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Direct Mail During a Pandemic: Here's What You Need to Know

April 14 2020

mailboxes 1838667 1280Timing is essential, even more so now than ever before. As we observe the landscape around us change, it's hard to know exactly what to do. Should we continue to advertise and promote our brands? Do we stop everything and re-evaluate? Do we shift our messaging to be relevant with the times? If there was a clear roadmap of how to navigate things during this time, what would it tell us?

Well, it would hopefully tell us to stay in touch with our sphere of influence. Being there for the people who matter the most and offering help during these trying times is essential, and it all begins with a strong mailing list that is consistently updated.

People are at staying home, just waiting for some sort of entertainment. For many homeowners, getting the mail is the highlight of their day and this is one of the best times to be sending direct mail.

It offers a higher response rate than all digital channels combined, according to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). And, although it typically costs more to market via direct mail, the ROI is astounding: 11.54 percent on average, according to the DMA.

Although email inboxes are cluttered with appeals from businesses, and most aren't opened, let alone read, our snail mail boxes have become refreshingly clean of "junk mail." As well, Americans are far more tolerant of the advertising they receive in their home mailbox.

Direct mail marketing continues to experience a renaissance or, as legendary copywriter Robert W. Bly calls it, "The Direct Mail Revolution."

Real estate farming and direct mail go hand-in-hand, but the success of a campaign rests on the quality of the mailing list. Here's what you should do first:

Determine your target audience

A quality mailing list targets people who are most likely to be responsive to what you're offering. A strategically targeted mailing list is what's needed.

For real estate agents, the first step in determining your target audience is easy: they will be either homeowners or renters. Do you want to list or sell?

Next, you'll need to niche down into your chosen group. For instance, do you want to target landlords or owners who occupy the home? Is there a certain price range in which you prefer to work?

If you'll target tenants, you may want to narrow down the audience by income but you'll definitely want to choose tenants within the average real estate consumer age range. You'll waste money mailing your marketing pieces to a community filled with college students.

By the way, listing agents will want to use the average homeowner tenure in their farm area as one segmentation point.

For instance, the average homeowner in Hartford, Connecticut stays put for 12.52 years, according to Jessica Guerin at HousingWire.com. Tenures vary across the country, so check your MLS tax records to try to get a handle on how long homeowners stay in their homes in your farm area.

Once you've determined who you will target in a real estate direct mail campaign, keep that group's characteristics top of mind. Christina Newberry at Hootsuite suggests creating a target market statement to serve as a reminder. We've tweaked hers to make it more applicable to the listing agent:

Our target market includes Happy Knolls subdivision owner-occupants, with homes valued in excess of $300,000 and who purchased their home before 2013.

Now that you know who you are targeting, compiling a mailing list will be a lot easier and your results will be vastly more valuable.

Just remember to stay in touch and be gentle with your marketing during times of distress. It should be all about helping and educating and less about selling and prospecting.