Digital (Online) Marketing v.Traditional Marketing in Real Estate

33 Replies

Hello all!

I was just trying to get an idea on which forms of marketing are getting the most results. I know in some markets, traditional forms of marketing like bandit signs and direct mail might work really well and in other markets people might be seeing success with their online marketing ( like websites, social media, youtube channel, etc). Maybe the best approach is an integrated method. Thoughts?

Think of which medium you feel most confident using and start there.  Make sure the channel and budget fit for your goals and hit the gas hard on that medium until you like the results then move to the next medium and master it.  Slowly build your marketing toolbox rather than try to hit multiple mediums at once, unless you have money to spend and can afford someone else to do the work for you.

I wouldn't over think it about studying your market to figure out what will get you the best rates of turn. SEO is essentially a bit time consuming but lower cost. I would not skip that - I even get leads for "older" people from their children/family (this is not rare at all). Could be competitive, but everything is competitive.

I also wonder how that works . . . running a legit online marketing campaign takes time . . . direct-mail takes time. The pay-off for everything is delayed. I just got a pretty excellent deal from a probate letter I sent nearly 2 years ago. Need to be in it for the long game for DMM.

The one thing about direct-mail, the leads are so unmotivated, you need a solid volume to find the good ones. Only small volume things that consistently land deals is probate in my experience. The idea you can send 500 letters to an out-of-state owners or general list and expect to land a deal . . .I don't want to say impossible. You probably need a bit of luck and a low competition market to land solid deals on spending $500/mo.

@Norman Walton

You asked a good question but there is a base underlying assumption that may not be true. It's not like certain markets one works better than the other. An integrated approach may work if you're a large wholesaler and have built lots of systems to run everything in parallel but as a beginner it's a common mistake to try to do too may things at once rather than getting good at one thing that gets you solid leads. Spreading your limited resources on multiple marketing channels won't get you more deals, it'll actually hurt you.

You should examine what your strengths and weaknesses are, and understand what it would cost you to deploy one of those channels in an efficient manner to make your own decision. 

For example, if you're excellent at SEO or website design - going online might be the sensible option to focus on. If you enjoy talking to people on the phone and can communicate well, direct mail may be a good approach for you.

@Ray Lai , thanks for responding to my post!

I definitely agree with you in that in the beginning, you should pick one strategy and master it before assuming it doesnt work and moving onto another strategy. I also believe that it takes patience and consistent work. But my purpose for the post was to get feedback from investors who have seen success. I want to hear from everyone what marketing techniques have worked well for them. What methods have worked for you?

I have heard from podcasts, investors, and read in the forums that direct mail is the best medium, however I am just curious about what the future holds.  With things going more and more online I wonder if lead gen websites will be more effective in the future.

I can speak only regarding direct mail as that is the marketing method I have used with success very recently due to adjustments of mind and marketing

Our markets may be different. I think direct mail should be directed at those sellers with a need to sell and or cannot sell to a buyer that requires minimum down owner occupied financing and or have the time to. Many times they cannot due to condition or possible title mainly estate issues.

You want to try your best to target those sellers and seek them out. They are flagged by city or county due to condition of Property or yard Even if only vacant. Find out where they are noted. Compile a list and mail to them keep adding to this list constantly

Be patient as this takes time and work. Results can be delayed. Keep mailing monthly for 6 months to same adding every month

Go first class mail and skip trace You returned mail

After you are successful reinvest back into Your Direct mail and skip tracing eventually skip tracing not only your returned mailings but those owners that have for the first time hit your list

As you become more successful set aside money for PPC. I’ve been told in a competitive market that can be in the area of 5000 a month. Stay at it for 6 months. Then keep doing it as you see success

My road is direct mail first. Up to 4000 mailings a month now

Skip tracing direct mail returns doing 100 sellers a month currently (haven’t been able to hire someone good on the phone yet)

Soon to skip trace new arrivals to my distressed list.

In the future once above is in place correctly will start a market plan for PPC w a budget of 5000 per month

Once All the above implemented will look at other marketing mediums

My point is do one thing well then add to your plan as you see success to your marketing plan increasing your methods of finding leads

Good luck

@ joe davalos, this is excellent insight and advice! Thank you so much for your knowledge and experience!

@Joe Davalos how many leads do you average per month from 4000 mailings per month and how many end up converting to deals ?

@Joseph M. I would say about 1 lead per month 2 if I drop off the first 3 months of no activity.

I have built my list slowly starting in June I didn’t see much success until September Since then I have placed 6 under Contract by Direct mail. both purchases in September was from June distress sale list. One contacted us in September the other in July

In September my direct mail count was 2800. My new list for December is at 4000.

I am hoping as my list increases my numbers go up. My goal is 30 properties per year for 2018. I will make adjustments as needed.

I am in the favor of online marketing. . I have tried Direct Mail, Driving for Dollars, Door knocking, Property Tax Lien list, craigslist and develop a referral network with an Estate Sales company. I had gotten 5 leads in total from these strategies but no deal. I stopped and deciided that I need to develop a site. 

