Disappointing Direct Mail Results? Here’s What You’re Doing Wrong

by | BiggerPockets.com

2015 is here in full swing, and all of the real estate people across the world are hoping that this is the year that makes that so-called transition. Last year was great, but maybe this year you are looking to be a little more consistent, or just a little more open minded as to what’s working and what you need to throw out.

You see, I have been writing here on BiggerPockets for almost 5 months now. I’ve covered everything real estate marketing, from the first post where I talked about how to generate unlimited leads with these 10 amazing tools to where I am now around 20 posts in, and I don’t really plan on stopping.

I’ve had the pleasure of talking to a lot of the great people of the BP community. Tons of readers will inbox me and ask more in depth questions about the local real estate marketing stuff. Some of them will just want to pick my brain to see how I’ve accumulated all of this knowledge when it comes to growing a real estate business.

What I tell people is that I’ve taken the skills that I learned from doing internet marketing for 15 years online and started to apply it to the real estate world. What I found out is that if you’re willing to spend the time and effort, then dominating your local real estate market can be a piece of cake.

But Wait — We Have a Problem

Today I was going to keep the boat moving by talking more about the content on your website like I did last week when I educated you guys on having seo-friendly content, pages and posts. But today we have an even bigger problem that I think is worth talking about now, so that you guys can have the best year ever in this real estate industry.

If you don’t ever read another one of my blog posts here on BP, or even read any of my local marketing content on my website, just remember that your success this year depends on you opening your ears to listen and eyes to read. Now, you might be asking yourself, where are you going with this because there has to be a point to all of this?

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Using Direct Mail Advertising to Grow Your Real Estate Business

Six Months to a Year

If you ever have a chance to talk to any of the people that I mentor or clients of mine, they will tell you that I constantly say “6 months to a year.” Now, what do I mean exactly about 6 months to a year? People, there is no way in the world that you will be able to have success online and dominate your local real estate market in under 6 months.

Now, you can build traffic to your real estate website, which is extremely easy to do if you know how. If you can find the right keywords by doing in-depth research, then you can possibly start getting some traffic if you have some form of SEO budget.

Honestly, this is not the case for most investors due to a lack of funds, so the last thing that they need is to spend tons of money each month on some services. The issue is that I found out that most of the real estate people that I talked to have being fed a bunch of crazy stuff.

A Look at Direct Mail

This form of marketing is great, and this is something that I usually talk to my clients about months down the road after we have built their online presence for about 3 to 6 months. It’s great to be able to buy a list of absentees or a list of landlord contacts to start your mailing list. Maybe you have $500 to start off with, and you want to completely purchase a list that has maybe 1,000 contacts on it.

You see, for this year I would like for you guys to pause for a minute and think. First, that same list is being blasted by others in your market, so don’t believe them when they say that all of their leads are fresh and no one else is using them. Don’t fall for that can of worms.

Next, think about how much money you’re spending to send something out to people who may be just throwing those postcards in the trash. For this reason, your response rate is very low, which is what I’ve talked about a lot to those who post questions in the BP marketing forums.

Let Me Explain

By “let me explain,” I’m not talking about Mr. Kevin Hart’s last standup movie. Instead, I’m looking to explain what you need to be doing to form a foundation for your direct mail marketing to get a higher response rate.

First, let me explain that the 6 months to a year model works, and here is why. You should always think of the local real estate market as students of yours that you need to teach. The way that you would traditionally teach is by having a classroom of students, right?

You being a real estate person, you can’t teach or educate without that so-called classroom — which in this case is a website. If you’re looking to do direct mail, you need a website, and not one that just says, “I Buy Houses,” but a website that has tons of great content that helps the following:

  • People in foreclosure

  • People behind on their mortgage

  • People behind on property tax

  • People who want to save on utilities

  • People who are looking for the restaurants in town

  • People who are searching for any form of business in that city

  • etc.

Look, I can go on for days talking about what a local real estate website needs to include. If you want higher response rates, then you must think on the educational level versus trying to sell to people. People don’t want to be sold to because we get that every time we turn on the TV. Commercial after commercial, people are trying to sell us something or trying to get us to buy or use their services.

The reason that I’m confident I can come into any city and dominate the local real estate market in 6 months to year is because I focus on creating an educational real estate website that helps people, instead of selling to them.

