Wednesday, May 1, 2013

4 Steps to Direct Mail Success for Real Estate Agents

If we had a nickel for every time we heard a real estate agent say, “I prefer email. It’s so much cheaper.” Email marketing certainly has some powerful benefits (even more so in combination with direct mail) but it is often not cheaper than direct mail, and typically not as effective.
For one, renting an email list above-board can be tricky (email activity is regulated by the CAN-SPAM Act). Sending bulk unsolicited email is not technically illegal, but it’s certainly frowned up and can get you banned by your Internet service provider. More importantly, good-quality email lists – the kind that will generate responses – can be expensive. And those emails are often not linked to a physical address – so they’re not geographically specific to your area.

So the benefits of direct mail include being able to target a specific geography – which is critical in a business that is all about location, location, location. Another important benefit of direct mail today is that the playing field is less crowded – with fewer of your peers sending direct mail, you have a great opportunity to really stand out in the mailbox.
So direct mail marketing can be a great tool for real estate agents, what do you need to know? Read on for 4 steps to direct mail success.

Step 1: Maintain contact.
Whether your goal is to generate leads, to turn leads into prospects, or to stay top of mind with past clients and people within your sphere of influence, you’ve got to be consistently present – sending one mailer once won’t maximize your response potential. Consider that:
  • Only 2% of sales are made on the first contact
  • Only 3% of sales are made on the second contact
  • 5% of sales are made on the third contact and just 10% of sales are made on the fourth contact
  • So 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact

Step 2: Focus.
In our Guide to Targeted Mailing Lists article (also out this month) we talk about the importance of targeting your mailer to a specific audience with a targeted mailing list. That’s nowhere more important that in such a geography-specific business as real estate.

Through the rented mailing list, you can rent from a list of households within a certain ZIP code or even within a certain radius of your office. Advertise yourself as “the neighborhood expert” and watch your response rate increase. Or you could rent from the absentee owner list (also called the non-owner occupied list) and send a postcard to homeowners who may be interested in selling.

Step 3: Test, measure, repeat.
“In direct mail,” said master marketer David Ogilvy, “testing is the name of the game.” Testing different elements within a mailer, different types of mailers, and different lists will help you improve the response rate your mail generates.

So what does it mean to increase response? To start, you’ll have to make your best educated guess as to the best type of mailer, offer, and call to action. Real estate agents looking to define themselves as the “neighborhood expert” have found great success using our flyer self-mailer as a newsletter. Others looking to advertise their services as a listing agent to absentee owners have been successful with stand-out graphics and our jumbo postcard. Experiment with different headlines, images, calls to action, and offers. See what those changes do to your response rate. (Learn more about testing and measuring.)

Step 4: Use Quick Response (QR) codes.
It may seem ironic to eschew one technology (email) while embracing another (QR codes), but this part-direct, part-mobile tool is much more than the latest marketing fad. When scanned with a Smartphone, QR codes can display text, take the user to a website (or MLS property listing), or dial a phone number. Including a QR code on your mailer is simple: use an online QR code generator, design your mailer and then follow the same steps you normally would to upload your design to a web2mail provider.

To target a specific location and to differentiate yourself from other agents, turn to direct mail. 

Article courtesy of eCommission Blog


  1. A good article that touches on metrics and analytics in everyman's parlance.
    What I've found overseeing multiple and lucrative high volume mailing campaigns is that you need a good cross-industry service partner to team up with. When I couple my mortgage mailers with a polished, well presented real estate professional, the success ratio is much higher. It's important for a marketing campaign to be measured by its success. Data will help you determine your best markets and most likely responses.
    Print media is evolving rapidly. Make sure that you have a high quality marketing author that uses penetrating graphic design, otherwise you can expect your mailers to go in the waste basket. This is the hardest thing to do, since many of us love our marketing gal or guy, but they're wearing the proverbial bow tie and just aren't getting it done.

  2. Greetings! Very helpful advice in this particular article! It is the little changes that will make the greatest changes. Thanks for sharing!

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