Direct Mail Almost Killed My Business - SEO Saved It

83 Replies

I wanted to share my experience, frequently I'm contacted about direct mail marketing from listeners of the BP Podcast I was interviewed on in 2014. It was an honor to be interviewed, while the mindset and business organization tips offered still hold true. The marketing information is outdated and dangerous. Let me explain... 

From 2012 - 2015 I mailed 5,000 - 15,000 mail pieces per month in Southern California. Various types of letters and postcards with a good amount of success. But in 2015 I started to notice a shift, my marketing was becoming less effective as competition for off market properties grew and new wholesalers and house flippers began to try their luck at direct mail. 

Midway through 2016 I pulled the plug on all forms of direct mail and PPC marketing. I was fighting a losing battle, it took 10-15k mail pieces to get a deal and most sellers I reached were inciting bidding wars that I couldn't win. If I did get the deal, the wholesale fee would barely cover my marketing costs to get the deal. I was getting frustrated and felt embarrassed and afraid that my business model was no longer viable. 

At that point, 1/3 of my deals were coming from a website I had created in 2014. It was poorly designed but was ranking fairly well in my market. I noticed a trend that the sellers I reached via my site were much easier to deal with. To survive in my competitive market I knew I had to make big changes or I'd bleed out on the marketing costs of direct mail and PPC. 

Over the last two years I've sourced 100% of my deals from my website, which tends to rank in the top 3 spots for most keywords in my market. This change eliminated most of the stress and pressure I felt from high budget marketing. If I don't think a deal or a seller align with my goals, I can easily pass on it since my costs to reach them are negligible. In the past I'd be trying to fit round pegs in square holes to cover my marketing costs, running myself ragged on every lead to squeeze something out of it. 

I now spend under $1000 a year on design and maintenance to allow a fast, efficient, clean and safe website. This helps Google take notice and I am routinely making little tweaks to try and stay ahead of the curve. For a small company like mine, this provides me enough deals to thrive on while not stressing the typical costs and pressures of marketing in a fiercely competitive market. 

The intent of this post is shed light on the alternatives to large marketing budgets, technology is our friend and frankly I don't see many people looking in their mailbox for answers to their questions these days. They are on their phone. Direct mail might be a great way to reach sellers (especially the old ones) but the trend is shifting and it is no longer a creative form of marketing. Dealing with tech savvy sellers (of all ages) has made my life much easier and relieved a lot of stress. Feel free to ask any questions if you'd like to open a discussion on SEO, web marketing and its merits.

I think it's market specific. I do DM, PPC, SEO and all have pro/cons. My DM is the most expensive but it's the most consistent. I drop 15-20K a month. There's a ton of competition in the DM area and it's not uncommon to go to a house appointment and see 8-10 or more letters from other folks. Over the 3 years I've been doing this, we've built a huge brand locally. I crush my competition when it comes to online reviews (google, facebook, and BBB). The biggest pro with DM is I have more control over the target audience and most leads have equity and some degree of pain. PPC and SEO is more cost efficient. We drop about $4K a month on PPC and our website is like $1500 a year. The con is lead quality. The motivation is there but the ability to sell at a discount may not be there. Also, we have less control on the area the lead comes from. We have 2 sub markets in my area that I don't buy in and 20-25% of my online leads come from these areas. 

Whatever one decides to do, consistency is the difference. Market non stop all the time. Our DM has been consistent 4 quarters in a row. PPC may have a great quarter and then suck but when it sucks, our website works better. It all cycles. 

seo is god. The problem many investors have is the lack of u understanding what seo is. If you say "I do seo" and you do not rank #1 I am sorry but SEO = picking your nose.

Seo is only useful being #1 or getting there. Period!

Then the second mistake people make is thinking that being number one is the end goal. SEO without credibility equals nothing. Credibility without SEO equals nothing unless you drive traffic to your website manually. People need to understand that SEO alone will not get you anywhere. Deals = SEO + credibility

Originally posted by @Jerryll Noorden :

seo is god. The problem many investors have is the lack of u understanding what seo is. If you say "I do seo" and you do not rank #1 I am sorry but SEO = picking your nose.

Seo is only useful being #1 or getting there. Period!

Then the second mistake people make is thinking that being number one is the end goal. SEO without credibility equals nothing. Credibility without SEO equals nothing unless you drive traffic to your website manually. People need to understand that SEO alone will not get you anywhere. Deals = SEO + credibility

I am finally doing my first website … ( well I have had others of course) but this one is relevant to what I do today.. my web designer said whats your call to action.. I said wait I don't want anyone actually calling me  LOL..  but now I think I am going to rethink this whole thing. And see if I can come up with something to monetize the website other than just showing the viewing public what projects we are building..  or have built.. I am thinking I can also assist my clients in helping them gain customers.. there success is my success ..  

I know some wholesalers that join local buy/sell groups on Facebook (Usually for junk and cars) and will regularly post a picture that says, "I BUY HOMES FOR CASH" or something along those lines. They do get a lot of deals that way. Also, in California, if you don't have your marketing in Spanish, you're losing out on a huge niche market. HUGE.