Everybody is being trained to believe that Direct Mail is the best "medium". I disagree. Physical mail, in my opinion is for bills, check, invitation or garbage. I am in a competitive market and I can only assume that with all the letters these homeowners are getting, my mail is just another one going into the trash (regardless if it is a yellow letter, business letter, zip letter, greeting card, post card, or lumpy mail). 

I chose not to invest in OnCarrot.com nor LeadPropellor.com as I found that there are over 26 wholesalers (maybe more that I can not find) who have OnCarrot. The first result that shows up on google for the keywords "We Buy Houses Boston" is an OnCarrot member. 

I believe that online (digital) marketing is the way to go. I can install Google Analytics to measure how much traffic my website is generating, which allows me to then install a code for retargetting ads that will follow that site visitor. No Guru is teaching Digital Marketing, they are all sharing that online marketing is a part of the total marketing funnel but Direct Mail is the way to go. Does it work, for some yes and they live by it. But I refuse to waste more time and money on 1997 type of marketing and invest in 2017-2018 digital marketing. 

Disclosure: Founder of LeadPropeller and Flipping Junkie Podcast

I agree with @Omar Ruiz .  Direct mail has it's place and works well when done consistently and at a high enough level (thousands of mail pieces per month) and more than 5 times to each recipient over a year.  

Online is where it's going more and more.  Even if you stick to direct mail, what we're finding is that sellers will get your mail piece and go online to find out more about you and your company.  They're not just typing in a domain either. If you have a business name on your mail, they will Google it.  

If you're not there to be found this will definitely cause a decrease in response rates...as many top investors are finding over the last couple years.  Obviously, this could be attributed to higher competition etc, but I believe it's that people have move online to find out more about who they are considering doing business with.  

Whether you build a site yourself or get one from us, an online web presence is becoming more and more of a necessity.

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@Omar Ruiz That is awesome. Nice working on snagging that domain name. 

It sounds like you have a legit plan in place for the SEO/content part of it. I know learning SEO can take some time but to me, it's such a worthwhile skill to have. 

Good luck on your site launch and the SEO (always love launching sites and starting fresh). You are on the right track with backlinks. You mentioned Google Analytics above, once you get some pages ranking just keep an eye on time on page and page views to get an idea of how engaging the content is and you should be going down the right path. 

@Omar Ruiz By waiting to launch, you lost 6 months. I think most people would be better served launching  immediately and improving their content over time. Do you or your web guy have an opinion on that?

I believe in cooking rather than microwaving a business. This means that I would rather take time to prepare a system for my business rather than just quickly rolling out a site just to "get started". 

Don't get me wrong, before this this shift, I started direct mail, I tested bandit signs, I did driving for dollars and some door knocking. I even hired a business intern this past summer to help me. It may work for many but I decided it wasnt for me and I had to change my mindset. 

You see I work 2 jobs (Counseling Coordinator at a high school and a licensed marriage & family therapist at my own business practice) which is about working 58 hours a week. 

It took me 6 months to build my private practice. As soon as I was able to get myself enrolled on insurance and get an online profile, I started to getting referrals within a week. I did make edits to my profile content from here and there and got it to the point where I am confident in what I have. Now, I get about 3-4 calls/emails per week for counseling. I use the site Psychology Today as my referring source. They show me stats on how many people are searching for counseling in my area, out of those how many people looked at my profile page and it takes account for everyone who actually reaches out to me. I calculated that I get an 11% response rate from the total number of people who viewed my page divided by the total of whom actually reached out. Search me on Google (Omar A. Ruiz, LMFT) if you're curious to know if I'm being honest.

So what does all this have to do with waiting to launch... I was researching, studying the big brands (Homevestors, Expresshomebuyers, etc) and my local competition. I reviewed what made them similar, what stands out and how much traffic are they getting based on keywords and pay-per-click campaigns. Could I have done this while having a site up...Yeah...but I would rather have a finished product (website) that I can tweak later than a piece a crap landing page. I want to develop crediability and professionalism. I need my cash buyers and sellers know that I am someone they want to do business with.

@Omar Ruiz I totally understand that. I was not recommending that anyone launch a crap landing page. If you’re going to be investing in design and SEO anyway, waiting 6 months to launch wasted 6 months of a/b testing, search engine results and more. I was wondering whether you thought of that. Now you have to start that process and presumably pay for it. 

@Tom Gimer 

Maybe I am not understanding what you are asking as I am hearing you say that I have "wasted 6 months" to launch without a/b testing. 

I didn't waste 6 months, in my opinion, since my focus was to create a system that promotes crediability for my business.

You dont need a course to learn how to preform direct mail, drive for dollars or door knocking. But, going online, I have to put in time  and hard work in studying how to preform digital marketing (i.e.PPC campaigns, Facebook ads, email marketing, content marketing, etc) in hopes to dominate the real estate of page 1 of Google search results.

As you may or may not know, creating a site from scratch takes time. When I get one deal from my site, it will give me an immeidate return on my investment, both time and $. 

