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Christmas Gift List Tips To Stay Within Budget & Get Everything In Time2014-11-24T17:33:40+00:00

Start your Xmas gift list on Google Spreadsheets!

Remembering everybody on Santa’s list while keeping in budget can be a stressful thing during every Christmas season. Fortunately there are technologies you can use to make this process much simpler. Using Google Spreadsheets, you can make a list you can access from your computer, smartphone, tablets etc. (anywhere with internet!) and keep track of your holiday preparation.

You will need a Google Account first (either a corporate email/other email registered to use with Google, or a @gmail account – most of you will have one or the other already!).

[zilla_button url=”http://drive.google.com/” size=”big” target=”_blank”] Open Google Drive for Spreadsheets [/zilla_button]

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 12.52.35 PM

Keep Within Responsible Budget

Another advantage of preparing it before going shopping is you can have an idea of how much you are going to spend and check if it is in your budget.

Once you are in the spreadsheet, click in a range, type =SUM(, select the amount you want to sum and press enter. You can repeat the same process to check the average by typing =AVERAGE(. See it bellow:

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 12.54.05 PM

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You can keep it as an online version to make any change and print it as soon as you’ll be ready to start shopping! Talk about #efficiency! For more #efficiency tips follow @jeffkee on Twitter!

Follow us for #30daysxmas on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram!

Paper Thickness & Weight: First Impressions2021-10-07T16:48:23+00:00

Like we said in our article Beautiful Design is Functional Design: What’s on the outside counts, and first impressions matter[…]Websites and printed material that are designed beautifully are also more functional.

We stand by that statement. First impressions are everything, especially when it comes to print media. When you hand someone a business card or mail out fliers for a new listing, it is the style and quality of that product that is influencing people – for better or for worse.

As on of our five senses, texture has a great impact on our perception of the world. Think of the satisfaction of that fizzy coca cola. Or imagine the feeling of cashmere against your skin. It makes all the difference and the type of paper you use for your marketing material is no exception.

The many factors of choosing the right paper stock:

In order to make a quality decision about what first impression you want your marketing paper to give, you must first understand the many factors that effect what kind of paper will put your best foot forward.

  1. Your market & the image you want- are you are selling homes to a middle class buyer? offering rentals? or grand, luxurious mansions?

  2. Purpose of this print project – is this a wide scale mailout for an open house? a new, upscale business card that you can write notes on? or a professional, clean folder with your own personal style?

  3. Quantity of printing- do you want 50 feature sheets for your open house? or 500 for a mailout?

  4. Budget – money, money, money… it always plays a part and the amount you want to spend can greatly affect the type of stock paper you will want to use.

Print Graphic Design and picking the right paper thickness

Thickness: Pros and Cons

Bigger = Better is often the mantra, but it isn’t always true. Here are some examples:

Pros:

  1. Thicker paper feels luxurious & serious, like you spent a million bucks on it.

  2. You’re more likely to be taken seriously with a thicker card than thinner counterparts because it FEELS like you’re serious. It feels like you are getting down to business.

  3. It is able to handle specialty applications such as foil stamping better without distortion. This can add some really professional, and – lets face it – pretty cool effects to your print media.

  4. It wins more draw prizes. Thicker paper is more likely to catch the fingers when they draw for that free lunch!

Cons:

  1. Thicker paper stock prices go up by a big margin! i.e. Our 16pt cards with laminate can be as cheap as $120 (1,000), while a 29pt card can quickly exceed $500. That a big budget difference…

  2. Less cards will fit in your business card holder. You’ll need to keep on top of refilling that stock you cary around with you.

  3. When paper is too thick, it’s hard to fold over without breaking the edges… which means that any colour you have like black will look cracked and peeling on the fold. So folders, folded booklets or pamphlets should be limited to a certain thickness (16pt max, 14 is safer).

So now that you’ve learned about the pros and cons, when is it ok to use thick paper?

When to go thick:

  1. Business cards

  2. Single-sheet cards that are not folded

When to keep it 16pt or under:

  1. Folders or folded feature sheets to avoid cracking.

  2. Lower quantity print-jobs. Thicker paper is more expensive in small quantities than in bulk.

Printing has such a wide variety of options & specifications that it can be overwhelming. If you are interested in printing with us, please inquire with our design team to discuss your needs.

