Real estate businesses thrive when they have a steady stream of leads to grow their business. One of the most important tools you can add to your real estate business marketing plan is a direct mail campaign.
Although direct mailing might receive negative comments, such as "How important is junk mail?" the CMO Council reports direct marketing was responsible for $2.05 trillion in sales. Direct mail produces a 13-to-1 ROI providing you with a cost-effective way of obtaining new business.
So how do you build a direct mailing list for your real estate business?
Before You Start
Before you can start building a direct marketing list, there are a couple questions you will want to consider.
What's My Offer?
The first step in building a list is to identify which products or services you offer. You don't market a small single family home to the same demographic interested in a commercial building. If you have a variety of properties on the market, or services that apply to multiple demographics, you should segment each distinct offering. When you segment your services, you increase your chances at a response, due to the relevancy to your target audience.
Who's My Audience
Once you define your services and products as clearly as possible, you should define the target demographic. For real estate audiences, you typically work within defined geographic areas. If you want to reach home buyers, you should establish the average income necessary to afford your properties, whether the audience already owns a home or rents, and other data points that focus the audience as much as possible.
If you're reaching out to purchase properties, remember to focus on data points such as pre-foreclosure and foreclosed homes, the average value of the properties, specific types of properties, homeowners in bankruptcy and landlord-owned properties. These data areas will provide ways to narrow your audience.
Free List-Building Resources
With your audience and offers in-hand, it's time to build a direct mail list for your real estate business. Both free and paid options are available for list building. A properly built list can help your business to grow and thrive. Here are a few methods to build a list using free options:
- Eviction: Public records provide you with a wealth of valuable list-building information; eviction judgments get you in touch with frustrated landlords who may want to sell their homes.
- Tax records: Tax records allow you to figure out which properties are landlord owned; you can either target absentee landlords or reach out to renters who may be interested in purchasing a home.
- Probate: Inherited property is not always welcome property to the new owner, who may want to get it off his or her hands.
- "Driving for Dollars": This term is used when you drive around and look for properties that are for sale, abandoned or otherwise distressed.
Paid List-Building: List Brokers
Paid list services deliver you with real estate leads based on pre-defined criteria, such as addresses within a specific zip code, families within an age or income range, home values, and other data points useful for filtering to an interested audience. You don't need to spend the time digging through public records, driving around town looking for properties, or other time consuming activities, but you do need to pay for this type of service.
In general list brokers are going to be able to provide you with a higher quality list of leads for your real estate direct mail marketing campaign. That said, keep a couple of key things in mind when working with a list broker.
Pricing for list broker services will be based on the complexity of your list filtering criteria. Most brokers have a base rate per 1,000 addresses, and then increase that rate if you want to filter on things like household income, purchasing history, or credit scores.
In general expect to pay anywhere from $10 - $30 for every 1,000 addresses received from a list broker.
The industry averages only about 90% of mail successfully arriving. There is no way to avoid this and here are a few reasons why:
- There's no such thing as a 100% accurate mailing list: Time is really the biggest culprit in the inaccuracy of mailing lists. Situations change between the time the compiler collects information and the time that information reaches you, the client.
- There's no such thing as a 100% deliverable mailing list: Statistically, a little over 17% of the country moves on an annual basis so time is again complicit in the reduction of accuracy. By the time the data is scrubbed through the National Change of Address (NCOA) database, the Do-Not-Mail registries, and the prison and pander files, some people on the list will likely have moved.
Keep this information in mind when working with a list broker. If they do not address the issue of deliverability, you will most likely want to look at another shop.
We've worked with a couple list brokers in the past and can personally vouch for the quality of service that is provided by these two:
- Mailers Haven : These guys have been around for forever and use multiple data providers to compile their lists. Expect to work directly with a broker that will walk you through the list building process.
- Datamyx : Datamyx is another list broker that can create a direct marketing list based off of many advanced filters options.
Contact us for names of the individual brokers we've worked with from each of these companies.
Next Steps... Automation
Here at Lob, our goal is to always be providing resources to help you automate and grow your business.
- If you are not already using a platform to manage your leads, consider Podio! Here is an awesome video by Dan Schwartz on how to use Podio to automate your real estate workflows.
- If you are already using Podio, here is a video that shows you how to integrate Lob + Podio to automatically send your leads mail.