Originally posted by @Adrien S. :

I think it's market specific. I do DM, PPC, SEO and all have pro/cons. My DM is the most expensive but it's the most consistent. I drop 15-20K a month. There's a ton of competition in the DM area and it's not uncommon to go to a house appointment and see 8-10 or more letters from other folks. Over the 3 years I've been doing this, we've built a huge brand locally. I crush my competition when it comes to online reviews (google, facebook, and BBB). The biggest pro with DM is I have more control over the target audience and most leads have equity and some degree of pain. PPC and SEO is more cost efficient. We drop about $4K a month on PPC and our website is like $1500 a year. The con is lead quality. The motivation is there but the ability to sell at a discount may not be there. Also, we have less control on the area the lead comes from. We have 2 sub markets in my area that I don't buy in and 20-25% of my online leads come from these areas. 

Whatever one decides to do, consistency is the difference. Market non stop all the time. Our DM has been consistent 4 quarters in a row. PPC may have a great quarter and then suck but when it sucks, our website works better. It all cycles. 

 I agree its very much market specific. I'm interested to know the population of your market, then we could compare mail volume to that and see how it correlates to Southern California. I suspect I would need to mail over 100k pieces a month to come close to the same level of saturation. 

Originally posted by @Jerryll Noorden :

seo is god. The problem many investors have is the lack of u understanding what seo is. If you say "I do seo" and you do not rank #1 I am sorry but SEO = picking your nose.

Seo is only useful being #1 or getting there. Period!

Then the second mistake people make is thinking that being number one is the end goal. SEO without credibility equals nothing. Credibility without SEO equals nothing unless you drive traffic to your website manually. People need to understand that SEO alone will not get you anywhere. Deals = SEO + credibility

SEO is without a doubt a confusing and misunderstood marketing strategy. It feels like a second language and if its not spoken, its quite hard to relate to. 


What are some of the steps you take to increase credibility? 

Originally posted by @Jerryll Noorden :

well, one easy way to increase your credibility score... is a picture and a clear easy-to-find way to reach you.

Simple! Yet  the majority of people do not have a picture of themselves on their site.

You're right about that. One thing I've noticed about investors is they are often very nervous to show who they are on their site. The pages look anonymous and almost purposely hidden. Taking the opposite route has some advantages, especially if you are comfortable on camera.

I feel that video is the greatest weapon for a low budget investor. Once I uploaded a high quality video to my home page, my conversion rates increased. I spent weeks working on the script, choosing the right background, getting the flow right so I looked comfortable. Many investors are incapable of looking comfortable on camera, feeling approachable. If you can convey that vibe to a site visitor you will be steps ahead of the competition. When folks call me they are pleased to realize they're talking to the guy they just met on the site. 

Reviews and testimonials are helpful too, especially on Google, Facebook and Yelp. 

SEO is a great strategy that takes a solid 12mo before you get consistent ROI from it in a market that is competitive like Houston. But once it gets going it can outperform the others.

Our experience with DM is different, we have found ways to keep the CPA and CPL competitive and its still a workhorse in our wholesaling business.

PPC is another story!

Originally posted by @Tim G. :
Originally posted by @Jerryll Noorden:

well, one easy way to increase your credibility score... is a picture and a clear easy-to-find way to reach you.

Simple! Yet  the majority of people do not have a picture of themselves on their site.

You're right about that. One thing I've noticed about investors is they are often very nervous to show who they are on their site. The pages look anonymous and almost purposely hidden. Taking the opposite route has some advantages, especially if you are comfortable on camera.

I feel that video is the greatest weapon for a low budget investor. Once I uploaded a high quality video to my home page, my conversion rates increased. I spent weeks working on the script, choosing the right background, getting the flow right so I looked comfortable. Many investors are incapable of looking comfortable on camera, feeling approachable. If you can convey that vibe to a site visitor you will be steps ahead of the competition. When folks call me they are pleased to realize they're talking to the guy they just met on the site. 

Reviews and testimonials are helpful too, especially on Google, Facebook and Yelp. 

 With SEO  you have to make ABSOLUTELY sure you interpret the data correctly.

I am not convinced that your pro video was a godsend..

Here is why. If you had put an amatuer lookig vid I am.. dare I say.. convinced you would have gotten similar results. The fact that you put a video on was the trick. Not necessarily a pro vid... But then again.. I really don't know for sure..

Some people like the fact you are just "some guy" with some cash. Others like the fact you are a "company". So you just tailored your site to those that like the pro look.

What people hate is seeing an over animated hired model doing the talking. If I were you I would experiment. Make an other "home page" send some link juice to it, and put just a video of you at home with your dog, wife, pet plant and just talk as if you were talking to your best friend. And see what the results are.

The thing about SEO is you can never stop experimenting and testing..

Feedback loop is everything. But I agree with you. Whatever you do, but SOMETHING up to let  people know you aren't hiding behind a website!

Originally posted by @Jerryll Noorden :
Originally posted by @Tim Gordon:
Originally posted by @Jerryll Noorden:

well, one easy way to increase your credibility score... is a picture and a clear easy-to-find way to reach you.