Related: The Down & Dirty On Direct Mail for Real Estate – Pros and Cons

Think About This…

If you come to people with a postcard that says something like, “We just created the first local resource guide to the Atlanta market. Yes, we buy houses, but most importantly, we provide the entire city with useful resources to help them solve a problem.”

You see, if you can help people solve a problem, then they’ll love you for life and tell other people about you. Maybe they won’t sell you their property, but that’s ok. You still helped someone in a stressful situation, so you win regardless.

Plus, for those people who come over to the website and use all of the resources that you have and still can’t solve their problem, then guess who they’re going to call when it’s time for them to really sell their property? Yea… you.

Look, I can talk about this subject all day long, so just stop doing direct mail until you get your website setup as an educational resource. Once you do this, then start the campaign over and watch how the numbers start to soar.

Check out all of my writing here on BP, where I walk you through this process from A to Z. You will have to filter through it, but it’s all there for you to digest and implement.

Please Comment: I would like to know your views on this — will this be something that you might implement into your website? 

Leave a comment below, and let’s chat!

About Author

Antonio Coleman

Antonio Coleman is a real estate marketing consultant and CEO of the Real Estate Marketing Headquarters where he routinely gives high value to his clients and subscribers.


  1. Great Article. It is so important to set realistic time frames and have all the pieces to the puzzle together first before spending money on a mail campaign. I hope this helps people before they spend money they may of not been able to afford.

  2. jeffrey gordon

    Hi, interesting we were just talking about adding a URL to our `2nd yellow postcard mailer to 250 homeowners in our farm, Maybe only one is current distress/REO, mostly we are looking to buy a rowhouse after annnouncement of new $300 million Soccer Stadium in Neighborhood. Would love to find some landing page
    copy for the URL in the postcard, wondering about providing a local market report for sales/rentals etc. to be open transparent to potential sellers etc. Could you provide a link to a site.

    Also just finished reading Youtility for real estate agent marketing and loved the book, doubles down on the educating vs selling approach to content.


  3. jeffrey gordon

    Yeah I woiuld rather educate them on how we see the numbers on our buy, renovate, hold model so they understand we know the market and our costs and we are sharing that with them upfront. I mean eventually they are going to likely get a market report from a listing agent or two if they decide to sell, so why not be transparent up front and build trust level so they call when they are ready to discuss, lot more opportunity than waiting till it is listed over price with agent commission etc. added on.


  4. Hello. I am not yet in real estate. Trying to learn what I can before I get started. Seems like there are so many scam guys out there. I noticed your post and am definitely interested in what you are saying. Would you have any advise for someone just getting started? Thanks so much.

  5. Curt Smith

    Hi Folks, I’ve been doing yellow letters for some time. Recently I’m getting alot of un-motivated sellers here in Atlanta.

    What list filter / lead type / price range / years of ownership etc are getting you the more motivated sellers?

    • Antonio Coleman

      Curt, to be honest with you there is no correct answer to that question. Here is the best way to always get motivated leads…..have them find you

      If you allow people to find you through online marketing from, building an online presence, seo, epic-wow content and local networking then those people you are seeking will find you. This is how you grow your business not by knocking on doors and hoping to get a lead. So think about doing creative online marketing and watch the tables turn.

      • Curt Smith

        LOL I was fishing Antonio to see if anyone would post some details vs just high level non-actionable stuff. In 2015 at least here in Atlanta with the tremendous price appreciation there are no sellers typing into google, got to sell my house fast, NONE. If you do get an occasional lead through one’s squeeze page they’re just tire kickers in my first hand experience.

        So how many deals do you close a month with just SEO and squeeze pages from organic searches? Not from driving folks to a squeeze page URL from a craigslist ad, just organic hits to your squeeze page? It’s one thing to say “do this” and other to say I’m getting NN deals a month, right?

        I’m helping new folks get started here in Atlanta and I hear too much generic advice that diverts new folk’s time and money. One of the pieces of generic advice that’s given without any success stats is: put up a website (and magically deals will pour in) NOT.

        Dollar for dollar and hour for hour I feel the best time spent is doing hand written yellow letters to make the phone ring.

        My view and experience is that 99% of Jan 2015’s deals today come from direct reach out via one means or another: craigslist ads, yellow letters / post cards, even bandit signs. NOT from organic traffic to a squeeze page (today)

        Back in 2010 where sellers where truly desperate, putting up a squeeze page did get good seller traffic, Jan 2015 I feel this no longer is true at least for Atlanta. If you disagree then please post your deal close rate statistics, honest and hard numbers?

