Targeting Sellers With Direct Mail: How to Cast a Wide Net Without Losing Precision

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chris feltus

How your list performs will determine your success (or lack thereof) to a large degree in real estate. Casting a broad, laser-focused net for lead generation may sound like an oxymoron, but as it turns out, at least in real estate, you can have your cake and eat it, too. Now I’m not trying to suggest direct mail is the only way to generate business, but for most of us, it’s one of the solid cornerstones.

When I meet with people at real estate meet ups, I often hear people describe how they perform direct mail or obtain their lists. Often the answers from both experienced and new users involve shotgun methods in which the user buys lists from a source provider in bulk, carpet-bomb mails the prospects, crosses their fingers, and hopes for the best. And that makes me cringe. There is a better way.

You Can Have Your Cake and Eat it, Too

People seem to think when it comes to lists, your aim can either be 1) wide and broad or 2) precise and narrow. But why not both? As you have no doubt heard many times over by now, investing in real estate is a numbers game. If you are hitting the pavement as a real estate agent, knocking on doors for listings, you are probably going to have to knock on 50 to 100 doors before you can convert that effort to one listing. And people who perform at high levels usually know these numbers.

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

The same goes for direct mail. No matter how much mail you send out, there is one thing you can never create, and that’s urgency. You are always operating on the seller’s time table, not yours. It could be by pure luck that your mail piece just happens to hit them at the exact right time when the planets align and they are ready to make the call. But we want to maximize our time, money, and ROI, so we have to target and do so in bulk, especially if you want to keep your lead pipeline full at all times.

Casting Your Net With Broad Strokes

Deal with broad categories that will help ensure that you have the type of leads that will work for your business model. For example, if you are targeting high equity leads, you need to be looking at categories such as absentee owners, probates, code violations, home owners with 65+ exemptions, etc.

Laser-Focused Precision

Now we can take these large lists and laser focus them. We do this by running multiple passes of predefined filters on them based on your criteria. This provides us with the volume we need to drill down and laser target within these large categories by using specific fields. You’ll want to narrow down based on things such as date of construction, deed date, out of state owners, square footage, tax assessed value, etc. All of this will help you laser-target your list (again, depending on your specific needs relative to your business and who you are trying to target).

If all of this list talk is overwhelming for you, just take a step back and ask yourself what your goals are. For example, if you are a real estate agent and want to start targeting luxury properties, how would you go about doing it? Start to reverse engineer different items or categories that would be relevant for you.

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

In one of my previous blog posts, I touched on this method in practice quite a bit. I shared a “secret” that allows me to find higher quality absentee owner leads that not only convert at a higher rate, but also make me more money. But it’s no secret; it’s just me simply following my own advice here in this post.

Now we can take these large lists and laser focus them. We do this by running multiple passes of predefined filters based on your criteria. This provides us with the volume we need to keep our lead pipeline full and ensures that every lead we send mailers to is of the highest quality possible. This is the best way to maximize your marketing dollars, ROI, and your time.

How do you make sure your direct mail is getting sent to the best possible individuals?

Share your secrets and tips below!

About Author

Chris Feltus

Chris is an active real estate investor who buys and flips houses in the Dallas real estate market. He enjoys helping others along on their journey. In addition, Chris operates as a licensed Realtor in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

8 Comments

  1. John Hamilton

    Awesome article, Chris!

    I like this approach. I actually performed it like this for my current and first DM campaign. Broad strokes with some laser focused filtering and viola!

    Such good advice. Now, I will be checking out your secret. Thanks for the link.

  2. Carol Arnold

    I couldn’t agree more. As a list broker, I have lots of beginning investors asking about what types of lists do I have? Do I have Absentee, seniors, high equity as if they were all separate files.
    It is better to use our mix and match approach with customized combinations. For example:
    1. Absentee owners, high equity, 10+ year ownership, single family home, 3+ bedrooms, age 50+, specify home market value
    2. For Owner Occupied you might look at age 64+, 15+ year ownership, single family etc.
    On any of these, add in home market value, square feet and more.
    Of course you need to be careful with zeroing in too tightly, because the numbers will keep getting smaller and smaller and you won’t have the numbers you need to get a decent return.

  3. jeff fairchild

    But carol how would I know they should be 64 years old? And how would I learn that owner occupied should be 64 whereas absentee should be 50? How does one know which criteria to even filter for? Yea they should have purchased it “a while ago” but isn’t that just so they will have equity? And whT is “a while?” How would I know that it should be pre 2000 vs pre 1995 or 2005?

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