We specialize in branding & print media design for real estate agents and will know exactly what will help your print media give the first impression you want.

The Numbers That Really Matter On Your Website Traffic2021-09-08T18:35:38+00:00

Are you getting a lot of visitors to your website? Great, but having a high volume of visitors alone may not be helping you as much as you think. There’s another key factor of your website traffic, and that is engagement.

When it comes to analyzing the quality and effectivity of your website, it is the visitor engagement that makes a difference for your business. But what is the difference between visits and engagement? Think about when you are browsing the world wide web. There are a lot of pages that you end up on but don’t read, right?

That’s exactly why a high volume of visitors can be misleading. There is too much of a focus on the sheer number of visitors through ads, campaigns and other marketing strategies and too little focus on engaging those visitors.

The reason that engagement is so important is that it shows you how interested your potential clients are in you and your business. In real estate, for example, it can show you which listings people are the most and least interested in, as well as many other statistics. Measuring these statistics–or metrics–is critical to determining the quality and amount of real leads that you receive.

Here is a list of 5 metrics to really pay attention to:

1. Page views per visit

  • A good number of page views per visit is five. If you have reached that statistic, then you can confidently say that your website is functioning quite well. It shows that your website is easy to navigate and people are interested enough to click on links.

Pages / Visit 1

Pages / Visit 2

2. Bounce Rates

  • Means people left the site as soon as they opened up page, without any engagement
  • Should be under half.

Bounce Rate 1

Bounce Rate 2

3. Visit Duration

  • Amount of time spent consecutively throughout pages in website.
  • Similar implications as the pageview metrics.

4. New vs Returning

  • Shows the loyalty of people coming back to see your stuff.

5. Visitor flow

  • Shows the exact flow of which pages they entered through, and which pages they clicked on.. and when they finally left.
  • Good visual indicator to emulate customers’ experience on your website

Visitor Flow 1

Visitor Flow 2

Other Experts

If you are interested in learning more about these metrics and other ways to improve your online presence, here are two articles that we feel do a great job of explaining the benefits of images and simplicity:

Images and video get more likes on Facebook and more shares on Twitter. -by Kristin Piombino

About Minimalist Web Design. – by Mrs. Neff

Infographic: Canadian Internet, Mobile & Social Usage Stats2012-11-22T00:10:42+00:00

Canadians are far ahead of the curve when it comes to being online savvy, according to this beautiful infographic put together by 6S Marketing, a leading large-scale online marketing firm based in Vancouver BC, lead by the famous Chris Breikss.

These statistics once again prove the importance of a well-organized online marketing platform, whether your business is big or small in its scale. Since our release of 2011 mobile browser & social media usage statistics, it appears that the number has gone up even more! A beautiful & functional website, search engine presence, social media utilization etc. can all help you achieve your marketing goals, if you are consistent & diligent with it.

Please click here to read the original full post by 6S Marketing on Canadian Connectedness. The 6S Marketing blog contains some very interesting information.

Our Efforts to Meet These Trends

Apart from always creating the best designed real estate websites, we also lead the industry with the most advanced features and functionalities to allow our clients to take full advantage of this massive change in our society and consumer behaviour. Our Responsive Mobile Grid system allows your website to be optimized for any handheld device, including iPhones, Blackberries, Samsung/LG/Nokia/Motorola Androids, iPads etc. Our continuous innovation in social media marketing, including the recent addition of Pinterest pin buttons to our real estate listing pages, will help propel our clients to get more web traffic and gain more exposure in a competitive real estate market.

A Big Thanks to 6S For Creating This Infographic!

This is a fantastic infographic with great educational benefits to anybody who is involved in, or interested in, online marketing and mobile technology. The team at BRIXWORK would like to send a big fat thank-you to 6S Marketing for putting together this wonderful artwork.

Major Upgrade to Version 3.8 For Better Realtor® Websites2012-08-13T23:56:16+00:00

We have one of the most exciting upgrades for BRIXWORK {real estate} in weeks that released over the past week or so. This upgrade is an interesting one in the sense that many of the change are mostly not visible on the surface, so here’s a brief recap of what’s been done under-the-hood.

