Direct mail real estate marketing has been proven to help savvy real estate agents, marketers, and inventors reach greater heights of success in the field. When planned and executed properly, using direct mail as part of your real estate marketing arsenal is worth its weight in gold.
But before you get too excited and start sending out direct mail, make sure you read this guide first to know how to go about direct mail marketing strategy.
What is Direct Mail Real Estate Marketing and How Does It Work?
Direct mail is a type of mail sent to a certain targeted list of people based on assumption that some of them will respond or react to the campaign. You might not realize it but you probably receive tons of direct mail in your mailbox at home every single day, but you only think of it as junk mail that you toss straight into the trash.
But did you ever stop and think about why you were sent this junk mail in the first place? Only a small percentage will respond to the mail, and then a small percentage will become buyers, making the campaign worth the cost. Direct mail real estate marketing at its very core is all about playing the odds.
However, you need to keep in mind four key metrics, and these include the following:
- Call response rate
- Cost per direct-mailed item
- Contract conversion rate
- Wholesale fee
To ensure the success of a direct mail marketer, they need to master these metrics. If only 1% of people will contact you regarding your mailing piece, your numbers will look quite different.
Other factors can also affect the rate of return such as:
- How excellent your negotiation skills are
- Market conditions
- Your marketing cost
- The price range you are looking in
- The list you will mail to
- The content of your direct mail
It is also important to remember that what will work for another direct mail marketer might not work for you. A good marketer always tests, tracks, and perfects their skills to become better with their craft.
Who Should be the Target Audience of Direct Mail Real Estate Marketing?
Before you begin printing your direct mail, one of the things you should do is decide who will receive these letters. Rather than trying to hit every house in your neighborhood, it is best to mail to specific people who fit a particular profile.
You should ditch the idea that marketing is all about persuasion. You are not convincing people to buy from you. Instead, you are showing the recipient of the mail what makes you their best option in your industry.
If the world was perfect, you will only be sending direct mail to people who already show interest in your offer. Marketing to the right people can help you boost your conversion and response rates. Here are a few ways to look for your target audience:
- Absentee owners
Absentee owners are owners with mailing addresses that are different from the address of the property. It is a situation that can be the result of several reasons. However, it often pertains to a rental property. Most landlords feel motivated to sell since being a landlord is definitely not easy. There are also instances when absentee owners may also be property owners who relocated from their primary home but weren’t able to sell their old house.
People going through a divorce process are usually very motivated to sell fast.
- Eviction records
Eviction involves stress and during this time, most landlords realize that they don’t want to be the property owner anymore.
- Expired listings
When someone tries selling their house with the help of a real estate agent but fails to do so, the property will become an expired listing. It is when an investor can come and buy the property from a motivated seller.
It is exactly what it sounds like. It refers to people who inherited property without the motivation to look after it.
If someone stops their mortgage payments, the bank will start processing its foreclosure. This is the time when you contact the homeowner and offer you help to save their credit and prevent foreclosure.
The home of a person who passed away might go into probate. Most of the time, the family will deal with emptying the house, doing the necessary repairs, cleaning the property, and finally selling off the property. The task can be quite overwhelming, making probate lists more receptive to direct mail campaigns.
- Tax delinquent
Someone who doesn’t pay taxes indicates that something may be wrong with a possible motivation to sell.
Top Reasons to Use Direct Mail Real Estate Market
Direct mail simply works in real estate. You might have already seen it in full action. Real estate agents may send a magnet, postcard, or other collateral pieces to your house. Real estate investors or mortgage brokers may also send a letter that outlines a particular offer.
Studies have revealed that consumers tend to put their trust more in direct mail than digital channels, particularly in terms of purchasing decisions.
Below are the top reasons that make direct mail suitable for real estate marketing:
1. Capability to Automate Direct Mail
Probably one of the biggest benefits of modern direct mail real estate marketing campaigns is that you can automate them. It means you will spend lesser time and can connect with more prospective clients.
Many state-of-the-art systems today let you automate your direct mail sequences so you can schedule your campaigns several weeks ahead of time. Others also let you connect directly to famous CRM or customer relationship management systems to let you track your campaigns’ success and monitor the frequency of engaging with prospects.