        Starting a successful business has to be based on cost vs benefit. Hours spent and dollars spent will get me NN deals and profit for tactic A vs B vs C…

        • Antonio Coleman

          Yo Curt

          Man you are right when you say not too many people are typing in “Sell your house fast Atlanta” Yes, people are saying create a real estate website, and watch the leads will come. But they don’t tell you how to market that real estate website to the massive.

          Heck, nearly 99% of those who have real estate websites don’t know how to market them the right way. Most people know only about the direct mail, craigslist and bandit signs which works well if you do it effectively.

          So to get back to the question…can you really get targeted traffic online in your local real estate market? Well the answer is yes you can. You see it’s all about going after the right keywords such as..

          Atlanta real estate – 5,400 searches per month..yea that stat comes directly from Google.

          Now this is just one keyword out of dozens of more that you can build an online presence around, video and implement seo. If you can get your website, profiles or videos on the front page of target keywords such as that then you risk gaining tons of leads.

          Yes that term is a general real estate keyword. These searches could be buyers, sellers, realtors, brokers and more. But here is the key to that, if you have an educational real estate website then it will cater to all parties which at the end of the day will convert to leads.

          Now this goes a lot more deeper, but I would say these real estate websites you see online mostly are not good converting sites at all. So you have to invest in good epic-wow content on your site to even have a chance of getting online leads.

          Finally when it comes to stats one thing I found out by doing online marketing for the past 15 years now is that people don’t care about what I have. Meaning people only care about what can you do for them and what type of results they can possible have.

          This is the reason why I don’t post stats, I only like to create content base round teaching something versus saying look at me over here.

          Overall online marketing works, but if you don’t know how to do it in the correct manner then you will give up on it. Like I tell all my clients..6 months to a year when it comes to online marketing. If you can’t stick to it that long then you will never see results.


  6. Michael Williams

    HI Tony

    it is interesting that i am reading your article today. I have a website and landing page that is automated to send education ebooks and articles on foreclosure and selling your house. I have had this site for about 4 months and just got a lead 2 days ago. I sent out 200 postcards to adsentee owners 3 weeks ago and will pay $500 for 1000 leads next week. So i am on the right track. Keep these articles coming my man. I also took your advice and started registering my website on all of the sites you suggested in an earlier article.

  7. Mike Curley

    Great article Antonio. It’s right in line with what I’ve been thinking/wondering lately. One of my goals for next month is to get my website up and running. Any suggestions on sites to build a website? Any other suggestions when first getting one created? Thanks

  8. Shawn Davenport

    This may have been addressed already, but I am curious about the content you speak of. i am sure creating your own content is one option, but are there any other ways to get content that are legal and ethical?

    Moreso to add to the self created content, to allow for a bigger reach and potentially more eyeballs/leads?

  9. Chris Salveson

    How does this pertain to personalized direct mail? If i’m mailing a specific list as a private investor and only provide my phone number for them to call, why do I need a website with all the things you mentioned? Yes there’s need for both branded and un-branded direct mail, but in the first 6 months of my business I don’t see the point of branded direct mail.

  10. Antonio Coleman

    Hi Chris,

    Well, the goal is to work smarter not harder. Do you really want to be answering a phone all day answering the sam questions over and over again. Even worse when you spend 30min on the phone with those tire kicked which is waste of your time. So allow the website the interview the people, and you take the leads to see who’s hot or not at the end of the day.

    Just smart marketing..thanks Chris

    • Chris Salveson

      Hi Gary,

      Honestly yes, I do. I want to know the ins and outs of my business so when I get to the point of outsourcing I know how things should be and can correct problems that may arise. Also, being new at this I don’t want to give people my website in a letter just so they can search it on google and see all my competitors pop up on the first page. I’d rather have them call and talk to me, and then when I outsource I can send them either to a voicemail system or a phone management company to take care of my leads. I agree with your take on how the website should be, I think it’s a great idea. I just don’t think that has anything to do with the effectiveness of direct mail campaigns until I CAN do branded direct mail marketing and know for a fact that no matter how they search for me I’ll be on the first page of google.

      Just my thoughts.

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