Online Marketing VS Direct Mail

32 Replies

I'm wondering which way generated more leads? (not just leads but also deals)

I know most investors use direct mail and I have heard great things, and not so great things.. like for example EVERYONE more than likely is hitting the same list..

So for anyone that does PPC/ ad words/ ads online etc.

Do you think it is smart to invest in PPC ads? Since now everyone go's online and its very easy to pin point the ads.

Would love any results you have gotten or any tips! thanks :)  

Determine what kind of deal you want and generate your own leads. Reach out to your customers rather than wait for a response to an ad or letter.

@Account Closed I currently am, but its more of a hobby if Im making the callls, people calling me makes them more of prospects and more motivated. Therefore less time wasted on un motivated people. 

Currently looking for the off market un advertised deals and the best way to find that is driving and marketing 

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I've been spending a lot of time researching this question recently. There is money to made online, but just like mailing it can take a while to see results.  I have talked to a few investors who have had success with generating leads online and they use a combination of SEO and PPC (Adwords, Facebook, etc.).  If you're investing in PPC, do you have a good lead conversion website? Will they want to call you after clicking on your site? Disclaimer: I'm no expert in online marketing!

I'm in the beginning stages of building my web presence but am using it as a supplement to a mailing campaign. I think the more ways you generate leads, the better- as long as you're not spread too thin and can actually develop those channels. SEO takes a while (and is not my strong-suit) so I've outsourced some of it.

@Jake Knight thanks for your input, I think im going to start with PPC soon, ( just need to get the extra funds! ) I think most people are heading towards the internet for selling there house fast, my only problem is, its really going to rack up since my area is dfw etc, Its alot to learn but hopefully i can create some great ads that get some good traffic to my site which would also help me rank organicly over time! Yessir i have carrot and absolutely love carrot, they really teach you how to start from the ground up. thanks again for your input! :)

Hi @Leah Bonner - Many coaches suggest Direct Mail over PPC.  However, there is no elixir.  You can't do "one and done." - you have to mix it up.  If you do PPC, then make sure you have a website that will capture info with "Call to Actions" so you can follow up.

@Andrew Detwiler

That's very true, I think once I start making results from ppc and getting deals closed from that I will use some of the revenue towards some very specific mailers to get even more leads calling me. 

Thank you for your input :) 

Hello Leah!

As you said, most investors use direct mail and that's because it REALLY works. Yellow letters and postcards, when done right and sent to the best mailing list possible, can produce some great results.

However, since you're looking into pay per click, I highly recommend that you look closely at your targeting options. Otherwise, you're just throwing money away. I know of two great reports that break it all down and help explain pay per click in a way that a beginner can understand. If you'd like to look them over, just send me a message and I'll get you copies. 

@Leah Bonner You could start building an authority online by producing content. A podcast, a blog, a vlog... that way when people are searching online - there's a chance they will land on your content and work with you.

The best part is it doesn't cost a lot of money. 

@Leah Bonner I do PPC for investors professionally, so please take what I say with a grain of salt. here's my take on the differences between SEO, PPC, and Direct Mail.


Direct Mail has long been the workhorse of motivated seller lead generation. There's a reason that nearly every REI coach/guru teaches direct mail - it works, and has worked, for decades.

Direct mail has two primary strengths: list selection and affordability.

List selection allows you to know, for example, that everyone getting your pieces has a property in probate, or that everyone has a certain amount of equity. That's INCREDIBLY powerful, and allows you to fine-tune your marketing.

Affordability simply comes down to the fact that it's cheaper to send out direct mail pieces than it is to do nearly anything - and if you're outsourcing, it takes very little time (though many investors hand-write their letters, which obviously negates that last point).

Direct mail also has two primary weaknesses: low response rate and low barrier to entry.

Direct mail typically has a low response rate, with anything over a 1% response being considered quite good on a national level. DM also typically has a lower conversion rate of leads to deals, the national average probably being about 30 leads needed for every property put under contract.

The caveat to this is that your list selection affects this quite a bit; I spoke with an investor the other day that gets a 40% response rate on his mailings (hand-written, to a well-maintained list). That's quite rare, however, at least in my experience.

A low barrier to entry means that markets with a lot of other investors are often saturated with direct mail. Often, multiple investors are sending out the exact same mailings they got from their instructors, and potential sellers will sometimes have whole stacks of postcards on their desks by the time they call you (if they do). I've noticed a real uptick in complaints about this lately, but that's purely anecdotal.


PPC, or pay-per-click online advertising, is the newer kid on the block, although it's been growing quite a bit due to some prominent adopters (notably Sean Terry, the guys at We Buy Houses, etc).

PPC has two fundamental strengths: speed and objectivity.

PPC is one of the fastest marketing channels there is, and it's raw speed allows you to launch into entirely new markets in around ten minutes or so. There's also a great deal of velocity in getting your first leads in the door; if you have some knowledge, you can start generating motivated seller leads within an hour or so of launching your campaigns.

PPC's objectivity comes from the huge amount of data it generates; once you've run for a bit, you can tell which keywords generated your leads, what you paid for them, the responsiveness of the people that searched them, the conversion rate of those people, where they came from, the time of day and day of week they converted, etc. Using that data allows you to grow and get more efficient over time, increasing your leads while cutting your costs.