Automation also means lesser time spent on creating, printing, and mailing your campaigns yourself. This will free you more time to let you focus more on other things, such as forging closer personal relationships with clients and prospects and growing your business.
2. Form Connections with Potential Local Clients
Everything local is among the key considerations as far as real estate is concerned. Sellers and buyers prefer working with people who are experts in the local market. This is because they have a better understanding that towns, zip codes, and even specific streets can affect a property’s value.
The use of hyper-targeted direct mail will also let you show that you know what is happening in a specific geography, whether you are a real estate agent, marketer, or investor.
Buyers prefer working with a real estate firm or agent who is familiar with the market like the back of their hands. This market knowledge can help them identify the right neighborhood and find better deals. Familiarity with a particular market usually tops the list of priorities.
Similarly, homeowners who plan to sell also look for a real estate agent who knows the area well. They prefer working with someone who knows what properties go for and can also inch out the best possible value from the sale. Other sellers might also want to work with someone who can deliver even on a tight timeline.
Knowledge of local markets and locality are typically the most critical traits that a real estate agent can have from a client’s perspective. Direct mail real estate marketing ensures that you can connect with potential clients in the market you are serving.
3. Local Social Proof
If you are a marketer, you might already know how social proof is one of the biggest motivators for clients and customers in any industry. The ability to see that an agent or company has already helped others in a similar situation to reach a positive result is possibly the most crucial proof you can ever provide to all interested parties.
You can also use direct mail real estate marketing to show prospective clients that you can achieve sales for other local clients higher than the market value. It is the best way to catch the interest of someone interested to sell a house.
On the other hand, being able to show people who plan to buy a house that you were able to help others to find their dream house at a lower market value can also be equally persuasive. You can use direct mail real estate marketing to convey all these traits easily and even visually.
4. Build Long-Term Relationships
In the world of real estate marketing, those long-term relationships you form with your clients are considered the most valuable. Some people move several times throughout their lifetime. These long-term relationships put real estate marketers in a good position to become the number one go-to provider every time their clients plan to relocate.
Direct mail serves as the best medium to form such relationships. It is tangible and personal at the same time. When a client has used your services even for once and was satisfied, it will only be a matter of staying in their mind until their next move.
5. Opportune Offerings
Real estate marketers have specific busier times of the year than others. The summer season is particularly huge. Most families don’t like to pack up their children and move them to a new school right in the middle of the year as much as possible.
Home buying often picks up during March, reaching its peak in June. The industry sees another small spike during August with families looking to get settled in before the start of a new school year.
November also sees a huge spike just before New Year. It is another ideal time for many families to relocate to lessen the effect on kids and let them settle into a new school right after the winter break.
It is also more likely for buyers to have one to two weeks off when the year ends. There might also be tax-related or financial reasons to relocate at the year’s end as well.
For real estate marketers, it means that specific times or seasons of the year offer exciting opportunities, and not only during the time of the move itself. You also need to make connections with potential clients during the months that lead to the actual day of the move. Someone who plans to move in June might begin looking for a home or real estate agent in January or February.
Consistent messaging and looking for a means to deliver collateral to remain on top of the mind of potential clients is crucial to capitalize on the spike in relocations that can be seen during the summer months and the Christian holidays.
How to Build Lists for Direct Mail Real Estate Marketing
There are several ways to build direct mail lists and the three most popular ones are the following:
1. Public or County Records
You will be surprised by all the information you can find in public records. In general, the best place for you to go is the office of the county assessor.
2. Driving for dollars
While not necessarily the fastest way for real estate investors to build a list, driving for dollars can be among the cheapest methods you can try. It is the process where you drive around and look for properties that imply there is an issue, like boarded-up windows or long grass. You just need to take note of the address and look in the public records to come up with a list of prospective sellers.
3. List Brokers
Probably the fastest but also the most expensive method of compiling your direct mail list is to use a list broker. You can buy lists from many large companies although many of them acquire their data from similar public sources accessible to you.
Using list brokers lets you narrow down the list so you can get as specific as possible. For instance, chances are you wouldn’t want to mail someone who recently bought their house the previous year since time is probably not enough yet to motivate them to sell.
You can also filter the list according to the equity, late payments, a notice of default filed, number of bedrooms or bathrooms, year built, and the year it was purchased by the owner.
