Despite shifts, the day's results still matter a lot.
Adobe tracks 80% of online transactions at the top 100 U.S. online retailers, and said Thanksgiving day online sales rose nearly 20% to a record $2.87 billion while they rose 16.9% to a record $5.03 billion on Black Friday. In the month of November through Friday, online sales jumped 17.8% to $38.3 billion, topping its prior forecast. Adobe projects Cyber Monday itself will also hit record online sales of $6.6 billion this year, a 16.5% increase from last year.
Less than half feel they know how to use these tools to engage with customers
Recent research reveals that brands remain somewhat puzzled about the best way to use two-way conversation tools other than email. In fact, 48% of brand marketers surveyed felt that social media, chatbots and messaging apps were solid tools to engage with customers, deliver personalized messages and start individual conversations.
Or, in other words, more than half of marketers don't feel that way.
Marketers have so far used messaging apps, in particular, for customer service—55% of respondents said so. Fewer respondents (43%) used them for marketing purposes, and even fewer (27%) did so to put a shine on the customer experience.
Meanwhile, just 14% of marketers had used messaging apps for sales, an interesting outcome given how successful email has been in helping to drive conversions.
Research also found that Facebook Messenger ranked highest among marketers, while China's favorite messaging platform, WeChat, was a distant second place.
For many marketers, messaging apps don't provide a clear enough utility to warrant an investment. Some 58% of respondents said messaging apps simply weren't a priority for their organization. But a lack of in-house expertise in using them was also named as an inhibitor by a majority of those polled.
Follow the 20% Text Rule in Images
If you plan to boost a post or place an ad, make sure the image doesn’t contain too much text. Remember that boosted posts must follow the same rules as Facebook ads: neither can use heavy in-image text. If the image you want to use contains text, use the Text Overlay tool to check it.
In the following example, the tool warns that the uploaded image contains too much text, which will limit the post’s reach. As a result, the promoted post might perform poorly. Sometimes, Facebook doesn’t approve the ad at all because an image has too much text.
The number of Gmail users subscribed to marketers' email programs has increased by 76 percent since 2014, jumping from 17 percent to 30 percent, according to recent data. According to the findings, Gmail users make up nearly half (49 percent) of new subscribers – those who opted into a brand's email program within the last 90 days – and 38 percent of subscribers who opted in over the last year.
Pending developments in government policy around access to virtual care and reimbursement for services delivered are opening doors for telehealth viability.
Telemedicine is becoming increasingly popular as the financial benefits for providers who offer it come to light. And new policy changes in Washington and around the country are poised to rattle the reimbursement landscape and open big opportunities for hospitals and health systems to drive more revenue from virtual care.
“The U.S. has seen a perfect storm,” said Tyto Care CEO Dedi Gilad, whose company offers telemedicine tools. “With alignment of employers pushing for telehealth, you can see telehealth companies provide more and more services, and bringing more availability of services. It’s grown very fast and the major area of growth is primary care.”
That growth is expected to continue as employers, hospitals and payers realize both cost-savings and new revenue streams for telehealth services. A September study from Nemours Children's Health System examined the use of telemedicine to treat sports injuries, for instance, and found that each visit saves health systems an average of $24 per patient.
That’s just one example. And a lot has happened since then to start paving the way for telehealth expansion.
Three significant policy developments happened in November alone and, although they are not finalized, they point toward a future that providers should understand because it’s coming:
Apple is not the lone tech giant showing an interest in healthcare: Amazon, too, has kept a close eye on the market.
Analysts report that Apple may be poised to enter the mobile healthcare monitoring device, EHR, and healthcare data storage markets.
A June report stated that Apple was working to put health records on the iPhone, where iPhone users could easily access their medical records, including lab results, medical tests, appointments and other healthcare records in one place.
The more recent efforts appear to go beyond healthcare records, however.
Patent US 9723997 B, obtained by Apple back in August, for example, is an electronic device that computes health data of the user based upon sensor data regarding the received light.
In some implementations, the electronic device may also include one or more electrical contacts that contact one or more body parts of the user.
As described in the patent, “in such implementations, the health data may be further computed based on the electrical measurement obtained using the electrical contacts.
