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Three core components of content marketing

Content is at the epicenter of digital and social platforms:

It’s the single most important component that ensures that businesses are communicating—and connecting—with their clients.

But content can make or break a brand: Clients will either pay attention, or they won’t. But when businesses authentically connect with their audience, they have the opportunity to leverage their content, which generates more search traffic, trust and, ultimately, leads.

In a nutshell, content marketing is one of the most effective communication strategies available to businesses, but while slapping blog posts on your website and posting on social media channels seems easy enough, businesses too often misjudge their audience—and, more important, the content that most appeals to them.

It’s not about direct sales; it’s about engagement and inspiring reactions.

Still, even when it’s done right, content marketing can be tricky. It’s a crowded field with major competition at every click, and it’s becoming ominously more difficult to reach potential clients and retain existing ones. To best your competition, follow these content marketing tips:

Have a strategic plan in place: Before creating content, build a smart and solid strategic roadmap that considers your company’s growth and revenue goals, your target audience, the ways in which you’ll deliver content (videos, tweets, blog, Facebook and Instagram posts, infographics), a list of salient topics that clearly positions and defines your company’s brand and image, an assessment of your company’s distinguishing perspectives and, finally, metrics to measure the achievement of your content.

Don’t tell your story all at once: Storytelling is key to content marketing, but you want your audience to keep coming back for more. Teasing a story on social media platforms is a great way to keep your audience engaged and intrigued. If your business is considering hosting a special event, for example, build momentum by running promotional, brand-aligned giveaways or contests that last a few days, or even weeks.

Use your website to promote it and take advantage of social networks to extend its reach. The longer your footprint lasts, the better.

Be conversational: No one appreciates an overbearing sales pitch. And now, more than ever, audiences want (and demand) value, authenticity and the opportunity to respond. When you write content, think of it as a feedback-oriented conversation between you and your audience. A conversational style builds relationship over time, whereas a hard sell often drives audiences away.

Real Estate Corner:
What’s up with Denver’s baffling real estate market?

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Unprecedented low interest rates, a record-high stock market and a Denver real estate market that’s suddenly underperforming:

What on earth is going on? June is historically one of the highest performing months for Denver home sales, but not this year: Inventory was up 28 percent, sold homes were down 14 percent and the time a home spent on the market soared to 23 percent. Not since 2013 has Denver seen such a high inventory of houses for sale.

Business Email Compromise/Email Account Compromise

Business Email Compromise/Email Account Compromise (BEC/EAC). (part2)

(It’s a lot to say – SupercaliFRAUDulisticexpialidocious)

Email can be sinister. It can encourage changes (not authorized, not legitimate), it can “warn” recipients of dire circumstances if instructions are not followed, it can be shaped and branded to look like an institution all parties are familiar with, and it can assist in fraud that involves any number of untoward outcomes – like clients’ and institutions’ funds being pilfered.

The U.S. Government has a phrase for such criminal action: Business Email Compromise/Email Account Compromise (BEC/EAC). That wordy title speaks to two crimes.

Download Our Fraud Detection Guide for Agents

BEC scams are carried out by compromising legitimate business email accounts. The EAC component of the scam refers to the targeting of consumers and the lenders, real estate professionals, attorneys and others who serve them.

More information on BEC/EAC fraud prevention and recovery can be found on our Education page.

It can be daunting to try to wrap one’s brain around every single possibility and scenario that could trip someone up – and trick someone into giving away information that affords a thief the opportunity to steal funds.

Below is a list that, while not necessarily “completely memorizable” – even if studied, can serve as a red flag for knowing when something is awry.

It can serve as warning to be wary of the many and various paths that crooks can take to defraud legitimate people conducting real estate transactions.