It is all too easy to be overwhelmed during the process of building your list. Remember that direct mail real estate marketing is more than having the perfect list. Instead, it is about constantly tweaking and testing it to get everything right.
Five Ideas for Direct Mail Real Estate Marketing
Here are five direct mail real estate marketing ideas that can help you get the results you crave:
1. Gifts and Keepsakes
Businesses these days continue sending gifts to their clients simply because they are effective, and they work. Since gifts are also tangible, clients can keep them and will even make them remember you, particularly if you include your branding on them.
Studies on giving corporate gifts also suggest that gifts can form strong relationships with their key customers, promote business, create goodwill, and foster new relationships. An appropriate and properly timed gift is also among the best ways to convey the critical message about the importance of the relationship.
The good news is that you don’t need expensive gifts just for your clients to appreciate them because as the adage goes, it is the thought that matters.
You can distribute affordable gifts to your clients during events. However, remember that not all types of gifts are suitable for direct mail. Some gifts might be too heavy or too fragile to mail within your means. Some items that can be good starting points when branded to you include calendars, keychains, playing cards, and refrigerator magnets.
Yes, people still read magazines, and the numbers have even steadily grown over the past decade, with an even bigger jump in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Studies revealed people aged 35 years old and below reported reading magazines more due to the pandemic. Many millennial women also reported spending more time reading magazines these days compared to the times before the pandemic.
As a real estate agent, you can make the most out of this increasing interest in magazines by mailing these to your sphere. Some of the most in-demand magazines, whether digital or print, contain articles on health, travel, gardening, lifestyle, and recipes.
Of course, it can’t be just any old magazine, either. You have to make them something they want to receive, and they will also find valuable as well.
3. Real Estate Postcards
Real estate postcards are wonderful tools you can use for geographic farming. Using these postcards to farm your market is an economical and effective way to stay top of mind.
For one, these postcards are relatively cheap. Second, these are a surefire way for you to be right there in front of motivated potentials since you spell out your message that literally stares them in the face. Your real estate postcards should exude confident and sophisticated authority.
Do the following to ensure that your message will get through:
- Don’t forget your branding.
The design of your postcards must be consistent with the rest of your branding so don’t forget to include your contact information, logo, and photo.
- Add your call to action.
Make sure what you hope for your prospects to do after receiving your card and design the remaining elements in support of this action.
- Consider the season.
Allow your real estate postcards to serve as a reflection of real estate as it appears throughout various times of the year, like beautiful and lush gardens during spring and summer months, colorful trees in autumn, and snowy rooftops in winter. Postcards also serve as great tools for you to stay on top of your client’s mind when you are in between your other marketing campaigns.
- Use top-notch card stock.
Never go cheap. High-quality postcards will also imply high-quality services. Choose the right finish and heavy cardstock. Matte can work well if you have a message-centric card while gloss is more suitable if it is all about the images.
- Add professional images.
Beautiful, clear, and high-quality images will easily capture the attention of your audience. For this, you might need to hire a professional photographer who specializes in real estate photography.
As long as you do it right, real estate postcards may also involve lots of work with choosing the card stock, photos, design, and others. Some themes you can consider include sports schedules and calendars, recipes and crafts, health, seasonal and holidays, and events and thank you notes.
4. Direct Mail Newsletter
There is honestly nothing enticing about a newsletter. For some people, the mere mention of the term only conjures images of those two stapled pages that elementary school children have to bring back home every several weeks or so.
While photocopied newsletters from your children’s schools won’t be an issue, when it comes to direct mail newsletters, they should look professional with an attention-grabbing title. A properly titled newsletter is one of the most effective direct mail real estate marketing ideas since it will be useful for your audience, and anything useful is always valuable.
Thanks to modern software and technology, you can come up with a professional-looking newsletter easily using various font types, colors, images, layouts, and colors. But despite the ease of creating a professional-looking newsletter, the task of crafting the content is still challenging for many people.
Here are some tips you can follow to help you write your newsletters that people will read and keep for future reference:
- Come up with a title based on a certain problem.
Your newsletter should never be called a newsletter because of the lack of suggestion of innate value. What you should do instead is to think of the issues you want to solve for your clients. Add some version of this problem to your newsletter’s title to gain attention.
