Redesigned postcard mailings helped a suburban Philadelphia real estate broker increase its direct mail response rates by 46%.
The postcards are part of an integrated marketing program including email and social media.
Brett Furman, owner of a Re/Max Classic brokerage in St. Davids, PA, saw the boost as he increased his direct mail budget by 36% over the last two years. The homes Furman sells have an average price of $512,000 and take from one to three years to close; about 80 homes have been sold thanks in part to the mailings.
The postcards, which cost 86 cents per piece, are printed in a four-color format and measure 5-1/2-by-8-1/2 inches. The firm's old pieces—standard three-by-five inch black-and-white postcards—cost about 45 cents each.
About twice a month, Furman gets between 10 and 15 leads from postcards sent to lists of households compiled from property tax records within a five to 10 mile radius of the homes put up for sale, he says. The brokerage also has a direct mail housefile of 25,000 names, including prior clients who moved out of state.
"Generally speaking, postcard recipients call the brokerage instead of the other way around," he says. "'I got your card, I'm holding it in my hand,' they'll say."
Furman also markets via email. To date, his firm has built an opt-in email base of about 2,500 names, collected from people visiting its offices.
To help nurture its leads, Re/Max uses the email database to send out a monthly newsletter containing information on topics ranging from financing options to local home maintenance and repair services, says Furman.
Re/Max is also posting videos and other materials promoting new homes to social media networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. In the past year, Re/Max has gotten 20 referrals through these channels, he says.
"This has helped immensely," he says. "It builds relationships and [enables us to] bond with customers and to retain repeat referral business."
Nevertheless, Furman is bullish on using conventional direct mail.
One reason is that over the past five or six years he began noticing that mailboxes became less and less cluttered as more and more real estate marketers turned have toward email.
"I'd say since about 2006 people have stopped spending on direct mail so the competition for mailbox space has decreased," he says. "Some days I may be the only piece."
Indeed the overall volume of standard mail has been falling for some time and that partly threatens the survival of the U.S. Postal Service.
Just the same, Furman plans to accelerate his use of direct mail going forward despite the rising costs of the medium. "My success rate will improve as I have less competition in the mailbox."