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Improve your marketing email campaigns by integrating these successful tips

Marketing pros live and die by email, and with good reason: Email marketing provides the highest ROI of any marketing channel, especially when it’s done correctly.

But while your ROI has the potential to be monumental, the strategies behind successful email marketing campaigns aren’t always quick or easy.

To maximize your reach and covert your copy into a convincing narrative, you’ve got to be thoughtful, captivating and customer-centric.

Follow these effective tips for crafting compelling email marketing messages that will help grow your business.

Research Your Target Audience

Your audience is the most valuable asset to your business, and it’s your job to ensure that you develop customer profiles that align with your business and its values and mission.

That starts with compiling organic email lists based on everything from demographic data to hobbies and interests.

Verify that every name on the list wants to be included in your email marketing campaigns. The fastest way to get blacklisted by the major ISPs is to purchase or rent email lists.

Building the lists from scratch is time-consuming, but the reward is much higher engagement.

Test Your Email Content

Before you send out a campaign to hundreds, if not thousands of readers, be sure to test your content first for broken links, image resolution issues, spelling errors, grammatical mistakes and design layout.

It’s always best to send a few test mails to yourself to ensure that everything looks correct.

Beware of Spam-Like Content

Always, always keep your content relevant to your audience and consistent with your brand.

Everyone has spam filters and “junk” email inboxes, and if your subject headers, for example, are too gimmicky, have too many exclamation points or contain misspellings, it’s likely that your email campaigns will be promptly dumped into the trash bin.

Always Include a Call-to-Action

There’s nothing worse than leaving your audienceat a dead end.

One of the most crucial email marketing best practices is to be abundantly clear and direct with your audience – and that means telling them exactly what you’d like them to do next.

The point to any marketing message is to get a response.

Provide sign-up links, for example, if you’re promoting a class, workshop or webinar. If you’re hosting an event, be sure to include an RSVP link. And if you’re offering promotional offers, use action verbs – “reserve,” “act,” “subscribe,” “save,” “start” and “get,” for instance – to persuade your audience to respond.

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Are online reviews important, and should you respond to them?

It used to be that personal recommendations solidified decisions, but in today’s fast-moving digital orbit, news about your company travels differently, and online reviews—think Yelp, Google and Facebook—are a primary source of feedback.

In fact, a recent survey conducted by Pew Research Center concluded that 78 percent of Internet users conduct research online and believe reviews are the most credible form of advertising.

A 2018 Local Consumer Review Survey conducted by Brightlocal.com reported that 85 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations and that 57 percent of consumers will only use a business if it’s rated four stars or higher.

Suffice it to say that online reviews are remarkably influential.

Not everyone responds to reviews, but there are several reasons why you should (even if they’re negative), including the fact that replying to feedback shows that you’re paying attention to your clients and customers, you’re not afraid of transparency and your business is all about building relationships.

The goal is to convert fans of your business into super-fans and offer disappointed reviewers an acceptable resolution, which often leads to a revised review or inspiration to remove a negative one. While there are multiple ways to respond to reviews – the positive and the negative – follow these tips to put the face of your business in the best light.

Be pleasant and don’t hurl insults: When a client or consumer is frustrated, they’re ready to fight. The last thing your business wants to do is fuel the fire or burn bridges, so when you’re responding to negative reviews, take a deep breath, be courteous and polite and provide solutions when feasible.

A little sympathy goes a long way in defusing an unpleasant situation. If you sense that the dialogue is taking a turn for the worse, suggest settling the matter offline, far away from judgmental public eyes. 

Keep your responses short and to the point: Social media users are looking to digest information quickly. If they want to read a novel, they’ll grab their Kindle or head to the bookstore. Keep your responses brief and genuine and stay on topic.

Thank those who post positive reviews: While handwritten “thank you” notes are, sadly, a thing of the past, clicking the “Like” button on a positive Facebook comment takes a second. Literally. Typing “Thank you for the kind words!” takes four seconds – five if your typing skills need work.

You don’t have to thank every single person, but if someone takes the time to write a favorable review, it’s a good idea to show your appreciation.

Don’t be a salesperson: When a user writes a review, it’s usually proof that they’ve already interacted with your business, so there’s no need to tell them what they already know.

If you have something new to share about your business, it’s fine to share, but make sure the content isn’t spammy or irrelevant.

