,” the most impressive information comes first (and uses the largest font), with the rest of the information following an “inverted pyramid” format in which details taper down from largest benefits to smallest benefits.

Apple’s overlap between experts and consumers is similarly notable. For the casual consumer, mentioning the new chip speed or information about the retina display on an iPhone stands out as impressive. And for experts who know how to read the specs they’re seeing, that first impression means just as much. Apple’s inclusion of those specifications in their copy (often in finer print than the bold, consumer-oriented headlines) makes all the difference.

Finally, search algorithms can flawlessly index Apple’s marketing copy due to copious use of keywords (words that don’t feel like keywords to the average consumer) in order to ensure that Apple products are recommended to as many undecided would-be buyers as possible.

Make no mistake: Apple has a metric truckload of other reasons for their success, many of which are well-outside of the grasp of most companies. But their marketing copy, and the confidence with which it is implemented, is something from which any business can learn. Before your next marketing push, consider how you’re appealing to all three categories, while your competitors only consider one (consumers).

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Real Estate Marketing

If you use WordPress or Google Ads, you need to know a battle’s brewing

(TECH) Whether WordPress or Google Ads are part of your business, their battle could impact how you market and/or make money.

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wordpress and google ads duking it out

WordPress is in the process of fighting back against Google’s alternative to third-party cookies, FLoC. If they win, it will be a massive loss for anyone using Google Ads in the coming months.

Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) is Google’s pending replacement for third-party cookies. Instead of using third-party cookies to track browsing, FLoC automatically groups website visitors into “cohorts” that will see different ads depending on their recent activity.

It’s worth noting that, despite Google’s aggressive interest in phasing out third-party cookies, every web browser other than Chrome has opted out of using FLoC, and the EFF has accused Google of propagating further violations of users’ privacy.

But WordPress isn’t interested in the drama around the new tracking measures, opting instead to propose a plan in which FLoC would be blocked in the default settings on their properties. Should they succeed in making this a feature, Google Ads will be hindered substantially on WordPress domains, thereby hiding an estimated 40% of sites from Google’s advertising.

Matt Mullenweg, the CEO of WordPress’ parent company, confirmed that while the idea of blocking FLoC is still in its infancy,there is nevertheless “a proposal from a WP contributor to block FLoC by default.”

Search Engine Land also clarifies that this isn’t a difficult feature to implement, citing that “every programming language that powers websites typically carries a similar functionality” and positing that a paradigm shift for most websites therefore would be feasible.

“This would be relatively easy to implement if a website owner or developer wanted to do so,” writes George Nguyen.

A lot of the alarm regarding FLoC is predicated on the EFF’s risk assessment, with the organization categorically decrying this system as facilitating discriminatory and “predatory” grouping of users: “…placing people in groups based on their browsing habits is likely to facilitate employment, housing and other types of discrimination, as well as predatory targeting of unsophisticated consumers.”

Ultimately, FLoC is a mixed bag, but blocking it has clear and devastating implications for Google Ad campaigns across the board. In the fight between privacy and fair advertising, it’s typical to pick a horse and stick to it; it’s safe to say that FLoC and WordPress’ response to it will upset that paradigm for the foreseeable future.

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