My Direct Mail Campaign Results Have Been Atrocious...HELP Please!

346 Replies

@Gen SteMarie thanks for the tip, I'll check both out as I look to build the next list.

@Sharon Vornholt $110 for ~650 names. Wasn't that big of an investment, but we've now spent over $600 mailing to those leads. We started with yellow letters, followed by postcards, and just initiated the second postcard mailing yesterday which will run through the end of the year due to skipping a few weeks given the holidays. I'm glad I asked the question though so we don't waste any more money mailing to that list. 

I appreciate the advice and will just start mailing to a new list now.

Originally posted by @Bilon Johnson:

Hi, I'm new to real estate and am interested in purchasing a list from list source in order to begin wholesaling. My husband and I would like to get into real estate and thought wholesaling may be the way to do so. We started our marketing efforts in June of this year and have yet to get a deal, or anything close. I wish I had seen this thread when we first began, as we may be closer to a deal and perhaps wouldn't have wasted some money. This thread has been a wealth of knowledge in helping me establish and refine my list for our next direct mail marketing campaign. 

Question for @Dev Horn: I watched your helpful YouTube video on How to Use Listsource.com to build an AOL. Can you please explain why you filter on "Total Assessed Value" vs. "Current Home Value?" Also, why do you select houses below the bell curve (i.e. less than the median home value)?

Finally for anyone who may know, is there a way to exclude a zip code using filters in Listsource.com? I purchased a list about 6 months ago for one specific zip code and do not want my new list to potentially overlap with any old leads. To take this a step further, as you purchase future lists from Listsource.com with the same filters/ criteria, is there a way to avoid re-purchasing leads that you've purchased in prior lists?

Thank you all in advance for your help and insight!

 In Listsource, Current Home Value may be treated as a premium filter, meaning they may charge you extra to use it.  Total Assessed Value is straight from the county and is a "free" filter on Listsource.  That's the main reason we've always used it...

Hey gang,

  Just wanted to ask, as I see this list is four years old: to those of you who mail consistently and keep plugging along, @Dev Horn , @Sharon Vornholt , are your response rates and effectiveness dropping off in the current market?

  Even touching 1% seems dreamy at the moment. We've sent out about 1500 in January and 1700 in February, both postcard mailings, 6 and 7 calls respectively... 

  We're mailing code violation lists, a small number of absentees (about 750), a smaller list of D for D (about 100), and tax delinquent data when we can get it from the  city. We thought these smaller lists would be less worked because they are certainly harder to get from the city, as we've discovered.

  I also have a friend who owns a we buy ugly houses franchise and he's been telling me that their marketing has been dead slow as well, him and the other franchisees in the area.

  We'll stay consistent, but I'm just wondering if the competition on direct mail is so high, and in the midst of this crazy seller's market, whether other avenues (online, for example) will become more effective.

  Talk about discouraging results. We thought we were being fair estimating a 1% response rate, we're less than a 1/10...

  Thanks in advance.

Best,

   JTM

@Joshua Martin - I think direct mail is less effective than it has ever been.  I don't think 1% is unrealistic to strive for even in a seller's market like this one.

If I were you, I would add probates to the mix.  That was always my best niche hands down.  I think you can get your numbers up if you add those. You will never run out of leads with probates.

Today, it is more important than ever to have a lead generation website. At my REI Marketing Mastery Event we teach that you should have at least 3 to 5 lead channels (marketing strategies) at all times. Those strategies will change in order of importance over time as well.

I hope this helps.

We see that direct mail effectiveness varies greatly by market type and size.  Response rates to absentee or other direct mail in CA is lower than ever, but it still works very well in central TX, AL, and TN.

It remains an important component of our marketing strategy, but it is not as central a role as it have 4-5 years ago when we were talking about this.  AdWords is #1 for us but it is not good for BRANDING.  So we use some combination of TV, direct mail, outdoor, and Facebook advertising to promote the brand in the local market.  So if the postcard response is lower, it still plays a role in getting people to know we exist.

Even if you're new to investing, endeavor to create a brand for yourself that people can remember and come back to later.  Then use direct mail as one way to (a) get some leads from a few and (b) build your brand awareness with everyone else in your target list.

