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The Housing Economy Experiences Gradual Growth

2 Aug

Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Study Releases Important Data

Human hand add a  coin in the final row

With numerous housing reports coming out each month, many have debated what these new economic performance measurements will mean for the future of housing rates and for the building industry. According to Harvard’s The State of the Nation’s Housing 2016 report, new home sales are strengthening with a 6.39% increase to 5.3 million. Although these numbers may indicate that the housing economy is not back to where it once was, it does show that there is substantial improvement from recent years.

Major report findings:

  • Multifamily starts rose 11.8% to 397,300, the highest in 27 years. Single-family starts were also up, rising 10.5% to 715,000.
  • Sales of both new and existing homes are up. The existing homes inventory remains tight with a supply of 4.8 months.
  • The inventories of for-sale homes in the low and middle price tiers dropped 9% between 2014 and 2015, contributing to a total decline of 38% between 2010 and 2015.
  • The median price of existing homes rose 6.6% to $222,400. Rising home prices have contributed to a reduction in the number of homeowners with negative equity.

However, other issues have risen, specifically the cost burden for renters. According to the report, 36.4% of households in 2015 opted to rent, which is the highest numbers seen since the late 1960s. This stems from low-income rates, as well as millennials who still are deeply in debt with school. Many millennials say that they envision themselves purchasing a home of their own one day, but due to financial troubles do not see themselves buying a home in the near future.

The report also shows that US housing starts have risen more than excepted in June due to construction activity. Despite the rise in housing starts, data points show that there will be a leaner second quarter, especially with it being an election year. While we are still far away from a boom period in housing, the latest housing starts from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Study shows that we are on a gradual recovery path.

Key Takeaways:

  • Americans remain optimistic toward homeownership
  • Household growth is on the rise
  • Rental housing remains in high demand
  • New construction of single-family homes is on the rise

While the numbers show a gradual recovery, there’s still a lot of situations in which the housing economy may not reach the housing peak that it once was. Although, with those numbers being as unstable as they were, it’s possible that they may not be such a bad thing.

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SMX West Recap

22 Mar

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 8.33.19 AM

Lessons Learned from One of the Best SEM Conferences in the Industry

CoreyMorris3Guest Contributor:
Corey Morris, Digital Marketing Director

SMX West (Search Marketing Expo) is one of the premier events in the search marketing industry and is hosted yearly in a significant location for the search community—in the heart of Silicon Valley. I’ve been involved with SMX for many years. Last year, I had the opportunity to speak on technical SEO at this event. This year, I was able to catch up with colleagues, absorb as much new information as possible, and even make my first visit to Google HQ in Mountain View.

Coming into the event I anticipated several things, such as:

  • The reintroduction of the Google Dance (more on this below)
  • Industry reaction to the removal of right rail ads on Google
  • Insights and outlook on Google local search (since SMX West focused last year on details regarding the major shake-ups in the local search landscape, with local becoming much more like traditional organic search)
  • Specific details on how to harness added features and functionality in AdWords, including remarketing, customer audiences, and more
  • Seeing how the industry has grown and changed in the past year, as my focus has shifted to an integrated digital marketing model

SMX Google

Starting with the opening evening networking reception hosted by Bruce Clay, Inc., I realized that the buzz was definitely there. I’ve been to many shows in the industry (including West) several times, but this one had a different buzz about it. It seemed bigger and everyone seemed more engaged. Networking was at a different level this year, and while maybe it was just a perception due to the opportunity I had to meet a lot of great new people, I’d like to think that the industry has become more open and focused than ever before.

