SURVEY: What kind of window treatments do you use in your home?

We surveyed our readers to find out what kind of window treatments they prefer to use in their homes.

HomeActions newsletters are distributed by over 5,000 real estate professionals reaching over 3 million email newsletter readers every two weeks. This week, we’re polling our readers to learn about their window treatment preferences. Find out how they responded to our February 2018 survey.

> View Survey Results

zipLogix™ and HomeActions Partner to Create Client Marketing Solution for zipForm® Users

New integration enables zipForm® Plus users to transfer client data directly into marketing materials

zipLogix™ and HomeActions LLC, an e-prospecting and client relationship platform for real estate agents, today announced the integration of HomeActions within the zipForm® Plus forms platform. Additional marketing tools will soon be at the fingertips of zipForm® Plus users, thanks to zipLogix™’s latest partnership. HomeActions’ subscribers will be able to take advantage of an integration that connects their zipForm® Plus data to marketing activities.

This integration creates access to the HomeActions marketing platform within zipForm® Plus, delivering the functionality that leverages an agent’s current client data. The HomeActions platform is built for real estate and allows users to build out a robust marketing plan with the right tools. The zipForm® Plus integration enables users to push client data to the HomeActions platform to streamline workflow.

“Partnering with HomeActions enables us to provide our customers with the marketing tools they need to help increase their real estate business,” said zipLogix™ Chairman of the Board Mark Peterson. “By connecting zipForm® Plus to the HomeActions platform, real estate agents can seamlessly transfer client data to their marketing activities.”

“With this arrangement, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” said Barry Friedman, CEO and Co-Founder of HomeActions. “Real estate agents will get the best of both worlds: the extraordinary efficiency of zipForm® Plus transaction management and the database and communication system that comes with HomeActions.”

SURVEY: Where will you go on your next family vacation?

Where will you go on your next family vacation? We surveyed our readers to find out what they think.

HomeActions newsletters are distributed by over 5,000 real estate professionals reaching over 3 million email newsletter readers every two weeks. This week, we’re polling our readers about potential family vacation spots. Find out how they responded to our January 2018 survey.

> View Survey Results

HomeActions Ranks Most Popular Topics of 2017

HomeActions LLC (HA) and IndustryNewsletters (IN), which send out newsletters on hundreds of topics, have compiled lists of the topics their 3.6 million readers found most compelling in 2017. The results provide startling insights into what consumers are interested in.

HA is an e-prospecting and client relationship platform for real estate agents, and its IN division serves the accounting, payroll, PEO and legal estate planning markets.

Top 10 Real Estate Articles

  1. The 5 Home Improvements That Give the Best ROI
  2. Must-know Tips for Arranging Your Linen Closet
  3. How to Finish Your Basement Right!
  4. The Ultimate Spring Cleaning Checklist
  5. 4 Old-school Kitchen Design Trends That Need Updating
  6. The 4 DIY Bathroom Upgrade Errors
  7. How to Keep Your Home Cleaner
  8. 10 Fun Home Technology Gadgets
  9. 3 Trends in Kitchen Hardware to Keep an Eye On
  10. 4 Common Items That Start Home Fires

“What makes you more comfortable in your home?” asked Barry Friedman, CPA, founder and CEO of HA and IN. “What makes your home more efficient? And most important, what makes your home more valuable? Homeowners have their eye on the bottom line, which is why the ROI story was number one.”

Top 10 Accounting/Finance Articles

  1. Big Changes in Social Security and Retirement Plans for 2018
  2. Who Gets Copies of the Will?
  3. How to Divide Things, Not Families
  4. How Does the Gift Tax Work?
  5. How to Avoid the Big Estate Planning Errors
  6. When It’s Time to Take Money Out of Retirement Plans
  7. New Pension Plan Limitations Announced
  8. How to Leave a House to Heirs
  9. How to Leave Your Indivisible Wealth to Your Heirs
  10. Should You Put Your House in a Trust?

“This list shows people are focused on achieving a financially comfortable future for themselves and their families,” said Friedman. “There’s no surprise that the major changes in 2018 caught everyone’s attention!”

