US Housing Market Predictions – Real Estate Market Forecast 2018

Real Estate and Housing Forecast 2018, 2019,  2020

May 18, 2018.  Your Epic report and forecast of the 2018/2019 US housing market offers facts, data, perspective, predictions, price factors, expert opinion and forecasted trends from sources such as NAR, Trulia, Freddie Mac, Zillow, Case Shiller, Trading Economics, and more.

With home prices and mortgage rates on the rise, compare what you’ll be paying vs future mortage rates. Shop for the lowest mortgage rate now.

In this updated report and forecast:

  1. March and April market update
  2. Hottest cities to buy
  3. NAR/Realtor Outlook on the Housing Market
  4. Home price update and predictions
  5. US economic outlook – Tradingeconomics data
  6. Urban Land Institute panel discussion Video
  7. Freddie Mac Forecasts
  8. Jobs report and forecast
  9. Interest rates and mortgage rates
  10. Apartment rental prices and forecast

NAR reports that existing home sales grew in April, 1.1% which is well up from the 1.2% loss 12 months ago.  See the NAR charts below for others stats and which are the hottest markets for April.




Spring Market is Starting Strong

It’s an unusual spring market given the growing purchasing power of home buyers in low to mid market prices. That makes it a great market for those looking to sell their current home to trade up to a better one.

Hopefully you have a top notch strategy to sell your home for a higher price.  Sell it quick, but with a bidding war strategy.

Resale home transactions rose 1.1% in March showing clealy that buyers are hungry to buy.  However, listings have declined 7.2% and prices have risen 5.8% versus  last March.

It’s a sellers market and it will be for some time. If you’re hunting for houses for sale, you’d better have an advanced search strategy.

The dwindling numbers of homes for sale should push prices upward in Los Angeles, San Diego, Boston, Denver, Las Vegas, Dallas, Miami, Seattle, New York, and Houston . It’s all driven by a wildly successful economy and a resistance by local and state governments to support home development in their jurisdictions.




Please feel free to use this material on Linkedin and Facebook. It’s an important topic for buyers and sellers who face a big decision about buying a home or condo in 2018 as home prices and mortgage rates rise.

NAR’s March Update

Homes sales have risen for 2 months straight, however they’re down 1.1% from same time last year.  Although prices haven’t hit the 2007 records, they are too high for most to afford even though wages have grown. Home prices are now running at double the average wage increase.

The median existing-home price for all housing types in March was $250,400, up 5.8 percent from March 2017 ($236,600). March’s price increase marks the 73rd straight month of year-over-year gains — from NAR

Boston, New York, New Jersey

March existing-home sales in the Northeast jumped 6.3 percent to an annual rate of 680,000, but are still 9.3 percent below a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $270,600, which is 3.3 percent above March 2017 – from NAR update.

Housing inventory is the most influential and persistent factor affecting home prices. Despite this, the media and some politicians blame speculation, building costs, interest and mortgage rates, cost of living, and mortgage rules. When the economy is good people want homes. Construction is strong but can’t keep up. Simple rule of supply vs demand is driving home prices.

Millennials still hopeful to buy a home in 2018

Looking for housing market predictions? Take a good look at prices, GDP, wages, jobs, and other key data below on the US Economy for the next 6 years and you may see a surprisingly positive picture, far from the dread of the recent stock market corrections.

Please do share this post on Facebook!

Should you Buy or Rent?

We all want to own a home, but does it  make more sense to rent? If you can’t afford a home in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Dallas, renting may be the only option. Here’s a few blog posts I’ve written on the US rental housing market, apartment prices, and on buying vs renting.

Buy vs Rent in 2019

What’s Driving the California Housing Market?

Strong demand from an eager demographic and economy is clashing with local resident NIMBYism to create a volatile market. See the California housing report.

This completely updated EPIC United States Housing Report has market updates and predictions for 2018 to 2020, and other data to 2026.

NAR’s VP of research Paul Bishop, predicts sales will be flat for 2018.

One of the biggest challenges is going to be in certain high-cost parts of the country where they have high home prices, relatively high property taxes or high state income taxes, then that’s ultimately going to make the cost of owning a home more expensive.

In addition, renters may lose the incentive to buy a home in high-cost areas if they can’t use the mortgage interest deduction or the ability to deduct some of those other housing-related costs from their taxes. It’s focused mostly on the higher cost areas. It’s certainly something that everyone will be monitoring and how the housing market reacts in 2018 and 2019  — from a news release on DSnews.com.




In this post, you’ll discover the hottest city markets, zip codes, get economic, employment, finance, and housing projections to understand the key fundamentals driving home buying, rental investment, home construction, and the real estate markets in 2018/2019 to 2026. Read thoroughly if you’re considering buying a house this year.

What’s the story for summer of 2018? It has to be Texas and Michigan, however the overall picture is of a very good spring and summer for the housing market nationwide and going forward to 2026. Population growth in San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Denver, Miami, Houston, Sacramento, Las Vegas and Phoenix continues strong.

The Complete Picture for 2018

Ready to choose your realtor and buy a house or condo this year? The outlook is really rosy! And how about investing in a rental income property for sustained passive income? This current lull might make the next 3 months the best time to buy. The outlook is as positive as could be for buyers. Lock in your mortgage rate.

Overall, predictions and outlook for the US housing market are positive. That’s because the US economy is on its strongest roll ever, bolstered by lower taxes, improved trading agreements, growing American confidence, happiness, comfort, freedom and the American dream has been kindled again.

Take a look at more detailed reports of major US city markets: Latest Posts: Sacramento Housing MarketSan Francisco Housing Market |  Boston Real Estate Market 2018 | Florida Housing Forecast 2018 | Miami Housing Market |  Los Angeles Real Estate Forecast | New York Real Estate Predictions | Houston Market Forecast  | Houston Real Estate Forecast | Seattle Housing Forecast

Apartment Rental Housing Market 2018

Are you considering buying homes for sale as an income investment?  With Apartment rent prices holding strong in 2018, it’s a solid investment strategy.

This graphic below courtesy of Trading Economics shows how the real estate market will be healthy for some time, and that buying a home is a wise investment (Tradingeconomics is a very informative site, have a visit afterward).

Increased government spending, low but slowly rising interest rates, and the repatriation of business and corporate funds back to the US means it’s a healthy, safe market for everyone.

Foreign investment has been strong because the world knows, the US is the place to be. American’s have always had a great attitude toward risk and business growth. Now the economy and business markets are allowing that spirit an opportunity to pay off.

NAR/Realtor Outlook on the Housing Market

Housing Indicator Realtor.com® 2018 Forecast
Home price appreciation 3.2% increase
Mortgage rate Average 4.6% mortage rates in 2018 to 5.0% (30 year fixed) by year end
Existing home sales 2.5% growth, low inventory problem easing
Housing starts 3% growth in home building 7% growth in houses
New home sales Growth of 7%
Home ownership rate Stabilizing at 63.9% nationally

Despite the market correction, experts feel this bull market could continue as long as business keeps coming back to the US. That’s a long process of repatriation. In the meantime, the jobs picture, wage growth, investment, and profit growth are giving real estate participants a lot of optimism.

The resistance to housing development is slowing. Conservatives are giving up amidst intense pressure by those facing outrageous housing shortages and skyrocketing rental prices.



Housing Shortages Won’t Ease

Although January’s sales were disappointing, it’s due to the severe shortage of housing. Demand is there and you’ll be competing against a hoard of buyers in 2018.  Corelogic expects 2018’s home prices will grow 4.3% by next December.  NAR and Realtors® expect only a 3% growth in prices this year. Nevada, Texas, Washington, and Florida are the states with the best outlook, and perhaps the best places to buy homes or rental properties.