Simple! Yet  the majority of people do not have a picture of themselves on their site.

You're right about that. One thing I've noticed about investors is they are often very nervous to show who they are on their site. The pages look anonymous and almost purposely hidden. Taking the opposite route has some advantages, especially if you are comfortable on camera.

I feel that video is the greatest weapon for a low budget investor. Once I uploaded a high quality video to my home page, my conversion rates increased. I spent weeks working on the script, choosing the right background, getting the flow right so I looked comfortable. Many investors are incapable of looking comfortable on camera, feeling approachable. If you can convey that vibe to a site visitor you will be steps ahead of the competition. When folks call me they are pleased to realize they're talking to the guy they just met on the site. 

Reviews and testimonials are helpful too, especially on Google, Facebook and Yelp. 

 With SEO  you have to make ABSOLUTELY sure you interpret the data correctly.

I am not convinced that your pro video was a godsend..

Here is why. If you had put an amatuer lookig vid I am.. dare I say.. convinced you would have gotten similar results. The fact that you put a video on was the trick. Not necessarily a pro vid... But then again.. I really don't know for sure..

Some people like the fact you are just "some guy" with some cash. Others like the fact you are a "company". So you just tailored your site to those that like the pro look.

What people hate is seeing an over animated hired model doing the talking. If I were you I would experiment. Make an other "home page" send some link juice to it, and put just a video of you at home with your dog, wife, pet plant and just talk as if you were talking to your best friend. And see what the results are.

The thing about SEO is you can never stop experimenting and testing..

Feedback loop is everything. But I agree with you. Whatever you do, but SOMETHING up to let  people know you aren't hiding behind a website!

I agree, testing and tuning is essential. Have you seen my video? I wouldn’t call it pro but each detail has been scrutinized. Your feedback would be appreciated after you’ve seen it. 

Originally posted by @Jackson Pontsler :

Really simple and slightly stupid question where can I get started to understand how to optimize my website for SEO?

Go online and read, find articles and posts and filter out what makes sense by frequency of seeing it mentioned. Focus on a few small items and work your way forward. Looking at the big picture can be overwhelming and cause analysis paralysis. 

There are books, tutorials, videos, countless free sources for information. Test and tune. It takes time, but start now and reap the rewards sooner than later. 

I began with simple keywords, then focusing on good content and a quality site, followed by driving traffic and creating automations to allow the site to function properly. 

Originally posted by @Tim G. :
Originally posted by @Adrien S.:

I think it's market specific. I do DM, PPC, SEO and all have pro/cons. My DM is the most expensive but it's the most consistent. I drop 15-20K a month. There's a ton of competition in the DM area and it's not uncommon to go to a house appointment and see 8-10 or more letters from other folks. Over the 3 years I've been doing this, we've built a huge brand locally. I crush my competition when it comes to online reviews (google, facebook, and BBB). The biggest pro with DM is I have more control over the target audience and most leads have equity and some degree of pain. PPC and SEO is more cost efficient. We drop about $4K a month on PPC and our website is like $1500 a year. The con is lead quality. The motivation is there but the ability to sell at a discount may not be there. Also, we have less control on the area the lead comes from. We have 2 sub markets in my area that I don't buy in and 20-25% of my online leads come from these areas. 

Whatever one decides to do, consistency is the difference. Market non stop all the time. Our DM has been consistent 4 quarters in a row. PPC may have a great quarter and then suck but when it sucks, our website works better. It all cycles. 

 I agree its very much market specific. I'm interested to know the population of your market, then we could compare mail volume to that and see how it correlates to Southern California. I suspect I would need to mail over 100k pieces a month to come close to the same level of saturation. 

Boy that's just mind boggling to me 20k pieces a month or 100k pieces.. but I know it works .. I grew up with a Dad who was in the land business. and he did door hangers for leads and put out about 5 thousand a week.. but he hired ( in the day they were called wino's) for 10 bucks a day to walk the streets putting them out.. and well he bought a [printing press and guess who ran it every day after school. I still have ink on my fingers 50 years later.. but it was the 1% rule with those.. 5k was 50 leads was 5 sales a week .. catapulted him to number one salesmen and then his own company.. think Glenn Garry Glen Ross.. were the  company handed out 3 old leads a week.. My Dad said that aint going to cut it and there was no rule about self generated leads..  these are tried and true methods. 

Originally posted by @Jamiel Strickland :

Hey everyone,

Are you all using investor carrot or using just a godaddy.com website and making it yourself?

@Tim Gordon @Jerryll Noorden @Sam Craven @David Friedman @Adrien S.

 I use wordpress, I purchased the Divi theme and run that. I have podio automations built into the site. I do not believe investor carrot is that special. They use Yoast premium which is an SEO service you can buy on your own. It serves a purpose for someone who wants a turn key site, but its sort of like buying a turn key rental, not that special or profitable. 

Originally posted by @Jay Hinrichs :

Tim PS I was on a vendor trip to MI last month and my vendor had door hangers. I took one home it  was cool to see these still in use..

 Good old marketing, it works in so many variants.

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