In the digital world that we live in, it may be easy to assume that your real estate business’s marketing campaign should focus exclusively on email and online marketing efforts. These efforts include social media marketing, paid search ads and online display ads.
While digital media marketing can and should have a prominent position in your marketing campaign, you are missing out on a great way to optimize your return on investment if you overlook direct mail postcards.
In fact, according to the Data & Marketing Association, the median ROI for a direct mail marketing campaign was 29 percent. Social media marketing was nominally higher at 30 percent.
Paid search marketing was notably lower at 23 percent, and online display ads performed moderately at 16 percent.
You understandably do not want to put all of your marketing dollars in one proverbial basket, so it makes sense to allocate your budget to the avenues that are most likely to see a decent return.
What should you know about direct mail postcards before you get started?
Why Direct Mail Isn’t Dead
Why would you invest your marketing dollars in an avenue that is colloquially referred to as snail mail? After all, this term refers to the fact that the recipient may not receive your message for several days.
On a broader level, it hints at the fact that using the postal service to convey a message is somewhat archaic.
While you may prefer to receive text messages rather than letters and e-statements rather than mailed bills, the reality is that direct mail is alive and well in the marketing world.
In the same 2016 report published by the Data & Marketing Association, the customer response rate for direct mail was up 43 percent over the prior year. More than that, the prospect response rate was up by 190 percent. Direct mail is not simply limping along; instead, it is thriving.
What Makes Direct Mail Postcards So Effective?
The data on the effectiveness of direct mail marketing may surprise you. However, there are actually several good reasons why direct mail postcards are so effective. Consider, for example, that it is easy to delete an email that looks spammy without reading it. It is equally easy to avoid reading a text message from a person who is not already in your contacts.
With direct mail, a person will physically hold the correspondence in their hands before deciding what to do with it. In the case of a postcard, the person will read the message before making a decision. Essentially, you are almost assured that your postcard’s message will be consumed by the intended audience.
This is undoubtedly an eye-opening fact that may inspire you to launch a direct mail postcard marketing campaign today. Before you do, however, it is important to look at all of the other reasons why direct mail postcards continue to be an effective way for real estate agents to reach their prospective customers.
Targets a Specific Area
In sales, farming is the process of identifying and nurturing leads until they ultimately produce for you. Geo-farming is a more specific term that describes farming in a specific geographic area. As a real estate agent, your efforts are likely focused on one specific geographic area, such as a small town, a suburb, a cluster of neighborhoods or another relatively finite area.
Unless you are very new to your target area, you likely already have a list of contacts that you are geo-farming. If not, developing a list is a relatively easy process. For example, you could mine tax records to get a list of property owners in the area.
Whether you use this or other methods to develop a list, you can then get your postcards directly in your audience’s hands with minimal time and effort. More than that, because the cost of developing and sending postcards is modest compared to other marketing opportunities, you can continue to touch your contacts. By doing so regularly, you can promote your brand and stay in a front-of-mind position with your farm.
Captures Attention from an “Analog” Demographic
Digital marketing is a great way to connect with some members of your target audience, but it is not comprehensive. After all, older adults are less connected than their younger counterparts. Consider, for example, that only 62 percent of adults who are 70 years old or older use a smartphone. Many of these individuals may only use their smartphones for calling or texting family members and friends.
They may not check their email through their smartphone, and some of them may not have email at all. In addition, the use of social media apps declines with age.
Altogether, this means that you are missing out on a rather large demographic when you focus exclusively on digital marketing. You understandably want your marketing message to reach your entire target audience so that it produces the best overall results for you.
With this in mind, direct mail postcards continue to be an essential part of a comprehensive marketing campaign.
Demonstrates Expertise Over the Long Run
When you think about the lifecycle of a typical direct mail postcard, you will see that this type of marketing actively promotes branding over a long period of time. To be fully effective, a direct mail postcard campaign will include multiple batches of postcards being mailed out in regular intervals to the same group of individuals.
After some people look at your postcard and see your name, they may toss it out. As they continue receiving future postcards, however, your name will become more familiar to them. Eventually, you may become the first person who they think about when they are finally ready to make a real estate move.
On the other hand, many other people will not toss out a postcard. Instead, they may place it on their counter or attach it to their fridge with a magnet. These are individuals who may be thinking about buying or selling in the near future and who are not quite ready to act. When your postcard hangs around their house, they may see your name and think about your services on a daily basis until they finally reach out to you for assistance.
Of course, there are also individuals who may contact you immediately after receiving your postcard.
You Can Never Be “Outbid” with Direct Mail
Pay-per-click marketing can be effective, but the success of a campaign is dependent on a few things. For example, you have to choose the right keywords to target. You also have to set a reasonable budget and CPC so that you enjoy a solid return on investment.
Establishing a cost-effective, productive pay-per-click marketing campaign can be tricky, and the matter is increasingly complicated when the competition comes into the picture. Any of your competitors can outbid you for your selected keywords. If this happens, your marketing message simply will not be seen by your competition.
One of the many reasons why direct mail postcards are often preferred over pay-per-click ads is because your direct mail postcards will hit home every time. There is never a concern about the competition interfering with your ability to communicate with your target audience.