Let clients and customers know that you loved working with them: Want to turn a customer or client into repeat customers or clients? If they post a glowing review, let them know how much you enjoyed working with them – and you’d welcome the opportunity to do so again.

If you want people to continue to work with your business, you need to let them know that you’re the kind of business that welcomes them back.


Real Estate Corner:
Mortgage rates are the lowest in a year and a half, but homebuyers aren’t taking the bait

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Mortgage rates continue to fall, but homebuyers aren’t impressed, writes Diane Olick, real estate reporter for CNBC.com.

Mortgage applications to purchase a home fell 2 percent in the last week in May and were barely 0.5 percent higher than a year ago, she notes.

And despite rates that are the lowest they’ve been in a year and a half, “High prices continue to sideline buyers, especially first-time buyers, who are a growing segment of the market.

Relations key to getting your business’s story published

Building solid relationships with the press is the golden ticket to getting that story published. Here are few tips to help you become a trusted member of the media:

Be Mindful of Language Blunders

Spelling counts, as does grammar and professionalism. You’re not sending a text to your best friend, your kid or your mom. One of the biggest pet peeves of journalists is misspellings, text abbreviations (“LMK” in lieu of “Let me know,” for example) and incorrect grammar.

These blunders spell laziness in the mind of a journalist. Take the time to run a spell check; use Grammarly, on online tool that essentially proofreads your copy and alerts you to errors; and read your e-mail, press release or document out loud to ensure that it’s properly structured and flows with ease.

Don’t Pitch the Wrong journalist

You’ve crafted a thoughtfully researched, compelling, error-free pitch and you’re anxious to see the fruits of your labor in print or on a website or blog with a robust, high-traffic readership.

And then you send it off to a journalist who doesn’t write—and will never write—about the topic at hand. It’s imperative to do your research, and that means reading a journalist’s work before you press the “send” button or pick up the phone.

There’s nothing that journalists hate more than receiving useless information. If you’re going to pitch a writer, make sure it’s someone who covers the relevant subject matter.

More important: Make sure your pitch is newsworthy. Another tip: read mastheads of magazines, newspapers and digital sites to determine the beat of their writers. 

Avoid Pitching Stories on Weekends

Unless you know for a fact that the reporter is a weekend writer or editor, avoid sending communication on Saturday and Sunday.

Journalists, like the rest of us, have lives, and it’s important to respect their time off the clock. Weekend pitching has other pitfalls: If you send an-mail on a Saturday, and it’s read, the journalist may well have forgotten it by Monday morning. By then, it’s often buried beneath a deluge of other pitches. Every reporter and publication has different deadlines, but according to a Business Wire Media Blueprint survey of more than 600 members of the media, Tuesday morning is typically the best time to pitch a story.

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Written cyber security and response plans: Just do it

Despite the rising threat, recent survey results show a surprisingly small number of agents are prepared, as most do not have a written cyber security and response plan.

A cyberattack is a malicious and deliberate attempt by and individual or an organization to breach the information system of another individual or company, seeking benefit from the disruption, ransom, or theft of data – and such attacks are increasing in numbers and complexity.

Despite the rising threat, recent survey results show a surprisingly small number of agents are prepared, as most do not have a written cyber security and response plan.

A written cyber security and response plan is essential to be prepared, organized and to execute appropriate and prompt actions when an attack occurs.

The plan does not need to be complex. To be effective, it should be simple and clear and present key information. It should also be built commensurate with the size of the organization.

Key elements of the plan must include:

  • Perform a risk analysis to mitigate all risks, covering administrative, technical, and physical controls. Simply put, this is what could be vulnerable, what could go wrong and what is or should be done to try to avoid or contain the threat(s).
  • The cybersecurity program must protect the security and confidentiality of nonpublic information, protect against threats or hazards to the security or integrity of information, and protect against unauthorized access.
  • Define a schedule for the retention of data and a mechanism for its secure destruction when data is no longer required.
  • Designate an individual, third party, or affiliate who is responsible for the information security program.
  • Be sure existing controls in place – access controls, authentication controls, and physical controls to prevent access to nonpublic information. Encryption (or an alternative, equivalent measure) should be in place to secure data stored on portable electronic devices and for data transmitted over an external network.
  • Identify and manage devices that connect to the network – a simple inventory.
  • Adopt secure development practices for in-house applications if applicable. Alternatively, obtain this assurance from your service provider that performs the development for you.
  • Use multi-factor authentication to prevent unauthorized accessing of nonpublic information.
  • Regularly test and monitor systems for actual and attempted attacks, maintain audit trails, and implement measures to prevent the unauthorized destruction or loss of nonpublic information.  
  • Keep up-to-date on emerging threats and vulnerabilities and provide ongoing training to employees to be sure they understand existing controls and why they are important; employees must know how to recognize and report threats.

