How to utilize real estate mailers in 2019

While never completely “dead,” direct mail real estate marketing is seeing a resurgence. Experts chalk it up to the overuse of email marketing, but direct mail outperforms most digital marketing tactics, according to the Association of National Advertisers (ANA).

Direct mail marketing’s “response rate ranges from about five to nine times greater than that of email, paid search, or social media,” according to the pros at datatargetingsolutions.com.

Pretty impressive, right? Yet, at least in the real estate industry, it seems to be a very well-kept secret.

This leaves the door wide open for agents seeking an additional marketing vehicle and a way to stand out from the crowd.

People Trust Direct Mail

A couple of years ago, the folks at MarketingSherpa.com conducted a  study to determine “which advertising channels consumers trust most and least when making purchases.” The results are quite interesting:

chart of trusted advertising channels that influence purchasing decisions

Source: MarketingSherpa

 

Notice how all of the channels that have been pronounced “dead” top everything digital. Interestingly, 43 percent more of the respondents trust direct mail than Facebook and other social media ads.

Since trust is something high on the list of qualities that real estate consumers seek in an agent, maybe it’s time to add something “new” to the marketing mix.

Real Estate Mailers: What to Send

When I separate my mail every day, I put the garbage-looking mail in one pile and the stuff I’ll read in another. Every month I receive a market update from a real estate team here in town and that goes in the keep pile.

I enjoy learning what my home might be worth by comparing it to recently sold homes. I can’t for the life of me remember the couple’s name that sends me this report and I trash it after reading it.

Would I use them to sell my home? Never. Although I respect their consistency in mailing to me each month for the past three years, the report is ugly. It appears to be an Excel graph that they’ve reproduced on their office copier.

Sometimes they don’t even bother to center the paper in the copier and the image is crooked. It’s in black and white on flimsy paper.

In other words, if they put such little care into how they market themselves, I don’t think I’ll take a chance and hope that they’ll put more effort into marketing my home.

But they do get one thing right: they send it in a business-sized envelope without branding, and they send it consistently.

A recent ANA/DMA study of direct mail response rates finds that the old-fashioned business-sized envelope (also known as “letter-sized” and #10) “produced the best median response rate overall – 15.1%.”

Use these for your sales letters, newsletters and other items printed on paper. Don’t brand the envelopes; hand address each.

Yes, it sounds labor- and time-intensive, and it is. But if it increases the chance that recipients will open your mail, it’s worth all the time it takes.

Real Estate Postcards

Scientists at Temple University’s Fox School of Business, Center for Neural Decision Making and the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) teamed up to study the circumstances under which email or direct mail was more effective.

Postcards were more effective in five of the nine tests performed.

If you include postcards in your real estate mailing campaign, choose unusual shapes and sizes to help them stand out in the pile of mail most of us receive.

Be aware, though, that these may cost more to mail than it does to send a standard postcard. “Generally, mailpieces [sic] that are 1/4-inch thick or less MUST be rectangular. Pieces more than 1/4-inch thick do not have to be rectangular,” to avoid increased cost, according to the U.S. Postal Service.

Use postcards with powerful images (local images if possible) and little text. The time-tested Just Listed and Just Sold postcards still work, but consider a postcard containing just your most compelling testimonial and contact information.

Other ideas we’ve learned from agents who use direct mail include:

  • An invitation to your event
  • Invitation to an open house
  • A map of the recipients’ neighborhood, dotted with “pins” denoting recent listings and sales.

Real Estate Fliers

Consider oversized cards or even fliers with your message on one side and something of value to the recipient on the other. Here’s an example we found from Kopywriting Kourse‘s website.

Flier Front

Flier Back

 

Although the first image (the front of the piece) is attractive, we think that the value offered (the event calendar on the back of the piece) should greet the recipient first. Put the salesy stuff on the back.

Consider creating cool, real estate-related infographic flyers. Here’s an example of a colorful, eye-catching, easy-to-read infographic, from Illinois Association of REALTORS®, using information they gleaned from Realtor.com.

cost of putting off a home purchase infographic

Source: Illinois Association of REALTORS®

Other timely topics (at least in some markets) include:

  • Cost to rent vs. buy a home
  • A comparison of the FHA and conventional loan
  • Sales price of a staged home vs. un-staged home
  • Sales price of a seller-assisted vs. FSBO listing

There are a lot of companies that offer direct-mail pieces and assistance with mailing. If you’re a Market Leader user, you’ve got thousands of on-demand marketing pieces directly in your system that provides discounted pricing through Shutterfly, MLS integration, and the option to add print mailers to any marketing campaign.