According to the patent description: “'Electrical measurements may be used to measure heart function, compute an electrocardiogram, compute a galvanic skin response that may be indicative of emotional state and/or other physiological condition, and/or compute other health data such as body fat, or blood pressure.”
Apple is not the lone tech giant showing an interest in healthcare. Amazon, too, has kept a close eye on the market.
Back in July, Amazon started a secret lab at its Seattle headquarters to explore business prospects in the healthcare sector, including EHRs and telemedicine. At the time Amazon was reportedly considering developing an EHR platform as well as telemedicine and health apps for existing devices, such as its Echo smart speakers, which connect to a personal assistant, called Alexa. It dubbed the project “1492,” the year Columbus first landed in the Americas.
Later, it appeared that Amazon was looking into ways to break into the pharmaceutical sector.
The type of incentive or offer retailers should consider including in emails depends on their business goal, according to a recent study. For those hoping to get their messages opened, less overt sales messages with no specific offer (open rate of 15.6%) or loyalty incentives (14.6%) had the highest open rates. But among digital retailers hoping to create sales conversions, the study suggests retailers should focus on messages like free shipping (7.6%) and “percentage off” discounts (7.9%), as these led to the highest conversion rates.
What does all this tell US retailers about how to boost the performance of their email efforts? The answer depends largely on the intended business goal, and the data suggests that trying to include too many messages in the same email message can be counterproductive. Start with a single objective and work from there. Trying to “do it all” in a single email message can ultimately backfire with consumers.
A recent study found out how US retail marketers plan their email calendars, and what sorts of campaigns they include. They give a lot of weight to what worked last year—85% of respondents chose this as an influential factor. A slightly higher proportion (87%) slot in major holidays and events.
Most of the retail marketers surveyed realize the risk in overwhelming their customers with too many emails. About 43% of respondents said they send one to two emails per week, while 46% said they send three to four.
But because email is such a powerful tool, marketers are being pressured by their companies to do more campaigns. While only 11% of US retail marketers said they send five or more emails weekly, the majority said they feel pushed to send a higher number to up their returns and increase awareness.
In many ways, discounts and deals seem to drive email’s success. One reason email is so successful is because customers know that marketing emails often include promotions. Three in four marketers cited the use of promotions to drive revenues as a source of influence when planning their email calendars.
Almost a third of respondents said between 50% and 75% of the emails they send include promotions. And one in 4 retail marketers said that more than 75% of their emails include some type of discount.
There are a host of factors that may influence consumers to make a purchase based on a marketing email, but sales or discounts are the single most likely driver, according to recent survey data.
A recent study found that 92% of respondents consider sales/discounts to be an important factor when deciding whether or not to purchase from brand’s emails.
Respondents were almost as likely to say that the brand’s reputation was also important. “Ease of transaction” was the next most likely response.
The study also investigated purchasing activity and found that roughly one-third of the internet users surveyed said they had never made a purchase based on a marketing email.
The youngest consumers included in the group were the most likely to say they had never made such a purchase, possibly reflecting their life stage more than any inherent reluctance to engage with email messages.
Older users, those 53-71, were nearly as likely to have never made a purchase. This may reflect the fact that older consumers have been slower to embrace digital purchasing in general.
eMarketer estimates that digital purchasing falls off significantly among consumers over the age of 55. In the US, among consumers 55-64, only 63.5% are digital buyers, and among those over the age of 65, the level falls to 43%.
By comparison, among those ages 25-34, more than eight in 10 are are digital buyers.
Teens place Instagram as their top social source of inspiration for holiday shopping, Adults name Facebook
A recent survey found that 13- to 16-year-olds were considerably more likely to look to Instagram and YouTube than older shoppers. While respondents ages 17 to 21 also favored Instagram, Facebook consistently ranked as the most influential social platform for holiday shopping among those 22 and up.
ecommerce sales are expected to jump 16.6% during the 2017 holiday season
US retail ecommerce sales are expected to jump 16.6% during the 2017 holiday season, driven by increases in mobile commerce and the intensifying online battle between large retailers and digital marketplaces. At the same time, total retail sales will grow a moderate 3.1%, as retailers continue to experience heavy discounting during the core holiday shopping months of November and December.The gap between holiday season ecommerce sales growth and total retail sales growth continues to widen. eMarketer estimates that in 2017, holiday sales will total $923.15 billion, representing 18.4% of US retail sales for the year, a 0.1 percentage point drop from 2016.
