As a direct mail company that sends millions of pieces of mail for others (and ourselves — because we’re real estate investors ourselves), we’re going to lay down the ultimate guide to response rates for you!
But first, let’s dive into some basics of direct mail…
Is direct mail dead?
No matter what era you put yourself in…
There are people screaming at the top of their lungs:
“Direct Mail Is DEAD!!!!”
Quick answer: Absolutely is it NOWHERE dead…
Proof of this?
Look around and you’ll notice that even the top digital “only” companies like Google use direct mail to advertise it’s business…
So, why are people saying it’s dead?
The simple answer is that more and more people are diverting to digital marketing rather than direct mail — the low cost of digital marketing is appealing to most people.
So because of that, you’re seeing less VOLUME of direct mail being sent.
However, just because the volume of mail is down… doesn’t mean it’s not effective.
In fact, it’s likely MORE effective…
Direct mail vs digital
Digital marketing is one of the most highly used channels in the real estate industry.
But is it better than direct mail?
We think not and here’s why (and how to use them BOTH together)
One of the main benefits of direct mail marketing is that response rates are often higher than with digital marketing. This is partly due to the fact that physical marketing materials have a different emotional impact than digital ones. When people receive something in the mail, they are more likely to take notice of it and engage with it on an emotional level.
Additionally, direct mail doesn’t easily get forgotten as digital ads can. People may throw a piece of mail to the side to look at later, and then be reminded about it when they come across it again. This isn’t always the case with digital marketing, which can be easily overlooked or forgotten with just a click.
Combine digital with physical
The best approach is to combine both digital and direct mail.
You do this in a couple of ways:
- Place your URL in the letter/postcard (these days people are highly skeptical. Offer some trust and credibility by having an online presence)
- Sends digital ads to your mail recipients (these days it’s very easy to send digital ads to people you send mail to. With Facebook, you upload your list and send “retargeting” ads to them
What’s an average response rate
When it comes to response rates for direct mail in the real estate industry, the overall figure can depend heavily on the market you’re targeting.
Generally, response rates range from 1%-5%, with some investors in certain markets experiencing response rates as low as 0.2% (but we’ll explain to you later how response rates matter very little)
While response rate is not a statistic you should focus too heavily upon, understanding average response rates in your target market can help you gauge a realistic expectation of response and provide insight into how different approaches may affect your output.
Check out the best-performing letter below!
It has REAL blue ink handwriting, with an “invitation letter” that gets HIGH open rates:
How to Measure Direct Mail Effectiveness
This might shock many people…
But in our experience, in the real estate industry response rates matter LITTLE.
What matters is the revenue generated. Because we’ve had INVERSE relationships in some occasions with response rates, meaning…
High response rates DON’T always mean a good result!
How’s this possible?
Because what matter is the cost per deal…
There are letters (like the “FINAL NOTICE” postcards) that have in the past generated LOTS of responses (we’ve seen people report on 6%).
But most of the responses were from ANGRY homeowners.
The metric we look at, rather than response…
Is Cost Per Deal (or if you’re an agent: Cost per listing agreement).
Another metric to consider: Profit per campaign.
Because if you’re in a competitive and expensive market (like Los Angeles for example)..
You’re going to experience LOW response rates…
You’re going to experience a HIGH cost per acquisition (in the realm of $7k+ per deal).
The profit you generate from one of those deals (because of the bigger prices), makes up for it.
In other words…
… You might be spending $7k on marketing to generate 1 deal… but that 1 deal produces $50k+!
Still… people want to ensure they’re getting the best results.
So in the next section, we’ll cover…
Tips for Improving Your Direct Mail Response Rate
But still, you don’t want to neglect response rates…
You still want to improve your direct mail campaign as best as possible.
So here’s a list of tips to improving your campaign:
(You can also alternatively watch this video by one of our co-founders, Ryan Dossey:)
1. Use a URL
People WILL Google you. And if they can’t research who you are, they won’t bother.
15 years ago the “rule of thumb” for investors sending direct mail was:
“Don’t put in a URL because you want to look like an average “Joe Schmo”.
That might have been true then (though I doubt this was tested and was only a theory)… today people are more skeptical than ever.
We know this from our own direct mail statistics testing.