Key Insights from SMX West 2016

In terms of specific takeaways, I have more insights and perspectives in my notes than I can likely share, but here are some highlights:

  • Consider use of customer match remarketing in AdWords. This was rolled out last year, but most of us took a wait and see approach with this (as we do with many new Google features). Two specific case studies showed an average of 50% conversion rate with this tactic. It has been on my “To Test” list for a while, but has since moved up to a tactic to absolutely work into the remarketing mix and lead nurturing process for my clients. In basic terms, it allows you to upload your email list into AdWords and remarket to users that Google can match to their email address or Google account address.
  • A conversation that I had over a meal (that I can share) included a strong reminder to never forget that while search marketing is more widely accepted than ever before, that there are still skeptics out there (in US, Canada, and Australia…we have similar stories) based on the actions of a small minority and/or those that used shady tactics years ago. Search marketing isn’t in the silo that it used to be. Three of the six of us in our group did not come from search marketing backgrounds and are either new to the space or are working in companies providing the service as a value-add or new component (ex: printing company, PR agency)
  • Another takeaway is a great reminder to not lose sight of the basics in account structure and hierarchy in PPC. Advanced tactics and strategies are great, but you need to cut wasted spend and poor performers before scaling out into other areas.
  • The best slide that I saw in a presentation served as a simple, yet great reminder for PPC accounts:

ad-group-defnition

  • We received several very interesting insights from Google engineer, Paul Haahr, on the final day. I have a new vocab word in “shards.” The best insight from that session is that it’s rare to look at Google search results and not see an experiment. The oft-quoted stat that Google changes their algorithm over 500 times a year and the fun name associated with the Google Dance are strong reminders that nothing is done in a vacuum. We’re way beyond the days where results were somewhat static and we could see absolute ranking positions. Always be mindful that Google is changing—just like our competition is changing—and we’re (hopefully) also changing as we optimize our sites.

Google Dance

Google Dance

You may have started your reading here by scrolling down to see images of what a Google Dance looks like. Let me start with the
history lesson and detail that hopefully wasn’t missed by those that attended who are under 30. The Google Dance was agoogle-dance historical reference to the early days when Google would roll out updates to the algorithm at off-peak hours that would impact rankings and would often roll back the update (or continue a cycle of pushing out and pulling back updates). This garnered the nickname of the Google Dance from the SEO community.

Fast forward—Google started to hold an event for the SEO community (that Google refers to only as “Webmasters”) at the Googleplex in Mountain View. It was a great outreach event and stopped happening before 2010.

Maile OhyeThis was the first year that it was brought back for a VIP audience of 500 attendees at West. The whole experience felt special—food, drinks, trivia, a DJ, and even a cupcake bar. But the highlight for many was the brief return of Matt Cutts. Since he stepped away from the role of being the face of Google to many in the SEO community, it is now considered a treat when he makes an appearance. The night at Google rounded out with a great conversation that I had with Maile Ohye, a lead engineer at Google and a popular speaker at industry events—be sure to attend one of her sessions if you can, as they are very insightful.

Many items on my industry bucket list were checked off at SMX 2016 and I can’t emphasize enough the high quality of people I engaged with and both the validation of my strategies and supplement of new tactics that this event offered.

 

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Learn Something New from These B2B Marketing Accounts

15 Mar

Follow on Twitter

Your B2B Crash Course Is Just a Follow Away

Guest Contributor:
Jenee Meyer, Office Administrator

After 15 years building my career in advertising and account service, I took 14 years off to be a stay-at-home mom. Needless to say, my focus changed dramatically. Snacks and play dates became much more important to me than Facebook, Twitter, search engine optimization, and blogs.

Now I’m back in the advertising world as an office administrator at ER Marketing, and it can sometimes be scary teaching myself new things. But in marketing—and especially in ever-changing industries like building—it’s important to always strive to learn and try new things.

While I was a stay-at-home mom, I took my daughter and son to a Google® event called CoderDojo. The kids would sit at long tables and the mentors would write a few words on the whiteboard stating what the goal was for the day. Maybe it was creating a weather page or maybe it was making a simple game. The beginners had some on-line lessons they could work through to get started while the more advanced kids just started working on their projects, asking questions of mentors when they were needed. At the end of three hours, two or three kids would come up to the front and show what they had created.