For the year, eMarketer expects to see 15.8% growth in retail ecommerce sales, with increases across all product areas. Ecommerce will account for 9.0% of total retail sales in 2017.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Cerner reportedly agreed to an EHR contract in the range of $10 billion, an unnamed VA source.
The $10 billion figure is significantly less than previously reported estimates. In late October, the Politico Morning eHealth newsletter reported a source familiar with the matter said $18 billion is "consistent with what we're hearing from VA, but until the contract is finalized we aren't 100 percent certain what the cost will be."
VA officials expected to award Cerner a contract for the health system's EHR in November, according to the Politico Morning eHealth newsletter. However, officials cannot sign a contract until Congress agrees to appropriations for the Cerner deal, FCW reports. The unnamed source told FCW VA Secretary David J. Shulkin, MD, met with appropriators in early November to discuss the final details.
The price for the Cerner EHR is lower than expected, in large part because of the VA's plan to coordinate with the U.S. Department of Defense, according to FCW. An unsealed decision by U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Lydia Kay Griggsby, filed Oct. 18, noted the VA aims to adopt the DOD's EHR system to achieve a "single common EHR system."
The VA's Cerner contract is expected to be implemented in 48 phases, including site visits, user training and onsite support. The VA Secretary's Determination and Findings, as cited in the unsealed decision, noted "having the VA replicate the DOD's existing EHR system will allow the VA to avoid repeating mistakes and capitalize on the DOD's investments."
The Center for Connected Health Policy released its 50 state scan of telehealth reimbursement laws and Medicaid policies trends report.
Here are five report insights.
1. Forty-eight states and Washington D.C. reimburse for some form of live video in Medicaid fee-for-service models. The two states that do not have written definitive reimbursement policies are Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
2. Twenty-one states reimburse for remote patient monitoring under Medicaid.
3. Six states — Delaware, Colorado, Minnesota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming — recently added policies to explicitly allow the home to be an eligible originating site.
4. Nine state boards issue licenses related to telehealth, while three states dropped their telehealth licenses and adopted the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact last year, of which 27 have adopted.
5. Thirty-seven jurisdictions have laws governing private payer reimbursement.
Click here to view the full report.
Physical and digital cards notch gains
Despite the struggles of brick-and-mortar retail, the purchase of physical gift cards has grown for three consecutive years, according to new survey data. Digital gift card purchases also have risen sharply this year.
Research has found that US consumers bought an average of 6.5 physical gift cards this year, up from 5.9 in 2016.
Meanwhile, the number of digital gift card purchases, which had been flat in the preceding years' surveys, rose to 6.1 per person, up from 4.0 the year before. Additinally, 83% of internet users had used a gift card (physical or digital) in the past year. The research further found that consumers spent an average of $38 more than the value on their gift card this year—up $10 over 2016. And 44% of respondents said having a card caused them to go to a store they would not have visited otherwise.
Social media ranked as the no. 1 tool agents should be using within their first year (85 percent), followed CRM (76 percent). The social media platforms new agents should be active on are Facebook (97 percent), LinkedIn (70 percent), Instagram (70 percent) and to a lesser extent YouTube (63 percent) and Twitter (53 percent.) Facebook Live is overwhelmingly the live streaming platform of choice for agents (57 percent), far outranking the next best contenders, YouTube (17 percent) and Snapchat (4 percent).
Of the online marketing channels at agents’ advertising disposal, Facebook (81 percent) came the most highly recommended, followed by realtor.com (42 percent), Zillow (33 percent), Google (29 percent) and Craigslist (20 percent).
These platforms ranked higher than Trulia and Homes.com, while respondents also mentioned Instagram, Snapchat and LinkedIn as good investments.
A new survey highlights how social media content has become the new storefront, with 76% of U.S. consumers purchasing a product that they discovered in a brand’s social media post. The 2017 Curalate Consumer Survey also found that 40% of U.S. consumers shop online at least once per week, a number that rises to 52% for 18-34 year olds. Given that consumers spend more time on social media than any other online activity, this new survey offers new insights into the growing and changing role played by social in digital commerce.
