Innovative Direct Mail Strategies That Win in Today’s Market


This article is presented by DealMachine. Read our editorial guidelines for more information.

Breaking news: Direct mail is still a key factor in real estate marketing, and it has the potential to be bigger and better than ever before. That’s because the analog marketing technique is being supercharged by digital tools. 

The days of the one-size-fits-all approach are gone. We all remember those days: stacks and stacks of the same advertising leaflets delivered to hundreds of local mailboxes, only to be discarded by uninterested (and often annoyed) residents. The cost of printing was, in many cases, unjustifiable, given the lackluster performance of this marketing method. 

However, the problem never actually occurred with the direct mail marketing method itself. It’s just that it relied on outdated, ineffective marketing techniques. 

There is no real contradiction between direct mail marketing and digital marketing. If you know how to get one to support the other, you have a very powerful marketing tool.  

The Evolution of Direct Mail in Real Estate

Research shows that direct marketing is, in fact, the most effective marketing technique in real estate if done right. The Data & Marketing Association says direct marketing yields a 3.7% response to home listings. In contrast, marketing through all digital channels combined only yields a response of 0.62%. 

Why does direct marketing still have the edge? One reason is that well-crafted printed material still has enormous appeal: It is tactile and stands out, unlike the hundreds of emails or social media ads a typical person looks at every day. The other is that modern direct marketing is highly targeted when powered by digital tools like analytics and personalization. 

Let’s take a closer look at how these digital tools are transforming direct marketing campaigns.

How Data Analytics and Segmentation Improve Mail Campaigns

If you’ve ever thrown away a real estate marketing postcard (we bet you have), it was either because whatever you received through your mailbox was irrelevant to you, or it was unengaging and forgettable. Probably, it was both. 

Real estate marketers used to rely on guesswork in their direct marketing campaigns. They would put a picture of a house on a flier and say something about their abilities to sell homes: “I sold 100 homes in the past three months!” or “We sell at best prices,” or some other generic statement. The idea was that if you distributed enough of the material across a large enough geographical area, the marketing campaign would probably get a response from someone in the area. 

That was before marketers got access to big data. In a sense, the term “big data” is counterintuitive because data analytics, although it crunches large data sets, zooms in on multiple small bits of information about people’s location, preferences, and behaviors. Obviously, what property listings people look at will be one of those bits, but it could also be something as seemingly irrelevant as what they read about on the local news site. 

Accessing, aggregating, and then analyzing these bits of information about your target audience allows marketers to understand their audiences and what types of groups they form. Instead of the “shot-in-the-dark” approach, suddenly you’re able to answer these key questions about your potential demographic:

  • Who are they? Is your target audience primarily first-time buyers or homeowners looking for their second or third home? Are they older homeowners living singly or young families? Data analytics piece together elements from people’s online searches to help marketers gauge their target demographic.
  • What kind of home do they want? There’s no point advertising apartment rentals to families looking for three-bedroom homes. Or perhaps people in your area tend to look for a specific feature in a home (e.g., a large backyard, a pool, or a large garage). If they’re selling, do they want to downsize or upsize?
  • What matters to them? This is the category many marketers overlook, which can result in direct marketing materials that are impersonal and too focused on the hard sell. Maybe people in your local community are passionate about local schools; maybe they’re concerned about the local city tax rates. However small the issue, if it’s relevant to the local community, you can use it as a draw in your direct marketing.   

Armed with this information, you can craft a campaign that is highly targeted and resonates with the recipient. This in turn will improve response rates. 

Successful Innovative Direct Mail Campaigns: Case Studies 

The beauty of direct mail campaigns is that you can have total control over the scale of your effort—and add a creative twist all of your own to help you stand out from the crowd. Here’s a look at how two different investors tailored their direct marketing campaigns to success.   

Case study 1: Linda Thornburg, real estate agent at One Texas Homes

Linda Thornburg is a Keller Williams real estate agent with One Texas Homes in Austin, Texas. She needed to attract more sellers in her area. Linda mailed 6,000 postcards as part of a campaign that was targeted very specifically at homes valued at $550,000 or more with a residency of 10 years or more. 