Facebook advertising, especially for local leads, is the way to go.

(860) 402-8241

@Brandon Foken, I agree with @Dev Horn.

This is a numbers game, and you need to get a lot out there to expect much of a response.

There are sources other than List Source. In Addition to simply specifying Absentee Homeowners with Equity, you can add criteria such as purchase date and age to find owners who might be tired of being a landlord.

Another good target to consider would be seniors who own their homes for 20 or more years. These guys are often ready to downsize.

I like that you are split testing the mail piece, but a better test is to spit each list and send both letters to both groups. Then you are in a better position to know - which list and which letter/post card performed better.

First off - great thread! Thanks to everyone who's contributed....this thing is a gem. 

I wanted to see if I could get some opinions on mailing frequency for an eviction list.

I'm getting 80-100 fresh leads each week that are produced when the landlord files the eviction. From my understanding of the eviction process, the legal proceedings usually take about 4-6 weeks to be resolved at which point, I assume, the landlord is most likely left with a vacant and damaged property that will need to be rehabed (or at the very least a make ready) before beginning the search for a new tenant. 

My thinking is that the eviction problem is short lived and there are specific points of higher motivation:

- week 1 (just after filing the eviction)

- week 4-6 (after the eviction is done and landlord is faced with the task of rehabbing and a tenant search)

- week 10-12+ (when the rehab/make ready is done but the tenant search isn't going very well). Alternatively, by week 10-12+ some landlords have a new tenant in place and motivation basically goes to zero for the foreseeable future. 

I'm definitely hearing plenty of advice about persistence here, especially from pros like @Dev Horn and @Sharon Vornholt 

Given that the eviction problem is basically a short term problem, any thoughts on how frequently to mail these folks? 

My strategy so far is yellow letter week 1 and a postcard for week 4, 8 and maybe 12. After that, I'm thinking that most landlords have resolved their eviction problem and no longer have the motivation I'm looking for. I'm contemplating doing a quarterly postcard for the next year or so. 

I'd love some feedback/thoughts...either on this specific list or just addressing direct mail strategies for situations that are time limited in some way like evictions, foreclosures, etc. 

Cheers! 

In the real world, the campaign is definitely in its infancy. Yesterday, I sent out 200 letters to the first two weeks of leads. I'd be happy to provide updates on the campaign's progress over the weeks if anyone is interested 

  • In my area it takes about 90 days start to finish.  Consistency is the key. They are definitely at the height of motivation when they finally get the tenant out and have to deal with the aftermath @Travis White .  Professional landlords however know this is just one of the ugly things they have to deal with, so you're looking for a "tired landlord".

Hi all,  I am an investor from San Diego using almost exclusively direct mail. I am a happy camper with .5 to 1% response rate Focusing on San Diego properties. 

 There is a market I want to go after but have a problem you might be able to help me with. I want to target evictions,  but here in California the court files on unlawful detainer‘s are sealed for 60 days.  This gives your deadbeat tenant the opportunity to  become somebody else’s deadbeat tenants before the evection hits their record.  

Does anybody have a way to get these lists in California before the whole thing is resolved?

@Sharon Vornholt - absolutely agree about looking for tired landlords. I feel like my target seller is an inexperience investor or someone who "ended up" with a rental and never fully intended on being a landlord. I expect the pros to be savvy to the market worth of their property, realistic about the hardships that go with landlording, and clear on potential exit strategies should they want to get out. 

Given the short time frame of the eviction process, it seems like I'll only have the opportunity to get 4, maybe 5 touches if I hit their mailbox every month for four months. Is more than once a month obnoxious? Is it worth it to send out quarterly or semi-annual postcards after that? 

@David Meier - I've seen other discussions here on BP about folks trying to work an evictions list in CA and the overall feeling is that it's difficult/impossible to get the eviction information before the situation is resolved, just like you said.

An anecdote and a suggustion - In 2014 my wife and I were renting in Oakland CA and had a dispute with this crummy landlord. Long story short, I started taking a look at the rights I had as tenant and, if I stopped paying rent that month, it could take the landlord 18+ months to have me removed from the property. Now, Oakland has even more tenant rights than the rest of the state but eviction is still an painful process.