This kind of title will help your name stay top of mind. Make sure you specify a location and define whom you can help best. The location must include the zip code where you will be mailing.
- Make it easy to read and visually appealing.
Nothing can turn off readers faster than giving them something that looks like a single big block of text. With their packed schedules, people will just scan a document to make a quick decision on whether it is worthy to read or not.
For this reason, you have to make reading easier and faster for them. Use bullets, particularly when writing a list. For your headings, consider using italics, capitalization, underline, bold, and a larger or different font to set them apart from every sub-level and text. Just make sure you don’t go overboard.
You also need to use plenty of white space and insert blank lines between sections and paragraphs. Speaking of paragraphs, try to make them short and stick to short sentences, too.
If you want to add images, make sure they will give further meaning to the content. Any image that doesn’t add value can end either get overlooked or become annoying.
- Offer value to your target audience.
An easy way to ensure you provide value to your target audience is to offer them information that can help them solve any issues they have. Think of your ideal client. Who is your target audience? How much do you know about them more than the basic characteristics and demographics?
Learn as much as you can about the desires and needs of your target audience before creating your direct mail real estate marketing campaigns around them.
You should start with the things you already know, or you can also try to find out more about your target client, including their interests, the problems they want to solve, and the goals they hope to reach.
After picturing or visualizing your ideal client, you will feel more confident in choosing the type of content they will find valuable and useful.
5. Handwritten Letter
Can you still remember the last time you received a handwritten letter? How did it make you feel? Handwritten letters will let your clients know and realize their importance to you.
The moment they see the different envelope complete with a real stamp and their name in the greeting, they will feel appreciated because they will know right away that someone somewhere set them apart from the crowd.
In this modern world filled with impersonal emails and spam folders, a handwritten is often treated and considered a valuable and rare gift. Most importantly, it will clearly be set apart from all those piles of direct mail consumers get every year.
Using a handwritten envelope also almost ensures that people will open your direct mail advertising. Pair it with a handwritten letter and you will make a long-lasting first impression. It also doesn’t matter that it is a form of handwritten marketing letter. Being the writer, you have overcome the most challenging task that direct mail marketers face, which is getting the recipients to open that envelope.
How to Write a Handwritten Direct Mail Letter
When crafting your direct mail letter, always remind yourself that you are not a professional marketer but rather a real estate agent. However, it shouldn’t hinder you from starting with something enticing but simple.
Follow these universal tips:
- Focus on benefits: Expound on what they will get if they do business with you.
- Grab their attention: Begin with something that will make people want to continue reading.
- Know your audience: Address their values and needs.
What types of letters should you send, then? Well, you can try your hand at short letters. Based on the name, these are short and direct letters that are straightforward and to the point. Your goal in one paragraph is to make the reader contact you and that’s it. If you are a novice in real estate, these letters are an effective way to get your business running.
You can also use long letters or single-page letters to let your prospective clients be aware of your services, your desire to help, and what makes you the best agent to help them address their problems. Add the action you wish them to take, whether it is to set an appointment, send you an email, or call you.
A letter of introduction can also include similar details as those in a flyer, with the difference being its lasting power. Add the name of the recipient, be brief, and include a personal touch about yourself that will humanize you and connect you to them. Make sure you also inform them how they can contact you.
Meanwhile, a thank you letter might also seem that doesn’t belong in your direct mail real estate marketing tools. However, they are also effective ways to stay top of mind. These letters have an organic flow if it is appropriate and expected to show gratitude. Thank you letters are also win-win all the time. People appreciate it if they are appreciated while earning you some positive points at the same time.
A handwritten thank you note is the best way for clients to know how much you appreciate them. That dose of extra effort on your part can go a long way in earning goodwill. Just give it some thought, and you can come up with an effective thank you letter.
How to Make Handwritten Letters a More Practical Option
While there is no denying that handwritten letters are effective, not a lot of real estate agents use them because it takes them time away from more pressing tasks. Although it does take time to write letters, these can be very efficient as long as you follow the right approach.
You can do any of the following depending on your database’s size:
- Consider using a handwritten letter writing service.
- Choose your core clients and write exclusively to them.
- Write several letters weekly and send one to everyone sooner or later.
It is also recommended to test your letters so you can check the elements that work best and are most effective in helping you reach your goal. Make sure you only test one element at a time. Even if you have hundreds of ideas for direct mail real estate marketing, without testing, you will never know what needs adjustments and what works.
