Who else has flushed money down the toilet because of a less than successful direct mail campaign or other offline real estate marketing strategies involving print material?

In this context, there are two question I have read over and over again in different forums and places on the web:

“Is direct mail working for real estate marketing?”
“What budget do you need for direct mailing or other offline real estate marketing campaigns?”

And the honest answer to both questions should be: “I don’t know.”

Why “I don’t know?” Because it depends.

If you master a certain marketing channel, every marketing channel can work. I know, that’s a bad answer and kind of common sense.

If your direct mailing, for example, costs you the hypothetical and ridiculous amount of $10 a piece, but you have a 99.999% open rate and out of them, you get successful deals 80% of the time, listing contracts, etc., you have a great and overall profitable campaign.

But if you read between the lines of the budget question from above and apply some laymen psychology, you might hear this emotionally charged message:

“I am afraid to flush money down the toilet (like in the picture below), because I am insecure and uncertain if my planned offline real estate marketing campaign will be successful, and I would really like to make sure that my campaign has a high success rate and mitigate my risks and thus, costs as much as possible.”

There is some good news/bad news here:

Risk is always involved when starting an untested marketing campaign.

The good news: If you absolutely want to start with this offline marketing channel (more on that later), you can do offline real estate marketing campaigns a little bit smarter, prepared in a way that increases the odds of success and reduces some costs.

The bad news: In addition to the marketing costs of direct mailing, you will need to spend additional money preparing an online marketing channel.

And today, I will tell you how you can do just that (with no guarantee of success).

The 5 Steps to Bullet Proof Your Direct Mail and Other Offline Real Estate Marketing Campaigns with Online Marketing Methods

Identify the Copy Elements of your Offline Campaign

Your print material for the campaign could be postcards, yellow letters, print magazine ads, deal marketing materials for investors, open house brochures, etc.
To keep it simple, let’s just focus on yellow letters.

What testable elements does a yellow letter have?

There is the copy that goes on top of the mailer and there is the actual copy (content) of the yellow letter.

Identify/ Research the Target Group

Depending on the type of real estate professional you are, your target group for this type of offline real estate marketing campaign will be sellers, both retail or investor, most of the time.

Then, your target group will be located in a certain location or neighborhood.

Depending on this information, your copy on the print material will adapt and can have different angles.

Collect Further Information About Your Target Group

Now that you know a bit more about your target group, you might find addresses via different tools such as Listsource and also get phone numbers.

But this step isn’t necessarily required, since the most important information should be the neighborhood and the type of seller you want to target.

But if you can get this information, you might get your adspend down a bit more for the test later.

Create Different Versions of Your Copy

Now comes the part where you need to apply some copywriting skills to the mailer and the yellow letter content. And you will create different versions for both.

I can’t give you all the necessary knowledge about copywriting in this short paragraph, but as you might guess, it’s a very important part.

Copywriting fills books and is an art in itself. If you want a short formula, you can get my copywriting checklist for real estate marketing below this article.

But to continue with this example, I’ll give you a short one.

It is “problem,” “agitate,” “solve.” It’s a variation of the more known formula AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action), and both can and should be combined, and would look like this:

Attention, Interest/Problem & Agitate, Desire/Solve, Action.

Where do you apply each part?

  • Attention and maybe a tiny bit of Interest/Problem on the mailer
  • On the yellow letter itself should be the whole package Attention, Interest/Problem & Agitate, and Desire/Solve and Action

So you describe or draw their attention to the problem (e.g. “Why haven’t you sold your nice house at 1234 Mainstreet yet?”), then you elaborate on the problem a bit further, and then you solve it by offering your solution. In this case, what type of deal you could offer, etc.

For the mailer, you obviously can’t apply the whole formula, so you should focus on the Attention and/or a tiny bit of the Problem part, which corresponds with the headline of a sales letter or sales page.

You can brainstorm different text ideas for the mailer, such as:

  • “To Mr. XYZ, but don’t open it, because it could change your life.”
  • “Mr. XYZ, it’s not your fault that you haven’t sold your nice house at 1234 Mainstreet yet.”
  • “Mr. XYZ. I am surprised that I can even send you a letter to a vacant house.”

I didn’t mention the other physical attention grabbing techniques that you can use for mailers, since we can’t test them online, such as:

  • Oddly-shaped postcards, maybe in the shape of a house
  • Handwritten mailers
  • Crumbled and/or aged looking Mailers
  • Using Express Delivery Services (e.g. Fedex, DHL, etc.)

You can only test the copy or the main part of the copy.

With regards to the yellow letter body part, you can apply the whole formula and it should relate to the headline, or rather, the copy on the mailer.

Create an Online Marketing Campaign with Facebook Ads and/or Google AdWords (only search ads)

Once you have different versions of the mailer copy and the yellow letter main copy, you can begin to test them via Facebook Ads and/or Google Ads.

Creating Facebook and Google AdWords Campaigns is something for another article, or rather article series, so I will be looking at the surface here.

How do you test the copy?

You use the copy for the mailer in your ads and see which has a higher CTR (Click Through Rate), and use your different yellow letter copy versions on landing pages.

The higher the CTR for your AdCopy, the more intriguing the offer appears to be to your target group, the sellers.

So, you create a Facebook Ads and/or a Google AdWords campaign using the following data you have already researched:

  • Neighborhood
  • Phone Numbers

For the yellow letter copy versions, you create different little landing pages with your own website or other services such as one of the following providers below, which you A/B test:

At this point, it’s not really important if you convert a visitor.

Sure, it would be awesome to convert someone already, but this is about testing your copy for your offline campaign.

Most of the above landing page providers offer A/B testing.

Doing this is important, since you can let your yellow letter copies compete against each other and kick out the bad ones. The same is true for your different ads.

After a while, you can create a new version, which you let run against the winner, and so on.

The metric for the landing page can be measured by using Google Analytics or the analytics data provided by the landing page providers.

Focus on time spent on the landing page and its bounce rate.

A low bounce rate and a high time spent on the landing page gives you hints as to which copy is a winner.

To have enough data to be statically relevant, you might want to wait until you get at least 30 clicks on Google ads.

With Facebook ads, you have to wait a bit longer because of the learning algorithm they use, meaning you need at least 200-300 clicks.

This sounds like a lot of work before even beginning with the offline marketing campaign, hence your direct mailing will need some extra money besides your offline campaign budget.

how to do direct mail marketing for real estate

OVSo, you might have already concluded by yourself that starting off with offline marketing campaigns might not be the best idea because you should test them online anyways.

And the process for paid online traffic is basically the same as starting with paid online traffic in the first place.

An approach I would prefer and will elaborate on in another article is to start your marketing mix with paid online traffic to be able to collect market data faster and at lower costs.

Once you have a winning online campaign, you can expand your marketing channels to the offline world with already tested and successful copy from your online campaigns.

I hope I could give you some ideas and bring some structure in your approach with this article, and if you liked the article feel free to share it.

My Video on the Topic