Massive Speed Improvements On The MLS® Reciprocity Module

4X The Sync Frequency

One of our greatest strengths is our incredibly flexible and deeply integrated MLS® Reciprocity module. Our industry-leading system has gone through another major upgrade; speed. Exchanging massive amount of data between different servers is not only challenging from a technical perspective, but also a heavy load for web servers to handle. We’ve made some incredible data & code optimization in order to speed up the data sync process. The amount of time & memory resources consumed has been cut down to less than 1/3 of what it previously was.

What does this mean for your website & usability?

1 – New Listings Delivered Quicker

We used to synchronize your MLS® listings data once a day. We are now boosting that up to 4 times a day. Our mothership server checks for new listings for the day up to 4 times a day so that your visitors can see the brand new listings faster, and you can offer showings ahead of the other agents.

2 – Cost Savings Passed On To You

This upgrade also allows our servers to handle more Realtor® website accounts without over-burdening it, which reduces our overhead. Less price increases, more focus on website quality that really makes the difference for your marketing means a win-win for both our development team as well as our real estate agents that we service.

 

 

Select Which Cities to Show On Your Site

Niche definition for real estate agents is important. Our previous MLS® search module included all cities & subareas that were part of your local real estate board’s jurisdiction. We now offer a way to select which cities to show & hide. This will affect the MLS® search form that your customers see on the front-end.

Simply navigate towards the “Areas” tab on your admin panel, and then you an use the dropdown menu beside each city name to toggle that city between show/hidden.

 

 

Listings Grouped by Apartment Complexes (Beta)

Our listing retrieval module now is equipped with filter systems to display listings that belong to a certain condo/townhome complex. While this module is still in its beta mode with some glitches to fix, it works well on condominiums. You can see examples of this running on Whistler Realtor Denise Brown’s featured condo buildings page.

Currently In Beta Stage

At this moment we are displaying featured buildings on a separate page, linking to a listing gallery page that shows all the listings (including your own past sales, if any). Eventually, we will include more flexible options for your customers to be able to easily browse through listings in buildings. For example, when viewing a specific apartment unit page, the customers will have the option to “see more listings in this building”. That’s planned for the near future.

Cost/Timeframe To Upgrade

This is not a simple complimentary upgrade – it is a more complex module that requires a fair amount of custom coding on the front-end to fully integrate into your existing website system. If you wish to have your own “featured buildings” page set up, please send an inquiry through our support desk and we will provide you with a custom quote.

 

 

Email/Contact Forms Upgraded To Set Mandatory Fields

Our email/contact forms (generally included on your contact page, as well as on each listing detail page) are now upgraded – certain fields (such as name/email/phone) can be mandatory fields. This means that if somebody attempts to hit the “send” button before those fields are filled out, the form will return an error message asking them to complete the mandatory fields.

Why wasn’t this enabled before?

We didn’t enable this forced form fields concept in order to relieve the pressure on users to give out contact information. Studies have shown that more mandatory fields (especially contact info) on web-based forms reduces the likelihood of the users filling out the form. While the intention was great, it back-fired because some leads were coming in without any phone numbers or emails filled in. While we suspect these incomplete submissions were spam attempts (or our competitors testing our system to copy certain features), based on our customer’s requests, we can offer certain fields to be mandatory.

This is not an automatic upgrade

Some of our clients prefer to not set any fields to be mandatory, so this upgrade is not automatically propagated. If you wish to turn certain fields of your contact form to become mandatory fields, please send us a request through our support desk and we’ll make it happen. There is no charge for this modification for monthly subscribers.

 

Buyers & Sellers Forms and Virtual Tours Field available on 3.7.52018-11-02T21:42:16+00:00

We are excited to release yet another upgrade, to version 3.7.5. Along with many minor bug fixes and text changes, the most significant upgrade is the Buyers & Sellers inquiry forms.

Update #1 – Buyers & Sellers Forms

After a long debate on whether we should include this feature or not as a standard item, we have finally decided to give it a go. There was not enough demand for this previously, and also there was speculation on whether this would be effective since longer forms are less likely to be filled out.