  • Exercise extreme caution when weighing any request to change wire instructions. Encourage all parties to do the same.
  • Be wary of any email, phone call or other communication that involves threats, high pressure language (e.g. markings, assertions, or language designating the transaction request as “Urgent,” “Secret,” or “Confidential,”) or warns of “dire consequences” if immediate action isn’t taken.
  • Be wary of emails with missing or unusual subject lines.
  • Be wary of any request to change wiring instructions, especially any last-minute requests.
  • Be wary of emails that include poor spelling or grammar, are overly formal or that are written in a style uncharacteristic of the purported sender. Also, beware of emails that misuse industry terminology, for instance, references to the “HUD” instead of the “Closing Disclosure”.
  • Be wary of any unexpected emails or requests, including internal requests purportedly from executives or others.
  • Be wary of emails sent at odd hours.
  • Be wary of any communication seeking to confirm information the purported sender should already have.
  • Beware of sudden changes in business practices. For example, if a current business contact suddenly asks to be contacted via a personal email address, it’s best to verify the legitimacy of the request via other channels.
  • Review monthly escrow statements from the Receiving Bank (the one holding the agent’s escrow account) as soon as available to verify that all expected funds have actually been received.
  • Have a written agreement in place with the Receiving Bank (the agent’s bank which holds the escrow account and receives the agent’s payment order) that the Receiving Bank will match all names, addresses, account numbers, routing number and beneficiary bank name on the payment order with where and to whom the funds are actually sent. Or put instructions on the payment order for the Receiving Bank to verify authorization by matching all of this information.
  • Emailed transaction instructions directing wire transfers to a foreign bank account that has been documented in customer complaints as the destination of fraudulent transactions.
  • Emailed transaction instructions directing payment to a beneficiary with which the customer has no payment history or documented business relationship, and the payment is in an amount similar to or in excess of payments sent to beneficiaries whom the customer has historically paid.
  • Emailed transaction instructions delivered in a way that would give the financial institution limited time or opportunity to confirm the authenticity of the requested transaction.
  • Emailed transaction instructions originating from a customer’s employee who is a newly authorized person on the account or is an authorized person who has not previously sent wire transfer instructions.
  • A customer’s employee or representative emailing financial institution transaction instructions on behalf of the customer that are based exclusively on email communications originating from executives, attorneys, or their designees when the customer’s employee or representative indicates he/she has been unable to verify the transactions with such executives, attorneys, or designees.
  • A customer emailing transaction requests for additional payments immediately following a successful payment to an account not previously used by the customer to pay its suppliers/vendors. Such behavior may be consistent with a criminal attempting to issue additional unauthorized payments upon learning that a fraudulent payment was successful.

Review and revisit this list of tips when handling suspicious wire requests, before the exchange of funds takes place.

  • Verify all wire instructions with an alternate method of communication.
  • Check emails to ensure the sender’s address has not been altered. Fraudsters typically use email addresses that closely resemble a seller’s (or any party’s) actual email address.
  • Do not open unknown or unverified hyperlinks or downloads. Tip: Hovering your mouse over the sender’s email address may reveal a different email address. Caution: Do not hover over unknown links within the body of a suspect email. Security experts formerly recommended hovering as a way to determine the validity of such links. However, newer strains of malware may infect a computer when the user merely hovers over the link.
  • Delete unsolicited emails from unknown sources.
  • In the case of an invoice, verify any changes in vendor payment location and confirm requests for transfer of funds.

Download Our Fraud Detection Guide for Agents

Congratulations to Dustin Tillman

Welcome Dustin Tillman, Alliant National’s New North Florida Agency Manager

Dustin’s father, Tim Tillman, grew Alliant National’s footprint in North Florida over the past six years.  When Tim decided to answer the call to use his exemplary title and management skills as the Florida Production Manager, an active search began for someone to fill the Agency Manager position in North Florida.  Dustin rose to the top as an obvious choice.

Dustin has been with Alliant National for two years. He will work closely with Tim through the transition as he continues to cultivate Alliant National’s footprint

“Dustin has always been diligent, responsible and a hard worker; always with a sense of purpose and he has grown to be a man of great character.”

– Tim Tillman
Welcome Vesa

Alliant National Title Insurance Company Appoints Controller

Vesa Tubbs will oversee the financial and statutory reporting and management of the accounting and finance department of Alliant National’s Longmont headquarters.

LONGMONT, CO. – The largest title insurance underwriter in the nation with no direct operations to compete against its agents, Alliant National, announced Vesa Tubbs has been appointed as the company’s controller.

Tubbs has resided in Boulder, Colo. since 2004 and is originally from Moscow, Russia. She holds three degrees: an M.S. in chemical engineering and an M.A. in accounting, both of which she received in Russia, along with a second M.A. in accounting that she earned from Metropolitan State University of Denver. Additionally, Tubbs has a CPA license.

“We are grateful to have Vesa join our team. She brings a strong financial background to assist in our growth,” said Scott Hendrickson, CFO, treasurer and co-founder of Alliant National.