Lets put things into perspective:

I researched your website (masterstitle.com) & I see that your site started gaining traffic as of May 2016. Your site averages 36 visitor traffic per month & you have 21 backlinks. The keywords your site is mostly ranking for, organically on page 1, is "Masters Title" or "Title Masters".

Your biggest competition online is cottonducktitle.com. Their traffic average is 96 visitors and they only have 17 backlinks. They are also the only title company in Baltimore with a Google Ad, using the keyword "Baltimore Title Company". 

You are on page 6 on Google search results if you search "Baltimore Title company". 

So, if I am able to learn this about your business...online..and the closets i been to baltimpre is when i graduated from Howard in DC, then what makes anyone believe that I wasted time....?

It is interesting where this conversation is going. I especially appreciate the dialogue about investor carrot as well as danny johnson's comments. Kindle books out sold "real books" in 2011 and they have never looked back. When I posed the question, I wondered if there was a similar pattern happening in real estate. The fact that people will probably look up a business/investor on google even if they do receive the direct mail is a powerful observation. It seems like more and more, all roads lead back to the online presence. I do alot of work in schools and sometimes the kids are on tablets more than they read and write (not necessarily a good thing). gary vaynerchuk made a comment that people will miss a billboard sign because they are on their phone doing something while driving. 

I am a new member to investor carrot and i am very impressed with the service. I have my own SEO tool and as soon as I made my website with investor carrot, it was already optimized for the top keywords for motivated sellers or motivated buyers. Furthermore, their blogs and resources have really help shed some light on alot of things dealing with real estate. In terms of alot of wholesalers using investor carrot, I have made the same observation and it speaks to their success. I think they have done ALOT of testing and I trust their site structure when it comes to real estate and the results speak for themselves. When i studied the top websites ( paid or organic) many times i said to myself, "they made this on investor carrot". The work to separate yourself and create unique content will be the challenging part, but investor carrot has given me a great boost.

With that said, it is my opinion that it helps to "get started" quickly because SEO does take time, especially in competitive markets. The "quick start" is going down the checklist with the SEO tool and making sure you are optimized for the keyword(s) of your choosing and setting up sales funnels to generate leads to your phone and/or email. If social media is integrated, even better. This can all be done within a day. 

After that, you beef everything up with your content marketing, updating your blogs, and making whatever changes or additions you need to make as you go along.

In terms of "wasting time", clearly Omar Ruiz didnt waste it because he was beefing up his knowledge and getting set up properly. It never hurts to arm yourself with knowledge. 

But it kind of reminds me of what Kobe Bryant once said about his training. He said it was impossible for the other players to catch up to him because they simply did not have enough time. He woke up 4 hrs before them every day for years and shot so many more jumpers and put in so much more work, that they literally did not have enough time in the day to catch up.

With SEO, i do believe its a similar thing. The maturity and amount of time that you have owned a URL is paramount and I agree that you must start the process as soon as possible. Especially when it comes to the factors that you can control with regards to SEO.

To conclude, I think you must "burn that midnight oil" and set up your entire system (website, social media, content marketing, sales funnel, email automation, etc) as quickly as you can and then tweak it as you go.

Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to this thread and looking forward to keeping this converation going.

@Norman Walton Based on what I'm reading here, you're looking at $1000 per lead for direct mail. Depending on how competitive the market is, you can get exclusive motivated seller leads online from $100-$400/lead from well-run digital marketing campaigns. Some markets are crazy cheap. Good luck!

@Norman Walton,

I do agree that OnCarrot provides exceptional training to its members about SEO. At the same time, in my opinion, they made the mistake of posting their trainings on Youtube, which allows anybody access to the understand their "SEO tool" (https://oncarrot.com/tour/seo-tool/).

I only found out about their youtube videos because I was researching more about them before deciding to becoming a customer. I had no idea what the training video meant, since I was not a carrot member nor did I have a site. But i knew the video would be helpful one day, so I saved it.

Once I found out there was so many wholesalers in my market using their platform, that is when I decided I need to develop my own site so I can stand out.

During my process of working with the designer, I came across Yoast SEO. Norman, here is a link of a screenshot of Yoast (https://ps.w.org/wordpress-seo/assets/screenshot-4) Does it look familiar, yep... OnCarrot simply placed this Wordpress plugin within their template & called it their SEO tool. I was like..."what!"... At that very moment, I knew I made the right decision to create my own site.

Plus, their training videos discussed integrating Keyword research (Google Keyword Planner, Uber Suggest, KWFinder.com, etc), creating crediability within the About Us page, remain frequest with blog post, create squeeze pages, etc.

Nothing is a secret sauce anymore. Just like Gary Vee says, "Google" is the tool. I also noticed you placed Digital Markerter on your BP page. I guess you drank the Gary Vee koolaid. :D. He is the person that has inspired me to focus on digital marketing & say goodbye to Direct Mail. Here is a 3 minute clip of Gary Vee explaining why there is no need to continue Direct Mail (https://youtu.be/ZsK41_MnnIM).

Starting in 2018 postage cost is 1/2 dollar. Assuming you mail out 600 letters a month. The postage cost is $300x12=$3,600 a year. This is something you need to try each potential seller at least a number of times with different verbage before giving up. 

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