The Bay Area, Portland, and Seattle areas saw the highest growth in prices last year while LA’s tumbled. Listings fell dramatically in cental California, Oregon, Washington, and New York.

Consumer mood was not so good in July of last year, mostly due to government problems. Yet the market came flying back. These challenges overcome mean more Americans will have more confidence in their personal situation.

The US Economy 2018/2019

These stats from Trading Economics show positive fundamentals that will drive growth in the housing market, and in turn will bolster the economy, since new household consumer spending and housing investment is a key driver of the economy.

The tax cuts should help although the Fed is counteracting that growth with a questionable raising of interest rates which seems to have sparked the sudden stock market volatility.  Although some disincentives are present for home buying in certain price ranges, that will help keep the market balanced for 2018.

Home prices should begin rising again this late spring in FloridaNew York , Boston, San DiegoHouston, MiamiSeattle, Bay Area and the rest of  overheated California.

Buyers and sellers will enjoy the market trends, stats, threats, and the key factors including housing construction starts described below. Enjoy the big picture!

Scroll down to see the stats, video, and charts on the strongest cities where you might buy or invest. And when is the best time to buy a house?

Sharing is Good! Share the Insight with others on FB and Linkedin

A brief overview of January 2018 from NAR.

Housing Demand 2018: More Buyers Joining the Party

Housing market demand predictions: Demand 2018 will see stronger demand as young buyers have more savings to invest in a home and are getting closeer to being able to purchase a home.




Housing demand is also being supplemented by bankruptcy survivors who waited out their 7 year exile joining first time buyer millennials, babyboomers, immigrants, foreign investors (Canadian and Chinese), and even gen Xers,  all of whom are looking for houses for sale.

New Home Construction Starts: Still Strong in 2018

New home building shows continued strengths, and should pick up by late spring when builders see a return of demand. Last February’s demand was also subdued.

The cost of living is rising and it means workers and businesses in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, San Jose, Miami, San Diego, and Boston may migrate to cheaper cities such as Houston, Austin, and San Antonio. This is where job growth is best and housing is cheapest.

The price of apartment rental in cities such as Seattle, San Francisco, and San Jose Rents are extreme examples of the migration out of high priced areas. With limited housing and a strong economy, prices in San Francisco and the Bay Area cannot fall.

Inflation, Labor Shortages, and Building Supplies

Labor shortages, rising mortgage rates, and higher lumber costs are looming which could mean house prices will rise.  With nowhere to go, homeowners are resisting selling. The hope that the resale market will come to the rescue might be unrealistic and and perhaps even fewer resale houses will be for sale. This fall, new home sales have been brisk as reported by the Commerce Department.

Mortgage Rates on the Rise

15 year fixed rate mortgages are still a bargain compared to historical averages. A home at these interest rates has to be considered a big savings, compared to the added price.

Houses For Sale – Should You Buy or Sell in 2018?

The forecasts and predictions for housing markets in Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and the Bay Area, New York, Misami, Houston, Seattle, and San Diego etc. all suggest better times ahead.

See the post on the best cities to invest in real estate. Where can you find houses for sale with the best upside potential as a high return property investment?

Housing Experts Predictions and a Lot More

Let’s start off with the newly released 2018 Forecast from Freddie Mac.  The predict a good year ahead with a solid 5% growth in price. They note that the aging population could keep demand subdued although limited housing for sale should create upward price pressure.

Should buy or sell? See the specific market updates and predictions here: Los Angeles Real Estate forecast, San Francisco Bay Area forecast, New York Real Estate forecast, Boston Real Estate forecast, San Diego Real Estate forecast, Houston Texas Housing forecast, Seattle Real Estate forecast and the Miami Real Estate forecast. Bookmark this page for future monthly updates.




The need to refinance is low, homeowners aren’t too stressed out, and they’re using home equity to buy things which is good for the economy.  Overall, Freddie Mac’s report is positive for 2018.

Home Sales Expect to Rise Nationally

Freddie Mac Predicts strong sales driven by moderating prices nationally.

And as this graphic from Freddie Mac’s report shows, price appreciation is much less than before the last recession.

Hottest Real Estate Markets This Past Summer

According to NAR’s latest report, San Francisco is again the hottest city, taking back the number one spot from San Jose. The hottest small city is Vallejo California, enjoying a spillover from the Bay Area market.  Investors and buyers will be hard pressed to find buying opportunities are.

Silicon Valley prices will pressure businesses to look to cheaper cities such as San Antonio, Las Vegas, Houston, Austin, etc in 2018/2019.

Hottest Real Estate Markets in April 2018

Where are the hottest cities in the US? They’re all over this month and only 3 from California made the new top 20 list.

Screen Capture courtesy of Realtor.com

Hottest Cities for Investment Value

This chart from NAR shows where employment growth is strongest and the ratio of recent employment growth to homes being built. That’s a great stat for rental property investors looking for investment income in the best cities.

Compare that to wage growth and actual price appreciation. Again the Bay Area shows the best outlook for employment which has to be your top signal. However, rising oil prices and predictions for more, Texas may be your hottest state going through the summer.

Salt Lake City, Denver, Tampa, Dallas, Cape Coral/Naples, Charlotte, Las Vegas, Houston, San Diego, and Grand Rapids have great employment outlooks.





20 Hottest Housing Markets, January 2018 (Realtor.com) Rank (December) Rank Change Current Home Prices
San Francisco, CA 2 1 $1,249,000
San Jose, CA 1 -1 $875,000
Vallejo, CA 3 0 $390,000
Colorado Springs, CO 4 0 $270,000
Midland, TX 18 13 $265,000
San Diego, CA 6 0 $590,000
Santa Rosa, CA 7 1 $310,000
Sacramento, CA 8 2 $310,000
Denver, CO 11 2 $400,000
Stockton, CA 5 -5 $289,000
Modesto, CA 10 -1 $295,000
Dallas, TX 14 2 $360,000
Fresno, CA 12 -1 $205,000
Los Angeles, CA 16 2 $759,000
Columbus, OH 9 -6 $140,000
Chico, CA 29 13 $349,000
Oxnard, CA 21 4 $505,000
Santa Cruz, CA 27 9 $909,000
Detroit, MI 19 0 $349,000
Boise City, ID 26 6

Best cities for finding houses for sale and get a great return. For property investors or buyers with minimal cash, the cities of Kennewick, Detroit, Fort Wayne, Modesto, Fresno, and Waco look to offer the lowest prices on houses for sale. As usual, California and Texas lead the way, however Michigan is looking good with the President’s intention to bring the auto industry and related jobs back to the US.

In some markets such as Californiahome prices have leveled off a little from their relentless climb. There is a slight risk of a burst housing bubble. Outside of major city markets, the price growth potential in the next 5 years is highest. Some cities are hurting so invest carefully. Take a look at the best cities to invest in real estate and share your stories of which cities we should know about.

Here Panelists from the Urban Land Institution discusses 2017 and the next two year outlook:




Here’s 8 Reasons Why People Are Still Eager to Buy Real Estate:

  1. home prices are appreciating and it’s a safe investment over the long term
  2. millennials need a home to raise their families
  3. rents are high giving property owners excellent ROI on rental properties
  4. flips of older properties continue to create amazing returns
  5. real property is less risky (unless you get over leveraged)
  6. the economy is steady or improving (although Trump’s letting his enemies cause too much friction)
  7. foreigners including Canadians are eager to own US property
  8. bankrupt buyers are over their 7 year prohibition from the last recession and they can buy again.