The buyers form gathers relevant info from your customers

To see a demo implementation of this feature, you can visit Jacob Strigan’s buyers form here. This is the first implementation of this feature, and the same website also has the sellers form located under the “Selling” tab. The buyers form includes the following data capture fields:

  • Name, phone & email
  • Timeframe of purchase
  • Which city & neighbourhood
  • What type of property
  • The size and price range
  • and more
The sellers form gathers similar data, except geared more towards the specifics of the property that is to hit the market so that you can get information on the potential listing.

The above feature has been deprecated as of 2015.

Having more fields to fill out makes it less likely for visitors to fill out content. We have completely removed this feature and will never offer it again. It’s our job to get leads for our Realtors. The data mining & interview is to be done after the initial contact has been made, and these forms only turned people away due to its cumbersome nature.

Update #2 – Virtual Tour Fields Integrated

Now a “Virtual Tour” field is included in your back-end (found under the details tab, while editing property details). You can enter the full URL to a virtual tour webpage prepared by a vendor of your choice (if applicable), and the link can appear on the listing detail page. You can see a demo implementation on Dan Goluboff & Charlie Cameron’s property page. Note that having a photo gallery on the virtual tour page is redundant and not necessary, as the BRIXWORK websites feature a fantastic photo gallery that works on all mobile devices.

Also available on MLS® integrated listings

The MLS® listing pool also has a field for virtual tour URLs, so this is not restricted just on your OWN listings. This feature can be enabled for all listings on the system.

To enable this feature on your website

Same deal as above – to add this feature, please submit a support ticket and we’ll take care of it for you. Charges may apply in some cases. There is an important downside to note however – whenever there is a virtual tour link on a property, that URL will belong to a 3rd party website or the listing agent’s website, so there is a risk that your viewers may end up leaving your site – use at your own risk. The best way to mitigate this is to create a true video tour and upload it to Youtube. Our system supports seamless embedding of Youtube videos on our property detail pages, without any 3rd party webpages showing up.

Coming Soon!

I know we’ve been discussing this for quite some time – QR codes are coming on the next update. We’ve been busy ironing out other details on our software to provide a more stable & better experience.

You Want Baby Boomers – Find Them on Facebook2012-05-07T17:38:19+00:00

“the portion of baby boomers active on social networking sites could be close to half”

Many Realtors® question the viability of an active social media marketing campaign, let alone having a presence on social media networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. Many modern day marketers (and yes, all Realtors® are marketers, in essence) still do not see the value of being present on social media, and there are many excuses. “I don’t see how that’s going to get me a sale.” or “I don’t want to spend time on it.” are among the most common reasons why they refuse to invest time into social media marketing. And then there’s the age rhetoric: “Buyers who are able to afford are on the older side, and they are not on Facebook. I don’t need college kids as customers. I need baby boomers, people who are active in the labour force as buyers.”

32% of baby boomers are now on social networking websites

According to a recent study by Pew Internet(a division of the Pew Research Centre), this is a terrible excuse. 50% of all adults in the USA use social networking websites regularly! As for the baby boomers, their usage rate of social networking sites was up to 32% from 20% the previous year – that’s a 60% increase over one year. And these are 2011 statistics – if the trend continues into 2012, which is more than likely, the portion of baby boomers active on social networking sites could be close to half!

So how do Realtors® capitalize on this market?

We’re not suggesting that you can find fresh buyers all from Facebook, and that you spend a tonne of money on buying advertisements on Facebook. In fact, this is not even how a proper social media marketing scheme works.

The 3 Rs for Realtors®, as we like to call it, is to be Remembered – and get Referrals, and get Repeat transactions. Social media helps you to be remembered by your clients, or your friends & family so that when somebody asks them “do you know a good Realtor®?”, the answer will be your name.

Here’a  list of very simple things you can do on your social media network to be remembered by everyone as “The Realtor® I know”:

  • Post interesting & meaningful articles. Do not copy-paste news bulletins from your local real estate board. Write your own blog article in your own words if you can, and then link it to your website page containing the article.
  • Keep in touch with people. When you see somebody getting married, offer a congratulatory comment. If you have their address, send them a nice postcard. Facebook will allow you to keep on top of these life-changing events. Did a client post pictures of a new grandchild? Did the client’s son just graduate from college? Send them a note and let them know you remember them. Back in the 80s you had to make phone calls to find out about these things. Nowadays, you can get updates on Facebook. Easy enough?
  • Offer advice and become the expert in their lives. People will often post questions on Facebook, of all topics. “Do you know a good plumber?” or “Thinking of moving to the suburbs… thoughts?”  Be the expert to answer even the simplest questions when you have a chance.