Anyway, I wonder if you could get in touch with eviction lawyers around the area for leads. Doubtless, disgruntled landlords get frequent consultations about how painful the eviction process can be and could be open to another way out (eg selling to you). That could still leave you with the eviction to carry out but it would also be a pretty hefty bargaining chip to get a discount. 

Maybe a landing page type website could work too.....as folks google eviction attorneys, evictions etc etc etc, they could find your site offering to solve their problem by just selling the property. Come to think of it, a change of ownership might give you additional leverage in removing the non-paying tenant, making the eviction much less painful for you than the seller!

Originally posted by : @Travis White

Given the short time frame of the eviction process, it seems like I'll only have the opportunity to get 4, maybe 5 touches if I hit their mailbox every month for four months. Is more than once a month obnoxious? Is it worth it to send out quarterly or semi-annual postcards after that? 

Yes, more than once per month is obnoxious and will produce diminishing returns. I generally mail to evictions 3 times. In my experience, the Seller's are at peak motivation after the eviction is filed, but before the case is heard. This is a moment that makes or breaks some Landlords....they want something done NOW, but are waiting on the Court. Sometimes it seems like the wheels of justice turn slowly.

In Texas, they certainly don't. Texas is extremely business and Landlord friendly, but the emotions still play out. I offer to take over and handle the eviction for them, mentioning that I have a really good lawyer. I mail the week the eviction is filed, one month after that, and then a third follow up six weeks after that. 

Once the Court has made it's decision, and the big headache is gone, most Landlords go back to being pretty happy with their asset rather quickly.

Your observations on timing and motivation are very astute, but I have found more than 3 touches to be a waste and accelerated mailing to be non productive, even harmful.

One other note....I RARELY hit a home run with this list. But it's good for a few base hits per year.

One other note....I RARELY hit a home run with this list. But it's good for a few base hits per year.

Jerry,  what are your better recommendations?

My mailings to notice of default, and notice of trustee sales have produced dismal results for the last two or three years

One other note....I RARELY hit a home run with this list. But it's good for a few base hits per year.

If I can ask, what's the conversion for baseball offense to %ARV.....what's a home run and what's a single?

In general, I think I'm ok with a trying to put men on base more than swinging for the fences as a beginner. 

Originally posted by @Sharon Vornholt :

@Joshua Martin - I think direct mail is less effective than it has ever been.  I don't think 1% is unrealistic to strive for even in a seller's market like this one.

If I were you, I would add probates to the mix.  That was always my best niche hands down.  I think you can get your numbers up if you add those. You will never run out of leads with probates.

Today, it is more important than ever to have a lead generation website. At my REI Marketing Mastery Event we teach that you should have at least 3 to 5 lead channels (marketing strategies) at all times. Those strategies will change in order of importance over time as well.

I hope this helps.

Sharon how has this drop in effectiveness (of direct mail) affected the number of mailers you send out or the frequency?

Doug

(Sorry for the mis-post)

@Doug Haisten -  You can take your direct mail up by adding other lists or groups of people, but I recommend that everyone have 3 -5 lead channels (marketing strategies) in place at all times. Direct mail is just one of those.  

I will always do direct mail, but websites are becoming more important than ever.  Wen it comes to websites and motivate sellers, a seller that is up in the middle of the night worried about how they are going to  pay the bills, is a much more motivated seller than one that calls from direct mail. 

My big 3 have always been direct mail, websites and networking.  At any given time I might be doing a couple more things.  The point is, you  can't put all your eggs in a basket so you need to be doing more than direct mail. 

I offer to take over and handle the eviction for them, mentioning that I have a really good lawyer.

@JerryPuckett- how do you manage an inspection, rehab estimate etc when taking over an eviction? 

(anyone out there have an idea why the blue @ isn't working for me?)

You might consider working with a list broker rather than on on-line site like List Source where you have to know what you want and figure out how to use the website. An experienced broker can discuss your market and goals to craft a customized list for you.

For example, if you are in a really hot market - Absentee Homeowners may have already gotten solicitations from LOTS of investors. In this case, you need to find some alternatives. This is where a broker can help you find the best mailing list.

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