Latest real estate market reports:

There are more renters now than in the last 30 years.

US homes are at their highest value ever

Foreign buyers buying record number of properties

Housing starts more than expected but not enough to fill demand

New Houses for sale dropped 3.4% in August

Resale houses for sale drops in August

How high can prices for houses for sale go in Southern California?

Read on to learn more about the economic fundamentals that suppport your purchase of real estate:

Buying and Selling — Is This the Right Time?

Are you selling your home? Speculation of a housing crash in Miami, State of FloridaLos Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area, Charlotte, San Diego, San Jose, Denver, Seattle, and many other overheated markets has more people listing their house or condo. Yet, the market is healthy, so there’s no emergency. Prices are stable so you won’t get much more by waiting.

Check out these other posts for homebuyers, investors, and realtors:

How to Sell Over Asking Price | 14 Ways to Improve Your Selling Price | When Should I Sell My Home? | Student Housing Investment | 10 Tips for Home Sellers Who Must Have the Best Price | Home Sellers Pricing Strategy | Better House Market Evaluation

Housing experts are predicting existing home sales of 6 to 6.5 million units in 2018 and then above 1.3 million new homes being built per month to 2024. The building is resuming now that the hurricanes and forest fires are over.

Will it be enough to support the economy? When American builders are feeling optimistic, it’s a good omen, however 1.5 million units per month is needed to fill forecasted demand for housing.

What’s also a good omen is what you’re going to read in this post. It may help you do many things in 2018, from finding employment (see the US Jobs forecast), to understanding politics, discovering high performing best investments 2017 to researching the best cities to live or buy houses or property in.

From Los Angeles to New York to Miami – Rental Property Equity/Income is King

Will Los Angeles Lead the Nation in 2017 in Real Estate?

Interest in rental income investment and apartments is particularly strong now in places like Miamic, Dallas, Seattle and San Francisco.  The Los Angeles housing, San Diego housing, San Francisco Bay Area housing markets are just a few to look at.  Seattle, Denver, Dallas, South Florida, Palm Beach, and New York  have a promising outlook too.

Short list of positive factors to bolster US Housing Market :

  1. moderately rising mortgage rates
  2. president Trump’s new tax plan
  3. low risk of a housing bubble / crash for most cities
  4. millennials buyers coming into the main home buying years
  5. a trend to government deregulation
  6. labor shortages pushing up costs of production and incomes
  7. the economy will keep going – longest positive business cycle in history

Check out the report on investments in rental property if you’re planning to buy in markets such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Silicon Valley, New York, Miami, Oakland, Phoenix, Seattle, Denver etc.  Buyers are still dreaming in California a good look at the San Diego Real estate market, and the Los Angeles real estate market as economic indicators, and a fresh look at mortgage rates. To be on the safe side, see this post on the likelihood of a US housing market crash in the years ahead. Looking to put your house up for sale in 2018? Find a Realtor now.

Housing Stats from NAR, Forisk, Trading Economics

These stats below are collected from top research and reporting companies including NAR, Forisk, Trading Economics, and other real estate market researchers.

 

Sharing is Good for your Social Health! 

Pass this blog post onto your friends and neighbors because they should know as much about the forecast factors as possible before they buy or sell.  It’s good to be helpful. Mistakes are painful!

Expert Predictions – US Housing 

1.  Expert Prediction from Eric Fox, vice president of statistical and economic modeling (VeroForecast) — The top forecast markets shows price appreciation in the 10% to 11% range. The top forecast market is Seattle, Washington at 11.2%, followed by Portland, Oregon at 11.1% and Denver, Colorado at 9.9%.

These economies have robust economies, growing populations and no more than two month’s supply of homes. In fact, the forecast of the Boston market increase sharply to 7.4% is due to reductions in inventory and unemployment. On the other hand, the worst performing market is Kington, New York with 2.5% depreciation, followed by Ocean City, New Jersey at -2.1%, Kingsport, Tennessee at -1.9% and Atlantic City, New Jersey and San Angelo, Texas tied at -1.4%.  — BusinessWire

2. Pantheon Macro Chief Economist Ian Shepherdson explains that “Homebuilders behavior likely is a continuing echo of their experience during the crash. No one wants to be caught with excess inventory during a sudden downshift in demand. In this cycle, the pursuit of market share and volumes is less important than profitability and balance sheet resilience.” — Marketwatch.

Can you save $1700 on Auto Insurance in one year? How about $10,000 in 6 years? That’s a lot of cash. Find out and compare auto insurance quotes.

Housing Construction Starts Will Slowly Rise

It’s predicted that new home construction won’t keep up with demand, however it is recovering and we’ll see more renters becoming homeowners over the next decade.

Car Insurance Quotes: Are you looking to save money for a down payment, save money with the lowest car insurance, find the lowest mortgage rate, or get a free market evaluation? Are you a realtor looking for US real estate leads?

 

If construction rates do moderate, prices in the hot markets of Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, New York, Boston, and Phoenix should rocket to all time highs but what is the risk of a housing market crashHouse Renovation too is at an all time high in expenditure and this might have an impact on new housing starts.

FRED – Home Prices

US Mortgage Rate Trends

US Mortgage rates are forecast to stay low. Yet recently, mortgage rates have risen above the 4% mark and homeowners are locking in their home loans at the 30 year period. Some are calling this the Trump Effect. With Trump in power, lending requirements are expected to be eased, land opened up for development, and this should stimulate home purchases. With employment growing and wages moderating upward, the market is set for growth. Yet, some housing forecasters still cling to the idea that housing starts will moderate after strong growth to 2020.

mortgage-rates-trend

US Employment Outlook 2018 to 2024

According to BLS the job outlook is positive. Construction added 36,000 jobs in January, with 226,000 more than last year, with most of the increase occurring among specialty trade contractors (+26,000). Residential building construction trended up by 5,000 jobs. Total employment should grow by another 4,000,000 to 2024.

National Employment Growth Employment Growth Predictions, 2014–24 Median annual wage, 2014
2014 2024 Number Percent
Total, all occupations 150,539,000 160,328,000 9,788,900 6.5 $35,540

Job Growth by Occupation to 2026

2016 National Employment Matrix title and code (Chart data courtesy of BLS
Employment Change, 2016–26
Median annual wage 2016
2016 2026 Number Percent
Total, all occupations 156,063.80 167,582.30 11,518.60 7.4 $37,040
Personal care aides 2,016.10 2,793.80 777.6 38.6 $21,920
Combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food 3,452.20 4,032.10 579.9 16.8 $19,440
Registered nurses 2,955.20 3,393.20 438.1 14.8 $68,450
Home health aides 911.5 1,342.70 431.2 47.3 $22,600
Software developers, applications 831.3 1,086.60 255.4 30.7 $100,080
Janitors and cleaners, except maids and housekeeping cleaners 2,384.60 2,621.20 236.5 9.9 $24,190
General and operations managers 2,263.10 2,468.30 205.2 9.1 $99,310
Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand 2,628.40 2,828.10 199.7 7.6 $25,980
Medical assistants 634.4 818.4 183.9 29 $31,540
Waiters and waitresses 2,600.50 2,783.00 182.5 7 $19,990
Nursing assistants 1,510.30 1,683.70 173.4 11.5 $26,590
Construction laborers 1,216.70 1,367.10 150.4 12.4 $33,430
Cooks, restaurant 1,231.90 1,377.20 145.3 11.8 $24,140
Accountants and auditors 1,397.70 1,537.60 139.9 10 $68,150
Market research analysts and marketing specialists 595.4 733.7 138.3 23.2 $62,560
Customer service representatives 2,784.50 2,920.80 136.3 4.9 $32,300
Landscaping and groundskeeping workers 1,197.90 1,333.10 135.2 11.3 $26,320
Medical secretaries 574.2 703.2 129 22.5 $33,730
Management analysts 806.4 921.6 115.2 14.3 $81,330
Maintenance and repair workers, general 1,432.60 1,545.10 112.5 7.9 $36,940
Teacher assistants 1,308.10 1,417.60 109.5 8.4 $25,410
Financial managers 580.4 689 108.6 18.7 $121,750
Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers 1,871.70 1,980.10 108.4 5.8 $41,340
Elementary school teachers, except special education 1,410.90 1,514.90 104.1 7.4 $55,800
Stock clerks and order fillers 2,008.60 2,109.60 100.9 5 $23,840
Teachers and instructors, all other 993.9 1,091.80 98 9.9 $30,110
Receptionists and information clerks 1,053.70 1,149.20 95.5 9.1 $27,920
Sales representatives, services, all other 983 1,077.90 94.9 9.7 $52,490
Business operations specialists, all other 1,023.90 1,114.30 90.3 8.8 $69,040
Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses 724.5 813.4 88.9 12.3 $44,090

