Direct mail marketing is one of the most tried and true methods for real estate investors to generate leads and find deals.
Unfortunately, a good portion of mail ends up in the trash without a second look.
Reasons for this dismissive attitude vary, but above all, stands one glaring fact:
The recipient knows you’re trying to sell something.
Because of this, mail that doesn’t get to the point – and get there quickly – is tossed without being read. Succinct mail, on the other hand, has a higher chance of catching the eye of the intended audience.
In fact, your only chance of sending successful direct mail is to target the right audience, with the right message, at the right time.
Here are 10 tips that give your real estate direct mail the best chance at catching the eye and landing leads.
1. Build a High-Converting Website
You’re here for tips about direct mail… so you might be surprised to find the first piece of advice suggesting that you need to have a high-converting website.
But if you want to scale — if you’re in the business for the long haul — then you do need a high-converting website.
Put yourself in the recipient’s shoes. If they receive a piece of mail from a real estate company they’ve never heard of before, they’re first question is likely, “Is this a scam?”
And so some people who are interested in what you’re offering aren’t going to call you right away. They’re going to hop on their computer and search for your company with Google — RIP to the company that doesn’t show up on the first page of results.
If your business does show up when they search for it, though, and if it has good reviews and a respectable brand image, then the interested prospect is likely going to give you a call.
The only caveat is that you don’t just want any website.
You want a website that’s designed to build rapport, express the values of your brand, and most importantly, convert that person into a lead by capturing their email address and/or phone number.
Those are the types of websites we build at Carrot — for both investors and agents.
Learn more over here!
2. Target Your Audience
Find your audience.
If you don’t have a target audience, then you don’t have a message. If you don’t have a message, then you don’t have a direct mail campaign.
To discover your ideal recipient, ask yourself these questions.
- Do you want to target house buyers or house sellers?
- Do you want to target high or low-income housing?
- What is your desired end result, to get leads, or to build awareness?
With that information in mind, determine the ideal target area. A desire for high revenue leads will target high-income areas. Conversely, a desire for low-income leads will target low-income areas.
Every message has an audience because every audience has a problem. What problem are you solving and who are its victims? Target them.
Some of the most popular mailing lists for investors are…
- Tax default
- Vacant houses
- Expired listings
- Out-of-state landlords
Real estate agents can just target different zip codes or demographics where they want to buy and sell homes.
3. List Stack
The main challenge of direct mail marketing is standing out from all the other mail that people receive — especially mail that’s from other investors and agents.
The more general — and less targeted — your direct mail campaigns are, the more that you’re going to compete with other investors and agents for the prospect’s attention.
That’s where list stacking comes in.
Property List Manager defines list stacking as “an innovative method of filtering and managing your properties that helps you identify only the most highly motivated sellers across all your lists.”
Practically, that means not just targeting pre-foreclosures, but pre-foreclosures that have high-equity and are also out-of-state owners… or maybe it means targeting out-of-state landlords who have defaulted on their rental payments.
List stacking results in more targeted direct mail campaigns… which means more results for less money. You can use a tool like REISift to do this.
4. Time Your Mail Correctly
It’s no secret that seasonal trends dominate the real estate market.
Fortunately, these trends are predictable.
Data covering 1999 to 2015 shows this yearly arc in housing sales.
Image via HousingWire
November through mid-February win the award for slowest months of the year. In March, sales spike and continue to do so until they reach a peak in June and then steadily decrease to be revamped the next Spring.
Understanding this arc is critical for the success of your direct mail campaigns.
People sell more houses during the Spring to Fall months than winter months. Send the right campaign at the wrong time and you might as well throw the mail away yourself.
But use this arc to your advantage and your audience will be more receptive.
Data understood the best course of action is to preemptively strike the market mid-February and keep sending until the fall. In the winter, send holiday mail, not to land leads – because, statistically, you won’t – but to increase brand awareness.
Since your goal isn’t to sell and buy during the holidays, don’t be pushy. Use something holiday friendly. Consider…
Image via Brokerforyou
Or even less salesy…
Image via PixelsPrinted
During the holidays, simply remind people that you are a friendly realtor in the area. During spring through fall, send direct offers.
Any great salesperson will tell you that timing is everything. In real estate, timing is dire. Follow the seasons.
Get Your Free Direct Mail Checklist
5. Find the Ideal Frequency
You don’t want to annoy, but you also don’t want to avoid.
Choosing the best frequency is largely a matter of experimenting with different frequencies and watching the impact. But, even though trial and error is a great way to learn, it might not be the most efficient.
So here’s a good rule of thumb for direct mail frequency: send once a month.
This frequency will keep you regularly in touch with the people who matter without annoying them.
Having said that, don’t hesitate to experiment with a higher frequency during the selling season – Spring through Fall – and a lower frequency during the holidays.
Whatever you choose, commit to a frequency and relentlessly hit your due dates.
Pro-Tip: You can also stagger your direct mail campaigns rather than sending them all out at once every month. This will make it so that you’re always sending mail, building brand awareness, and generating a steady flow of leads (rather than high highs and low lows).
