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5 Ways Blockchain Technology Will Change the Way We Do Business

The growing consensus among business leaders and entrepreneurs: The future of blockchain technology will be about a lot more than Bitcoin. Blockchain tech will impact every major area of business from accounting to operations, and there's evidence the revolution has begun. Here are five ways blockchain technology is disrupting the way we do business, with sometimes sweeping changes. Accounting is the textbook case study for a business field that stands to benefit from blockchain technology. Blockchain tech can more effectively manage all of the above. Advertising and marketing. Information technology and cybersecurity. Management and operations. The system allows professionals to take part in a new economy for photography, secure payment for licensing their work immediately when sold and offer their work on a secure blockchain platform. Blockchain technology is changing how companies do business in other staid industries, too.

How Instagram Analytics Can Help Boost ROI in 2019

To help you strategize for 2019, we’re looking at three key Instagram analytics that can help you improve and develop your overall marketing strategy and drive more traffic your business. Engagement rates Knowing what kind of Instagram content resonates best with your audience could help you plan your content calendar and marketing strategy for the future. There’s no hard-and-fast rule when it comes to measuring your engagement rate, but most marketers will agree that it’s usually based around this calculation: divide the total number of likes and comments by your follower count, which will give you a percentage. Or you can use tools or apps dedicated to deciphering your Instagram Analytics, which will automatically calculate your engagement rate for each post so you can get a snapshot of what content ranks top of the list month after month. Your exposure on Instagram is linked to your post’s engagement levels. By paying particular attention to your engagement rate and the content themes that performed the best, you’ll find strong indicators from your target audience of where you should be investing your time, energy and budget. But with Instagram Analytics, you can focus on your click-through rate and the effectiveness of your link placement with Instagram Stories’ swipe-up feature and your link in bio if you want to drive traffic to your business’ site. Small changes to how you present your bio link will help drive your audience from your Instagram feed to your business website, where they can get more information, make a purchase or browse your brand in more detail. Monitoring the click-through rates of your Instagram Stories helps determine what content works best for driving sales to your website. By focusing on identifying your audience’s behavior patterns, gathering customer feedback and pinpointing what content resonates most with your followers, you’ll be armed with the best information to strategically invest in the future.

Here’s where homeowners are relocating

According to Redfin’s migration analysis, 25% of home searchers looked to relocate to another metro in the fourth quarter of 2018. This percentage is a slight increase from 23% in 2017, and now sits at the highest recorded level in the report's history. The migration report utilized data from Redfin’s website, gathering information from more than 1 million users who searched for homes across 87 metros, from October through December. In fact, Redfin states all of these metros saw their outflows (people moving away from the area) dramatically increase from the previous year, especially in San Francisco. In this metro, 24% of Bay Area Redfin users were searching for homes in another metro, which is an uptick from 19% during the same time period in 2017. However, Denver made the biggest move up 2017’s list, as 24% of Denverites searched for homes outside the metro, climbing from 17% the previous year. Interestingly, although Seattle’s market continues to be one of the most expensive in the nation, its net inflow (the number of people moving into an area) surged in Q4, making it the fifth-most popular migration destination. “In both Seattle and Denver prices were growing rapidly in 2017 and early 2018 to the point that buyers backed off in the second half of 2018,” Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather said. (Click to enlarge) NOTE: Redfin's sample-sized users must have viewed at least 10 listings during the quarter. In order to calculate net inflow and outflow, Redfin took the number of users looking to leave the metro area and subtracted the number of users looking to move to the metro area from another metro area.

How Lego uses Instagram to inspire fans of all ages

Social media continues to be an intrinsic part of Lego's marketing strategy, with visual content a key way the brand drives engagement and fosters a sense of community online. With kids and youngsters being a core part of its target audience, Lego also uses Instagram to focus on ideas for education and play. The account typically makes use of video in this instance, using Lego for learning. Promoting Lego Life With an audience of 2.4 million, last year Lego decided to replicate its success on Instagram with the launch of a new visual app – this time specifically designed for young users. According to reports, Lego Life has proven to be a success, with the brand finding a distinct correlation between the number of times kids return to Lego Life and an increase in the sessions of playing with Lego. Interactive ads Alongside regular brand content, Lego has also entered Instagram’s advertising arena, seeing success with its paid-for campaigns. One in particular, created to promote its new ‘Boost’ playset, used the platform’s Canvas ads in Stories. This is a key component of any successful advertisement, but even more so on Instagram, where users are likely to be particularly wary of branded and sponsored content. Its focus on user generated content is key, as is posting content that encourages action or communication. With a highly immersive, quality campaign, it shows that Instagram advertising can actually increase brand sentiment and even have a real impact on sales.