US Housing Starts to 2024

New Housing starts and predictions to year 2024

This enlightening stat in the graphic below shows the US economy hasn’t recovered from the great recession and housing crash of 2007. Single family spending is rising rapidly, yet no one believes conditions for high inflation exist. It points to years of solid, healthy growth ahead with an unfulfilled demand for single detached homes.

 Graphic courtesy of paper-money.blogspot.ca

30 year and 15 Year Mortgage rates Graphic courtesy of paper-money.blogspot.ca

Housing and Interest Rate Forecast to 2019
2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Housing Activity (000)
Total Housing Starts 928 1,001 1,107 1,177 1,204 1,246 1,299
Single Family 620 647 712 784 842 900 962
Multifamily 308 355 395 393 362 346 337
New Single Family Sales 430 440 503 561 610 647 693
Existing Single-Family Home Sales 4,475 4,338 4,627 4,828 4,978 5,029 5,119
Interest Rates
Federal Funds Rate 0.13% 0.13% 0.38% 0.63% 1.13% 1.88% 2.38%
90 day T Bill Rate 0.06% 0.03% 0.05% 0.32% 0.96% 1.71% 2.22%
Treasury Yields:
One Year Maturity 0.13% 0.12% 0.32% 0.61% 1.20% 2.41% 2.70%
Ten Year Maturity 2.35% 2.54% 2.14% 1.84% 2.38% 2.82% 3.22%
Freddie Mac Commitment Rates:
Fixed Rate Mortgages 3.98% 4.17% 3.85% 3.65% 4.10% 4.54% 4.96%
ARMs 2.88% 3.17% 2.94% 2.87% 3.18% 3.62% 4.04%
Prime Rate 3.25% 3.25% 3.26% 3.51% 4.15% 4.98% 5.48%
Data are averages of seasonally adjusted quarterly data and may not match annual

Chart stats courtesy of Nahb.com

Multifamily Home Starts - Millennial Buying Forecast

Save Money on Your Car Insurance

Saving on car might even cut your home insurance and give you more money for your home downpayment. Check now for the lowest quotes for car insurance Los Angeles, car insurance Boston, auto insurance San Francisco, auto insurance Denver, car insurance Toronto, and car insurance Chicago.

New Home Construction Prediction - Home Resales

Employment Outlook: Let’s not forget jobs. Total employed persons in the US will grow 800,000 over the next 2 years.

f4 Graphic courtesy of tradingeconomics.com/united-states/forecast

Existing homes or resale home sales, may slow slightly but US construction spending will increase. Prices will rise to 2020 and construction spending will grow through 2020.

Existing Home Sales to 2020 - Prediction to 2020 Graphic courtesy of tradingeconomics.com/united-states/forecast

Apartment Rental Forecast

Demand for apartment rentals is on the rise and construction starts of multi-unit dwellings is rising to match demand. That creates more opportunity for rental property investors to grow their portfolios in 2018. Yardi says YOY rent growth was 3.0% and they expect rent growth to remain in the 2.5% range.

Chart courtesy of RealPage

Cities with the most apartment construction include Dallas, Houston and Austin, reflecting Texas strong recovery. For more information, see this post on the best cities to buy real estate and best cities to live in and with the best job outlook.

Rental City Markets with Top Growth

Yardi released its winter national outlook report and forecasts a 2.5% increase.

There you have a quick graphical synopsis of factors that will support a strong US housing market for 4 more years.

What’s Your Personal Real Estate Sales Forecast?

Are you a full time realtor looking to grow your prospects and leads?  Full service digital marketing is a bargain when it’s done well.   What’s the forecast and trends for the real estate sales in your region? If you’re in Vancouver, Toronto, Miami, San Diego, San Francisco, and many other US centers, you’re probably grinning from ear to ear. But will you get your slice of that pie? Relying on real estate lead generation companies is another way you can go, however you have to pay forever and it’s questionable whether their leads are high quality.

My realtor marketing programs let you leverage the full mls listings with a powerful rets idx website, and capture more leads.  I’ve enjoyed serving clients in many housing markets including Toronto, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Montreal, New York, San Diego, Los Angeles, Florida, and San Francisco California.

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Housing Market Predictions 2018: Ideal climate for best real estate investing.

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Digital Marketing Audit

Digital Marketing Audit for Small Business

In all the years managing my own freelance business and while working with digital marketing agencies, I discovered that small business people are great at what they do. Unfortunately, they’re not experts in digital marketing which is a discipline exploding in complexity.

To Do List: A blueprint and a compass

My first recommendation for those who want to improve would be to get my SEO Content Strategy Book and secondly and more importantly, have a digital marketing assessment done. It’s a blueprint, foundation and compass for success.

The insight from a digital marketing audit can grow your confidence and give you focused path with your digital marketing strategy. It’s tough to have a strategy without a good study of your business and market opportunities.

Most SMB entrepreneurs wing it without a guide, and ironically most startups fail. How can you be confident if you’re unsure of what actually drives your online success or where you’re going?

♫Tell me Something Good♫

With understanding comes focus. Focus is an amazing emotional state where friction disappears and a feeling of wellness, clarity, and success appear. Focus is like taking a happy pill.  And this is where myself and your digital marketing audit comes into play – it generates focus, energy and a strategic plan of action. How can you not like that? And learning? You’ll discover a wealth of key insight that you can build on.

From a study of the elements that actually do impact your online success, you can decide whether you need a new content strategy, SEO services, or to use artificial intelligence marketing solutions, among other improvements.

An audit is a study of your situation and some suggestions about how to improve it. That’s excellent value when it’s all contained in one handy report!

An objective audit helps you discover your digital marketing problem, not to sell you a solution such as a marketing automation subscription. While tools are helpful, it’s almost certain that your content and outreach strategy are the issue. If you don’t discover what you’re doing wrong you won’t progress with something that will work.

The main point or purpose of your assessment is to create an actionable plan and strategy to grow your business. An audit focuses on issues that matter to performance

A website audit isn’t for finding duplicate meta tags and other unimportant facts. The main purpose to discover why you’re not getting traffic, not maximizing what you have, and discovering what’s missing. Here’s some of what I will examine in a detailed report, which by the way is much more than the “technical spidering report” you’ll see most often offered.

DM Audit Checklist:

  • Your company, UVP and market opportunity assessment – how are you positioned?
  • review of your top competitors and how they’re positioned
  • SWOT analysis – what strengths can bolster your digital content strategy?
  • where are you competitors getting their traffic from?

