Yellow Letters vs. Postcards: Which Produces More High Quality Real Estate Leads?

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Oftentimes I am asked which marketing tool I prefer to generate leads: yellow letters or postcards. Before I break down both of these tools, I just wanted to clear the air: Real estate is a hyper-local industry. What works best for me may not be best for you. Your results will likely vary based on several factors, such as price point, neighborhoods, city, zip code, lead type, etc. So please keep the pitchforks down.

Yellow Letters

Yellow letters get the best response rate, hands down, no questions asked. If you want your phone to ring immediately, then this may be the tool for you. However, many of the leads you receive will not be as motivated to sell at a discount — or even list their property for retail if you are both an agent and investor. Be forewarned that these leads are notorious for generating hateful calls. I have had people threaten to file a lawsuit, I’ve been cussed out, and I’ve even had people accuse me of stalking them. The reason these generate such a high response rate is simple. The letters appear authentic and handmade if done correctly. Paired with an envelope that people must open, it really gets their attention compared to postcards, which are often sorted into the trash.

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

The higher response rate may work to your benefit, especially if you are an agent and/or have a wide array of exit strategies available to you. Assuming it’s a decent lead, sellers always appreciate options. Sometimes the numbers won’t work for a flip for what their asking, but the deal might work if you take over their payments. Or maybe the house is ready to list on the MLS. In my local markets, I have not found this to be the case, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this strategy works better in other markets.

From years of split tests sending yellow letters to the same lead lists as postcards, I have found that not only do postcards tend to outperform yellow letters in the long run, but the amount of tire kickers you have to deal with is substantially lower using this method. And that is a great benefit for me: Like many of you, I am very busy, and after doing this for several years, it gets exhausting getting call after call with absolutely zero potential.south dallas real estatefort worth real estate

One thing I would like to caution about regarding yellow letters: Please do not send these to probate leads. It will come across as very offensive, and you will not get any leads that way. Instead, I would recommend for this specific lead type to stick to postcards or a generic white letter.

Postcards

Although the response is lower with postcards, they do some of the filtering up front for you. People will not generally call you off a postcard unless they are looking for more information. So the leads you tend to get are in my experience much more serious and willing to sell overall. I don’t try to hide my message to get calls. I state outright that we are looking to buy houses at a discount, with cash, no repairs needed. And if you get that message in front of the right people, they will call you. Don’t be afraid to hide your message, whatever it may be, whatever marketing tool you choose.

People seem to measure success of their marketing efforts by the sum total of phone calls they generate. I don’t care about that. I would rather get seven calls a month and close four deals than try to handle a larger volume produced by other marketing pieces where most of the leads turn into dead ends or are just tire kickers.

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

Another benefit with postcards that I don’t see touched on very often is the cost per mailer. Postcards are substantially cheaper than yellow letters and allow you to cast a wider net with your marketing budget. Because of this, you can also hit the same prospects a great number of times over the same period of time if you choose to since they are cheaper. In my business I notice conversion rate goes up drastically between the fourth and fifth contact. It’s a numbers game, and you need to stick the course to build your lead pipeline. If your marketing budget is limited, then postcards might be a great choice.

Build a Solid List

Of course, none of this matters if you don’t have a solid lead list to build from. You will pull your hair out in frustration if you don’t take the time to do it properly. So please ensure you take the time to build a solid list with highly targeted leads, whatever your exit strategy may be.

What marketing tool do your prefer in your real estate business? Have you seen better results with yellow letters or postcards?

Let’s talk in the comments section 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.

16 Comments

  1. Matt Swartzendruber

    “Don’t be afraid to hide your message, …” I believe this is a typo. Just an FYI.

    Thanks for this. I am fairly new and have only sent a couple of campaigns. I am gearing up to send out a campaign starting the new year (highly targeted of coarse). Any specific type/size of postcard that’s worked best for you?

    Thanks again!

    • Raymond Sylverne

      “People seem to measure success of their marketing efforts by the sum total of phone calls they generate. I don’t care about that. I would rather get seven calls a month and close four deals than try to handle a larger volume produced by other marketing pieces where most of the leads turn into dead ends or are just tire kickers.”

      I was confused as well until I went back and read it again. Essentially what he’s saying is that while yellow letters will yield a higher response rate of calls. The majority of them will be dead leads. People who respond to postcards, on the other hand, while less will more likely be willing to sale at a discount.

  2. Carol Arnold

    Very insightful.
    I am a list broker working with a lot of real estate investors as well clients in other fields. I have one very important tip to pass along.
    NEVER INCLUDE VERBIAGE IN YOUR MAIL PIECE TO LET PEOPLE KNOW THAT YOU KNOW THEIR PERSONAL INFORMATION
    Some of the worst phone calls I have fielded were the result of a hospital’s campaign to recruit for a study. They included in their letter that the recipient had received the invitation because they were women between the ages of 65 and 85. Rather, it should say “we are looking for people who are……” and the recipient can think – hey that’s me. What a coincidence”.
    If you target seniors – you might say; “as people get older, they often want to simplify” rather than “now that you are in your golden years, don’t you want…..” or (and I exaggerate here) “What are you doing in a 4 bedroom house at your age?”
    I like to describe it as the “creepy factor”. Will a person feel creeped out – or that their privacy has been invaded that you know what you know about them?

  3. jason fraser

    @Chris feltus

    great article.two follow up questions

    What sequence do you typical use:

    Example
    mailing 1 Letter
    Mailing 2 letter
    Mailing 3 letter
    mailing 4 letter
    Mailing 5 postcard
    Mailing 6 postcard

    mailing 1 letter
    Mailing 2 letter
    Mailing 3 letter
    mailing 4 postcard
    Mailing 5 postcard
    Mailing 6 postcard

    2. For higher end homes above the average price for the area, do you still use yellow letters or do you go with a typed white letter for credibility.

  4. Mark Beno

    @Chris Feltus, thanks for the DM tips. I’ve done both letters and postcards, and got a better response rate with letters, but no strikes. I’ll continue with the postcards since they’re less expensive. Looking to do my first deal, and trying to stay the course!

  5. Luis Ortega

    @Chris Feltus thanks for your post. I have been diving into BP again to get back on track. You have been the one that has been writing most the post í have read and gotten refresher from but also learned something new. Thanks for that.

    @Carol Arnold loved your comment and thank you for letting us know some great insiders tips.

  6. Linda Collins

    Hi Chris I am not a realtor but very interested in real estate investing. My question is once you find a solid lead how do you go about getting all the legal paperwork done….do you hire a realtor just for that?…..thanks in advance to what might seem like a silly question.

    • brandon england

      You’d do well to find a meetup group to go to and try to find an agent to partner with. I’m an agent in GA and except in very rare circumstances, sellers pay commissions, not buyers. You could pay an agent to do a BPO for you but if you’ve got funds, and want properties, they’ll work for you based on the expectation of closing a deal for you and maybe selling it if it’s a flip.

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