6. Catch Your Audience’s Eye
With the bulk of postcards and envelopes in everyone’s mailbox, getting your message to stand out is tricky.
Luckily, you don’t need your direct mail to stand out.
You just need to quickly give the recipient the appropriate information.
Because before throwing away, people glance at every piece of mail to make sure it’s worthy of the trash.
Your only goal is to catch the eye of your intended audience.
Try and grab everyone’s attention, and you’ll get no one’s. That is why you must determine who your audience is and target them with a bullseye focus.
Consider these examples that immediately, and in as few words as possible, explain what is being offered and what you can do about it if you’re interested.
Image via BaltimoreWholesaleProperty
Image via BaltimoreWholesaleProperty
Image via PostcardMania
Image via PostcardMania
What do all of these postcards have in common?
Each one immediately tells the recipient if they are the intended audience. If yes, they’ll hang onto the postcard or contact you right away. If no, the postcard gets tossed.
The quicker that you communicate who you’re targeting, the better. Don’t try to drag people along for a ride they don’t want to go on. You’ll upset a potential client, create distrust for your brand, and miss out on a sale.
A quick description of what you do, an easy to read font, and a short explanation of what the interested receiver can do are the ingredients for eye-catching direct mail.
7. Determine Your Budget
In general, it’s a bad idea to send out a direct mail campaign without knowing your budget.
You should know how much money you expect to spend before finding a deal, about how many leads it’ll take, and at what point you need to take a step back and re-examine your tactics.
Do the math.
And keep in mind that it’s normal to spend a few thousand dollars on mailers before closing a deal — it’s also normal to talk to between 15-25 leads before closing a deal.
So create a budget, be patient, and trust the process.
8. Don’t Crowd
It’s important, particularly with postcards, that you use space wisely. There isn’t much of it, so focus your space on three primary things.
- What you do.
- Who you are.
- And… what the recipient can do about it.
When it comes to real estate postcards, stick to these three things religiously.
Here are a few examples of this format in use.
Image via PostCardMania
Image via PostCardMania
Image via PostCardMania
Crowding your message is never a good thing. Only include a single CTA. Anything more and you’ll confuse your audience. Anything less and you’ll lose them.
9. Consider a Digest
USPS found that the daily average amount of time a person spends reading their mail is a staggering 30 minutes.
Now, you and I both know that they aren’t spending 30 minutes reading postcards from real estate investors. Likely, they’re looking at their bills, magazines, and catalogs. Which illustrates an important point for your direct mail campaign.
Namely, postcards are great, but they aren’t looked at for 30 minutes. However, there is a type of mail that will naturally get more reading time:
A digest of the city’s happenings.
Take, for example, the back of this direct mailer, which is riddled with events for February, March, and April.
Image via KopywritingKourse
Similarly, this piece of mail includes everything from best lunch items to a football schedule.
Image via KopywritingKourse
While grabbing the attention of your audience quickly and without reserve is important, so too is providing genuinely helpful and interesting information, when appropriate.
Strike a balance between the digest and the postcard and your offers will be taken more seriously and with greater consideration.
Get Your Free Direct Mail Checklist
10. Be Honest
And, sometimes, that marketing difficulty causes people to try unorthodox tricks.
Email, the trick is typing “Re:” or “Fwd:” into the subject line. On the phone, it’s pretending that your headset fell off at the beginning of the call. With direct mail, it’s sending a dishonest or partially dishonest message to your recipient.
Using these tactics, though, only hurts your business in the long run — establishing yourself as a foundation for childish tricks and half lies.
Dishonesty may grab attention… for a moment. But immediately after the recipient realizes they’ve been duped, they’ll look away and throw away.
The temptation to submit to scheming marketing tactics is a real one. But don’t.
In the end, it only makes your open, response, and conversion rates worse than they were before.
11. Deliver Evergreen Resources
We talk a lot about creating evergreen resources on your website — content that ranks in Google and passively drives traffic and leads every single month.
But this is also something you could try to do with direct mail (sort of).
Why not try to create mailers that the recipient will hang on to for a while? Something that will sit around their house and remind them of your business every time they look at it.
This could be something as simple as a fridge magnet or a bottle opener a with your business name on it.
12. Create Urgency
Most people are procrastinators.
But FOMO — the fear of missing out — is a powerful emotion. And so if you can find a way to creat urgency with your direct mailers — “This listing will go fast!” “Only accepting 5 more clients this month!” or “We have cash in-hand. Call now!” — that will usually result in a better response rate.
Of course, try not to create a false sense of urgency (or people will figure it out and decide that they don’t trust you). Instead, let the natural limits of your business determine how you can use urgency to increase response rate (“Only buying 3 homes this month! Call now!”)
13. Be Consistent
The amount of time between seeing an advertisement and actually purchasing is often lengthy – weeks or sometimes months. And thus, the importance of marketing, over and over again, can’t be stressed enough.
Remember, you’re not out to save the world with each piece of direct mail, you’re simply out to remind people that you exist. Because, then, when they do need you, they’ll find you.