Content Audit

  • Identify anchor content
  • Identify supporting content
  • Identify main business/services pages
  • identify downloadables/sharable content
  • identify main content pathways and conversion success
  • assess copywriting and visual content
  • Assess site appearance and UX design – mobile, desktop, layout, scannability, speed
  • discuss copy tone of voice, content quality, vocabulary, information value
  • recommendations for improving all of the elements above

SEO Performance Assessment

  • assess keyword rankings
  • assess web traffic
  • assess search engine traffic
  • assess social media traffic
  • spider your site, find and assess technical website issues – speed, broken links, meta data, duplicate content, over-optimization, link penalties
  • setup/review your Google webmaster console issues and warnings
  • Assess: titles, headings, and Google SERPs snippets, etc
  • assess backlinks, keyword reputation, domain authority
  • recommendations for improving all of the elements above

I don’t assess video, web design coding, email, or commerce sales statistics. Anything that relates to content performance and how you get your online traffic and how you can maximize performance is what this is all about.

Key Benefits of a Digital Marketing Audit:

  • assess your analytics and discover what’s wrong with what you’re doing currently
  • find weaknesses in your website technically and in terms of user experience
  • assess your conversion funnel and the ability of your content to move visitors from impact to sales
  • analyze your significant, personalized unique value proposition and what you might do to improve it
  • find weaknesses in your content’s power to impact, engage and convince your audience
  • discover why your SEO strategy isn’t working and what can be done to turn it around
  • check rankings and assess your keyword strategy and copywriting effectiveness for Google rankings
  • discover content ideas that may give your business a boost and which assets you absolutely must build to compete and generate awareness
  • reviewing competitor’s strengths and weaknesses and what opportunities they are pursuing and capitalizing on
  • become aware of opportunities to rank, build epic content, and convert leads
  • become aware of new models of success such as excellent websites and content leaders
  • assessing your social media strategy and how it could contribute to digital marketing

The key to a good digital marketing audit is to assess your content. If you have a few broken links, your site’s running a little slow, or your calls to action aren’t aggressive enough, it’s good to know. However, it’s your content that’s the foundation of your success. This and your outreach strategy is where your focus needs to be.

If your unique value proposition and your content both suck, why not find out why? The sooner you get on the path to optimization and creating value for customers, the faster you’ll grow your profitability.

And with more, happier customers and higher profit, you’re bound to feel better yourself. Contact me now about a digital marketing audit. It’s the foundation of big successes ahead regardless of what industry you’re in. The fee for the complete assessment is $US 695.00

Call me Now: 416 998 6246.

 

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10 Reasons You’ll be Using AI Marketing Software Soon | Artificial Intelligence Marketing Solutions

When Will You Start Using Marketing AI Software?

Artificial Intelligence Marketing Software or AI Marketing Software will soon change and improve how we do digital marketing.

If you’ve given up on digital marketing and content marketing due to costs and ROI, AI marketing software could revive your interest. And it could seriously improve your advertising to sales return.

It’s wise to spend a little time understanding its many benefits which are listed below.  It won’t displace your marketing staff, yet it will make them a whole lot smarter and capable. Minimizing waste, learning from mistakes faster and growing your sales conversion rates are just a few practical benefits.




Why is AI Marketing Software So Valuable?

AI software solutions can learn about each visitor and serve up an incomparable content experience. The software can do everything a human can do, but much faster. It can even predict the future success of a content piece.

Let’s take a good look at AI and then in my next post, we can explore how we can use AI marketing software to really ramp up your content impact and engagement — to build your sales.




Since the status quo in digital marketing is about to end, I’d like to introduce you to AI marketing and to the features and benefits of the main AI software packages. Which one to choose really depends on your needs.

Screen Capture courtesy of Search Engine Journal article AI. Machine Learning. What’s the Impact on Digital Marketing Today? [PODCAST]
While it’s not easy to comprehend and master all of this, you’ll be rewarded in so many ways by making the effort. Whether you’re a marketing manager, content strategist, copywriter, professional service provider, or ecommerce website owner, AI will soon impact your business. It’s inescapable.

Cut out the Hype. What Does AI Have for Me?

  • improve your Google rankings by discovering which keywords/content improves engagement and raises rankings
  • discover which content pathways generate better results
  • test new content and find new opportunities and niches
  • optimize your whole website faster
  • dramatically improve sales
Image Courtesy of PCmagazine
Graphic courtesy of Zimbio.com

Wimbledon is All In on Marketing AI: Bold move for the All England Lawn and Tennis Club. The AELTC is taking over sole rights to broadcasting the world famous Tennis tournament from the BBC next year. Wimbledon earns 1/4 of a billion dollars per year. The improvements could generate a lot of additional revenue. AELTC is eager to explode their content development and use AI to improve audience reach, engagement and sales revenue.

A few of the benefits of AI SaaS systems are to help us speed up optimization of our keyword rankings, deepen user engagement, and power up our content marketing. Yes, there’s a lot of hype to weed through, but take your time to explore from this fresh start vantage point. Enjoy the journey.

You’ll hear increasingly about the topics of artificial intelligence SEO, content marketing AI, RankBrain optimization, AI content strategy, and predictive analytics.  They’ll be the next buzzwords you’ll hear about at 2018 marketing conventions.




Why is AI Marketing Software and Solutions So Hot?

The list of positive and negative reasons for it is growing. The first is that a lot of website and customer data is available now. Even without BIG data feeds, the software can help understand users interest from their view and click behavior.  That’s a very practical way to improve engagement and sales, but it won’t stop there.

Here’s 3 more good reasons AI Solutions are so hot right now:

  1. CMO’s are Getting Fired because they Can’t Keep up. It may be that these AI systems are generating better results because they can handle more inputs, do more quality testing, and predict marketing and customer behavior better. Old school approaches from 10 years ago can’t compete.
  2. Marketing AI is Powerful and Optimizes Staff’s Capability. AI will remove the plague of dreary tasks we’re stuck with now, free up huge blocks of time for more advanced, creative work to achieve better results in everything from search engine rankings to social media engagement to content strategy performance.
  3. Companies that use AI Marketing tools are reporting good results. There’s no genius required to know AI systems will get better as they continually improve their performance.

AI Isn’t Marketing Automation

Apps that help us manage bulk social media posts, emails, or organize marketing spend don’t test and predict customer behavior. AI software can now process huge amounts of data, test thousands of content variables, and user engagement activities, and even predict customer behavior. And AI is just starting.

What I think is so exciting about AI in marketing is that it lets us test our content and give us ways to improve it fast. Slow A/B testing is being replaced with high speed multi-variate testing to allow rocketing rates of improvement in engagement and sales. Most businesses never test content or SEO because of the time, complexity, cost and risk in doing it. With AI software, it’s just one feature in the mix.

 

Several AI platform CEOs say they “expect a new breed of marketer to emerge—someone part data scientist, part creative, who can work directly with AI systems.”

10 Reasons Why You’ll be Using Marketing AI Systems Sooner Than You Think

  1. they’re showing good results already
  2. your competitors will be using them
  3. they can test many variables in a short period — saving you time, money and helping you get better results
  4. helps you understand your customers better
  5. helps you fail faster so you waste less time learning
  6. helps you define what content and topics you need to be creating
  7. let you create different content for mobile vs desktop visitor
  8. lets you test your SEO for improved Google rankings
  9. can provide predictive intelligence for better Google rankings and traffic
  10. ends multitasking for staff so they can focus on strategy and achieve more with key objectives

And what are some of the more obvious uses of AI?