These are things that will help you be remembered. The baby boomers are now getting on the social networking sites – be there with them!

Email Marketing with Mailchimp2012-04-21T01:03:10+00:00

Being in the web development industry, I’ve had the pleasure (and, often, discomfort) of working with so many different web-based software to run our business. Naturally it’s not just for our business – the research I do to pick out the right software is ultimately recommended to our Realtor® clients as well.

One of the biggest elements of modern marketing is email marketing. Yes, there’s been controversy over how effective it is since people are sick of spam, but the results are still there – if you do it right! But before we even get into “how do I do email marketing right”, let’s talk about something more basic. “What’s the proper way to send out email newsletters?” – a question we often receive.

No More Microsoft Outlook!

Well, if you are thinking “I use my list on Outlook!” we need to have a serious talk! Outlook is not meant for email marketing. Outlook will simply send out the exact same message to everybody on the list without any personalization, and it offers no tracking whatsoever. A proper email marketing system is able to send out one email per recipient, but trough an entire list. It can individualize each email (for example, the email can start with “Hi Susan..” instead of “Hello,”). So then, what do we use?

Introducing Mailchimp

Sign Up Now for $30 Reward Credits from Mailchimp!

Proper email marketing is done by proper software, and we recommend, based on our own experience, Mailchimp. This is a web based application built just for email marketing, and that alone. We used to use Interspire’s Email Marketer, but that software was way too outdated and expensive to use. Also, the email editor was so error prone, that ordinary users with minimum computer savvy were pulling their hair out while editing newsletters. After we migrated our clients to Mailchimp recently, everybody was happy. So far Mailchimp has been a winner in the email marketing software category for us, by a far far margin – and our criteria is strict. 

Mailchimp boasts the following benefits:

  • Easy to create & design templates, even for basic computer users
  • Easy to type out emails and set up the layout without breaking the template
  • Great email tracking system – see who opened your email, how many times, and which links are being clicked
  • Integration with Google Analytics to see which campaigns send you the most traffic
  • Cost effective – free for up to 12,000 emails per month on basic features. Even the premium accounts are very cost effective, starting at a mere $15.00 month, and gives you auto-responders, social profile scrapes and more.

You can track clicks, views & who opened your emails

Get $30 in Monkey Rewards Credit When You Sign Up!

We at BRIXWORK & Sonika use Mailchimp as our email marketing tool as well – so give it a whirl! You can sign up for Mailchimp here for free – and get $30 in reward credits when you subscribe. Happy Marketing!

Combining PDFs Online For A Comprehensive Presentation2012-04-01T18:19:35+00:00

Recently one of our Realtors® asked us an interesting question – how do I combine multiple PDF documents into one neat PDF? There are times when you want to combine your introduction letter, the marketing plans, an assessment, your brochures, newspaper ad template etc. into one chunk – whether it’s for acquiring that new listing, or to send reports of an open house, or really any other purpose, this can be an easy way to send documents to your clients without attaching too many PDFs into one. Less files: less confusion, and easier file management!

So, how do we achieve this? There are many ways, but let’s look at the most accessible ways first.

Convert PDFs online

This is by far the easiest and cheapest way to achieve this. There are many sites you can use:

  1. www.pdfmerge.com – it provides the service free for up to 15MBs, which should be plenty for most situations. When using this one, ignore the red “Download Now” button (unless you want to pay for a desktop software to install, which is not what we recommend).
  2. www.ilovepdf.com/merge_pdf – Up to 10 PDF files, maximum 80MBs means a larger limit. The upload/download speed on this website was much better than the one above. So far ILovePDF is the winner on our books!

Use a Desktop Software

Adobe Acrobat Pro is a powerful PDF management software for Mac & Windows

Frankly we do not recommend this – more and more software is going in the direction of web-based services, and cluttering your computer with more programs is not necessary. That being said, when we combine PDFs in-house, we use Adobe Acrobat Pro – it’s not a free software, but it is extremely powerful. The functionalities go way beyond simply combining PDFs.