What made her direct mail effort so special was the fact that she included three very specific local concerns that would resonate with her target audience on the front of the card. The card says: “Taxes getting too high? Too many repairs? Need help to buy a new home?” There’s also an image of a recently sold home in the area and a friendly photo of Linda.

The reason why this campaign was so successful—Linda generated $20,000 off the campaign despite only spending $3,688—is that it established a clear connection with the needs and concerns of her target demographic. The campaign offers to help homeowners with their problems, which adds to Linda’s value as a professional. 

Case study 2: Anton Ivanov, real estate investor

Another way to go is hyper-personalization. Anton Ivanov, a rental property investor, said on the BiggerPockets Forums that he achieved a 20% response rate and four sales with his direct mail campaign several years ago. 

Anton was looking for four-to-eight-unit multis in Kansas City and wasn’t getting anywhere via the traditional route of contacting local agents for listings. So Anton zoomed in on two very specific areas of the city that had large developments of multifamily buildings. Anton then compiled a list of suitable owners using publicly available data from the local tax office. 

But it’s the style of the direct mail that got Anton the results he was looking for. He wrote an offer letter personalized to each owner. “The main body of the letter was typed on a regular white piece of paper. However, I hand-signed each one and also hand-wrote the offer price in large font at the top so it stood out,” said Anton. 

Anton also took time to introduce himself properly “as a serious investor who owns several local properties” in the letter. “I wanted them to at least know who I am instead of just saying, ‘Hey, sell me your house!’”

Anton’s meticulous approach paid off. It is time-consuming, but modern direct marketing tools like machine-written ballpoint letters can help investors achieve the same highly personalized approach without spending hours tracking down prospects and handwriting letters. 

Integrating Digital Elements With Direct Mail 

Even with the most ingenious direct marketing campaign, there’s a very real chance that even an enthusiastic prospect will a) forget to give you a call, b) lose the postcard or letter, and/or c) get discouraged by the lack of digital interaction options.

While the initial novelty of the printed material is the hook, you must make getting in touch with you as easy as possible. This is why today’s direct mail materials tend to bridge the offline and the online experience by including QR codes or personalized URLs on letters, postcards, or brochures. Anything that saves the potential prospect time and effort is just that much more likely to generate a response. 

Whether the prospect can scan a code that leads to your website or can easily access a personalized link to a contact form, creating a seamless experience where you will now be on their smartphone is crucial to maximizing leads.  

The Role of Technology in Streamlining Direct Mail Campaigns

Even if you are tackling a small segment of a local market, the amount of time and effort that goes into a traditional direct mail campaign can be daunting. Technology platforms like DealMachine empower real estate investors to automate and scale direct mail efforts efficiently.

First, these platforms will help you with every step of the lead generation process. Data analytics can seem simple and accessible, but figuring out which bits of the data are significant, as well as the sheer volume of information, can be a lot to deal with. 

The most common problem is that investors end up with lists of prospects that are too general. A direct marketing technology platform helps you generate a niche list and will give you a better response rate.

Next, direct mail technology platforms help you by automating the creation and sending of personalized mail pieces. That doesn’t mean the pieces will be generic—they will still be tailored to the preferred style and target goal of your campaign. But you won’t have to spend time designing or hand-signing the materials.

Finally, direct mail technology platforms track the performance of your campaigns, which allows for continuous optimization. If you send hundreds or even thousands of direct mail pieces every month, especially if you’re investing in multiple locations, it can be hard to keep track of which campaigns are generating responses and which aren’t. Platforms like DealMachine will track the performance of each campaign, allowing you to tweak your strategy as you grow your portfolio.

This article is presented by DealMachine


DealMachine empowers real estate professionals to discover and invest in off-market properties with ease, offering a comprehensive app that guides you every step of the way. From identifying potential investments to instantly accessing high-quality homeowner data for informed decision-making, we make investing simple and effective. Click to start expanding your portfolio today!

Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.


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