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How people are thinking creatively to make it through COVID-19

(REAL ESTATE MARKETING) People and businesses are extremely innovative and resilient in tough times – here are some examples of stuff you can now do online!

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online during COVID-19

The last couple of weeks have brought us lighting speed changes in news and information and a really abrupt adjustment to life with the pandemic of the coronavirus (COVID-19). While some of the swift cancellations of large events, travel, in person workshops or conferences, and then changes in our day to day (oh now everyone works online remotely?) has driven some of us to the liquor store or to hoard toilet paper, others have found ways to quickly provide new solutions to their clientele or adjust their business to the new reality.

A great example is of an Airbnb host in Detroit who decided that after losing 2 months of income in 72 hours that why not offer their beautiful spaces (with a desk area and coffee!) for those who may need a remote place to work and/or lost their co-working space. They quickly pulled together a way to offer day passes – but they didn’t stop there. They brainstormed other ways to promote their locations and “reached out to all the local hospitals and Facebook groups in case traveling nurses or traveling PT’s need a place to stay. Again, you have to get creative if you’re a small business. You don’t get a bailout!

Artists across the board from DJs to painters to late night talk show hosts have created content to engage those who may have children at home and/or are not ok with social isolation and need some interactivity to help lighten the mood or laugh a little bit. Many restaurants/bars/service industries moved quickly to either utilize online ordering platforms (or quickly figure out how they can take payments online) so that customers can still order food/beverages via drive-thru or stop and go pick up.

Mo Willems Is Hosting Free Online “Lunch Doodles” While Kids Are Home From School

The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon has been doing 10-minute hilarious clips from home with his wife and small children helping to film and be his “design department”

Live Streams and Virtual Concerts via Billboard

Museums and world famous institutions have provided tours or live feeds for children to watch from home. Check out these penguins that got a tour of the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago thanks to the coronavirus.

Tech companies have also stepped up their services to help with educators who are away from their students and parents who have lost school and daycare. Zoom announced free video services to K-12 schools and insisted this was not time to profit on this disaster. Facebook quickly pulled together information and resources for schools who will be out for a while. LinkedIn Learning selected some classes to offer free to help folks learning new skills in working remotely to stay productive and adaptable.

It may not be easy to quickly move in to being okay with this situation. It will affect and hurt many people and we all are aware that we don’t know in all the ways just yet. These are just some examples of quick movement to adjust and help some turn lemons in to lemonade (with or without vodka, your choice).

Erin Wike is a Career Coach & Lecturer at The University of Texas at Austin and owner of Cafe Con Resume. Erin is fueled by dark roast coffee with cream AND sugar, her loving husband, daughter, and two rescue dogs. She is the Co-Founder of Small Business Friends ATX to help fellow entrepreneurs + hosts events for people to live a Life of Yes with Mac & Cheese Productions.

Real Estate Marketing

Retargeting: are you really getting the best ROI with this method?

(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 those 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 requires 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 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

Do your customers a favor and quit using ‘no-reply’ emails immediately

(REAL ESTATE MARKETING) No-reply emails may serve a company well, but the customers can become frustrated with the loss of a quick and easy way to get help.

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no-reply email face

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 real estate practitioner 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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Real Estate Marketing

How to keep your website optimized for digital assistants & voice searches

(MARKETING) With the use of voice searches and digital assistants on the rise, it is more important now than ever before that your website be optimized.

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Women typing on laptop representing leadership.

Voice control’s effect on web content

One-in-five mobile users rely on voice searches to find information or control their devices according to a recent study. Considering many cars now enable you to control your music, messages, and email through voice, this isn’t too surprising. What does it mean for web content though?

With the rise of digital assistants and talk-to-text, should web content be re-evaluated to ensure it is compatible with Siri, Cortana, Alexa, and others?

Deep learning

Digital assistants have certainly contributed to the rise in popularity of voice searches, talk-to-text, and deep learning. Deep learning is an artificial intelligence (AI) process that imitates the workings of the way the human brain processes data and creates patterns for decision making. Deep learning is a subset of machine learning in AI that has networks that are capable of learning unsupervised from data that is unstructured.

Deep learning is a type of machine learning that uses complex systems to carry out their “learning processes.”

Given the complex algorithms and “learning” involved for deep learning to be fully functional and optimal, it’s not surprising that voice searches are on the rise; the more it’s used, the better it “learns.” Every day more and more people are choosing to say what they need, rather than type it out. With this rise, also comes the need for entrepreneurs and businesspeople to optimize their SEO and web content for voice searches. How can you ensure your site is compatible and flawless optimized?

Phrases instead of keywords

The first thing you should keep in mind regarding your content is how voice users search for content. Instead of searching for one or two keywords, voice users typically ask a question in the form of a complete sentence. For example, you might hear someone say, “Hey, Siri. What’s the best way to make chocolate chip cookies?” Then, Siri might respond with a recipe. How does Siri know what you what? Deep learning.

How does Siri know what to show you? Deep learning and website optimization.

Soon, instead of focusing your SEO on selected keywords, you may be focusing on key phrases (also called long-tail keywords) which will likely answer the questions a voice user would ask. By humanizing your content by thinking about your answers in full sentences, you’ll be one step closer to optimization. For example, think, what would a consumer likely ask in order to find me? Do I have the answer to these questions on my pages and SEO? Not sure what to ask or answer? Answer the Public is a great tool for helping you dig deeper into your content and gets things optimized. In addition to re-evaluating your SEO, you may want to develop questions you think searchers might ask and then include the answers in your Q&A content (thus, making your site higher up in the result ranks).

Mobile friendly/Covering your bases

Another way to make sure your site is ready for voice searches is to make sure it is also mobile-friendly. Google recommends responsive web design, along with several other points you may want to consider to ensure your website is mobile-friendly. Wondering if your site is mobile-friendly? Google developed a test to help you. Simply click here, and enter your site’s URL in the box and it will let you know if your site has passed the test.

If your site does not pass, Google will suggest what could be changed to make your site more mobile friendly.

Also, keep in mind mobile users will often reference microdata, like a business’s location, phone number, price, and more (think: when people speak the phrase “find near me” or “nearby.”) You can ensure voice searchers can find you by making this information easily retrievable for digital assistants by creating a comprehensive sitemap for your site, including your address, relevant contact information, directions from main highways, etc.

Understanding digital assistants

One final thing to keep in mind: Siri and Cortana are not search engines. They default to Bing to collect and collate web-based results. Google Now, will, of course, collect from Google. Given the popularity of both Siri and Cortana, is there a possibility that Bing will outpace Google?

Probably not, but you do want to make sure that you are optimized for both search engines or your business might lose out on voice searches.

If you want to ensure you do not miss out on Siri and Cortana users, you may need to do a bit of research on what works best on Bing. For example, Bing prioritizes local results, whereas Google gives the most popular topic priority. Google is better at semantic search, while Bing is better with specific keywords. Again, both are useful search tools, but if you want to ensure maximum traffic, you should be aware of the difference. (Side note: some tech-savvy users know how to re-program Siri and Cortana to pull from their favorite search engine, but I do not think the larger majority of users choose to do this).

The future of voice searches

Technology enthusiasts are absolutely going to continue to use their keyboards for some things, however, voice searches are on the rise simply because they are more convenient. If the trend continues, and I think it will, it is a worthwhile step to have your site already prepared and optimized because as the capabilities and value of voice continue to grow, so will the need for marketers to evolve. Emphasis will need to be placed on sentences, phrases, and topics rather than keywords. And the demand for mobile-friendly sites will be paramount. What do you think – is your site optimized for digital assistant and voice searches?

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