Decide on your frequency and stick to it for a preset amount of time. Once you near the end, see if you can do anything better for the next period of time… so on and so forth, always improving.
14. Follow Up
Keep your phone nearby and your email notifications on.
The goal of direct mail is for the target audience to contact you. But, that means you need to be ready for their contact.
There’s nothing more discouraging than reading a savior-esque piece of mail, contacting the investor or agent, and not hearing back for a week or so.
If you take too long to respond to your leads, they’ll either lose interest or find someone else to work with. It’s important that, as much as possible, you’re available to answer phone calls and follow up to emails promptly.
15. Track Response Rate
As with all marketing efforts, it’s a good idea to track the effectives of your direct mail campaigns.
How many calls do you receive from each set of mailers? How many calls does it take to close a deal? How much do you normally spend on direct mail before closing a deal? What’s your profit margin?
Tracking that information will help you send more effective direct mail campaigns and set realistic expectations for your budget.
Best Real Estate Direct Mail Providers
If you’re a beginner to real estate, then you might be wondering what tool you should use to create and send your direct mail.
Here are the three best tools!
Direct Mail Advice From Carrot Members [For Investors]
Given our reader’s interest in sending direct mail, we thought it would be appropriate to talk about what direct mail strategies are working for our clients today.
And then we thought to ourselves, “Hey, we know a lot of real estate investors” (also known as all of our AMAZING clients).
So, we asked them what strategies they use when sending direct mail. This is a compilation of their techniques, results, and advice. Here’s what they’re doing.
Brad Chandler, real estate investor at Express HomeBuyers, sends direct mail to prospects once per month. To manage high volume, he splits their mailing list into groups and sends a batch of mail to one group each week.
This is a postcard that Brad sends to his list.
Daniel DiGiacomo, owner, and investor at Baltimore Wholesale Property, sends 10,000 pieces of direct mail every month. Additionally, he sends between 1,000 and 1,500 yellow letters each month. On the yellow letters, he has them designed to look as though they’re written by hand.
These are some pieces that Daniel sends regularly.
Emphasizing that direct mail is a numbers game, Brad said,
“Sending out a couple hundred postcards probably won’t get you a deal. We typically see response rates of 0.5%-1.5%. Our leads convert at around 3%.”
Those percentages aren’t uncommon in the direct mail world, with the average across all industries sitting at 4.25% for postcards.
Daniel has somehow surpassed the average response rate with his direct mail campaign. He see’s a 7%-10% response rate on his postcards and a 20% response rate on his yellow letters. Appropriately, Daniel claims that his success comes from choosing his mailing list wisely.
Build a Quality List
“List quality is the most important part of direct mail,”
“I like to target absentee, out of state owners that are likely older (55 and up).”
As for Brad’s list, his data suggests that the best performers are homeowners with 70% and higher equity, out-of-state homeowners, and probate.
Also worthy of note, Brad says,
“Response rates will be highest when you first mail a list. There will be a lot of people asking to be removed from mailings. As you continue to mail the list, response rates will decrease but you will get high quality leads.”
As a tip, real estate investor Edward Beck, from Quick Sell Buyers explains why quality leads are more important than quantity of leads.
“The main difference I have from all the others is that my stuff is honest and not smoke and mirrors.”
He believes that honesty matters to prospects today, because, in the marketing world, they see so little of it.
“I’m not leading the seller to believe I’m going to pay full price or that they would get a better deal not having a middle man (agent). I believe this is the biggest shortcoming with other mail pieces.”
Indicating that dishonest marketing techniques bring in low-quality leads, he continues,
“Yes they will have a higher response rate but when they make an offer the sellers are in a different frame of mind… The market is flooded with [dishonesty] and I believe [prospects] can smell it.”
Test & Iterate
As with all marketing, testing is key. When it comes to direct mail, you can test the copy, the images, and the style of the postcard.
For A/B testing, Brad explains that sticking with a single postcard makes it a whole lot easier to test accurately.
“We think it is smarter to stick with one postcard. The reason is that sticking to one postcard makes it easier to A/B test new ideas.”
But it’s not just testing that counts. It’s the application of the test’s findings that really makes the difference. On this, Brad says,
“We continuously iterate our copy and design to improve the conversion rate of the winning postcard.”
Having several marketing touch points is critical with direct mail. As Brad explains,
“When you target prospects through direct mail, you also want to target them on other marketing channels. To do this, make sure you get emails and phone numbers with your lists. Have VA’s call the prospects right after the mail is delivered. Also, upload your lists onto Facebook as custom audiences spend some money running Facebook ads to your mail lists.”
Play for the Long Run
All marketing endeavors, including direct mail, are a long-term play. You won’t send your first postcards and, overnight, spike your sales. But you will steadily increase your brand awareness and lead generation.
Like anything that’s worth doing, it takes time.
Keep that in mind as you apply these tips to your direct mail campaign.
Even though your mail is going to get thrown in the trash, it’s what happens immediately before that counts.
Namely, whether they read before they toss.