Direct Mail vs EDDM
There are two primary methods available for sending direct mail postcards to a specific geographic area with ease. These are to use the U.S. Postal Service’s Every Door Direct Mail program or to use a direct mail service.
The EDDM program has specific requirements, such as a mailing size of between 200 and 5,000 pieces, limitations on postcard size and restrictions for specific zip codes. And these parameters are probably the main reasons you shouldn’t use EDDM.
While the EDDM program has a few good benefits, a direct mail service offers more extensive benefits. For example, with a direct mail service, you can focus your campaign on specific addresses (including absentee owners). You can even tailor your postcards to hit specific streets. This is incredibly helpful if you are sending a just listed postcard or a postcard to invite neighbors to a nearby open house.
You may assume that you would save money on postage by using the EDDM program, but you may see a lower ROI in the long run. This is because the effectiveness of your campaigns is only as good as your mailing list. You simply need to ensure that your marketing messages get into the right hands, and your ability to do so is limited with the EDDM program.
The Keys to Success with Direct Mail
Ed Mayer is a direct marketing pioneer who made a name for himself in the 1960s. One of his guiding principles is the 40/40/20 rule for direct mail marketing campaigns. This rule boils a direct mail marketing campaign down into three sections.
The first is the mailing list, to which he attributes 40 percent of a campaign’s success. The second part, which also receives a 40-percent attribution, is the offer that you are presenting to your target audience. Mayer attributes 20 percent of a campaign’s success to formatting and other aspects of creative design.
Notably, many people still take Mayer’s 40/40/20 rule to heart. Others believe that the mailing list’s importance is even more influential than Mayer’s attribution. A closer look at the keys to success with direct mail will help you to properly plan your upcoming campaigns.
It Starts with a Mailing List
When you take a hard look at a direct mail marketing campaign, there is one underlying principle. Your message must get into the right hands. Because of this, you cannot underestimate the value of having a quality mailing list for your direct mail campaigns.
As mentioned, if you do not already have a mailing list, you could create one for a geo-specific area through tax records. You could also purchase a list through your direct mail service provider.
Many people move each year. Postcards are most effective when they are personalized with a recipient’s name and address, so it is important that your mailing list is as accurate as possible. Take time to review the data regularly so that you are always using an accurate list. Ideally, your postcards will not be addressed generically to “Resident.”
Be Consistent with Mailings
As is the case with other types of direct marketing, consistency is key. The reality is that only a handful of your recipients may require your services when they receive your first postcard, and some of these individuals may not even reach out to you because they are not familiar with your name or what your brand stands for.
With each additional mailing, both your name and your branding will be reinforced. Because of this, you may see a better response when you practice consistency.
Understandably, you want to stay in front of your target audience without crossing the line and being annoying. How frequently should you send out a new batch of postcards?
For the first six weeks, consider taking a blitz-style approach. This enables new contacts to become familiar with you. After six weeks, taper down your interval to one mailer per month. For the best results, maintain your monthly interval pace for at least a full year.
Keep the Branding Consistent
Before you send out your first postcard, focus intently on developing a design that you love. The ideal design is both eye-catching and professional. People need to put a name to a face, so include a professional headshot on each mailer you send out. For the sake of cohesion, choose an aesthetically appealing color scheme for your logo, headers and other design elements.
You may be inclined to change up your postcard design regularly, but you should avoid doing so. One reason for this is that your recipients will start to learn your name in combination with your postcard’s branding. This is an important aspect of recognition, and it reinforces the benefits of a direct mail campaign.
While you should not change up your headshot, color scheme and other design elements, you can and should change your message. Each message should contain new and valuable information. For example, in addition to marketing open houses and new listings, you can offer real estate market stats, pre-listing tips and more.
Track Your Mailings and Responses
There is always room to improve when it comes to marketing efforts. However, how can you determine which of your postcards perform better than others? You can try to gauge performance by how full your inbox is or how frequently your phone rings, but there are better options. In fact, there are many effective ways to track results and responses. As a real estate agent, you can use a trackable URL or phone number in your postcards to monitor accurate stats on your campaigns. You may also set up a campaign-specific email address or even use special QR codes that enable you to conveniently track responses.
Keep in mind, it is not enough to track responses. You need to analyze the data that you collect. For example, you may notice that you get an amazing response on market data postcards and less response on open house announcement postcards. Through your analysis, you can make more educated decisions about future mailers.
Be Consistent with Follow-Up
Your ultimate goal for your marketing campaigns is not to get leads. It is to get clients that eventually lead to closed transactions. Of course, getting your phone to ring with an effective marketing campaign is the first step in the sales funnel, but what you do after that initial contact is equally important.
Unless you are able to answer the phone when it rings, all follow-up communications should be made within hours or even minutes rather than days. Your leads may have a very short attention span. If they cannot reach you immediately, they may quickly start hunting for another real estate agent who is reachable.
Likewise, you should remain consistently easy to reach and professional throughout all interactions with your leads and clients.
Be Successful with Direct Mail Postcards
Whether you are interested in sending out your first batch of postcards soon or you are struggling with design, consistency or other issues, rest assured that help is available. For example, you can conveniently choose from a variety of effective designs that other real estate agents have successfully used. Through your personalization and an effective marketing message, you can make light work out of a successful postcard mailing campaign.
Learn more about how easy it can be to create an effective postcard mailing campaign today.