How to Get a 40%+ Response Rate on Your Next Direct Mail Campaign


To the BP community, this maybe one the of the most sought-out blog posts that I’ve written to date on this website. Now, it’s not necessarily the most informational or educational — but it is something that will hit home with most of you who are involved in direct mail.

This subject comes up so much that I felt like this was the right time and opportunity to address it. Direct mail is something that I’ve written about two times on BP. You can check out those articles if you’re one of those who likes the direct mail approach as one of your primary ways of capturing leads.

Mailing to a List

You may have heard people say that “the money is in the list.” This can be a newsletter list, opt-in list or even a mailing list. People tell you that “the money is in the list” if you’re able to build that list in some form or fashion.

Simply put, if you’re selling something or promoting an item that is valuable to your list, then you should be able to make money. Same goes in the real estate industry when you buy or capture a list of potential leads.

There should be no problem mailing out to the list and getting some form of response for whatever you’re promoting or trying to achieve. Meaning, if you’re mailing to a list of property owners, you should be able to get people to respond to that mailing in some capacity.

Now, the issue of how much response you plan to get is what most investors struggle with. How many of those people are really going to read, act and take action on calling you or visiting your website?

Related: Real Estate Direct Mail 101: What You Should Know Before You Spend the Money

You see, this is where the game starts to change for most people who do these mailings. They simply send out 500 or 1,000 or more mailings to see what sticks to the wall. Sadly, the response rate is always low, but sometimes, as with everything in life, people will get lucky.

They may get one or two people to contact them back to do business. So don’t think that mailing like this is not good — because it can be worth it if the cards fall your way on the table. Just like playing my favorite card game of blackjack. No matter how good I am at the game, the odds are against me if the cards don’t fall my way, and at the end of the day, I’m playing on luck.

Why is My Response Rate Low?

You as an investor must educate yourself if you want to dominate your local market. That is the key for success in life: to know what the competitors don’t know and beat them at their own game. One of the reasons why I can go dominate anyone in real estate out there in any city in this good country of the United States is because I know what it takes to market on a budget effectively.

Now, before you all go out and buy another list — which I advise you not to, and I’ll explain why here in a minute — think about this for a moment and make an educated decision on how you would approach your needed mailing.

Here’s an Example

I want to ask you all one question that pretty simple to answer when you think about it. That question is: “How do people become friends?

At this point, you might be saying to yourself, Well, most people become friends by meeting at some point in their lives. A true way of starting any friendship is by meeting and someone saying something like, “Hi, my name is Antonio Coleman. What is yours?”

The other person responds, and the conversation will carry on from there. Maybe you all exchange phone numbers and even start to follow each other on the social networks. You will talk every now and then to build that relationship up to another level, which leads to another good friend who is a part of your life.

Over time your new friend goes through some issues with their property, and they will need to sell quickly to maybe avoid foreclosure or something. It can be pretty much anything in the real estate industry when it comes to people having to sell their property.

Since your friend knows about you being this top real estate investor, he/she turns to you for help in solving their issue. One of the reasons why the friend came to you first before the broker, realtor or even putting a sign in the yard that says FSBO is because of the personal connection.

He/She contacted you first. How powerful is that?

Understanding Friendships

What I’m trying to explain to you is that when this person meets this other person for the first time, he/she doesn’t say, “I Buy Houses” or “Need to Sell Your House?” That person simply introduces themselves, and the journey of friendship starts from there.

If you want to be successful at direct mail, then you have to stop running up to total strangers asking to buy their house. They don’t know you nor have you even introduced yourself to them. All you did was approach them and tell them to sell you their house without building any sort of relationship.

The reason why the response rate of my newsletters is around 40%, 50%, or even 90% for the first email that I send out is because of the educational process before signup. The goal is to educate first, which is the “introducing yourself” part, and then to continue to educate them indefinitely.

You don’t ever have to say that you buy properties — because if your mailing is done right and you can get those people off of that postcard onto your website, then you will see a higher response rate.

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

Here’s how I would send out my next postcard mailing.

Hi, Owners Name (must be personalized)

My name is Antonio Coleman, and I’m a local real estate specialist right here in Shreveport, La. Well, I’m sending out this postcard today to let the public know about this brand new, free to use local real estate website that my team and I have put together for all the residents of this beautiful city.

We Cover the Following Topics:

  • How to Plant a Garden
  • How to Save on Utility Bills
  • How to Avoid Foreclosure
  • What to Do if You’re Behind on Your Mortgage
  • How Rent-to-Own Works
  • How to Fix Bad Credit
  • and much more…

Free Membership at

Now, this is just a simple run through of what I would include, but you should be able to see my angle. I never said one thing about “I Buy Houses” at all. The goal is to get people to take action by providing great content on the website, which will convert these people over to leads.

All of the categories above will touch on someone who needs help in those areas. No matter what, I just got people over to my REI website all for free, and if I’m doing right when it comes to content, I then have them in my funnel.