PPC has two fundamental weaknesses: difficulty and cost.

Difficulty: While I believe firmly that anyone can learn to run an effective motivated seller PPC campaign (I teach people to do this every day), it's still a technical skill that can be overwhelming to people. This is the core of why so many people lose money on PPC - they make some kind of technical mistake early on and end up spinning their wheels, getting frustrated, and quitting.

As for cost, PPC leads tend to be higher cost than something like direct mail, but also higher quality. So, while a PPC lead might cost you anywhere between 70 and 150 dollars, depending on your market and strategy, the typical rate of conversion into deals is roughly 1 out of 20, rather than 1 out of 30. Even with that considered, high levels of competition make some markets prohibitively expensive for some investors.


SEO is probably the oldest online marketing method, but also the most powerful - the vast majority of all searches online go to "organic" (i.e., non-paid) listings in Google, and consistently high ranking for a valuable keyword can be worth dozens of deals over the course of a year.

SEO has two fundamental strengths: long-term ROI and volume.

In terms of long term ROI, no marketing channels beats SEO. Since, by it's very nature, SEO can generate a long-term, steady flow of leads at no cost, it tends to be wildly more profitable than paid channels. The quality of traffic, presuming some strategic work on your part, can also be incredibly high. Once you're ranked, these leads are free - it's very hard to beat that.

For sheer volume, SEO also beats out most other channels. Search volume has been going up every year since Google first showed up; motivated seller searches, specifically, should also trend upwards very consistently as the younger, "internet-first" generations become the primary source of all home sales. Nearly 70-80% of all searches go to organic listings, making this the biggest single source of leads in nearly every market.

SEO has two fundamental weakness: time to pay off and labor-intensity.

SEO has a long time to pay off, in the sense that it requires a good deal of work and effort to actually move the needle and change your site rankings enough to create a greater lead flow. If we assume that a site needs to be at least on the first page of a particular search to generate leads consistently, and preferably on the top half of the page, it will often take 3-6 months of consistent work to get there. Many people get discouraged, drop out, or can't maintain the consistency needed over that time period.

SEO can also be very labor intensive. If you're blogging, optimizing, posting on various other sites, doing social media, can all add up to a great deal of work, especially if you're not being extremely efficient or smart about what you spend your time on. Conversely, if you outsource to an agency that's any good, they will be putting in a lot of work and will charge you accordingly.

I tried my level best to make this as objective as possible. All marketing channels have strengths and weaknesses, and in reality, you should do ALL of these! If you need to choose one to start, though, you might consider testing them out and seeing which seems to give you the easiest path forward.

If you have any questions or want any clarification, tag me and let me know. :-)

NICE @Dan Barrett -   Very helpful!

We've found that you can expect about 15 calls for every 1000 postcards. That's about 1.5%. BUT, only about 5 are serious...  Multiply that by 3 and you will have spoken to 45 people. Of which, 15 are serious.  This is about the minimum needed to get something under contract.  You would have spent about $1470 - WHICH is about 15% of your marketing dollars spent on Direct mail. - Considering you'll make about 10-12k on a property...

~ With a grain of salt!    GoBig!

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@Andrew Detwiler haha - so many grains of salt everywhere!

That said, your numbers match pretty closely what people typically report. You cannot beat direct mail, in my opinion, for sheer cost-per-deal. It seems to vary by market, but so does everything.

@Dan Barrett great info.  I agree with your assessment and want to reiterate that list selection is huge!  If you sending to a list that everyone else is sending to, expect lower response rates.  I am a big believer in finding niches that others aren't mailing to.  Also, your mail piece will have a direct impact on performance.  If you send the same mailer that others are sending, expect a similar result to using an over used lead list - low response rates.  However, if your mailers look completely different than your competition, you will stand our and get better results.

Athens big question you MUST ask, from a strategic basis, is if you target avatar are "reachable."

My most profitable deals come from people who have a problem that are difficult (if not almost impossible) to reach, are not trying to sell, are not searching for a solution nor even have a clue about how to go about solving it. They might not even be fully aware of the scope of problem(s).

Consequently, when you market, consider how you try to reach people who are not looking. People who are searching (and are connected online) have an infinite number of chances to find others to compete for their item due to competitive pressure. 

You job as marketer is to serve markets that underserved and under marketed and are well-matched to the media, whether online, offline (DM or print ads) or in person.

@Arshi Yousuf  Sure.  I haven't made much headway.  I'm a single working Mommy.  It's tough finding the time.  I have just outsourced some of my work though to a freelancer from Upwork.  I have her working on a mailing list now but next I'm going to have her work on SEO.  I have gotten my website up and going.  It's been baby steps.

Every time I hear "SEO is free", I cringe. It's not free, you build it, and you maintain it. If you stop maintaining, your competitors overtake you, which means you have to get back to building. And if generating links isn't part of your SEO's strategy, you're being taken for a ride.

@Dan Barrett Awesome insight! Do you have a source/book about the topic that I can pick up? I want to learn how to add online marketing to by biz but I certainly don't want to spend your valuable hours picking your brain. 

Personally, there should be a forum for online marketing. 

@Leah Bonner How has your PPC campaign been working out and, forgive my internet ignorance, what is a carrot?

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