Have you spent thousands of dollars on direct mail campaigns with no luck?
You shouldn't chalk it up to failure just yet. Every great marketing campaign has a solid follow-up campaign behind it.
Sending out three months of direct mail, expecting a deal to happen, and giving up is not creating a business. It's dabbling.
On average, it takes 12 touches for a deal to happen. However, 44% of people trying to get a deal under contract give up after the first follow-up.
I see a lot of real estate investors sending direct mail to find off-market deals. The biggest hurdle most have is that they spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a direct mail campaign without obtaining any leads. Then, they send out the same campaign again the following month with the same results.
This is when most people either quit sending direct mail or buy a new list to mail because the old list "wasn't working." Not getting any leads from mailing a list doesn't mean that the list didn't work—it just means the people you were mailing weren't ready to sell. Direct mail marketing in real estate is all about timing.
To get a consistent pipeline of deals, you have to implement a great follow-up campaign. This article will walk you through how to set your follow-up strategy.
Following up across multiple channels
The strategy outlined below uses multiple channels to complement your direct mail campaign.
Don't worry, it's not going to cost you much more. In fact, it's going to make those 12 touches a little less burdensome on your budget. Let's dive in.
Build the right list for direct mail
The first step, of course, is to send out your direct mail. To get rolling with this, start by pulling the list that you're going to mail.
You can use a list service company like ListSource to purchase a list of people to mail. The types of lists you should be targeting are problematic lists like:
- Vacant house
Make sure that you're filtering out people who have little to no equity. To do this, set your filters to include people with 60-100% equity in their property. This will give you enough breathing room to get the property at a discount.
The other criteria you need to meet is Last Sold Date. We've had people call us and say, "I just built this house for retirement three years ago. There's no way I'm selling it." Granted, this may not always be the case, but we set our Last Sold Date to 8 years ago or more.
Figure out your farm area
Figure out what your farm area will be starting out. Remember that you have a smaller budget, team, and amount of time as you build momentum. Your farm area will grow as your deal flow grows. Focus on mailing an area that you can comfortably mail consistently every month.
If you work in an office, figure out the radius you want to farm around your home and work. Starting out, we chose a 20-mile radius. The distance isn't what's important—it's how long it takes you to get to the houses within this radius. You don't want to miss deals because you're spreading your leads out too far and can't get to all your appointments quick enough.
We recommend keeping it within 45 minutes. This will give you time to schedule multiple appointments each day as you consistently mail homeowners over time and the lead volume increases.
There's a cool trick on Free Map Tools that lets you drop a pin, set your desired radius, and get a list of all zip codes within that radius. With this, you can easily pick the zip codes for your farming area around your workplace and home.
Optimize your postcards
What you put on your postcards is up to you, and how postcards perform in each market varies. For our market, plain white postcards with a handwritten font perform the best. (When your prospect has a stack of ten postcards that look like ads and one that looks like a hand-written note, which do you think will stand out more to that person?)
Regardless of the design, make sure you include your company's name along with your website. The people receiving these postcards will check to see that you're a credible company before doing business with you. We put Breyer Home Buyers and www.eastatlhomebuyers.com on all our postcards to make it easy to find us online.
If you're sending direct mail solely to people who are going through a divorce, then you can create a divorce landing page with a URL like www.yourcompany.com/divorce. This gives you the option to retarget visitors using Facebook Ads and Google AdWords. You can do this with any mailing list: tax-delinquent, vacant houses, foreclosures, etc.
Call recipients about your postcard
Your list provider can give you phone numbers for contacts within your farm area. If you keep them in an Excel spreadsheet, you can upload them into a dialer like MOJO. MOJO lets you call hundreds of people in a very condensed timeframe. For our business, we average 71 calls per hour. Of those 71 people, we reach around 30 per hour. We use virtual assistants to call for us, which saves our company significant amounts of money.
To use MOJO, you'll need a Skype account. MOJO connects to Skype so you can make calls within the U.S. for free, even if you use a virtual assistant.
Remember that when you're calling prospects to follow up on your direct mail, you should mention your company's name and that you sent them a postcard. This will jog their memory and make it more likely that they'll look at the postcard again.
Retarget prospects with Facebook
You can use Facebook and Google Ads to retarget your prospects. Retargeting is cheaper than marketing to cold prospects with these channels. And these prospects have already seen your direct mail, landed on your website, and received a call from you. When they see your ad and click on it, they're more likely to convert, which provides you with a higher ROI.
The other benefit is that most of us are too busy to immediately respond to marketing. Maybe your prospects were taking their kids out to eat when they drove by the mailbox and got your postcard. Maybe they were waiting on a meeting to start when they looked up your website. Maybe they lost your postcard and couldn't find you again. Regardless, retargeting helps you pop back up in front of your prospect when they need it most.
Send an SMS blast
There's no replacing a phone call, but sending a text message is a great way to get in touch with people who don't like talking on the phone. We use EZ Texting to follow up with people through text. We simply upload an Excel spreadsheet of our contacts, then blast the same message to the entire list.
We usually send out open-ended questions like "Have you sold your property yet?" But, there's no magic message. The goal is to start a dialogue, so you can make an offer to buy their property.
We've gotten several properties under contract without ever speaking to the homeowners on the phone, by doing all the rapport-building and negotiation over text.
Leave voicemails on landlines
Tools like Sly Broadcast let you pre-record a voice message and send it to the phone numbers on your list. It's important to note that this service only drops voicemails to landlines, not cell phones. Using this in conjunction with the text blast will make sure you're touching all phone types.
MOJO Dialer also drops voicemails when you're power-dialing, but the key difference is that you are actually calling someone and will have to speak with them if they answer. With Sly Broadcast, the phones don't ring, but a voicemail shows up on their answering machine.
Schedule your follow-up campaign
When we're planning our direct mail campaigns, we schedule the arrival date of those mail pieces—meaning that we know (within one day) when those mail pieces will be delivered. We usually have our mail dropped on Tuesday because our response rates are higher on Tuesday.
Here's what our follow up campaign looks like:
- Week 1: Direct mail delivered on Tuesday
- Week 1: Begin Google AdWords and Facebook retargeting
- Week 2: Cold call prospects
- Week 3: Text prospects
- Week 4: Voicemail drop
- Week 5: Repeat mailing to the same list
- Week 6: Repeat cold calling to the same list
- Week 7: Repeat texts to the same list
- Week 8: Repeat voicemail drop to the same list
With retargeting, you set it up once and keep it running. We don't stop the Facebook and AdWords campaigns. Your goal should be to contact each prospect with a phone call, a postcard, a text, and a voicemail drop each month.
Why you should always follow up
Homeowners usually aren't ready to sell when you first reach out to them. Granted, sometimes we do get lucky and close a deal on the first mailing. But, it usually takes us at least three mailings to get a deal from a campaign.
If you label your direct mail campaign a failure because you haven't gotten a deal right away, then you risk missing out on future leads and give yourself zero return on your investment.
If you look out over the year and set a goal for 5 deals to get the real estate investing ball rolling, you'll create a marketing plan to reach that goal. However, if you keep changing your marketing strategy because you haven't given yourself enough time to make it work, then you'll never reach it.