Placing a URL in our mail has resulted in more quality responses — not necesarrily only call/text responses… but also online forms filled.
These results make sense on a theoretical level too. If people are skeptical, they research you, find you, and fill out your form.
This leads to the next tip…
2. Have a professional website
If they’re researching you, what will they find?
A scarce online presence?
Or when that shows you’re a pro?
Hopefully the latter.
You want to communicate trust, confidence, and credibility in your online presence.
3. Have a local feel
If you’re in a market that values local community, you might want to make sure you communicate that factor: that you ARE a local like them.
You can communicate that by having your office address local.
And having the same language/dialect/vocabulary as them.
And mentioning you’re local.
And mentioning something only locals would know.
It could also mean using LOCAL STAMPING… this is a feature of our “Greeting Letter” where if you choose this letter and choose the “first class” option, we’ll send you all your letters in the mail, in boxes, ready to go… with property stamping and everything… all you have to do is drop the box at the Local USPS and get your local stamping on them.
4. Copy that fits the market
A lot of wholesalers stress about what to say in their marketing piece (we’ve got that covered for you BTW when you buy our letters)…
But the easier way is to mention something that will hit TODAY’S market…
Here’s what I mean…
In a market where it’s a looong days on market (let’s say 100 days for example), and you say you’ll buy their house in 14 days… that’s a big benefit to that seller.
But in a market where things are flying off the shelf in 3 weeks anyway… that benefit might not be as important for them.
In a market where cash offers are plentiful (people are getting cash offers even on the MLS)… then talking about “cash” might not be too important for that seller — they can get it anywhere. So what makes YOU different? In this type of market, maybe talking about how the seller doesn’t have to pay for agent fees is a good avenue.
5. Have multiple ways of contact
Let them know that they can text or call you. Link your URL where there’s a form to contact you — or to get their cash offer.
Direct mail strategies for investors
For a complete marketing strategy on direct mail as an investor you can grab our free eBook:
But let us give you some tips right inside this article, for you as an investor sending out mail:
The list is 80% of the work
Make sure you have not only GOOD DATA but a good list strategy. Here are some working methods for lists:
… One is using niche lists (lists like bankruptcy, divorce, MLS expired, etc… the pros to this are that everyone has a motivational situation. The cons are that they are small lists so you can’t really get a big volume of deal flow using only these)
… A second is Absentee Owners (this is one of the most consistent lists. It always has deals if you have a big enough list)
… A third is Owner Occupant (If EVERYONE in your market is sending to absentee, maybe switch things up and send to O.O.)
… A fourth is senior lists (these take some time and nurture but can be worth it)
Stack your marketing
If you’re spending money on data and mail, you might as well spend some extra time to stack more touches to that list.
You do this by also calling that list, sending digital ads to that list, and/or placing handwritten door hangers on that list.
This will help you stand out tremendously from your competitors and put more of your brand in front of your sellers.
Don’t neglect Return to Senders
Return to senders is when you get the letter back with a yellow sticker that says “return to sender”. All that means is the post office couldn’t find the person.
Most investors toss these in the trash.
Other smart investors will leverage these because they know other investors aren’t using them.
When you receive these (and you will receive them if you send out mail), instead of tossing them, you can do a little skip tracing to FIND THEM.
Once you find their correct (or more accurate) contact info, then you can call them to say:
“We sent you a letter about buying your house on… are you at all interested in selling?”
It’s a very good chance that no one in your market is doing this.
Direct mail strategies for agents
The letter we suggest you use as a broker or agent is this:
It’s perfect for agents.
If you have a big enough farm area, divide into 12 groups (if it’s not that big divide into 6)
Then mail this letter every year to that farm area — you’d be mailing it every month.
This letter grabs BOTH sellers and buyers.
You can also send this letter when you have a LISTING in that area to see if you can pull some buyers.
We have an interview with a top broker who reveals his strategy for using these letters and creating a CONSISTENT flow of listings for his agents:
While you might have come here looking for what’s a good response rate for direct mail in real estate...
The true answer is there isn’t a “good” one.
Response rates are tricky because they’re not inverse of results.
Instead, to measure what a GOOD DIRECT MAIL CAMPAIGN is, you have to look at COST per deal, and PROFIT per campaign.
To see what your market costs in marketing… check out free guide here!