Finally, I would like to say that the only way that this system works is not having a landing page. Landing pages will hurt your business if you’re really trying to get leads. Educate them, and then allow them the choice to opt-in. Don’t force it on them.

Investors: How do you write your direct mail postcards? What kind of success have you experienced?

Leave your best tips and tricks below!

About Author

Antonio Coleman

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


  1. karen rittenhouse

    Hi Antonio.
    Always love your posts. However, I never never never care about response rates. I can send a postcard promising to pay whatever they want cash and close within 7 days and I’ll get tremendous response.

    What I care about is conversion rate. That’s all that matters. Hope your card’s converting.

    Here’s wishing you tremendous success!

      • karen rittenhouse

        What works best is:
        (1) targeting the market you want (why spend time and money on properties you’re not interested in?) and
        (2) the message (which depends upon number 1)

        Our target audience and our market have changed over the years. For example, at one time, we targeted 3/2 or larger, newer than 10 years, in the $110,000 – $225,000 price range because our area median price was $158,000. We grew our portfolio.

        Now, we’re paying off our portfolio. We target $50,000 to $150,000 older homes with high equity.

        Marketing is a science that has to be constantly tweaked according to your area and needs. Everything works, some of course better than others, and what works changes with economy as much as anything.

        Thanks for asking.

    • I have to agree. We send out the annoying “urgent Notice” postcards and they work great. We’ve never even meet most of the sellers. The problem for most investors is they just don’t want to spend the money. Afterall, you have to spend some time researching a list from listsource or whoever. Then develop a postcard at another site, then pay for it and have something in place to manage it all. This is starting to sound like a business!?!
      But Believe me, its worth the effort. You WILL make your investment back and a handsome profit, if you’re just somewhat normal. Its just having the ba##s, to commit to it and taking action.

  2. Jessica Sala on

    While I am secondly an investor, my first job and love is direct mail! I am sooooo happy to see this as a topic on bigger pockets! People think direct mail is dead, but it is still going strong producing higher returns than other forms of online marketing!

  3. Adam Spencer

    Thanks for the info. I am new and looking to get my first deal. Would you mind sharing the website you send them to so I can get an idea of what to put on mine. I like this idea as I reall don’t want them calling me as I work a lot and cannot answer the phone. Thanks for the crest article

    • Adam, the game of direct mail is really tricky until you learn how to approach it. Just think like the person who will be receiving the mail, and structure your message around that. Think about what will make you take action if you was that property owner receiving that post card.

  4. Deshan Kennedy

    Great article Antonio. Based on your articles and the examples that you may include in your direct mail regarding credit, have you had any experience of reaching out to credit repair companies to establish a relationship with them for referrals? If so, what has been your experience with them?

    • We have done those things in the past with other REI clients who wanted to work with credit companies like that. It’s all possible you just need to know how to approach them so that they will always say YES. If it’s not something that can benefit them then don’t waste your time. Make it work their wild to work with you.

      But before you approach them make sure you have all your ducks in the row to take on those leads. Educational websites, and content will close the deal.

  5. David Sicherman

    You said : “Finally, I would like to say that the only way that this system works is not having a landing page.”

    Not sure what you mean by this… you just saying not to have a “we buy houses” landing page and instead make your site’s index page a content collection?

    Also I don’t understand how this translates to a 40% response rate. Your initial mailing would assumably be to a list of 1000 making your intro, so are you saying the next time you mail the same list a “we buy houses” card, you get 40% response?

    • Hi David

      The response rate I’m talking about is the people who take action, and don’t just throw your mailing in the trash. I’m talking about those who do call you or come over to your website which is what you should prefer.

      You don’t want 100 people calling you asking you the same question over and over again. Honestly most might be tire kickers anyway just on the phone wasting your don’t want that.

      • Steve G.

        Hi Antonio, Great post and I’d like to elaborate further on David’s question if I may:

        So is the 40% response rate from a single mailing, or would you expect your “campaign” to be 5 or 6 mailings to the same list – returning a 40% response rate following the whole campaign?

        • Steve, I base these numbers off a single mailing. Now can these numbers be higher or lower? Yes, I’m just given you the average of what can possibly happen if implemented correctly.

          Steve, how are you doing your mailing?

  6. Drama, Personally I have never bought a list in my life and my never unless I really, and I mean really have to. I love the leads that find me instead of me hunting them down. If someone finds my website, video or profiles online by doing a search for something like…

    “Need to sell my house fast in Dallas or I’m in foreclosure in Little Rock”

    This lead is more hotter, and more likely to translate into something I would buy. You don’t have to bother people about their properties, people will tell you when their ready to sell.

    The issues just comes down to the marketing which is what most people struggle with. So think about your market and attack it from other angles that the other investors are not.

