Even with the advent of online marketing, direct mail is still one of the powerful ways to market your real estate business.
It’s effective for building brand awareness, generating leads, and following up with sellers.
And in this guide, we’re going to explain why every real estate investor should make sending mailers a regular part of their monthly marketing efforts, what lists to use, and some best practices when it comes to email copy and content (with examples).
Let’s start at the beginning!
Should You Use Direct Mail as a Real Estate Investor?
There are a lot of different ways to generate leads for your REI business in today’s world — you can get your website ranking in Google, run Facebook ads, promote your content on social media, or even cold call, door knock, or drive for dollars.
And while many of those strategies work, direct mail is still a bit like the tortoise who won the race.
It’s not particularly exciting or sexy, it’s not new, and it’s definitely not cutting-edge.
But it works.
According to a BiggerPocket’s forum thread titled, “How many mailers do you mail per month?”, investors seem to agree that sending between 1,000 and 2,000 mailers should land you 1-2 deals (assuming you’re answering the phone!).
And the most successful investors send out 4,000 to 10,000 mailers every single month.
Seem like a lot?
Well, here’s a simple promise of direct mail marketing that other marketing mediums can’t make: the more mail you send, the more deals you’ll be able to do.
The only thing holding your business back from massive growth, then, is your budget, other internal processes, or your mindset.
But no matter how you slice it, direct mail is probably going to be a big part of your success.
What Lists Should You Use?
There are two things upon which the success of direct mail marketing depends…
- Who you send to.
- What you send.
Here, we’re talking about the first — who are you going to send your mailers to for the biggest impact, to get the phones ringing as consistently as possible with the highest-quality leads?
Here are some lists we recommend trying (you can use PropStream to pull data)…
- Attorneys (Probate, divorce, estate, etc.)
- Realtors — It doesn’t hurt to send some brand-awareness-type mailers to real estate agents in your area to spread the word.
- Absentee owners — People who don’t live in the property.
- Out-of-state landlords
- People who own homes free-and-clear — i.e. 100% equity and no liens
- Properties with liens
- Homeowners going through probate
Try out different lists and see what works best for your business. Different lists work in different areas — and so don’t expect that the strategy your buddy is using three states over is going to work in your own market.
As with all marketing tactics, you’ll have to execute, learn, and adapt. Then keep going.
6 Best Practices For Real Estate Direct Mail Marketing (With Examples)
Now we’re going to give you some practical advice for getting the most bang for your bucket. You can watch the video above and/or read the text below!
1. Remember: Difficult Data Performs Better
One way to make your direct mail efforts more effective is by sending to lists that most of your competitors are ignoring.
After all, the more competitive a list is, the lower chance you have of getting the prospect to work with you.
From Ryan’s experience, the most saturated list seems to be absentee owners with equity. That doesn’t mean you should not send to that list, but you should also send to lists that are a little more difficult to dig up — the more difficult it is to get, the less competitive it’ll be.
Ryan recommends things like a water shut-off list, properties that have been involved in fires, or a tax delinquent list.
What you can get will depend on your market rules and regulations… but don’t be afraid to do some digging.
2. Use Honest Copy
There’s a big trend among wholesalers of sending direct mail that feels… well, dishonest.
While that sort of mailer might get the phone ringing, it’ll probably do so for the wrong reasons, which will just result in wasted time on the phone talking to the wrong people.
The opposite sort of dishonesty that investors should be careful of is sending mailers that feel like they’re coming from an individual rather than a company.
Find the balance — it’s okay to make the mailers feel a little more personal, but it should be clear that it’s from a trustworthy company and it should be clear what you’re offering.
This will help you generate the right leads. Here’s a good example…
3. Use a Local Postmark
While it’s might be easier to send mail from a massive online direct mail service, sellers care about details.
And they look for little indications of whether they can trust the person who sent them the mailer or not — the postmark is one such example.
If the postmark is from somewhere out-of-state, then it’ll likely look suspicious to the seller.
