Value of Address Information for Direct Marketing to Estates

5 Replies

Hi All,

Well, I've put together a great CRM with Podio, hired a VA in India, outsourced my mailing, budgeted thousands for direct mail, and am all set to target inherited property in the Austin, Texas metropolitan area. Pretty exciting. I have a tough decision to make though regarding my data and marketing strategy and just don't have enough experience to make it intelligently. Thus, this post. Hope someone experienced in this type of prospecting can shed some light on the matter.

Option 1:
Travis County probate data is online in its entirety. I have trained a VA in India to research these cases and input data into my CRM, which automates workflow / followup. The process of research is cumbersome and time consuming; however, it results in address and phone numbers for living family members. Often the addresses of administrators is different from the property of the deceased.

Option 2:
I have recently come across another method of acquiring data that would encompass a larger number of properties: those in probate but also those where someone has passed with a living trust or in a situation where there is joint ownership of a property.  Unfortunately, only the property address of the deceased is available in this data set though, so I would not have phone numbers and effectively be sending mail to family members (without their name on the letter) at the address of the deceased.

My question: What can I expect, in terms of response rate to direct mail, from option 1 vs. option 2?  In other words, will there be higher rates of response mailing to someone at their home address vs. mailing to them (without their name) at the address of the deceased person?  If rates are similar, option 2 would allow me to increase the potential number of deals while decreasing complexity.  If rates are higher with option 1, perhaps it makes sense to stay in this niche even with the greater hassle of acquiring the contact information.

All thoughts greatly appreciated although this doesn't seem to be the sort of thing that can be reasoned out.  I really need to hear from those who have experience running direct mail campaigns for inherited property.  Thanks!

Kevin, that really is the heart of the question.  If that does happen reliably in practice, option 2 would be the way to go for me.  I just don't have any sense for how it will work out in real life.

@Eric Clifft

I love the fact that you are methodically & creatively designing your marketing strategy.

Direct mail marketing traditional results dictate that response rates should be higher on a piece addressed to a specific person vs. anything that may resemble junk mail like a general mailing to "resident" or equivalent.

However, higher response rates do not necessarily=higher profit.

Run a split test on both methods to determine the profitability of each lead, not just response rate.  I would argue that responses from option #1 vs. option #2 are potentially like apples & oranges & therefore not equivalent in quality. These are the things you don't want to guess at because sometimes the results will be eye opening & contrary to what you think makes sense.

Sometimes the most valuable letter is the mail that is "returned to sender".

Thanks for the insight, Ellis.  I do think I'd be more likely to respond to a piece sent directly to me at my home address vs. forwarded to me from another address and without my name.  I realize though that my intuition may not be of much use here.  Perhaps if people are motivated to sell a property and like my value proposition, I will be contacted either way?

It's all academic at this point. Test and measure. 

In my world, I consider probate a very different list than inherited with different psychographics. A personal rep may have very different motives, emotions and agenda during an open estate administration than an heir or beneficiary who has inherited a house or other property. 

With an open estate, the PR may initially have one plan and then the facts and circumstances change causing them to re-think their priorities and sell. Or, decide to keep.

So, I suggest you create a series of letters and mail in sequence and measure the letter response rate of each piece, tweaking headlines, propositions and other factors. 

Do the math and track what you capture. Then, work on the economics of your mailing a overall marketing. 

When I accepted that my response rate had marginal response rates, I learned how to work the economics side of opportunities by exploiting the back end profits. Most marketers give up long before they even see a front end.

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

We hate spam just as much as you