Top 10 Business Payroll Articles

  1. Big Changes in Social Security and Retirement Plans for 2018
  2. Bracket Changes and More From the IRS
  3. Giving Your Employees All the Vacation They Want
  4. Must-have Items for an Employee Handbook
  5. Don’t Ask Job Candidates These Questions!
  6. Being on Time: How to Handle the Unpunctual
  7. Overtime Pay: Up to Speed on the Details
  8. Benefits You May Not Have Thought About
  9. How to Make Annual Reviews Work
  10. Take a Look at the New HSA Plan Limits

“In this low-unemployment era, businesses are looking for ways to attract and retain employees,” said Friedman. “Articles on job interview techniques, effective management, legal responsibilities and employee benefits all did well.”

Top 10 Legal Estate Planning Articles

  1. Nursing Homes: Not the Only Option
  2. Big Changes in Social Security and Retirement Plans for 2018
  3. Adult Communities: The Pros and Cons
  4. Why Nursing Homes Are Not Always Necessary
  5. How to Keep Assets Safe for the Long Term
  6. Setting the Stage for Your Own Funeral
  7. Who Gets Copies of the Will?
  8. The Ins and Outs of a Living Trust
  9. How to Divide Things, Not Families
  10. How Does the Gift Tax Work?

“This list shows an increasing concern for the finances of estate planning, as well as the practical and emotional concerns,” said Friedman. “There are three stories on living arrangements for the elderly, an issue that will only become more important with the aging of Baby Boomers.”

About HomeActions and IndustryNewsletters

HomeActions LLC and its IndustryNewsletters division are digital marketing and lead generation solutions with compelling content and interactive widgets for real estate agents, accounting firms, law firms, payroll bureaus, professional employer organizations, human resources and employee benefits companies, and other service providers.

The HomeActions/IndustryNewsletters platform provides automated prospecting and marketing delivered biweekly via email to a professional’s sphere of influence. The professionally written articles portray a range of professional trusted advisors looking out for readers’ interests. With instant lead access, CRM capabilities and robust predictive metrics, the system has the capability to generate real-time leads and top-of-mind awareness while nurturing relationships that lead to long-term success and more referrals.

HomeActions is a privately held virtual company that employs more than 35 people and is headquartered in Green Cove Springs, Florida. www.industrynewsletters.com and www.homeactions.net.

SURVEY: Should homeowners upgrade their kitchens before selling their homes?

Should homeowners upgrade their kitchens before selling their homes? We surveyed our readers to find out what they think.

HomeActions newsletters are distributed by over 5,000 real estate professionals reaching over 3 million email newsletter readers every two weeks. This week, we’re polling our readers about kitchen remodeling prior to home sales. Find out how they responded to our January 2018 survey.

> View Survey Results

How To Post Your Email Newsletter Content To Blogs And Social Media

Do you have a great email article that is just begging to be shared on your social media business pages? You may be able to easily share your email articles directly from your marketing newsletter. Many email platforms allow you to post your email newsletter articles with just a few simple clicks.

Quick Tip: Create a Guest Record First

In order to produce links from your email articles to be used in social media marketing efforts, consider creating a “Guest” contact record. Use the first name “Guest” and the last name “Contact” (or something similar) and your info@ or contact@ email distribution to set this record up. Additionally, you may complete the record with your business address, phone number and any additional contact information you would like to share to route interested prospects to your company. This way, any links or articles you use from your email marketing on social media can be tied back to your guest database record and your business contact information. Another benefit of this practice is that any personalization you may have used in your email will simply display as “Hello, Guest!” or a similar generic greeting. This will add a universal appeal to your emails when you forward your newsletter to interested parties, post the latest edition to your website or share articles with your social fans and followers.

Next Step: Start Sharing

The social sharing function of an email article varies between platforms but is usually a straightforward process. To give you an idea how an article can be shared, here are the steps you would take if you posted an article from this newsletter to Facebook.