New figures from Leichtman Research Group (LRG) show that the US's largest pay TV providers saw their video subscriber numbers decrease by a net of 405,000 in the third quarter. That was up from a net loss of about 250,000 subscribers recorded in Q3 2016. Meanwhile, the top two internet-delivered pay TV services added a net total of about 536,000 subscribers during the same timeframe.
More than 164 Million consumers plan to shop over Thanksgiving Weekend and Cyber Monday
A report from the National Retail Federation estimates that 164 million people plan to shop or will consider shopping over Thanksgiving weekend. Black Friday remains the busiest shopping day; 70% of consumers expect to shop during that time.
A Las Vegas-based MLS will shut off its listing feed to realtor.com on Dec. 18, citing a failure to come to terms with the News Corp.-owned website.
The Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors will shut off a listing feed to realtor.com next month after negotiations between the trade group and realtor.com operator Move Inc. fell apart, according to a notice sent out to GLVAR’s 14,000-plus members Thursday.
GLVAR President David Tina wrote in the message:
“For more than a year, GLVAR has been negotiating with realtor.com and its owner, Move, Inc. in good faith in hopes of forging an agreement that meets the needs of our members. In fact, we’ve worked tirelessly to try to come to an agreement. Unfortunately, they would not agree to meet the same terms and data security requirements that GLVAR requires from all such vendors. In the end, we listened to our members, who have told us repeatedly that GLVAR’s MLS data must be protected so it can’t be misused by others.”
In the notice, GLVAR said that along with industry experts, it had developed data requirements that were “designed to protect the data, limit how the data can be used, ensure that the listing agent receives the credit for the listing, as well as a financial component.”
Realtor.com will no longer receive listing data directly from GLVAR as of Dec. 18, though brokers can continue to provide their own data to realtor.com on a individual basis, Tina said.
Because 90 percent of Facebook’s daily active users are mobile, businesses need a lead generation strategy that’s mobile-friendly. Facebook Lead Ads are the answer.
Facebook Lead Ads are a seamless way to capture leads’ contact info without redirecting them to a landing page. More importantly, they’re better at generating leads than landing pages when people see your ads on mobile devices.
With Lead Ads, a contact form pops up right inside of the Facebook or Instagram app when someone clicks on your ad. Facebook even automatically fills out a Lead Ad form with a lead’s full name, email and phone number when he or she clicks on your ad.
There are three big reasons lead ads are beating landing pages on mobile:
They work faster on mobile devices
Landing pages take longer to load on mobile phones than they do on desktops and laptops. That’s bad news because 40 percent of people abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load.
With Lead Ads, a Facebook user doesn’t even have to leave the app to submit his or her contact info
Everything happens instantly right inside the Facebook app, which reduces the friction a lead would normally feel when asked for contact info.
They’re more trustworthy
As soon as someone clicks on an ad and leaves Facebook, they become more skeptical. They’ve left a familiar place that they know and trust and suddenly have to determine whether they trust your website enough to submit their contact info. With Lead Ads, the entire lead generation process happens right inside the Facebook or Instagram app, which means people will be more comfortable with submitting their contact info.
They’re automatically filled out with a lead’s contact info
This is the single most important reason Lead Ads work better on mobile devices than landing pages. Lead Ad forms are automatically filled out with a lead’s full name, email and phone number. That reduces the number of steps a lead needs to take and creates what marketers call “behavioral inertia,” which just means leads are more likely to submit their info because the first step has been taken for them. The result is higher conversion rates when compared to landing pages where leads have to manually enter contact info on a website that’s foreign to them.
To run Facebook Lead Ads, you’ll need to create your campaign inside Facebook’s Ads Manager using the “Lead Generation” campaign objective.
Tracking your ROI allows you to make cost-effective marketing choices, determine how much each new client costs and avoid mistakes.