  • finding topics most relevant to your visitors
  • better placement of visual content on page including advertising
  • discover and test curated content for effect on visitor interest
  • ability to test content paths for both visitors and Googlebot (RankBrain)
  • speeds up SEO testing and allows for more sophisticated optimization
  • better understanding of season and day/night preferences of customers
  • better clickbait headlines on blog posts
  • better timed recommendations and calls to action to visitor
  • testing product features/benefits and incentives offered
  • improving visitor impact, engagement and capitalizing on their intent
  • optimize all elements of the marketing mix as a whole to improve overall marketing performance




The nicest benefits to Marketing AI are its ability to test content/UVPs/channels to find what works best, and its ability to predict optimal content for each visitor.

Personalization is no small benefit either. Currently, there’s no way for us to segment and serve up different content experiences and test them. AI can do this as part of its daily tasks. When we can give each visitor an optimal, personalized experience, it seems reasonable to believe we can double our current conversion rates.

Boomtrain Artificial Intelligence

Boomtrain is an enterprise level marketing AI solution I’m learning more about now. Boomtrain was just purchased by Zeta Global showing further that AI is very hot technology.  It looks like it has all the bells and whistles including the ability test and personalize the customer experience.

“Predictive Marketing is now on the roadmap of close to 89% of marketers, especially in the B2B space.”

Boomtrain’s Artificial Intelligence for Marketers System’s key value features are: user personalization, high speed A/B testing, predictive recommendations, semantic analysis, and content performance metrics. You can see how this can power up a content strategist’s capabilities.

Boomtrain’s system is very complex but you could understand it in a general sense in that the customer is initially presented a variety of choices/options to attract their attention.  Then AI software kicks in to customize and narrow those choices so the customer is able to pay attention and continue, rather than bouncing. It tests responses to further classify that visitor.  Boomtrain says it has predictive capabilities and I’m studying that aspect now. These companies are fairly closed mouthed about their proprietary technology and data they use, so we should treat their claims with some skepticism.

 

AI and Personalization of Website Content
Infographic Courtesy of Boomtrain.com

That means AI can help make your site sticky and thus your hard work and costs don’t go to waste.

Which AI Marketing Platform Should You Choose?

The choices are growing depending on what you do. If you’re a blogger trying to improve monetization of your site, Ezoic is worth a good look. If you’re an ecommerce site owner, perhaps Boomtrain can provide the best boost.  If you’re looking to boost your Google rankings, then MarketBrew might be the right choice.  And if you’re heavy into PPC and remarketing banner advertising, then Adgorithms might work for you. And if you’re looking to optimize your email campaigns, then Phrasee may give you the right boost.

Additional Resources:

Boomtrain Predictive Intelligence: http://hello.boomtrain.com/rs/571-AGC-599/images/Boomtrain_Predictive_Analytics_The_Key_to_Successful_Marketing_Campaigns.pdf

15 Artificial Intelligence Applications in Marketing https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/15-applications-artificial-intelligence-marketing-robert-allen




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How To Improve Visitor Engagement | Customer Engagement Strategy Tips Website Social Media

Build Your EPIC Engagement Strategy for 2018

Is your website strangely quiet? Do your visitors from Adwords, Google, Bing, and Facebook leave quick? Well, you’re not alone. Do they hit your landing page and evaporate?

Most websites suck because the content is shallow and not engaging. It generates no emotion and moves the visitor nowhere. These are the issues a content strategist resolves (join me on Linkedin for updates).

To fix that, you will design a better visitor engagement strategy. Many other areas of business are into engagement strategy too, from shopping mall and retail store design, to urban planning, to software UX de

sign. Engagement is very important and can significantly improve leads and revenue.

While the website traffic you’re getting from SEO and PPC channels is wonderful, it’s useless if you can can’t generate the customer action you need. This post describes in great detail how you can power up your content and site design to make your site more “sticky.”

Let’s Explore Website Engagement (and social engagement)

You’ll enjoy discovering how to rearrange your content strategy and prospect journey to convert more leads and raise your revenue.

You’ll be able to peer into the depths of customer engagement strategy. This one improvement, might be the most important thing you’ll do in 2018.

Do we have to do it all in EPIC fashion? No, that’s just my branding thing. You’ll be able to pick out the most relevant engagement tactics and fill the holes to make your content engagement and converations super pleasant and easy to consume.  You can come back to this post forever and I’ll have new info for you.



Engagement is an Exploratory Process Leading to a Conversation

When you hear the word engagement, you might think of videos or chatbots and something interactive.  Actually,  engagement is a process of creating a conversation or experience with your visitors, so it’s actually what’s happening via the content or media.

Content won’t do it by itself, even if the content is very, very good. I have plenty of experience in creating deep, informative, helpful, sharable content and I still lost prospects. Even good content can fail if the engagement funnel process isn’t clear and achieve the conversion goal.




Even the smallest interruption in the conversation, could end it. That’s very frustrating when you’ve worked so hard on your copy and visuals. To do engagement strategy well, you need to really know your customers. Study them, meet them, ask questions, take notes, get feedback, and understand their views and pain points very intimately.

That’s the only way you can optimize this website content process to convince them.  And convincing them is more than making the solution laser clear andhelpful.  Making them feel good is the  last phase of a process, which may be complicated. That’s why an engagement consultant might be in your future.




Focus Means Not Confusing Them

As many startups, freelancers and SMBs discover the hard way is that visitor engagement needs a specific goal. As a digital marketing specialist, I’ve fallen into the trap myself by being too many things.

What the customer actually wants is a clear vision of the solution to their pain, and a direct route to it. Offering multiple, value-added paths could confuse them.

That’s why many companies just present “their stuff” on their site and let the visitor decide for themselves. Given how competitive the market is now, that’s not sufficient anymore.




The Visitor and The Customer Journey

The visitor’s journey begins on Google. They have intent. They’re following a path to find a solution. They’re looking for a practical entry point, one they can comprehend, and then building their confidence.  If your UVP or the goal is transparent, undertandable, and inviting, they’ll continue their exploration.

The goal/solution must be apparent and clear in their terms or the conversation will end

 

If they leave, it could be your content itself, lack of a clear solution, or perhaps how it’s laid out to be experienced. It’s this on site experience that may be the problem.

What I find with many sites and on those I’ve worked with, is that there is no invitation to a conversation. Lacking that invitation, visitors feel the company really isn’t sincerley interested in their needs.  The conversation afterall, is to explore the visitor’s needs.

For us marketers, the engagement is about finding out what they need and then clarfying and customizing our solution to them.

How Do Your Customers Feel?

Engagement is a general term marketers created to describe how people feel about your website and your content. Engaged means they like being on your site, find value in it, and are pursuing the path to become your customer.

Engagement is the New Scorecard

And if they are already your customer, highly engaging content will help to keep them away from competitors. And remember, your customers are always searching and interacting on social media.  Engagement is good business sense and ultimately big profits.




Strangely, so little is available online about this important topic and how to do it, that it’s driven me to write this ultimate guide to visitor engagement.

We’ll cover why it’s important, what engagement is, how to make content engagement your new strategic focus, why your site sucks, what are content engagement metrics, and lots of tips to optimize your content engagement strategy.

Don’t forget to come back because in typical evergreen content fashion, I continuously update and improve my blog posts. Please be sociable and pass this onto your friends using the share bar!

What do the Lifestyle People Know?

Speaking of social and engagement, take a quick first example look at these Twitter/FB posts from a lifestyle blogger. Consider how much effort lifestyle bloggers put into their posts and how focused the visual message is in them.

We can learn a lot about social media and blog engagement by studying the lifestyle bloggers. They show us that connection can happen via simple things like a bowl of salad and a tasty dipping sauce.