1. Click through to the full article. At the top of the article you will see a “Share” option. Click to share.

1. Click through to the full article.

2. Choose which social network you prefer. At the bottom of the social sharing tool window, you will see an option to share the article to one of the four major social networks. Click the icon of your preferred social network.

2. Choose which social network you prefer.

3. Choose whether you’d like to share to your personal or business page. In the Facebook example we’re showing here, you’ll have the option to share to your own timeline or to a page you manage.

3. Choose whether you'd like to share to your personal or business page.

4. If you manage multiple business pages, choose a business page. Pick from a possible list of business pages you manage, and then click the “Post to Facebook” button.

4. If you manage multiple business pages, choose a business page.

Success! Your post will now be on your social media site for all your fans and followers to read.

Success! You have now posted an email article to Facebook.

Using a social media management tool? Platforms like Hootsuite and others allow you to post to multiple social networks simultaneously, and also schedule out future posts. If you’re using a social media manager to schedule your posts, simply grab the URL from your full article (once you have clicked through to the full article view) and schedule your article to multiple networks as a link post.

Posting a Newsletter Article to Your Blog

Posting an article from your email newsletter to your blog can be as simple as copying and pasting the text from your article into your blog. You will need to take some additional steps to format the article to look appealing on your blog. You will also need to make sure you have the right to distribute any purchased content you may have bought for your email marketing on your blog and social media sites. HomeActions does allow our users unrestricted use of content on social media and blog sites, but each marketing provider differs in that respect.

Blogging TipsAdditionally, you can make your newsletter articles more SEO-friendly by changing 100 words of the article to be unique to your company’s blog. Google and other search engines will look at your content as original if you change a portion of it and put your own stamp on the article.

You should also add keywords to your blog post. In the first article of this newsletter, Is This Your Situation? “I Need To Get The Word Out About My Ancillary Services…”, we list four ways you can add relevant keywords to your blog posts to help get found in organic search results:

  1. Do some keyword research
  2. Add keywords to your blog’s title, URL and subheadings
  3. When using images, add keywords in the image file name and alt and title tags
  4. Also use links to outside resources in your posts to increase your likelihood of receiving backlinks in return

Don’t forget to connect blog readers with your email newsletter. Once your newsletter article is posted to your blog, add a closing call to action that says something to this effect: “Do you like what you see here? SIGN UP to receive more tips from us every two weeks. SUBSCRIBE NOW!” This will give organic blog visitors a chance to opt in to your email marketing program.

This marketing best practices strategy is an excellent way to repurpose content across multiple channels to maximize the value and life of your marketing articles. Stay consistent in your efforts. Set up a social media and blog schedule that follows your email launch schedule. With these simple steps, you will be well on your way to increasing the exposure of your email marketing content by sharing it to your blog and social media sites on a regular basis.

5 Power-packed Tips to Maximize Your Social Media Content in Minimum Time

You’re strapped for time, but you still have a social media presence to maintain. What is a savvy marketer to do? Here are five smart tips for getting the most bang out of the time and effort you invest in posting content to your social networks.

1. Repurpose Existing Content

Use content from your newsletter launches, blog posts, or other online resources to maximize its exposure and stretch your resources. Repurposing content is a logical way to make your social media marketing work smarter, not harder. Plus, when you drive social visitors back to your existing content, you’re creating more opportunities for prospects to find your company.

Beyond social media, there are a ton of ways you can maximize the life and exposure of your content. Consider a single newsletter article, and imagine that it could find new life as:

  • A blog post
  • An infographic
  • Multiple social media posts
  • A call-out quote that becomes a social media graphic
  • A chapter in an e-book
  • A video discussion or podcast

The sky is the limit. Be creative, and consider all the ways you can stretch the life of your content to consolidate your resources, be more efficient with your time and maximize the exposure of your key articles.

2. Be Selective When Choosing Social Networks

More is not necessarily better when it comes to social media. It pays to be choosy about which social networks your company decides to use. Consider your target market. What networks are your clients and prospects most likely to visit? Before you build a profile on the latest and hottest social network, take a look at the demographics of their typical users, and make sure you will find your audience on that network. You should also be sure you have the time and man-power to post consistently and respond to activity on any network you choose.