Adobe Acrobat Pro allows you to:

  1. Create PDF forms that can collect data
  2. Include multimedia (pictures, videos) from multiple sources into the PDF
  3. Sign PDFs
  4. And more!

Acrobat Pro is available for both Windows and Mac OSX. However, the price tag is not exactly low.

Another open-source (free) option is PDF Rider – it appears to be only for Windows at this point. You can read a review of PDF Rider by Addictive Tips.

SEO Features Added2010-02-20T01:11:45+00:00

The Brixwork for Realtors platform has been upgraded again, and now we offer dynamic META description and keyword tags for each content page. You can now define different descriptions and keywords in the <meta> tags on each section, diversifying and further specifying your content to the search engines. The current version # is 3.1. (more…)

July 15, 2020

Digital Dominance for Real Estate Agents in a COVID World

Modern business requires modern tools. Here are a list of critical cloud software & apps that every real estate professional can use to increase efficiency & close more deals.

Written By Martyna Noworyta | Design & Visuals, Marketing & Promotion, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media & Marketing, Technology & Trends

April 14, 2020

Ways To Increase Online Presence & Brand Awareness for Real Estate

There is increased online presence & brand awareness for real estate during COVID-19 crisis. Check out great ways to increase your website engagement here!

Written By Martyna Noworyta | Design & Visuals, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media & Marketing

July 15, 2019

Offering Edmonton Real Estate Website with EREB IDX Integration!

Hello Edmonton! Brixwork has completed the integration of the EREB MLS® IDX (Reciprocity) system. We are bringing our beautiful website templates with great search engine & social media performance to Edmonton real estate agents! Take a look through our website design options!

Written By Jeff Kee | Features & Development

June 6, 2019

Boutique Project Marketing for Townhomes and Condos

Brixwork has been providing project marketing services for new builds for years. As demand for more new boutique townhome/condo projects increases, so does the need for higher-level project marketing. No matter how big or small, your project deserves a proper brand presence that'll set you apart from the rest.

Written By Jeff Kee | Design & Visuals, Featured Clients, Features & Development

May 7, 2019

Notable Realtor® Teams and Brokerages Custom Website Showcase

High performance teams and boutique brokerages need the best online image possible. Brixwork combines functional features and exceptional visuals to create custom website designs built to stand out!

Written By Jeff Kee | Design & Visuals, Featured Clients

April 11, 2019

Comparing Brixwork and WordPress

There are more real estate website platforms than ever before in the marketplace. Choosing the right platform for your business is critical to meet your business goals and be efficient with your time. Let’s compare how WordPress vs Brixwork works for Realtors® and their websites.

Written By Jeff Kee | Features & Development, Technology & Trends

February 20, 2019

Realtor® Website Pages Designed for 3–5x Better Performance

Is your website getting the numbers you want? Our bold designs are proven to give your website results by improving 3 key on-site metrics. Don’t settle for a cookie-cutter design like every Realtor®.

Written By Jeff Kee | Design & Visuals, Features & Development

August 24, 2021

Hiring – Office Admin & Customer Support Position (Full-Time Permanent)

We are looking for a new teammate to join our wonderful studio in Gastown to help us operate smoothly and handle customer inquiries, accounting/invoice duties as well as some basic project management tasks.

Written By Jeff Kee | Company Updates

January 8, 2019

What Is The Future Of The Real Estate Market?

It’s hard to predict the real estate market. The last downturn saw 1/3 of Realtors® hang their licenses and walk away. What’s your next move?

Written By Jeff Kee | Marketing & Promotion

January 3, 2019

Hiring – Office Admin & Customer Support Position (Maternity Leave Contract)

We are having a baby! We have a maternity leave position opening up to help with office administration and customer support. This is a great entry point into the industry for those who are eager to learn more about digital marketing & cloud web software!

Written By Jeff Kee | Company Updates

December 18, 2018

Get Your Branded Holiday Instagram/Facebook Posts Ready!

Its that time of year again! Make sure you have your graphics ready in time for this holiday season. Chose from a selection of beautiful posting templates for your Real Estate Instagram and Facebook pages for your social media presence to truly stand out.

Written By Jeff Kee | Design & Visuals, Social Media & Marketing

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