Real Estate is the Best Industry for Direct Mail Marketing

Over the last few decades, here at Discover we’ve made huge efforts at getting custom publications in the mailboxes of various industry prospects. We’ve tried the full gamut of small businesses marketing to a geographic farm. What we’ve found is that real estate is the best industry for direct mail, and yet, we still run into agents who don’t get results. Here we’ve come to understand a few basic principles about direct mail; when and how it becomes effective. These are our nuggets of wisdom.

(1) You are still building a community presence

Real estate is such a great industry for direct mail because you only need a few good leads to cover the cost of several mailings. This isn’t true for other industries, whose services are yielding much lower revenue per lead. But to get even those few leads, your mail needs to reinforce an image that is already familiar. Of course, your mail assists with the familiarization process, but having a few yard signs in the neighborhood and a booth at the fireworks will make you mail much more effective. That doesn’t mean that if you’re a new agent you shouldn’t use direct mail (we think you should), but you must realize that it probably won’t send leads your way for a long time.

We’ve found that agents who have been working in the community for 5 or more years, have 5% or greater market share in their farm. And those who participate in community events regularly get the best results in the fastest amount of time.

(2) You aren’t sending the right kind of mail

Ah, postcards. Even here at Discover we’ve dabbled with them. We learned early on that postcards can be a great tool for showcasing a recent sold or a hot listing, but they should not be used as the backbone of a direct mail strategy. Today’s consumers are highly distrustful of almost anything promotional, and it’s really tough to cram anything but self-promotion on a postcard. You’re go-to direct mail piece should speak to the homeowners in your community about what interests and concerns them. It should show, not tell, how you are an expert, member and leader in the community.

This realization was the genesis of our custom publication, which is designed to position agents as caring, contributing members of the neighborhood who are also successful real estate agents. Sending relevant, engaging content to your prospects is more effective over the long haul than promotional postcards or fliers.

(3) You aren’t properly prospecting or supplementing your direct mail with other forms of marketing

We’ve heard of agents who love the idea of direct mail so much that they rely too heavily on it, and it gets them nothing. A seasoned real estate agent knows that you’ve got to heavily prospect as part of your overall strategy. This includes regular phone calls, emails and even door knocks. If you’re calling on people you’ve been mailing too, you can use that as an opening line so the call doesn’t feel as cold.

Direct mail is also one of the least threatening forms of marketing because it is so easy. You send it. With your websites, social media, videos and emails, you’re taught to follow rules, cross-connect multiple channels and then analyze all of the metrics. We get it. But nonetheless, the fact is that even if you are a fantastic networker, direct mailer and community leader, if your prospects can’t find you online they’ll be turned off. To get the most out of direct mail you should:

  • Lead prospects to a beautiful, functional and well-integrated website. It should tie to all your social media and other online profiles and sites (like your broker landing page and Zillow profile), showcase listings, link to tools your prospects can use to value their home and search local listings, and feature regular updates and blog posts
  • Have a presence with frequent posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
  • Build and maintain a clean email list of past clients and future prospects. You should email them at least twice a month with interesting content that is non-promotional, including videos

We know it takes a lot of inertia to do all of this, but we have found that agents who take advantage of multiple marketing channels get more calls from the direct mail they send out.

(4) You aren’t mailing consistently 

Just like with prospecting and email marketing, consistency is key. We’ve found that mailing a good, core piece at least every other month will pay off within 6-8 months (for an agent with presence, market share, and a good supplementary marketing program).
But what’s interesting is that once the agent mailing hits this “break-even” point, the leads don’t come in at a steady pace, they tend to come in faster and faster. It’s as though the continual reinforcement starts to take hold and homeowners start to associate the agent with “successful real estate selling.” At that point it’s exciting because it’s a matter of housing turnover more than trust building, because that’s already been accomplished.

We hope you’ve found this information helpful. We’re always here to share our experience and insights, so let us know if you have any comments or questions.


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