The response plan must include the following elements to be effective:

  • Date of the cybersecurity event.
  • A description of how the information was exposed, lost, stolen, or breached,     including the specific roles and responsibilities of third-party service providers, if any.
  • How the cybersecurity event was discovered.
  • Whether any lost, stolen, or breached information has been recovered and if so, how this was done.
  • The identity of the source of the cybersecurity event.
  • Whether you filed a police report or notified any regulatory, governmental or law enforcement agency and, if so, when such notification was provided and by whom.
  • A description of the specific types of information acquired without authorization, which means particular data elements including, for example, types of financial information, or types of information allowing identification of the consumer.
  • Time period during which the information system was compromised by the cybersecurity event.
  • The number of total consumers affected by the cybersecurity event, or a best estimate.
  • The results of any internal review identifying a lapse in either automated controls or internal procedures, or confirming that all automated controls or internal procedures were followed.
  • A description of efforts being undertaken to remediate the situation which permitted the cybersecurity event to occur.

Don’t wait until an event occurs. It’s a chaotic time full of financial and emotional high stress. Do it now and provide yourself the peace of knowing you are prepared.

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Studies show that businesses should incorporate purpose and meaningful messaging into their branding strategies

Gone are the days when branding was limited to simply promoting a product or a business.

Today, companies are increasingly being challenged to incorporate a meaningful purpose into their marketing and advertising campaigns.

According to research, 75 percent of consumershere and abroad – expect businesses to contribute to their personal wellbeing and quality of life, while 84 percent expect brands to provide content that entertains, tells stories, provides solutions and creates experiences and events.

Purpose is especially important when marketing to millennials, 71 percent of whom say they’re partial to brands that implement environmental and social change into their campaigns.

A new biometric research report from Porter Novelli/Cone, published earlier this week, goes even further in suggesting that purposeful content should lead the narrative of your business.

“Purpose ignites physical and emotional responses: Purpose-driven advertisements were more effective in two-out-of-three brand categories tested, with higher levels of attention, emotion and arousal from these advertisements overall,” the study found.

In other words, businesses that are searching for ways to build – and maintain – customer loyalty would be wise to focus on purposeful messaging that supports, for example, responsible business practices, a charity or a social cause. 

Purpose builds deeper bonds

Other key findings in the report suggested that purpose builds deeper bonds.

A whopping 79 percent of Americans, noted the study, said they feel a deeper and more personal connection to companies with values aligned with their own. Moreover, respondents said they’d be more likely to feel better about brands with meaningful messages.

And that’s not all: “Purpose inspires brand advocates and amplification,” research showed.

After viewing purpose-driven advertisements, those who were surveyed also said they’d be more likely to talk about the advertisement and the brand with friends and family and share and discuss the advertisement on social media.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway, though, is this: Nearly 73 percent of respondents said that given the current social and political climate, they feel an urgency to support social issues, while 76 percent noted that businesses dedicated to addressing social and environmental issues helps them feel like they’re doing their part.

About the study

The research combined an online study of more than 1,000 American adults with the results of biometrics testing among a select group of respondents.

It measured facial, heart rate and skin conductance impulses that captured levels of emotion, attention and arousal/stimulation upon viewing a randomized set of advertisements.

Respondents viewed two ads from the same brand: a Purpose-driven advertisement (e.g., support of a social issue, responsible business practice) and an advertisement focusing on the functional attributes of the product (e.g., performance, features or specifications).

The research found that purpose-driven messaging has a greater ability to capture the physical and emotional attention of respondents compared to functional narratives.


Real Estate Corner
The rental market is heating up—and move-in incentives are few and far between

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If you’re exploring the rental market, it may be time to lower your expectations when it comes to landlord discounts, gift cards or complimentary amenities, writes Diana Olick, real estate correspondent at CNBC.com

As the rental market heats up and home ownership cools, rent prices are rising and freebies are falling out of favor.

Listings on HotPads, Zillow’s rental website, that mention at least one concession are down nearly 30 percent from the same time last year, and just one in 100 rental listings currently show any kind of move-in special.

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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