Tubbs will oversee financial and statutory reporting, general accounting and management of the accounting and finance department, she said.

“I came from the public accounting industry, and I have a good understanding of accounting, as well as the technical skills to make the process efficient and user oriented,” she said. “Alliant National is a growing company that’s developing new processes, reports and ideas, and I’m happy to be a part of such a creative group of people.”

When she’s away from the office, Tubbs, who lives with her husband Bob, a math professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, spends her time diving and snorkeling.

“There’s nothing like the ocean,” Tubbs said, adding that she also enjoys hiking. “I’m fortunate to live in Boulder, so I can just close my back door and go hiking around Chautauqua, in the sun or the rain, with company or alone. For me, being in the thick of nature is the best stress release I know.”

Tubbs’s positive work philosophy makes her a great fit for Alliant National’s ever-evolving culture. “I don’t believe a situation can’t be changed and improved,” noted Vesa. “Everything can and will change so we need to constantly listen, learn and think. Tomorrow is always unpredictable and interesting.”

About Alliant National Title Insurance Company

The Independent Underwriter for The Independent Agent® Alliant National believes in putting other people first. The company protects the dreams of property owners with secure title insurance and partners with 500+ trusted independent title agents as a licensed underwriter in 24 states and the District of Columbia.

Alliant National is the largest title insurance underwriter in the country with no direct operations to compete against its agents and puts the interests of its agents first. Bolstered by financial stability, strong underwriting capability and independent agents’ in-depth knowledge of local markets, the company has established a nationwide network with deep roots in local communities and a wealth of expertise that is flexible, nuanced and continuously growing. Visit alliantnational.com for additional information.

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Test My Site, an updated Google tool, delivers a better, faster and more user-friendly mobile experience

Every second it takes for your pages to load, you risk losing both new and existing users.

Several factors come into play when businesses build their websites and blogs, but most important among them is ensuring that your website provides the best experience possible for the user, especially on mobile devices.

Visuals – color schemes, font size, text placement and overall layout – are important, but they’re also subjective. Page load speed, on the contrary, is highly objective, not to mention measurable.

Numerous case studies, including one conducted by Pinterest, which increased its search engine traffic and sign-ups by 15 percent when the social media web and mobile application company reduced wait times by 40 percent, have concluded that speed performance plays a huge roll in the success of retaining users.

At best, slow performance causes annoying delays, but if your mobile website or blog is unresponsive or takes too long to load, users may give up and point their browser elsewhere.

As a business, you want users to read your website content and blog posts, but for every second it takes for your pages to load, you risk losing both new and existing users.

DoubleClick by Google found 53 percent of mobile site visits were cast aside if a page took longer than three seconds to load. In that same study, sites that loaded within 5 seconds had 70 percent longer sessions, 35 percent lower bounce rates and 25 percent higher ad viewability than sites taking nearly four times longer to load.

Just how important is it to ensure your users experience a fast and easy mobile experience?

According to a study released by The State of Online Retail Performance, “a one-second delay in mobile load times can impact conversion rate by up to 20 percent.”

It was that statistic that propelled Think with Google, a one-stop online shop for consumer, industry and marketing trends and insight, to create Test My Site, a tool that enables businesses to optimize their blogs and websites on mobile devices. Specifically, the tool allows businesses to see:

  • The speed of both their entire site and of individual pages 
  • Whether their site/page speed is faster or slower compared to the prior month
  • Whether their site speed/page speed ranks fast, average or slow
  • How their site speed compares to others in the industry 
  • The potential impact of site speed on revenue
  • A detailed list of recommended fixes to increase speed on up to five pages on their site
  • A complete report to share with colleagues

With Google’s updated Test My Site, businesses now have a single destination to measure, benchmark and take action on mobile site speed—the first step toward a better mobile experience for your clients.

Real Estate Corner:
Fall could result in a seller’s market, thanks to falling mortgage rates and low inventory

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According to realtor.com, the real estate slump that took hold last summer may be showing signs of reversal, especially as we look toward fall. If that prediction comes to fruition, sellers will profit the most.

This blog contains general information only, not intended to be relied upon as, nor a substitute for, specific professional advice. We accept no responsibility for loss occasioned to any purpose acting on or refraining from action as a result of any material on this blog.

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The Independent Underwriter for the Independent Agent®