Are You Getting Listings with Direct Mail? If Not, You’re Doing It Wrong.

Getting listings with direct mail is easier than many real estate agents think. Despite being one of the most traditional marketing techniques, is still a formidable weapon in a savvy realtor’s arsenal. In fact, direct mail consistently outperforms all digital marketing channels by nearly an astounding 600 percent, according to the Direct Marketing Association Response Rate Report published last year.

Of course, direct mail is only an effective strategy in the hands of an experienced realtor: when it comes to direct mail campaigns, quality content, consistency, and expert knowledge of the local community are what counts. Here are three keys to success for direct mail in real estate.

1. Content is Key to Getting Listings with Direct Mail

Research shows that direct mail is far more effective than other marketing tactics. According to the Direct Marketing Association, direct mail showed a response rate of 3.7 percent for house lists, while all digital channels combined yielded a response rate of only 0.62 percent. The reason for this success could be that digital technology has reduced the amount of marketing materials that find their way into people’s mailboxes; as a result, marketers that still use direct mail are seeing more bang for their buck.

Example of effective, content-driven direct mail used by top DC area real estate team

That said, delivering nothing but “I Just Sold This” postcards or irrelevant newsletters will reflect poorly on your service. Getting listings with direct mail is about first leveraging the power of direct mail to showcase your expertise. Content must be engaging and relevant, addressing the needs and desires of the local market: for example, few people in considering listing their Allentown, Pennsylvania home care to read about how a a quarter point rate hike affects the national housing market. Non-promotional content that educates and informs can be appealing if it affects the reader at the local level. The best choices for delivering a good amount of quality content are newsletters, publications, or magazines with at least four pages.

People like to know if the real estate market in their area is on the cusp of an upward trend, or if there’s an influx of families because of new construction. When you mail to your neighborhood, you are intending to brand yourself as a real estate expert – so the focus of your content should speak to your real estate expertise. But a good direct mail newsletter or publication should also contain articles about the community in general – such as an event or small business spotlight. Local, relevant stories are crucial if direct mail is to have an impact: if your content is intriguing and pertinent to your customers, they may even start to depend on your mailing for local insights, looking forward to its arrival in their mailbox.

Emotion plays an enormous role in decision making, even when it comes to significant decisions like buying or selling a home. For instance, the Harvard Business Review described a credit card launched by a major bank which was artistically designed to establish an emotional connection with millennials; the bank found that millennial customers for the “emotional” card increased by 70 percent, with 40 percent growth in new accounts.

In real estate, if you share dry statistics or paraphrase a Federal Reserve meeting, you won’t make a connection. Instead, tell them that three houses in their area have sold at record prices and you’ll get them excited to learn more. This is content designed to provoke an action, and it can make all the difference in your direct mail campaign. The more effectively you can engage your readers emotionally, the more likely they are to engage with you in return, establishing brand loyalty.

2. Getting Listings with Direct Mail Required Consistency

As a real estate agent, you need to be consistent when it comes to getting listings with direct mail marketing. If you’ve delivered quality content, your readers will be anticipating your next publication — particularly if they’re thinking about selling their home. If you’re inconsistent with either the timing of delivery or the quality of your publication or newsletter, you’ll imply a lack of commitment and reliability, which is bad for business; in short, your reputation will be tarnished. Set high standards and strict delivery schedules and stick to them.

Mailing publications or newsletters every month or quarter in tandem with postcards is another critical factor in direct mail success. Postcards can effectively reinforce your messaging and can be used between newsletters. Gary Keller of Keller Williams Realty recommends that agents should mail a newsletter or other publication at least quarterly; many top producing agents like Dale Ross mail publications monthly. During the other four to eight months, mail your readers postcards, flyers, or letters to keep in touch.

3. Trusted Experts are Getting Listings with Direct Mail

Customized publications and newsletters are mainstays of direct mail, and mailing professionally designed postcards which match your publication and website branding is important if you do not intend to publish content-driven mail each month. But the goal of direct mail campaigns should ultimately be to position yourself, the agent, as an undisputed expert.

real estate expert

Geographic farming used to mean just direct mail and in-person prospecting, but now it refers to all your channels within a specific territory. The idea is that your marketing efforts, such as direct mail, email, and Facebook targeting, connect the agent with specific homeowners on a regular basis and establish you as the go-to local agent. By tending to your “farm,” your business will reap the rewards of customer and brand loyalty. Remember that it often takes seven or more “touches” (that is, contacts with a potential customer) before a prospective seller reaches out — and in real estate, it can take even longer, because people only sell their homes every few years.

Agents should choose their farming tactics strategically, making sure that their mailings and messages don’t come across as purely marketing pitches. Quality content that’s educational, informative, and timely will project professionalism and success. And when it’s time for a seller to list their home, what real estate agent will immediately come to mind? The one who has sent regular, engaging publications with consistent and insightful information! The same agent who, by the way, is actively involved in community events and has also been engaging with them through email and social media (where possible). Direct mail is a powerful channel – perhaps the most powerful these days. But in 2017 it is only effective as part of a multi-channel marketing system, one which includes a lead-capture website, social media, blogging, email marketing, and good old-fashioned prospecting.

Do “Predictive Analytics” Improve Direct Mail Results?

direct mail analytics
Predictive analytics offers agents sophisticated data, but isn’t producing listings

Some agents are experimenting with “predictive analytics,” or geo-targeting, programs for direct mail. These solutions will trigger unsolicited emails and a postcard to a home based on data that predicts how likely that home is to sell. Many agents have provided feedback on Zillow about their experiences with predictive analytics – some get results, but the majority (while impressed with the sophistication) are not getting listings with this type of ultra-targeted direct mail approach. Perhaps the reason is that when you wait until a seller is close to listing, you’ve missed all of the touch points leading up to that moment — and the seller won’t know you’re an expert. Many times, the “prediction” is not actually accurate, the homeowner has no plans to sell. At this stage in the game, a single promotional postcard coupled with a SPAM email may come across as frivolous or disingenuous, just an advertisement from a stranger.

Prospective sellers, even if they’re years away from selling, are looking for a real estate agent they can rely on, and they’ll be far more likely to pick the first that comes to mind: one who has consistently delivered targeted, high-quality content.

Getting Listings with Direct Mail: The Bottom Line

In 2017, real estate agents are indeed getting listings from direct mail – when it’s done right. To build a reputation in your community as THE real estate expert, content and consistency are key. Integrate an aggressive, content-driven direct mail farming strategy with your multi-channel marketing, and stick to it month after month. You will soon be getting all the listings your direct-mail-resistant real estate counterparts are leaving on the table.