This is the next article in my series on how real estate agents and brokerages can improve their marketing. My last article discussed SEO basics for realtors. It is important to understand what constitutes legitimate “search engine optimization.” Having this understanding helps to protect from scamming scumbags marketers who call you offering to help your business in search. It also provides an understanding of how your website should be structured. Having a strong search presence can help you keep your ad spend down. This, in turn, helps you to look like this:

Businessman with money

While people who don’t have a strong search presence, and are entirely dependent on ads, wind up looking like this:

Businessman with hands out

I’m guessing that the former is happier than the latter. In this article I’m going to address how realtors can improve the return they receive from direct mailers. We’ll be discussing the approach used by Mary Beth Downing, of Keller Williams, who will be featured in the next article in this series. If you are an agent or a brokerage, and wish to improve your web presence, then contact us online or by telephone to get started. We work with companies throughout the United States.

I’m going to address three points in this article. To jump straight to a point, just click “jump to section” in the list of topics below.

Topics

  1. Statistics showing that mailers are effective for realtors (jump to section)
  2. Making your mailers more effective by targeting the right areas (jump to section)
  3. The tools and processes necessary for making your mailers more effective (jump to section)

So…let’s get to it.

Mailers are highly effective for realtors – if done correctly

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Direct mail marketingNumbers don’t lie and they show that mailers are highly effective for realtors. Mary Beth, the agent we’ll be featuring in our next article, considers direct mailers to be an important part of her business. As of this article, she is currently focusing her mailing efforts on two particular zip codes. In one of these areas, for every $1 she has invested in mailers she has earned $7.65 in gross commissions. In the second, each dollar has returned $3.91. It is also worth noting that those are just the commissions from the seller side of the equation. She represented the buyer as well in many of these transactions. It is important to understand that Mary Beth’s approach has worked because she, correctly, takes a data-driven approach to her mailers. This is different from many other realtors, who fail to track their numbers.

It’s not uncommon for realtors to lose money on direct mailers. This is due to a variety of reasons, which are addressed in the rest of this article. These reasons include sending mailers to the wrong areas, sending too many to a particular address, and paying for resources that are available through low-cost automation. So…let’s spend the rest of this article comparing the “right” way to do it against the “wrong” way that is too common.

Real estate agents can make their mailers more effective by targeting the right areas with the right number of mailings

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Target marketThere’s no point (unless you have a goal of losing money) in sending mailers to people who do not wish to sell their property. There also comes a point at which it’s no longer useful to send mailers to a particular area. Unfortunately, in our experience, quite a few agents miss the mark in these regards. So, let’s look at where to send your mailers and how many to send.

Mary Beth (mentioned above) takes an approach of sending mailers to areas where people are likely to want to sell their houses. While this may sound like a “duh” statement, the fact of the matter is that most agents send materials to the areas where the realtor wants to sell houses as opposed to where homeowners want to sell their houses. In other words, Mary Beth targets areas where there is likely to be high sales activity. These are typically areas in which many of the homes are investor-owned rental properties as investors may wish to cash in on appreciation. She finds them by searching the property roles and determining which areas have a higher percentage of properties which are not owner-occupied. This has yielded her a good return as a) many of the investors own more than one property that they may sell and b) it’s easier for someone to decide to sell a house if they are not actually living in it (they don’t have to worry about finding a new place to live, etc.). By sending mailers to the area where those receiving them are more likely to list a home, Mary Beth has had success in her business.

Many realtors err by sending direct mail to the areas in which they want to sell houses or multi-family properties. An area is often targeted by the agent saying to themselves “I think that will be a good area to send some mailers” as opposed to basing the targeting decision on research or knowledge of a specific area. And, while I don’t mean to sound crude (which I usually do because I can’t open my mouth without sticking my foot in it), this is about as effective as throwing darts at a board while blindfolded and drunk. Someone saying “I think this will be a good area” is not a data point on which one should base the decision to send mailers. Realtors also err by sending mailers to an area in which they just sold a house. Such materials often say “I just sold house ‘x’, now let me sell your house.” The problem is that just because someone in a neighborhood sold a home, it doesn’t mean others want to as well. Mary Beth tried this early on and the returns were dwarfed by those she received from targeting areas which were likely to have high sales volume.

To sum this up, the effective way to go about sending out real estate mailers, based on data we’ve observed, is to target areas which are likely to have a high volume of sales activity. Targeting other areas, due to high price points or prior sales one may have had in the neighborhood is not as effective. This is due to the fact that sending a letter or postcard to someone who doesn’t want to sell their home will return nothing, no matter how much their home is worth.

Another important step is to only send nine monthly mailers to each address. Mary Beth has found, through data, that after the ninth mailer to a given address the call volume essentially ceases. In other words, after nine mailers, the likelihood that the homeowner will call you no longer justifies the mailer. I have spoken to other realtors who just send mailers to a home on an ongoing basis. If people aren’t calling after nine mailers, however, it’s important to remember that further activity would just constitute a waste of money.

Now let’s look at an effective method for generating real estate mailers.

Tools and processes for real estate agents to make their mailers more effective

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Marketing toolsIn this section of the article, I’m going to discuss the tools a real estate agent can use to make their mailers more effective. I’ll also be discussing process of implementing a strong direct mail campaign.

We suggest generating letters, as opposed to postcards, to send out in a direct mail campaign. A letter provides a few benefits over post-cards. First, it allows you to generate a better personalized message which will resonate with people. It is common for Mary Beth to be told by those receiving her mailers that her approach is more “personal” than those who send postcards. Second, you can save a substantial amount of money using mailers as opposed to postcards (which can be pricey to buy).

Fortunately, it is easy to generate mailers in large quantities using Google Workspace along with some tools available on the platform. For those who are not familiar with the service, Workspace is Google’s business suite (similar to Microsoft Office). It provides software for word processing, spreadsheet creation, and more. In addition to signing up for Google Workspace, you’ll also want to sign for a Workpsace add on. The add on is Mail Merge from Quicklutions. This allows you to merge a database, which you’ll create in a Google spreadsheet, with a form letter. In addition to this software, we suggest using an Eco Tank printer from Epson as they allow you to print large numbers of mailers while expending very little printer ink. Finally, you’ll download stamps.com software, which will allow you to add postage to a large number of envelopes at once.

Once you’ve signed up for Google Workspace, make copies of this real estate mailer form letter, this form envelope, and this database spreadsheet. To make a copy, click “file” and then click “make a copy.” You will then save a copy of the documents in your Google Drive. The letter and envelope have been set up with the fields from the database. Any text that is bold is information which you need to add to the letter or envelope. Also, you need to add your logo to the letter. As you will see, we have included a placeholder for your logo.

The next step is to identify areas which you believe will have high sales volume (these are typically going to be areas where the homes are investor owned). Once an area is identified, start pulling addresses and owner information from your local assessor website and fill it (via cut and paste) into your database spreadsheet. Once you have your completed database, merge it with your form letter as shown in this video from Quicklutions:

Along with printing your letters, you will also merge and print the envelope in the same fashion. A demo from Quicklutions, regarding the merging of envelopes, is shown in this video:

Add postage to your envelopes, via the stamps.com app, and you’re ready to stuff and send the letters along with an inserted business card. As you receive phone calls, or otherwise need to take people off your mailing list, make sure you place a check in the “filter rows to merge” area of your database and it will exclude that address from being included in your next mailer (make sure to set “filter rows to merge” in the options tab).

If you need assistance with developing your web presence then contact us today regarding our website design services. We take pride in the work we have performed for clients across industries and we look forward to being of assistance.

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