No elaborate instructions were given. No one was “taught” anything by listening to an instructor standing up front. It was up to kids who were 10+ years old to figure out how they were going to create something. It was amazing to watch how kids aren’t afraid to teach themselves new skills. So why, as adults, are we often afraid to learn new skills ourselves? More importantly—what can we do to learn them?

For me, I’ve turned to content: blogs, tweets, whitepapers, studies—anything I can get my hands on. Admittedly, the amount of content there is on the web can be intimidating. It can feel like everyone is talking and no one is listening. If I want to listen, how do I find the blogs and posts that will nurture my career and mind vs. ones that will leave me feeling like I’ve eaten too much candy? It’s a conundrum.

Here are a few of the Twitter accounts I’ve followed that help teach me new things and give me the B2B marketing information I need to get back in the game:

  • @ERMarketing, @EltonMayfield, @RenaeGonner: Okay, so it’s a bit of a shameless plug, but the founders of ER Marketing, Elton and Renae, are all over this stuff. Their accounts are focused on B2B marketing, with a slant towards the building products industry—but the insights are applicable for any industry.
  • @MarketingB2B: Not only does this account keep you up-to-date with helpful articles and trends, it also tweets helpful news roundups of the latest in B2B marketing.
  • @B2Community: Business 2 Community is all content, all the time. They have an open community of contributors, meaning that you’re getting insights collected from people across industries, careers, and experiences.
  • @MarketingProfs: Run by Ann Handley of Marketing Profs, this account is all about content. What I like about it is that it doesn’t just grab any random article—it’s carefully curated so no matter what you click, you get good, useful content.
  • @CMIContent: This account is great because it gives you a breadth of topics—everything from social media to search engine marketing to paid search. For someone like me, trying to jump in and give myself a crash course on what’s current in the marketing game, it’s very helpful.

Whether you’re new to B2B marketing, trying to jump back in, or just trying to stay current on the latest industry trends, it’s important to remind yourself that there is no right or wrong way to go about this. Just start following blogs and Twitter accounts, and if something isn’t working for you, you can always unsubscribe or unfollow with a simple click.

After taking 14 years to raise my family, I’m back in—and my game plan is to follow more people on Twitter and subscribe to more blogs. But most importantly, I’m going to actually take time to read those tweets and blogs. I can subscribe to everything in the world, but if I’m not reading it, it does me no good.

That’s my game plan. What’s yours?

 

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Don’t Let Words Overpower the Message

21 Jan

Avoid These Marketing Buzzwords in 2016

Buzzwords

When I was at the B2B Marketing Forum this past year, we played a little game called “marketing bingo.” Some of you might be familiar with it. You play by creating a card of marketing lingo, slang, and overused words, and then you work to fill up your board as you hear these words used throughout the conference. And you’d be amazed to learn how quickly those bingo cards fill up.

Towards the end of last year, I wrote a blog post about how marketers need to focus on being classic rather than trendy. Reports show that as marketers are trying more and more to push the envelope to keep up with the latest trends, they’re missing some of the fundamentals of marketing. I believe that a lot of the time, marketers are too focused on who can throw out the most marketing buzzwords in a conversation rather than having a substantive discussion of the deeper issues at hand.

That’s why I was so excited to come across an article from Marketo last week discussing some of the top buzzwords that marketers should retire this year. I’ve picked out a few of my favorites:

  • Email Blast: A shotgun blasts, an email doesn’t. If anything, as marketers we should be looking for more and more ways to personalize our emails—not “blast” them out to the largest group possible.
  • Low Hanging Fruit: Aiming low is always a great way to get results, right? No. If you’re looking for low-hanging fruit, I can almost guarantee that you already have it—and it’s rotten.
  • Thought Leader: This one is tricky, because I use it myself. But the reason for not using it is strong—essentially, any content you produce should come from a place of leadership. Too often, though, this word comes from a promotional place. Aim to help, not sell.

