No one really likes to receive junk mail. But that doesn’t mean it isn't effective. For all the times people complain about it, enough still take action to the effect that sales from direct mail has totaled over $2 trillion. The truth is that if a piece catches or eye or particularly appeals to you, you are fairly likely to respond in some fashion. That’s why so many investors use direct mail to find leads. Homes are particularly emotive so if you receive something through the post about selling your home fast—and you actually want to get rid of your property—you're going to sit up and take notice. But creating an effective direct mail marketing campaign isn’t that easy. There are a lot of moving parts and several things to get right. The good news is we’re going to break down exactly how you can succeed.
Build a Solid List
Success in direct mail marketing can depend on the quality of your list. A really good list filled with interested people could mean a lot of sales. Are bad list filled with random people is almost certain to fail. But just how can you make a good list? Here’s how:
- Access public records. Public records can be a brilliant source of information and a great way to find the addresses of potential targets. Take eviction records for instance. These are readily available and can lead you to landlords who are fed up of renting out their property. On the flip side, probate records can lead to the address of an inherited property that people no longer want.
- Find a list broker. If you don’t want to do the hard work yourself, there are people out there who make a living doing it for you. List brokers find and sell mailing lists for all kinds of clients. Many will have real estate-focused lists. Just be careful, however. Some will be full of duds so it may be a case of trial and error.
- Use an online platform. If you use a platform like REIPro, there’s a good chance they have property addresses built into the system ready for you to mine. It may take a bit of time but you can find some really targeted leads this way.
There’s only so far a fantastic mailing list will get you, however. Make sure you follow the tips below to ensure what you send out gets read in the first place.
Use Your Competition as Inspiration
If you’re lost for a place to start, I’d recommend looking at what works for your competition. Start by analyzing what you get through your letterbox. Is there a particular style that stands out? Does one company regularly send mail (this could suggest that what they do works). Keep a copy of everything that catches your eye so you can use it for inspiration later.
If you want to get an idea of what other investors are doing, your local REIA meeting or other networking groups can provide a wealth of information. Even if your local group doesn’t provide educational seminars on this form of marketing, many investors will be willing to talk about their experience with direct mail, even if they aren’t so willing to share what’s working at the moment.
Catch Their Eye
Don’t expect to send any old rubbish out and get a response. If you’re not investing time and effort into the design of your mail, you won’t get anywhere. In general, there are two ways you can grab the attention of your audience.
People like it when you treat them as an individual, and your direct mail should be no different. You want it to seem like only a select few people got this message. Now, a lot of this will be done by your list building. If you’ve got a highly targeted list, it will be easy to remain on message. But the design of the mail can help to make it feel more personable, too. Make sure you capture the needs of your target audience in your headline and reiterate them throughout the piece. It should feel like you are connecting with them on something they care about and providing a solution to a problem that they have.
Another way to stand out is to literally make your piece of mail stand out from the crowd. Let’s be honest, most junk mail looks pretty similar. So if you can find a way to make your design stand out, whether it’s the shape, the color or something completely different, you’ll have a much higher chance of your marketing material being read. There are so many ways to do this, the only limit is your imagination.
Make Sure You are Tracking and Following Up
Once you have started sending out mail, make sure you are keeping track of your response rates. While this is typically harder to do with physical mail than, say, email, it can be done. One tactic is to include a unique URL that directs recipients to a particular part of your website. You can then use Google Analytics to see how many people came to that page directly and what actions they took next.
If you don’t have a website, then you could include a unique email address or a unique phone number instead. Failing that, just ask recipients to quote a phrase or code to you when they call up in response. That way you can track response rates yourself.
When people do respond, make sure you make a note of who they are and follow up with them regularly. Don’t feel like you’re chasing them. If they responded to your initial piece of mail, they are definitely interested and should be treated like a warm lead.
Getting started with direct marketing can be an exciting and daunting prospect. If you need more advice, pop down to your local REIA meeting to discuss the topic with new and experienced investors alike.