3. Use a Social Media Management Tool

Social media managers, like Hootsuite, SocialOomph, TweetDeck, SocialPilot, and others, offer a simple way to post your content to multiple platforms or profiles at once. With these tools, you won’t need to log in and out of multiple social networks. Instead, you can post to multiple platforms simultaneously in one step. Plus, you’ll have the ability to schedule out future posts and monitor activity from one central hub.

4. Instill a Weekly Routine of Scheduling Posts for the Week Ahead

Block out roughly 30 to 45 minutes once per week as time devoted to setting up your social media posts for the week ahead. This simple, effective habit allows you to get ahead of the game so you;’re not worrying about updating your social networks on a daily basis.

5. Set Aside Specific Times Each Day for Quick Social Maintenance

You’ll want to respond to comments from followers and be aware of your social media interactions, but keep in mind that social media can be distracting. Instead of being bogged down in minute-to-minute monitoring, dedicate a specific time (or times) each day for monitoring and responding to social activity. Usually brief morning and lunch hour check-ins are sufficient. This process will help you minimize social interruptions and become more efficient with your social media time management.

Start with the five simple tips, then use your social metrics and reporting tools to gauge the impact of your efforts. You’ll find that following these simple tips helps you maximize your impact with more productive, efficient strategies.

LinkedIn for Business: 6 Easy Steps to Get More Connections

We all know that having a personal LinkedIn profile and one for your business is essential to your social media goals. But merely setting up profiles and forgetting they exists won’t help your efforts. There are some relatively simple things you can do to make your pages more interesting to your LinkedIn community.

First and foremost, you should ensure that your personal LinkedIn profile lists your business as your current employer. When people view your profile, your current employer is among the first few pieces of information displayed, making this an important connection back to your business page. Another step toward boosting engagement is increasing your connections. Having a solid following on your LinkedIn page will help you reach more potential clients; however, procuring these connections isn’t always intuitive.


LinkedInHere are six strategies that will help you increase your professional connections.


1. Compose Daily Status Updates

Being active on LinkedIn as a whole will help to increase your connections. The best way to stay present is to make sure you post at least one status update every day. This tip holds true for both personal and business pages. But don’t post just any old thing, share a link about something relevant to your business, industry or community. Having a consistent presence on LinkedIn will give users an opportunity to stay updated on your business, and relevant posts give your followers a reason to visit your page in general.


2. Send a Personalized Message to Connect Once a Day

There are two steps to this tip. First, make sure you’re reaching out to potential connections that are personally known to you or with whom you have a friend or colleague in common. A good place to start is by utilizing LinkedIn’s “Alumni” feature, where you can find fellow LinkedIn users that share your alma mater. Once you find a familiar individual you’d like to connect with, write them a personalized message to connect. Ditch the automated message that LinkedIn provides and write something that the other person knows you wrote specifically for them. Writing your own message increases the likelihood that they will accept your invitation.


3. Utilize LinkedIn’s Publishing Platform

LinkedIn’s publishing platform is a great way for you to position yourself in front of a wider audience. This tool allows you to post long-form posts, creating a string of three posts and accompanying images. These posts will be available to the entire LinkedIn audience and will appear on your profile under the “Posts” section. Not only will you have the ability to create professional looking long-form posts, but the reach of these posts is not limited to only your connections, giving every LinkedIn user the opportunity to discover your posts. You can also customize your own “about us” blurbs as the closing of your personal posts and link them back to your business profile.


4. Join Groups and Participate in Discussions

A great way to stay active in the LinkedIn community is to join groups that are relevant to your industry niche or philanthropic involvement. Pick a minimum of three groups, and stay active on a weekly basis. Membership in LinkedIn’s groups will help you to discover potential new prospects or referral sources. Furthermore, you should also make sure that you have a strong presence on these group pages. Try participating in group discussions or even initiating conversations on the page.