Track your marketing efforts, down to the number, helps you determine where your time and funds are best spent for maximum effectiveness. Tracking the effectiveness of your ROI creates a clear correlation from where your marketing dollars are spent and how many leads and clients you’ve reaped as a result. The basic return on investment formula is:
ROI = (Net Profit / Cost of Investment) x 100. Compare the ROI of the varying ways you are getting your leads.
After more than 45 years, email remains a critical channel for marketers. In fact, email offers a high ROI — an average of $38 for every dollar spent. Email success is not automatic, however; marketers must devote a great deal of time and effort to ensure their email program reaches its full potential.
The latest research on email marketing:
The most listing price cuts happen in August, right before the end of summer.
On the day after Thanksgiving, buyers will be flocking to stores and online retailers to find the best deals of the year. But, according to reports, real estate’s Black Friday happened three months ago, when sellers are anxious to move their home off the market before the fall and winter months set in.
Buyers are most likely to snag a deal in August when 13.9 percent of listing prices will be cut. Fast forward to December, and only 8.3 percent of listings will have slashed prices, thanks to sellers and agents willing to wait until spring buying season.
This trend doesn’t necessarily hold true in areas with year-round warm weather, such as Florida, California and Nevada.
Respond to leads within five minutes, follow up relentlessly and market open houses thoroughly. If you're not mastering these things, switch up your system.
Looking for ways to spark major real estate business growth? Before you start making big changes, consider tweaking a few of your current practices.
Agent Martin Bouma did just that and has managed to grow his business by 25 percent or more for two consecutive years. Last year, Bouma’s team of 14 people sold 315 houses. Here are Bouma's top tips.
Improve your team’s lead response
If you aren’t calling your leads within five minutes, your conversion odds drop drastically. In fact, you’re 100 times more likely to contact a lead successfully in 5 minutes or less than you are at 30 minutes.
By not responding to leads quickly, you’re essentially throwing them away.
Once Bouma realized how important it is to respond to leads quickly, he sat down with his team and had a serious discussion.
He told his agents he was unwilling to spend a dollar more on marketing until they were able to respond to real estate leads in an acceptable amount of time.
Adjust your follow-up strategy
A common complaint about real estate agents is that they have poor follow-up skills. Bouma says this isn’t entirely untrue.
It’s not that agents don’t care about following up, it’s just that they tend to be busy. Despite their best intentions, most agents simply get distracted and are unable to follow up as quickly as their clients would like.
With that in mind, Bouma decided to shift follow-up responsibilities away from his agents. He asked his administrative employees to follow up with existing clients instead.
This made it easier for his agents to focus on what they do best and improved his clients’ satisfaction levels.
Utilize the best tool for real estate business growth
With all of the marketing strategies and services available to agents these days, it’s easy to lose track of what works. The best marketing tool for real estate business growth is and always has been listings.
Although listings may not produce as many leads as a lead-subscription service can, the percentage of quality leads they generate is so much higher.
To maximize the number of high-quality leads generated by his team’s listings, Bouma has agents put extra effort into marketing open houses.
In addition to sending invitations to neighbors the week prior to an open house, agents are also expected to call around the area to get extra exposure with potential sellers.
Contact us at Caney Creek Studio for a free consultation on how to use data analysis, social media, video production, and digital marketing to promote your real estate practice.
Search engine and Facebook ads generally yield the paid leads that deliver the highest return on investment for agents, but agents invest in leads from those sources half as often as they invest in paid leads from listing portals.
Leads generated by search engine and Facebook ads generally provide the best return on investment among paid online leads, according to agents.
Although most agents struggle to make online leads convert to even 5% of their closed deals, a small but distinct group of agents, teams and broker-owners appears to have mastered the art of tapping online leads for business, and largely built their businesses around it.
Around 1 in 10 agents said they shell out more than $1,000 a month on online leads. About the same share of agents report that online leads (paid and unpaid) accounted for 46 percent or more of their closed deals, and claim to convert 13.1 percent or more of their online leads into sales -- more than triple the conversion rate cited by most respondents (0 to 4 percent).
Contact us at Caney Creek Studio for a free consultation on how to use data analysis, social media, video production, and digital marketing to promote your real estate practice.
Jay & Julia Taylor own and operate Caney Creek Studio. Caney Creek Studio is a video production, digital marketing, and social media management agency.