Real Estate Marketing

Tracking and Testing Your Real Estate Direct Mail Campaigns

Expertise: Landlording & Rental Properties, Real Estate Marketing, Real Estate Investing Basics
51 Articles Written

Earlier this week on the BiggerPockets blog, J. Lamar Ferren posed the question: “What are the most EFFECTIVE strategies for real estate marketing?”  In the post, he responded that its not about effectiveness but rather about profitability and that the best way to determine what is profitable from what isn’t is to do tracking and testing for your marketing efforts.

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Most of my real estate investing marketing experience comes from direct mail so I thought I'd share some tips from my year of direct mail marketing plus some wisdom from various direct mail experts that I'm learning and putting into practice for my own business. Many of these tips can be applied to other marketing methods outside of direct mail.

Tip #1: Be mindful of your budget! Make some response rate and budget assumptions to determine an approximate ROI up front so that you can first evaluate whether your marketing campaign expense is justified. You have to know what profit you're looking for (e.g. 1 wholesale deal profiting $5K from a 2000 postcard campaign with two different messages tested; or 3 lease options deals yielding $15K in option deposits and $300/month cashflow with 5000 letters), and then you can best evaluate and move on.

Tip #2:  Know what your variables are…what are you testing?  Are you testing a specific marketing message? Testing the responsiveness to specific type of marketing piece (i.e. yellow letter vs. typed letters vs. postcards vs. brochures)? Testing the timing of the message? Testing the responsiveness of leads from one source vs. the other?  Be sure to consider what you’re testing and don’t mix things up too much (changing 2 or more variables) or it will be very challenging to obtain the data you’ll need to make those small tweaks to your marketing.

Tip #3: Don’t try something once and then assume its not working if it doesn’t get the exact response you’re looking for….particularly if you only sent out a small volume of mail pieces. If you’re mailing out 100 letters, I wouldn’t assume your marketing isn’t working if you only received 1 call.  If your budget permits, mail at least a few hundred letters or at least 1000 postcards.  Change a variable and send out the same number of letters and postcards and track the difference.

Tip #4: It’s a great idea to speak with real estate investors about what’s working for them, but realize that what’s working for them may not necessarily be most profitable for you.  There are many factors at play. You have to test and track your own efforts for your own business.

Tip #5: For testing and tracking keep detailed reports that include data on:

  • Number of marketing pieces mailed
  • Number of responses
  • Number of resulting offers
  • Number of closed deals
  • Income generated from deals
  • Your cost per response
  • Net profits

Tip #6: Remember that many times it takes several contacts before a seller will pick up the phone and call you about their property. Keep following up and track the number of times you've contacted a specific leads before you received a response. When you track this, you'll really have an appreciation for follow up and consistency. I personally knew this in theory, but it was eye-opening when I snagged a great deal from someone I had marketed to for months!

Tip #7: Don’t just test. Retest to see if your initial results were a fluke before you decide something is or isn’t working.

As J. Lamar Ferren pointed out,  a key to the success of your real estate marketing is measuring the tangible financial results — increases in profits from the resulting deals. As with most things in life and in business,  patience and persistence will pay off.  Happy marketing and deal hunting!

Shae Bynes is a real estate investor in sunny South Florida. On her blog,, she provides helpful tips and an inside look at her...
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    Replied almost 10 years ago
    Great post Shae! The numbers don’t lie.
    Shae Bynes
    Replied almost 10 years ago
    Thanks Torrey!
    J. Lamar Ferren
    Replied almost 10 years ago
    Thanks for the call out Shae! 🙂 As I read Tip #3 really hit home with me. They call it the “One and Done” marketer and that’s exactly what I used to be until I started focusing on Testing and Tracking as you mentioned here in your post. I had someone call me just a few minutes ago about Direct Mail. They told me how they sent out thousands of letters and post cards and got a small response. My response to them wasn’t to stop using direct mail. It was to do exactly what you covered in Tip #2 and Tip #7. Great post Shae!
    Shae Bynes
    Replied almost 10 years ago
    Thanks J Lamar! You brought up a great topic and I wanted to run with it 🙂 I think its really easy to give up or get frustrated with direct mail, but just have to remember the fundamentals. I can see why people like to use the internet for leads since it costs less to test but I think there are benefits to all the methods.
    Jonathan Blue
    Replied almost 10 years ago
    Keeping track of your marketing campaigns is the only way to know you are getting your moneys worth out of all that hard work I agree. One thing to note about tracking your results is to start with your basic setup and send and track the results to get a baseline. Then move on to trying a minimum of three different messages. These need to be done in seperate mailers and mailed to the same basic people so you can track the changes that just the different letters make. Then you can change other aspects such as the envelope color, fonts, personal notes, etc. The key to getting accurate tracking is only testing one thing at a time. It is vitally important that at this beginning stage you only change one thing at for each mailer. If you change multiple things, you will never know which changes was the difference maker. Once you run through your changes I agree you should test posative results for a minimum of three mailers to show consistency with the results. Once you have found several different things that work best you can try combining them. This is a very time consuming process depending on how often you mail, but this is absolutely the most effective and most accurate way of tracking where you are getting the most bang for your buck. In the long run it will pay off greatly.
    Shae Bynes
    Replied almost 10 years ago
    Great additional tips! (Sorry for the delayed response…didn’t see this until now!)
    Justin Carter
    Replied almost 10 years ago
    I love seeing that people haven’t given up on direct mail. It’s been the marketing backbone for our investment company for many years, and it’s changed our lives. Send me an email, I would like to talk to you more about direct mail. Great post Shae!
    Shae Bynes
    Replied almost 10 years ago
    Hey Justin, no I definitely haven’t given up on it although I know a lot of people who have 🙂 I consider it a critical part of our lead generation strategy. I’ll send you an email.
    Replied over 9 years ago
    I love seeing that people haven’t given up on direct mail