The 2 Most Critical Elements to Succeeding With Direct Mail

Everyone knows direct mail is a viable method to generate motivated seller leads in your real estate investing business. So, all real estate investors are making plenty of money on leads they get from direct mail, right? Wrong!
If you’re doing direct mail, there are two critical factors that real estate investors need to be aware of in order to make their mail campaign a success. If you whiff on these two, you will end up costing yourself a lot of money (and time)!
1. The List
The first factor is the quality of the list you’re mailing. It’s important that the list be accurate, complete, and up-to-date. Sounds pretty basic, but you’d be surprised at how poor some data providers are when it comes to accuracy and completeness. To give you an example, I have ordered lists before from list providers where many of the entries did not have full mailing addresses. An omission like this will kill your Return on Investment because you’ll be paying for mail pieces that will go undelivered. Therefore, your best course of action is to stick with reliable providers. I have had good results with , , and the tax roll through my local tax assessor’s office.
Likewise, you want to be sure you’re mailing to a list that is likely to generate a good response. Certain types of property owners are already pre-disposed towards being motivated sellers. For example, absentee owners are an excellent list to mail. Absentee owners are typically investors. You can identify them because the property tax mailing address will differ from the property address. You’ll find many burned-out landlords from this list. Other lists I recommend mailing to are probates and evictions.
I want to make mention of foreclosure lists because this is probably the first list that pops into every real estate investor’s mind when they think about sending direct mail for lead generation. The foreclosure list can be a profitable list to mail, but you must keep in mind that every other real estate investor in your county is mailing to the same list. Therefore, it is absolutely critical that your mail piece distinguish itself from your competition (more about that later). Also, if you live in an area that is saturated with foreclosures, such as South Florida, California, Arizona, or Nevada, you will want to be sure to sift through the foreclosure list and only mail to the types of properties in which you want Real Estate Agent Magazine to invest. For instance, if you want to avoid short sales, then only mail the people that have equity in their homes. As mentioned above, the quality of the list is extremely important. I do not recommend purchasing a foreclosure list on-line unless you know what you’re getting. There are many companies that sell foreclosure lists that contain stale and inaccurate data; I’ve seen lists where many of the properties on the list had already been taken back by the bank. You do not want bank-owned properties on your list; you only want pre-foreclosure properties. My recommendation is to find a local data provider that specializes in your area. For example, if you live in Florida, is a good foreclosure list provider.
2. The Mail Piece
The second factor to think about before sending direct mail is the mail piece that you’re going to send. You have 3 main choices – postcards, letters, or “lumpy mail”.
The advantage to postcards is that you don’t have to get the recipient to open the mail piece. They’ll see the postcard, read your message, and then decide whether to respond. Postcards are also good because they’re relatively inexpensive. However, the downside is that your response rate will not be as high as with a letter, so you will need to mail a larger volume to see the desired results.
Letters are great, as long as you give them a personal touch. Remember, you need to get the recipient to open the letter first. You can accomplish this by hand-addressing the envelopes (or better yet, using a handwriting font). If you send a letter with a pre-printed address or label, you are going to kill your response rate; this is especially true if you’re mailing to a foreclosure list. Another way to add a personal touch is to use invitation-style envelopes instead of business-sized.
Finally, “lumpy mail” can be just about anything that attracts attention due to the lumpy shape of the mail piece. Consider including some sort of promotional item or tchotchke, e.g. keychain, coffee cup. It really doesn’t matter – of course, you want to try Starting A Company To Buy Property to tie your item into your message or company – but the whole point is to get the recipient to open your mail piece. Obviously, it will cost more money to package and ship as compared to postcards and letters, but you will get a much higher response rate.

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