Zillow awards $1 million prize for making Zestimates more accurate

LendingReal EstateValuationsTechnology Claims contest winners’ algorithm improves Zestimate accuracy The Zestimate that appears on every listing on Zillow is about to get a little closer to the expected sales price of a house, and all the online real estate giant had to do is give away more than $1 million. According to Zillow, the winning team beat the Zillow benchmark model by approximately 13%. The winning team includes data scientists and engineers from around the world: Chahhou Mohamed of Morocco, Jordan Meyer of the United States, and Nima Shahbazi of Canada. As a result of Mohamed, Meyer, and Shahbazi’s efforts to beat the Zestimate, the team will be awarded $1 million. Beyond that, Zillow also awarded $100,000 to the second-place team, and $50,000 to the third-place team. Zillow said that it will incorporate parts of the winning team’s model, along with other contest entries, to improve the accuracy of the Zestimate that appears on the listings for 110 million homes on Zillow. According to Zillow, the improvements to the Zestimate will decrease its current nationwide error rate of 4.5% to less than 4%, meaning that half of all Zestimates will be within 4% of the selling price, and half will be off by more than 4%. “We’re so proud that the winning team’s huge achievement, and the work of all the teams in the competition, will provide millions of homeowners with a better understanding of one of their biggest life investments.” According to Zillow, the winning team’s algorithm utilized several “sophisticated machine learning techniques, including using deep neural networks to directly estimate home values and remove outlier data points that fed into their algorithm.” Additionally, the winning team made use of publicly-available, external data including rental rates, commute times, and home prices, among other types of contextual information, like road noise, all of which are variables that factor into a home’s estimated value. “It’s amazing to know that millions of people will benefit from our ideas,” Shahbazi said. For every idea that worked, there were a hundred that didn't work.

These are the best housing markets to pay off debt

In 2018, American consumer debt reached a whopping $4 trillion, contributing to tightening affordability concerns in the housing sector. In fact, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index, housing affordability sat at a 10-year low in the third quarter of 2018. As the cost of living is often a significant factor in determining where people choose to live, homeowners often seek out more affordable markets. LendingTree recently released a report that highlighted the best U.S. metros for paying off debt. According to the company's data, the top metros had a rent-to-income ratio below 20%, and all but one had a below-average price on goods and services. 1 metro in the country for paying down debt, with a score of 77.2. The company calculated this total by comparing factors related to residents’ abilities to pay down debt in the 50 largest metros across the country. Notably, Milwaukee and Minneapolis followed closely behind with scores of 75.6 and 75.5, respectively. Residents living in Detroit and Los Angeles were also challenged, with scores totaling 40.8 and 42.3, respectively. The image below shows which metros are the best for paying off debt: (Click to enlarge) (Source: LendingTree) NOTE: LendingTree scored cities based on factors including credit rate, household income, unemployment rate, price parity for goods and services and more.

Renters are renewing their leases more than ever before

Despite rents continuing to rise throughout much of 2018, renters are choosing to remain in the same apartment more than they ever have before, even if their rent goes up. In fact, a new report from RealPage shows that apartment resident retention (renters electing to renew their lease after its initial term expires) hit an all-time high last year, with nearly 53% of renters choosing to renew their leases. According to RealPage’s report, apartment resident retention jumped to 52.5% last year, meaning that in the country’s 50 largest markets, when renters’ initial leases came up from renewal, 52.5% of them chose to renew. According to RealPage’s report, the renters who chose to renew their leases did so at rents that were 4.5% higher on average than their initial rent. The figures probably come as a bit of surprise to some in the market, especially considering apartment construction was at a nearly 30-year high last year, but RealPage notes that there a number of factors at work here. “For example, loss of renters to purchase ran below the historical norm, especially when interest rates inched ahead of year-ago levels, making purchase less affordable,” RealPage noted in its report. Apartments in Milwaukee and Newark-Jersey City had the most repeat renters, each registering conversion of expiring leases into renewal leases for 61.9% of the households. Resident retention was also above 60% in Providence, Rhode Island and Miami. The rest of the top ten markets where renters renewed their leases most often consisted of St. Louis, Philadelphia, Cleveland, New York, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Pittsburgh. According to the report, other areas where resident retention ran well below the national level were San Diego, Charlotte and Phoenix.