Practical, down to earth, visual, sensual, and people are what they’re all about. They focus on a consistent pain point of people – creating interesting, tasty and healthy meals.  The food begs a conversation in so many ways. But the focal point or goal is, “what’s in this and how do I make it?”  The conversation is launched, yet a good blogger will be constantly interacting via Facebook and asking visitors what ingredients they like, how they categorize this food, what dietary issues vistiors have, and what’s their favorite food.

Prospect Engagement is Critical to Sales Conversion

Customers don’t buy until they have a clear, positive feeling of confidence. So engagement is a process of creating that feeling of positive confidence. Engagement isn’t empty interaction and clicking, it’s purposeful movement like exploring, learning, assessing and deciding.

Engagement builds emotion, buyer intent, and sales velocity. It’s the most important element in marketing yet very few business people want to know about it.  It gets little respect even among marketers who are hard pressed to create an engagement plan or strategy, or to measure engagement performance.

The reason engagement was rated 3rd in importance in this survey below is because marketers are confused by engagement and how to quantify it.  Aren’t lead generation and brand awareness hollow goals if the audience isn’t engaged?




So why don’t we start solving this audience engagement challenge right now?

How to Improve Visitor Engagement

This post offers 22 useful tips, some infographics, examples, and more insight into powering up your new website engagement strategy below.

However, engagement shouldn’t be a hackathon. Hacking is in vogue yet that could reveal everyone has no plan or strategy and are making unwise choices. Better results come from a good plan and a powerful engagement strategy. Then you can hack your improvements.

Understanding visitor/customer engagement can make your job more fun, increase customer retention and grow your sales revenue for many years ahead. It shouldn’t take long to see results but you’re likely to see massive improvements over the years ahead. Have faith, you can do it.

What if Engagement is the New Focus of Your Website?

artnewspaper

Why aren’t websites and social pages engaging?  Because everyone uses them for “show and tell.”  But websites shouldn’t be an Amazon shopping page or like a museum where there’s no touching and no talking.

Your product and service pages are probably the focus of your website currently. What might be better is your very best content such as an informative blog that makes visitors feel they will solve their need and then contact you for the next phase of becoming your customer.

You can deliver engagement via a great video, amazing product pages, or a blog post with data, using compelling facts and stories. Even if visitors are visiting from other channels such as Facebook, or Pinterest, or Linkedin, immersion in your epic quality content is likely the clincher. Poor quality posts however can destroy your credibility so always — quality first.

Connecting with Your Visitors

Videos, podcasts, Facebook pages can be engaging if they provide real value and if they align with the prospect’s problem. The challenge of course is that each customer has a different problem and need. Your content strategy would then create a different engagement path for each major type of prospect.

Okay, so now you know you’re going to have to put your thinking cap on and map out these paths of fulfillment for all the people coming to your website and social pages. The goal is to peak their intent and create a 1 to 1 relationship.

Regardless of the media channel, we have to create an emotional commitment within them to connect with us. Depending on the nature of your service or products, you may need to find to find some simple pain point to make an initial conversation. That simple conversation piece builds a bridge between you and them. It could be a common experience (e.g., a shared travel destination) you mentioned that gives them the emotional justifciation for continuing to read your website. One more such connection, and they’ll pick up the phone!

One thing about Facebook is that it seems to put those events, people, places first and foremost, rather than the business side of things. Avid social media users seem to excel at conversations.

“Companies and brands need to recognize that social media is the best way to engage their customers. What other media allows them to have one-on-one conversations and address customer service in real time?  Social and blogging done right, is an opportunity to show the human side of your brand and generate emotion. Take the time to develop a relationship with customers and use your social media soap box effectively”.

— Maureen Turner, Public Relations Manager at Homewood Health.

Video can be engaging. As you can see in this short video, the Realtor gives a spontaneous  “on the go” tour of available homes for sale in the La Jolla California area. And on the go busy buyers like that approach.

 

Engagement is the strategic process of connecting with visitors/customers on an emotional level and making them feel that they are fulfilling their purpose

 

An Example of Creating Engagement Channels

Let’s look at a practical example of engagement.  Let’s say you own a kitchen design and renovation firm and you’re wondering how your content strategy might be organized.

You need an overall plan. And you don’t need to be a genius. You do need to understand what your customer actually wants, what drives their interest, and how they make decisions (and all decisions are emotional).

The visitor, a homeowner has searched for kitchen renovation Toronto in Google search and they click through to arrive at your designer/renovator website.  The website is ready for them because it was designed not for presenting “here’s our stuff” but rather to let them choose the path and to experience the solution they’re looking for.

The prospect wants a better kitchen, but they’re not sure what style, layout or cost. The best approach might be to give them a general slideshow, video, or before and after pics of a typical kitchen reno so they can visually experience the design/renovator firms ability to solve their need.

Giving them a picture gallery might only confuse them and they’re not ready to fill out a quote form. That’s not respecting this wonderful, emotional journey they’re on.  Content strategy means patience and a kind of romancing of the visitor.

Artisan Kitchens of Calgary, Canada uses a simple solution of showing the step-by-step process right away on their homepage. This strategy suggests that homeowner education is the top problem to solve, and that you should get them to contact right away.

But is this enough of an experience where the visitor is ready to make that call?  Consumers want to be 80% through a process before they contact sales. Otherwise they’ll feel awkward, confused and vulnerable to high pressure tactics. That step-by-step process just described however does lead them to a high res gallery of kitchens. Have they answered the visitors vision, concerns and generated emotion?

This video shows a little more engaging approach with an interview with an actual customer.

After this, the prospect could be directed to a design studio for design ideas where they can click on features they want. A video is nice but it can’t possibly carry a whole engagement strategy by itself.

Once Fully Immersed in Your Content You Can Gently Move Them Forward

Once they’ve filled their imagination with design possibilities, you can move them onto kitchen layout plans, materials, and your pain-free construction solutions.

So now they’ve gone through a solution experience and are ready to ask questions, check your credibility, and contact you.  The solution experience helps to focus their thoughts and emotions in the direction you need.

You’ve built an expectation of fulfillment and they’re starting to feel emotionally ready to go through with a kitchen reno.

Their next action is to resolve their post-purchase anxiety, get the price, consider financing, choose the right kitchen design/features, and arrange the date for renovation.

That’s a lot of issues and tasks. Fortunately, your website content made it easy for them to progress from beginning to end. You painted the picture they wanted, resolved anxieties, and created focus for them. That created one single pleasant emotion and that’s what everyone wants before they push the buy button.

2 Aspects to Engagement: your Content and your Interaction.

Content:

  • your homepage, blogs, tweets, videos, pictures, data, etc is the experience and the your brand promise. If you can somehow discover what it is your visitors actually want to experience online (learning, purchasing, certainty, validation, confidence building, esteem, empowerment, getting rid of conflicts and problems) you might be able to research and develop richer content for them to read or view.
  • They  expect content that is relevant and significant to them and which is somehow personalized to their unique perspective and needs. The term significance is important to ponder.

Interaction:

  • this begins with scrolling, reading and clicking, and progresses  to them using their imagination and making some calculations
  • the next is to move them to content that creates excitement, surprise, delight, and awe, and it should have a good mix of emotion-laden content that suggests promise of satisfaction.  That’s why pics of kids, pets, meals, birthday events, and construction workers doing their wok makes sense. The next interaction should be with a real human being.

Monitor your Engagement

Assess your engagement success via your Google Analytics reports. See which links they’re clicking on in your page, where they go next on your site, how long they read the page, how many pages they visit, and whether they’re returning to your site.