As marketers, it’s easy to get caught up in whatever the latest buzzword is. And it’s not inherently bad to be aware of the concepts, but it is if it comes at the expense of actual deeper thinking. Don’t let the words overpower the message and don’t let fleeting trends override long-term strategy.

If you want to see the full list of marketing buzzwords to avoid in 2016, read the article.

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7 Tips for Effectively Communicating Marketing Results

19 Jan

Results

How You Share Your Results Is Just As Important As the Results Themselves

MattBartlett

Guest Contributor:
Matt Bartlett, Account Manager

A couple of years ago, I was tasked with presenting campaign results to a few C-Suite level contacts by one of my clients. I was extremely excited and wanted to give the best and most detailed presentation they’d ever seen. I included every number I could find. I included every detail offered by the tracking solutions we were using. And then, about halfway through my presentation, everyone in the room was reading email on their phones. I was crushed. How could they not care? What I’ve learned is that I wasted a lot of my time and theirs with that presentation…

We’ve written before about the importance of reporting and analytics when it comes to your marketing tactics. You won’t find many successful marketers arguing that results aren’t important. But the fact is, if you can’t communicate results effectively, you are wasting everyone’s time and money—particularly in the building industry, which has high expectations for ROI.

Your Client Is Not Your Only Audience

There are two audiences to consider when communicating marketing results. The first is obvious: the client (or, if you’re a marketer who works on the corporate side, it may be another department or a member of the executive team).

The second, and one that is often overlooked, is your internal team—the people that actually did the work. It’s just as important for them to regularly hear results (even throughout the campaign) so they know what works and what doesn’t for future projects, or so they can course correct in real-time if performance isn’t meeting expectations.

When Delivering Results, Speak Their Language

Below are some of my tips to make sure both audiences actually understand the results you prepare for them:

1. Include a Summary: And make sure to use common language when you do it. Remember that not everyone is a marketing geek like the rest of us, so dumb down the language and minimize the jargon. Raw stats are great and should be included, but don’t forget to provide a high-level summary for easy, at-a-glance consumption.

2. Focus on the Right Metrics: Does bounce rate matter? What about click-to-open-rate (CTOR)? Does your client care about impressions? All metrics are important in one way or another, but decide early on in the process which metrics tie directly back to the stated goals and only report on those. The rest will only confuse and distract from the point.

3. Define Your Metrics: Not only do you need to worry about which metrics to present, but you also need to make sure that your audience understands what they are. Consider utilizing a standard block of definitions for each of the words that you include in the summary. Make sure the definitions explain not only how the metrics work, but why they matter. Bonus points if you can alter each definition slightly to make it hyper-relevant to the goals of the project.

4. Make It Visual: Different people consume information differently. In addition to the summary and actual stats, consider how you can convert the data into easily digestible graphics. Maybe it’s as simple as creating a bar or line graph, but maybe some information could best be communicated as an infographic. In the case of the latter, you might involve your design team in creating a simple graphic to lend greater clarity to results. Could go a long way in helping all audiences understand.

5. Tie It to the Bottom Line: This can be difficult based on what financial information the client is willing to share, but the best performance reports include ROI and show how the marketing activity in question impacted the client’s bottom line. Understand your client’s overall business, not just their marketing. Your job doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

6. Share It Internally: All departments have skin in the game here. Employees often don’t understand marketing or how it impacts what they do. Make it matter by sharing performance.

7. Time Is of the Essence: In today’s world, waiting two months to report on metrics is pointless. Share performance during and immediately after the campaign. Better yet: if possible, give the client access to real-time metrics so they can monitor progress on their own time.

ROI is only good if everyone involved understands it—your team, your client(s), and the people your client reports to. All too often, you see marketers download a last-minute Excel spreadsheet or print out a screenshot from Google Analytics. But “lost in translation” is unacceptable when it comes to results. As marketers, the core of our work is about clarifying products and services through smart, focused, creative work; why wouldn’t we get just as creative to simplify and clarify those results so we can do even better work in the future?

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