February 23

Real Estate Farming Direct Mail 101

Agents are constantly bombarded with new ways of reaching potential clients, and most of these marketing gimmicks are just that: gimmicks. Why do the latest fads always get the most attention? 

The truth is pretty simple. You can’t trick someone into working with you, and there are no shortcuts to getting consistent results. 

Proven marketing tactics, like farming postcards for realtors, still work incredibly well. When consistently used with other reliable farming techniques, direct mail can be one of the best ways to keep your brand, messaging, and contact information directly in front of qualified prospects. 

Here are a few stats about real estate direct mail postcards that you might find surprising: 

  • Response rates for real estate can be as high as 9%, though the average response rate is still 4.9% across all industries. 
  • These numbers are trending up! 
  • Recipients are 70% more likely to open direct mail with personalized content.  

Before you jump in and place a bulk order for 10,000 print mail pieces, there are some key principles of direct mail to keep in mind, including best practices for design, messaging, delivery cadence, and data that will keep you from wasting time and money. 

Pick Your Real Estate Farm Geography 

You can skip this step if you have already picked a farming territory. If not, then you’ll need to start by determining a specific geographic region to farm. We cover real estate farming in detail elsewhere, but there are a few things to remember when selecting an area: 

  • Your “farm” is a zipcode or neighborhood where you will strive to become the most recognized, preferred, and recommended agent. Accordingly, you’ll invest time and money into marketing and sales campaigns to reach these specific homeowners. 
  • Make sure that you can get reliable, updated homeowner data on the region that you want to farm. If this type of data is unavailable then you won’t know for sure which homeowners live at a specific address.  
  • Your farming territory doesn’t need to be huge, and most experts recommend aiming for a total of 300-500 homes. 
  • Do plenty of research on your farm to understand why people like living there, what makes the neighborhoods desirable, the current home prices, and more.  

Nail Your Messaging and Design: 6 Tips for Success 

Effective real estate direct mail postcard campaigns rely on consistency and clear, direct messaging. Though they seem simple and rather small, postcards (even full-page flyers) don’t give you a lot of room to communicate what matters most. Below are 6 key design and messaging principles to help improve your direct mail results:  

  1. Always provide a unique or high-value call to action. One common example is to send recipients to an automated valuation landing page that provides a free home value quote to interested prospects. 
  2. Speak to your specific audience. Generic is the enemy of good direct mail messaging, and your prospects need to know that you deeply understand what matters to them. Don’t be afraid to use direct, emotional language that will resonate and stand out.  
  3. Use neighborhood-specific language or references. Showing that you are familiar with specific aspects of a neighborhood can help build rapport and make you memorable when compared to competitors. 
  4. Use your headshot. If you plan to spend time cultivating a territory through door knocking, in-person events, and open houses then it’s highly beneficial to familiarize prospects with who you are – including what you look like! This is a great way to establish a personal connection, and it will make you seem more approachable (along with strengthening recall).   
  5. Include reviews. Always feature positive testimonials on your print mail pieces. Try to keep these reviews short, and let prospects know where they can read more referrals and testimonials (e.g., your Facebook page, website, etc.). 
  6. Focus on how you can help them get their desired results. Stick to the facts that matter (e.g., recent sale prices of nearby homes) and don’t include irrelevant data or personal anecdotes. If possible, show how you produced a desirable outcome for another resident of the same neighborhood.  

Determine Your Direct Mail Cadence 

You’ve got the perfect design and message. Is it time to send weekly postcards yet? 

Not quite. It’s easy to overwhelm prospects, especially when they’re considering a large decision like buying or selling their home. In most cases, it’s best to prioritize consistency over frequency.  

As a rule of thumb, you should usually aim to send monthly campaigns, with quarterly campaigns as a minimum. Exactly how often you send campaigns will depend on several factors, including: 

  • The number of homes in your farm. 
  • Your total budget. 
  • Response rates and other success metrics. 

Some tools will allow you to set up recurring direct mail campaigns so you can put prospecting on “autopilot.” We’ll talk more about those solutions at the end of this article. 

Step-by-Step Guide to Launching Your First Real Estate Direct Mail Campaign  

There are a few ways to try direct mail without using marketing tools like SmartZip. However, other approaches will be more manual and require some project management skills. If you want to run the entire process by yourself, be prepared to roll up your sleeves and get to work on the following steps: 

  1. Locate a bulk data source that provides verified homeowner data and addresses. Make sure these addresses can be filtered by zip code so you can replicate your farming territory as closely as possible.  
  2. Use graphic design software (or hire a graphic designer) to create branded postcards. Canva is a popular browser-based graphic design tool that offers a very capable free version. 
  3. Make sure that your postcard has a clear call-to-action (CTA) on it, and that you can track the traffic to your CTA if it’s a phone number or website. 
  4. If you are sending prospects to a specific landing page, double-check that it has been built and launched prior to the direct mail campaign release. 
  5. Provide your final design file and the edited list of recipients to a bulk mailing service, including USPS or a private company. 
  6. Track the results of your campaign by checking the analytics for your webpage, new phone calls, website submissions, etc. 

The Best Tools for Real Estate Farming Postcards 

If this all sounds like a lot, don’t worry. There is a better way. 

SmartZip’s full suite of tools make it incredibly easy to design and send postcards to a precise audience of qualified prospects. 

Here are just a few of the benefits for agents: 

  • Find and immediately use the homeowner addresses in your exact farming territory. No need to shop for data or sort through huge excel lists. 
  • Get access to “smart” data, with homeowner insights and scoring that help you know exactly who to target. 
  • Exceptional bulk mail prices make campaigns affordable. 
  • Pick from proven templates and add your branding, or create a new design in just a few clicks.  
  • Easily time your direct mail campaigns with other farming efforts like door-knocking, online ads, or phone calls. 
  • Give your prospects access to automated valuation pages as a high-value CTA. 
  • See precisely which prospects respond to your campaigns. 
  • Keep branding consistency between all your marketing efforts, from online ads to direct mail.  

The best part is that you can do all of this without being an expert marketer, graphic designer, or project manager. If you’re tired of seeing other agents have success with direct mail, request a demo today to see how you can improve your farming results by 4.6X.