If your engagement is low, you need to discover which of these root causes are suppressing it:

  • weak value proposition
  • ugly website with some unpleasant material
  • poor flow to the copywriting and other content
  • low quality, poorly qualified visitors
  • ranking on the wrong keyword phrases
  • hard to read and navigate content
  • negative or boring tone to content — too stiff and unimaginative
  • content too deep for shallow audiences – have some light stuff for them
  • irrelevant value proposition – they don’t want your stuff
  • lack of content – you have to have something for them to read or view
  • poor quality content – get a content strategist/writer/videographer to help
  • lack of credibility – your site, credentials and linkedin profile may be hurting you
  • lack of color and zest in your content – find something interesting — curate some content
  • lack of personal presence in your content – why aren’t you in your content?
  • lack of engaging stories to tell – you need to get out and about, travel, network and engage with others yourself so take some time out for those activities

Do You Need Better Sources of Visitors?

Sometimes websites are drawing the wrong crowd. You might have low Google rankings, your email lists might not be great, and your social traffic is flighty. Take at  look your analyitcs reports for info on what your visitors are interested in. Are these the customers you want? Could you incorporate something into your content to warm these people up?

Engagement Metrics

How do you know your website or social media content is interesting and engaging to your visitors? Are there any metrics you can use to assess whether you are moving them toward your goals?

We need to look deeper into the stats to see how people feel about your site, your content, your brand and whether they’re moving from stranger to friend.

Engagement metrics isn’t something most companies do well. It’s actually a complicated visitor statistics thing. Most peruse their web stats looking at single statistics which really isn’t good enough. Others just count how many sales or sales inquiries they get.

You get a lot of traffic to your site however, so plucking out the data is something you need a good analytics expert to set up.

They would drill down, by eliminating those visitors who came in and left right away. Those are poor quality leads, customers who needed a phone number or part number, or those you couldn’t impact right away. Those visits don’t tell us anything.

Experts would measure the engagement of those who spend at least a few minutes because they’ve been on the site long enough for you to have affected them somehow. To learn the most, we might only track those who reached certain pages or did certain things, and then track back to what they did on the site to get that far.

We might find out what interested them and moved them to the next phase.

But What to Measure?

In your Google Analytics reporting tool for instance, you’ll a bunch of stats to look at, plus other stats you can gather with other tools from social media and stuff out there on the web.

Here’s some of the metrics to examine:

  • time spent on site
  • time spent on your key pages
  • number of pages viewed on a specific topic (drilling down)
  • scroll depth – how far down the page do they scroll
  • click through paths – are they progressing through pages like you want?
  • video views and amount of time spent
  • reaching key target pages
  • downloads
  • subscriptions
  • blog comments left
  • return visits
  • visit frequency – time between last visit and most recent visit
  • pageviews per visit
  • direct visits (bookmarks)
  • social media shares
  • phone calls
  • actual purchases and amount of revenue

So what is it in all of this that you’re actually measuring anyway?

You’re measuring attention, interest, satisfaction seeking, relevancy, significance, involvement, commitment, information gathering, calculation, assessing, verifying, action, goal completion, and much more. You’re assessing whether they’re really checking you and your product/service out.

You can’t measure an emotion, but you can calculate how many purchases and phone calls you get. If they followed through, you must have made them feel pretty good.

A Visitor Engagement Formula!

Some believe everything in life can be reduced to a mathematical formula. Well, turns out that an engagement formula is exactly what we’re after if we want to improve measurement.

How about this homemade engagement formula:

number of interactive clicks x minutes spent on site / number of unique visitors.

This formula responds to the percentage of visitors who click a lot and stay awhile. Then we filter it further by applying it only to those who view any of this certain key content such as testimonials, product specs, price packages, contact and about us pages, key blog posts, and downloadables and who actually send an email or make a phone call.

A good programmer could set this tracking up on your site. Once you get into this, you’ll begin to see which customer touchpoints are the ones that result in more leads and revenue.  New AI marketing software is promising to not only do this for you, but also to experiment with your content to find out what works better. Learn more about AI marketing software solutions.

Marketo is a marketing platform that offers some engagement scoring.

Screen Capture courtesy of Marketo.com

At this time of writing, I have discovered no analytics solutions that track engagement at a serious level. So there’s a big opportunity for an analytics software firm here. If you know of any, please leave a comment below.

23 Tips on How to Increase Engagement

  1. Know what your conversion goal is before you begin creating the content that will take your visitors there.
  2. Know the specific type of client/customer you’re targeting. Are they serious and professional, fun and light hearted, ambitious and driven, insecure and cautious, or
  3. Know the specific type of client/customer you’re targeting. Are they serious and professional, fun and light hearted, ambitious and driven, insecure and cautious – include some content or an interactive widget (a game, test, or photo) to let them exercise that personality trait
  4. Remember why your visitor is visiting you since it’s your starting point
  5. Use visual content graphics video original relevant photos
  6. Ask them questions in your copy and in some graphics – warm up their decision making muscles
  7. Ask them to share or connect on social media and give them something to shre and react to
  8. Create more, deeper, helpful, spirited, open-ended content that invites visitors to explore. It’s content that beckons, surprises, and fascinates. Being fascinating is very hard work, yet customers love a fascinating person, brand or product. They talk about it, share it, and become a brand ambassador.
  9. Give your content some embellishment since content that’s too efficient is to dry and doesn’t build intent. And it could turn visitors off.
  10. Use relevant symbols and people to elevate your brand or make it more fun (e.g., the Charmin toilet paper Bear cartoon characters increased social shares 585%)
  11. Be distinct and memorable. Make your dialogue and voice distinct and relatable yet sound like someone who actually can help make their dreams come true by linking to your explicitly professionally worded services page.
  12. Create stories if you can but they must be very relevant — a story about how you helped a client with that very problem or how a person was made happier or more successful is always effective.
  13. If they like some of your content, create more of it, go deeper with insight and ask them if theyd like to ask you a question
  14. Stimulate emotion because people make decisions based on emotion
  15. Get them to visualize forward to how their dissatisfaction and future success will be impacted if they don’t get involved with you
  16. Create likability and empathy by discussing what you do for others, use humor, and tell them why it’s so good to do what you’re talking about — enthusiasm!
  17. Trust, crediblity and authority is important to readers so ensure youre building credibility with facts they can quickly verify so link out to relevant, high quality articles on other websites
  18. Create content continuity by publishing content that adds value to previous posts but all points to some key post/offer/event off in the future
  19. Toward the end of our posts/content, have links and leads to your social pages. This gives them a fuller view of you right now and what you’re up to.
  20. Have a good call to action. The body of your engagement should lead to a contact, but it’s okay to ask them to move forward and ask for a free consultation of some sort on a pressing issue.
  21. Use a contest and an online survey where possible. This enhances the visit and makes it more memorable.
  22. Ask them to email you for something for free such as special guide to solving a problem
  23. Ensure you link to your relevant content throughout your posts – in fact this is a key part of your content and SEO strategy.

Engagement Isn’t Isolated Events – It’s a Process

Engagement isn’t really a goal, it’s a process of achieving your goal of getting visitors into your content and to become emotionally connected to you.

Don’t be perfect. Show sincere intent to fulfill their need. Be interested in their need for fulfillment — your content will generate the spirit of following through on their intent or mission whether it’s to buy your product, buy a house, sign a mortgage, or travel to exotic locations.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this immersion in visitor engagement. Bookmark it for future reference because if there is one improvement you can make to your sales and marketing efforts, it’s engagement that matters.  I’ll be updating this post regularly. Check out the recent post on social media strategy.

 

Further Material on Online Engagement

 

infographicengagement

infographicengagement

 

 

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