      • Hi John

        If you can go back through my list of blog posts here on BP you will see how I explain this in more detail in those earlier post. Just to sum it to you, and all those who read this blog post.

        The key is to create a website center around your local market such as the cities you want to invest in. Then you must create epic-wow content from blog post, videos, seo and networking.

        All these tools put together give you something that 95% of the REI don’t have which is an online presence. Having this forces people who need help buying or selling a property to seek you out online.

        Even if I get one lead per day from all of my online marketing which is extremely easy to do once you establish your ranking online. I can easily say that I can close on at least 10 by given the numbers.

        The reason why is because these people searched online, and found help which is my website that educated them about their issues.

        At the end of the day it’s about creating good content that solves the searches problems, and the rest will take care of its self.

        • John Hamilton

          Hi Antonio,

          Great article!

          It seems you have great return of off SEO and maximizing your website to pull in your leads. I’m assuming you also have some system behind that to organize those leads? I will look at your past posts/blogs on this.

          I for one have started a DM campaign and I’m using my website to not only capture those leads, but to market to gather even more leads, like utilizing SEO. If you have a great website, why not market that, too?

  7. Walter Pape


    Great post and love your copy within the article as well!! Once, a lead options-in what is your follow up and how do you qualify your leads? What is your exit strategy? I am about to send out my first direct mail camping for the next 3 months in my area. I have narrowed it down my direct mail to two zip codes that in the last 180 days and within the last year have the heaviest activity of cash buyers and highest percentage of homes with 50% or more equity from out state absentee owners. I will do a split a/b test on the zip codes based on how I send out material. The purpose of where I am marketing is to find cash buyers quickly and homes that are more likely to have motivated sellers. My exit strategy will be to wholesale these properties. Thoughts?

    Looking forward to your response and thank you again for sharing

    • Wow, Walter…lots to cover bro

      The keep this simple there is now one shoe that fits all. Qualifying leads can be done on may scales from over the phone or my favorite which is on the website. Your website must send the potential leads through the funnel to qualify them.

      From here you can pick through the ones that interest you, and give or sell the ones that don’t fit your profile.

      • Walter Pape

        Antonio, my man, Im fired up from your post!!!

        I’m all about keeping it simple 😉 It would be interesting to hear your conversion rates at each stage. Personally, this is where I am most excited to track!

        Whats your exit strategy once you found a lead that you like?

        • Walter, the exit strategy can be in different forms depending on what type of investing you’er doing. But my exit strategy is to always look at the numbers first, and then evaluate the property.

          If its’ good then take action from seeing the property in person to even closing on it. Too many variables

  8. Lupe Rucker


    Very informative. I am preparing to do my first direct mailing and really like the wording used in the postcard. I like the different topics on your post card, it really states that you are willing to help
    a person. The topics are settling. I look forward to creating a website center also, this makes a lot more
    sense than placing Ugly Bandit Signs in the area. Thanks for sharing.

    • Lupe, you’er 100% correct

      Adopting this model will allow you to become the expert in your local real estate market. This is what will drive leads your way at the end of the day. Same goes to you as a person if you get sick, what you do is that you go see the expert Right…which is the Doctor…

  9. I agree. Great article with some really useful tips. I really love the sample mailer which shows home owners topics that they are likely more interested in learning about. It’s about educating them and earning their trust. Presenting yourself as a resource, rather than just another real estate agent looking for a quick close, goes a long way in building a positive company brand.

  10. Great thinking Antionio. We often forget to come from the stand point of “whats in it for them” when creating our marketing. I will certainly take a few points from your article and add them to the mix. I’ve been focusing on my email newsletter and am getting 33-36% response rates. I have no doubt adding some of your ideas to the next one might get me to the elusive 40+%. I recently added SumoMe to my web site and their system has increased my newsletter sign up rate by 300%. Have you tried it yet?

    Thanks again… Gene Urban

    • Yo Gene
      I get really happy when I see people using email marketing to grow their business. It’s an effective platform if you can keep subscribers around by offering them great content. Your response rate is really good also so please keep that up.

      When it comes to SumoMe..I haven’t ever used it but will look into it.

  11. This is a very interesting strategy. My website basically says “we buy houses” in the URL. I am working on getting a blog set up, but do you think that would detract from people going to check out resources on the website from the postcard if “WeBuyHouses” was part of the link? If so, would you recommend setting up a separate blog from my house buying website? Seems like double the SEO work…

    • The “WeBuyHouses’ concept needs to be rethought about. No need of getting a brand new site when you can just change your approach. Just come in with an educational approach instead of wanted to just by their house, and you should get a higher response rate.

      Think about just making a few changes to the layout, and pages instead of doing a complete over haul.


  12. suzgo phiri

    @antonio this is a great article and after reading it I was just like Justin since I was taught to include the “home buyers” in my website but now I definitely understand how coming at it from a different angle would make folks less skeptical and more receptive. Thanks

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