5. Comment on Your Connections’ Updates

A really simple way to garner more connections and nurture your existing professional relationships is to simply show interest in the people you are connected to on LinkedIn. If one of your connections posts a new job, comment to say congratulations. You can also respond to links they post or like their status updates. Displaying your interest in your connections’ professional achievements will brand you as a valuable member and make others want to connect with you.


6. Endorse Others

Endorse others for the skills that you admire. This is another way to increase your credibility, build relationships and demonstrate the value you add as a connection. In order to gain new followers, you should have a track record of being an asset to your current connections. When others endorse you, send them a personal message to thank them.

All of these tips will assist you in attracting more people to your personal and business LinkedIn pages and give you more opportunities to increase connections. Having an active presence is the key to success.

Look for our next post, which will go in depth on the type of posts you should be sharing, breaking down exactly which ingredients create the most effective posts.

5 Freebie Websites with Stellar Stock Images.

You need captivating images on your business’ website, blog or email newsletter, but like most of us, you’re not a professional photographer. Without visuals, it’s hard for readers to quickly gather a visual understanding of your content. But don’t fret! There are countless places on the web to get cheap, or even free, stock images to accompany your marketing content.


Here is our roundup of the 5 best websites for freebie stock images.


1. FreeImages.com

FreeImagesFree Images is exactly as it sounds. The site houses thousands of free images for you to download and use in your email marketing, on your website or blog, or in social media. All that is required is that you create an account. From there, you have access to their diverse range of quality images. You can search for images by typing a basic keyword search, or you can make use of the “Tags” tab, which takes you to a page full of commonly used words like “Business” or “Finance” that will direct you to images associated with those keywords.


2. Pexels.com

 

PEXELSThis site has some very impressive first-rate photos. Search for the type of image you need and click on the image you like. Then you can download images in a variety of sizes: original, large, medium, small, or you can choose the “custom” option and input your own dimensions. One feature unique to Pexels is their own Photoshop Plugin Subscription. It isn’t free, but it is super cheap at only $4 a month or $2 a month if you pay annually.


3. Pixabay.com

PixabayPixabay is another site with totally free images for you to use. Sign up with your email to start downloading images in a variety of sizes. Pixabay offers many high-quality photos as well as a large database of illustrations and vectors. If you’re only interested in illustrated images or vectors, you can click to browse only these types of images. You can also choose to explore “Editor’s Choice,” which offers the most sophisticated and quality photos. Furthermore, if you find several images that you like by the same photographer, you can choose to browse images only by this artist.


4. Stocksnap.com

 

StockSnapHigh-quality images and lots of them. What more can we ask for? Stocksnap is a no-nonsense site, pretty basic, but delivers what it promises. All images are provided by Creative Commons so there are no licensing issues, meaning you don’t have to worry about attribution. Every image includes the number of downloads it’s received and how many people have favorited it. This can help you decide on an image based on if you prefer photos others have already liked or if you want to steer clear of images that have been heavily used. If you make an account, you can keep a tally of your favorite images and use them whenever you’re ready.


5. Unsplash.com

UnsplashThe selection on this site isn’t as varied as the others, but this is a very aesthetically pleasing site full of dramatic images. The images are big and the overall layout of Unspslash is very simple and elegant, giving you the opportunity to browse their beautiful database of images with ease. Downloading is so simple that you barely notice it. If you like an image, just click the download button in the bottom right corner of the photo and the image instantly pops up on a separate page. The site has an incredibly user-friendly download process, but it requires that you resize the image on your own if you need different dimensions. If that’s the case, just save the image in Paint (or another image editor) and change the dimensions to your liking. Make sure you take a look at Unsplash’s “Collections” tab where you can peruse photos from categories.


Other Image & Design Resources

Canva and BeFunkyOnce you have all these great photos in your inventory, take it one step further by checking out ways to edit those images and create new, original graphics. Sites like Canva.com and Befunky.com offer free design tools to edit images and create things like newsletter mastheads, invitations, collages, social media images and more. Stay tuned for my next post to get even more tips on how to utilize these free graphic design sites and create show-stopping images for your marketing projects.