Redfin: Homes keep getting cheaper

In October home sale prices climbed 4.5%, however the percentage of listings that had a price drop of more than 1% reached an 8-year high, according to new data from Redfin. This October, home sale prices reached a median of $297,200, increasing 2.4% from the previous month, Redfin explained. Redfin also reported that 32 of the 71 largest metro areas saw home price increase from September, attributing this growth to home sales shifting to more expensive areas, rather than individual homes increasing in value. “Some homebuyers are adjusting their price range down, and others are backing out of home-buying entirely–deciding that renting is a better deal." “Sellers are now realizing buyer demand isn’t what it used to be and are dropping their prices. Notably, the number of homes for sale increased 1.3% from 2017, reaching the highest level of inventory growth since September 2015. The U.S. Census Bureau announced that residential construction spending was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $556.4 billion in September, 0.6% above the revised August estimate of $553 billion. Fairweather said that for the remainder of 2018, Redfin will examine how the California wildfires impact national housing market trends. “The fact is that rising mortgage rates and high home prices have a bigger long-term effect on the local housing market than the fires’ destruction.” As of today, the most recent California wildfires have claimed the lives of 63 people and destroyed more than 135,000 acres. You can read more about the devastation here.

Rent just hit an all-time high… again

With more and more renters feeling the affordability crunch, there seemed to be some light on the horizon recently with the steady rise in rents appearing to finally slow down over the last few months. Nevermind. As it turns out, rents are still going up and just hit an all-time high, again. According to the Census data, the median asking rent during the third quarter was $1,003, an increase of $52 over the second quarter and an increase of $91 over the same time period last year. (Click to enlarge. In the Northeast, the median asking rent rose from $1,134 in the second quarter to $1,210 in the third quarter. The largest year-to-date increase is actually in the South, where rents have climbed from $907 in the first quarter to $973 in the third quarter, an increase of $66. Rents in the West have also risen, from $1,345 in the first quarter to $1,382 in the third quarter, an increase of $37 this year. So, despite falling in the Midwest and the Northeast, rents went up in the South and West, and all that added up to a $49 increase in rents this year. The median asking sales price for homes is going up as well.

5 ways to hack a higher marketing ROI

Looking at ROI in this myopic way limits the overall potential of your marketing mix to drive higher returns and increased performance for your business. With a unified measurement approach, you may create — or hack — a higher ROI for your marketing investment. The media. We know that getting the right message to the right people can drive a significant increase in a channel’s effectiveness. Advertisers with a unified view of their marketing can optimize to deliver the right message at the right time for this specific customer’s path to purchase, driving higher overall ROI than might be possible in any single channel. Even if you have the same message, switching your target audience (the people who hear the message) and the channel by which you reach them can drive a higher ROI of marketing. Just as with message and targeting, an analysis of frequency can help marketers find opportunities to increase ROI. Hack the price At its core, ROI is the measurement of impact divided by the cost of media. Today’s marketing professionals are better served asking: Can we deliver a 20 percent increase to ROI over our last campaign, and how can we leverage our tools to test and learn new ways to make our marketing efforts (and business) more successful? Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

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Interest rates expected to climb much higher in 2019

Rising interest rates are predicted to slow consumption and investment growth in 2019, according to the latest U.S. economics data from Capital Economics. According to Capital Economics, the 2-year Treasury yield increased to 2.82% from 2.63% at the beginning of September. Mortgage rates usually track in line with the 10-year Treasury, meaning mortgage rates are likely to continue rising as well. The increase in market interest rates is already contributing to higher borrowing costs for households and businesses. This is affecting the housing industry, as it was revealed that despite an increase of housing starts in August, building permit figures were weak and existing home sales held steady, according to the company. Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market survey indicated mortgage rates increased for the fourth consecutive week. “Borrowing costs are moving right now for three main reasons: the very strong economy, higher U.S. government debt issuances and global trade tensions.” On Monday, President Donald Trump will impose a 10% tariff on $200 billion of Chinese imports. The Chinese are expected to retaliate with a 5 -10% tariff on $60 billion of US exports, according to Capital Economics. Capital Economics believes, China could possibly have a 25% tariff on all imports by the beginning of next year. Combine all those factors and interest rates are likely to continue rising throughout 2018 into 2019 and beyond.