But if the postmark is local, that’s one additional reason for them to trust you and even give you a call. So we recommend ordering mailers to your house or office and then shipping those from your local post office.
It’s a small thing, but it makes a difference.
4. Use an Eye-Catching Design
How are you going to get your mailers to stand out?
After all, people receive a lot of mail… and they throw away a lot of it — credit card offers, junk mail, coupons, etc. Your job is to create mailers that don’t get put in the throw-away pile.
Postcards with hand-writing on the back work really well because they’re easy for the seller to turn over and read…
(Check out Ballpoint Marketing for hand-written mailers)
And non-spammy-looking envelopes also get people to open consistently…
5. Hit Good Timing
Obviously, you should be sending direct mail every month.
But to some degree, it also matters when you send that mail. Ideally, you want to send it so that it doesn’t arrive when most other junk mail arrives.
From Ryan’s experience, most junk mail arrives on Monday, Tuesday, and Saturday. So he drops his letters off on Saturday, which usually means they arrive on Wednesday and Thursday.
That’s perfect timing because people aren’t stressed about going back to work, they’re not hyped up about the weekend, and they’re not being bombarded by other mail.
However, you’ll probably have to test this in your own market to figure out what day to drop off your mailers.
6. Brand Your Mailers
Some real estate investors mistakenly believe that sellers only want to work with other individuals, not with a company.
But that’s not true, especially since we’re talking about the homeowner selling what is likely their single most valuable possession — they want to work with a company that’s trustworthy and honest.
So definitely brand your mailers with your company logo and name. And don’t be afraid to say “call my office” rather than “call me” so that they know it might not be you who answers.
Setting Your Direct Mail Budget
To build an effective direct mail marketing system, you’ll want to send new mail every month, even if you’re currently working with plenty of leads.
Consistency is important because it provides your business with a sustainable and ongoing lead-flow. Remember, the impact of direct mail has a delay. It takes a week to send out, some people take a few days before they check the mail, and some people wait a few days or weeks before reaching out.
This means that the results you’re getting now are probably from the mail you sent a month ago… and the results you’ll produce next month rely on the mail you send this month.
So don’t stop.
But how much should you spend on mail every month?
As a general rule (and within reason), the more you spend on mail every month, the more leads you’ll generate and deals you’ll be able to close. So more is better.
(There is a cap here, though, if you’re in a more rural low population market)
So to determine your own budget, ask yourself the following two questions…
- How much can you afford to spend every month on direct mail?
- How many deals (and leads) can you realistically manage every month?
Carrot has this nifty ROI calculator that will help you determine how much you’ll spend to acquire each deal.
Determine how many mailers you have to send to get your ideal number of deals and then start sending that many mailers… but also make sure that you have the bandwidth to work all of those leads.
The last thing you want to do is spend tons of money on direct mail only to overwhelm your internal processes and waste leads (Call Porter’s expert reps can answer the phone for you to simplify this and instantly increase your bandwidth!).
So start with a manageable number and then increase as your budget and bandwidth increase.
The Sure-Fire Way To Send Mailers That Stand Out
Direct mail is probably the most effective way to generate leads for your REI business, which means that it’s also the most popular method.
So there’s a downside: your leads are also receiving mail from your competitors.
How do you stand out?
Well, our sister company, Ballpoint Marketing, creates eye-catching hand-written (i.e. robot-written) mailers that get record-high response rates. Here’s an example of what they look like…
For a long time, these mailers were one of Ryan Dossey’s secret marketing weapons that he used to grow his own real estate business.
Now he produces them via Ballpoint Marketing for investors all around the nation.
And the best part is, they start at just $0.95 per piece…
Although online marketers work hard to convince investors that some new edgy trick is going to be the future of real estate marketing, direct mail has stood the test of time.
It’s the slow and steady method that works every single time.
And hopefully, you now have an idea of how to send mailers that catch the eye and get the phone ringing.
The next step is action.