Try experimenting with several envelope sizes. #10 are the standard business envelopes, 6″ x 9″ envelopes are best for people who haven’t done business with you before, while A2 envelopers are similar to party invitations.
Also, while it might seem counterintuitive because colored envelopes tend to stand out, anything except white envelopes decreases open rates. However, it doesn’t mean that envelopes with different colors might not work for your target audience and you.
There are many tips available for writing effective direct mail letters for real estate. You can also check online to find some examples you can use as inspiration. You can also outsource letter writing to direct mail real estate marketing companies that can do the job on your behalf.
Quick and Effective Tips for Direct Mail Real Estate Marketing
After learning the basics of direct mail, here are some quick and effective tips to help your real estate marketing campaigns to reach their intended goals and form a connection with your target clients.
To increase the ROI of your campaigns and improve your chances of gaining more valuable clients, here are a few things you need to consider:
- Create a Sense of Urgency
In the world of real estate marketing, urgency is always a real thing. Letting your prospects wait for too long may end up with someone else buying the property. This simple fact gives you an easy way to create a sense of urgency in your direct mail campaigns.
Using something along the lines of describing the house as move-in ready may indicate an intent to sell fast and ignite a sense of urgency in the prospects’ minds. It implies that if they don’t act right away, the house might already be done once they realize they want it.
- Give a Tempting Offer
The offer you include in your direct mail piece is what makes or breaks the entire campaign. A great offer often delivers a great result. Real estate marketers must be familiar with the home buying process and its common pain points. It is not easy to find a house in the right location. Even if the area is right in general, you have to determine if it places your clients in a suitable school district.
Among the biggest pain points for many new homebuyers is making sure they have the necessary down payment available to purchase a new home. Even though down payments often begin at 5% or higher, most home buyers are recommended to put down 15%, 10%, or 20% to prevent huge monthly payments for the mortgage.
For example, as a real estate agent, you can offer a specific property using locality to your advantage and at the same time, offer to address the pain point for homebuyers by not requiring any down payment.
Aside from advertising that no down payment is necessary, prospects will also learn the affordable price of a monthly mortgage that prospects will be qualified for. It is a good example of giving an irresistible offer while simultaneously solving a common pain point.
- Provide Valuable Resources to Prospects
Another effective way to guarantee that you will stay top of mind is to come up with direct mail campaigns that offer resources your customers will probably hold onto.
One good example of it comes in the form of a calendar magnet, a tactic that realtors commonly use. Another common method is to offer game schedules for the local sports teams.
For both options, the goal here is to give prospects something that can deliver some value to them, whether they find your services interesting or not. While moving might not be in their plan, for now, so many things can change in just a year.
Ensuring that people will constantly see your brand on their fridge, you also increase your chances of being the first person they will call if their circumstances change in the near future.
- Leverage the Season or Time of the Year
As mentioned earlier, the summer months and the holiday season are among the most hectic for real estate firms and agents. Keeping this in mind can give you an edge. Use the specific time of the year to your advantage when reaching out to prospects.
- Think Relevant and Local
All clients will be interested to know that you have successfully helped other people to sell their houses in their market or connected them with other families who have the perfect home they are looking for.
Adding geographic details to your direct mail real estate marketing is one of the best ways to capture the attention of the recipient.
Sending a postcard to prospects you know are looking for a condo unit in a specific location can be very effective, for example. Try to include many images from inside the unit and the views it offers. With the use of this strategy, you can show prospective clients what the condo can offer exactly without being deceptive in any way like using unrelated stock images or images of other properties.
You also need to make the front of the ad lean more towards the use of images. The objective is to show the property to the prospects. You can provide additional information on the back of your postcard.
You can also outline local events that the residents enjoy and participate in during special times of the year. Doing so will help prospective clients get a glimpse of the kind of lifestyle they will enjoy once they settle in their new home in the area.
Direct mail real estate marketing is one of the best channels that real estate agents, marketers, and inventors can use to their advantage. Connect with new prospects, win more clients and stay top of mind of your prospects all the time!
I became a realtor when I was 25, Right now I’m a digital marketing expert helping realtors, brokers and real estate agents generate more leads online.