How To Start a Real Estate Direct Mail Marketing Campaign

How To Start a Real Estate Direct Mail Marketing Campaign
26 March, 2024 • ... • 64 views
Varvara Potekhina
by Varvara Potekhina

Marketers from various industries all around the globe use direct mail to grow their businesses. Though email marketing offers more segmentation options, provides more detailed reports and is cheaper, direct mail has its indisputable benefits. It offers higher open rates, ROI (return on investment) and a better response rate.

These pros are sound, especially for industries with high average checks like real estate. In this article, we explore how to start a real estate direct mail marketing campaign.

What is real estate direct mail marketing and how does it work?

Direct mail is the distribution of printed materials to selected audiences with the expectation that the recipients will take the desired action: call back, write an email, or visit your website or your local branch. The frequency of mailing can be different depending on your goals and budget. The mailing pieces can vary from a postcard to a full typed letter.

Real estate marketers (i.e. agents, investors or in-house employees) often use direct mail to find properties whose owners might be interested in selling. Marketers then distribute printed materials with their message and wait for the owners to contact them.

Why you should use direct mail marketing for your real estate business

Direct mail has higher open and response rates than email marketing — as well as a better ROI — so it gives a real estate agent a higher chance of closing a sale. You don’t make sales every day in real estate, so every little thing counts. If a postcard can drive your client closer to conversion, you definitely should use it.

Direct mail also allows real estate investors to contact people living in a certain district or building. That is something email marketing can not do. Summing up, direct mail is great for spreading messages from real estate investors.

A mailing piece from a real estate agent where they describe their vast experience
Source: Who’s Mailing What!

How you can build a real estate direct mail marketing campaign, step-by-step

Direct mail can increase your conversion rates only if it is organized properly. There are several steps to complete when managing your real estate direct mail campaign – let’s go through them one by one. 

Determine your target audience

Apart from geography – selecting the people who live in a certain area or building – there are other ways to narrow down your target audience. There’s a lot of accessible information about recipients you could use to make your campaign efficient.

For example, some people might be more willing to sell their real estate than others. Owners can be highly motivated to sell when:

  • They are absentee owners. These are the people who own real estate but don’t live there. Most often the owners rent it out, but landlording can be exhausting.
  • The property was inherited. When people inherit real estate, they usually don’t have the experience in landlording, or the will to take care of said property. 
  • Previous tenants were evicted. Landlords who just had to deal with eviction can be too stressed to continue renting out the property.
  • The property is listed as expired. When people try to sell real estate via an agent and don’t manage to, the property is added to the expired listing. This adds another layer of motivation to sell.
  • The owners are tax delinquents. When one doesn’t pay their taxes, that likely means they are cash-strapped.
  • The owners are nearing a foreclosure. For instance, when people stop making their mortgage payments and the bank threatens to take their home away. You can contact these owners and stop the foreclosure process.
  • The owners are getting divorced. People going through a divorce can be extremely motivated to sell.

Build direct mailing lists

There are several ways to create a mailing list. Here are some of the most efficient ones:

  • Examine public records. You’ll be surprised how much information you can get via open sources. You can start with a visit to the county assessor’s office.
  • Driving for dollars. That means literally driving around the area and looking for abandoned buildings. You make a list of addresses and then check the public records for the owners to contact. It can take a lot of time, but it’s cheap.
  • Buy a list from a broker. Most of the sellers rely on easily accessible public services, like ListSource, Melissa Data, and Click2Mail.

Decide which direct mail pieces to send

When you have determined your target audience and created a mailing list, it’s time to create your message and come up with a good sales copy to spread the information.

There are several types of letters you may choose from. Make sure you save the layout: you might need it again in the future. The frequency of mailing can depend on the price of the mailing pieces so consider that.

Yellow letters

These are the typical letters on yellow paper, like those you would expect to receive from a neighbor. Yellow letters look personal and create a nice first impression.

A handwritten letter on yellow paper
Source: Lex Levinrad Real Estate Training

Some technologies let you print natural-looking handwriting. There even are robots which use real pens to write letters. You don’t have to spend hours handwriting your letters.

Typed letters

Being casual is not always the best choice. A printed letter can look really professional and offer better possibilities for creating an impressive layout.

A typed letter with a handwritten signature from a San Diego realtor
Source: The Addressers


Postcards are the cheapest to print and distribute. Some marketers argue that the response rate drops when you use postcards, but there’s no research to back that up. So don’t dismiss this method straight away.

A postcard from a real estate agent
Source: Postcard Mania


Flyers help you spread the news, inform about special offers — or simply remind your potential customers about an upcoming event. Flyers are cheap to produce and hold their own as a standalone item in a mailbox.

A flyer with the property promo and prices
Source: DesignHatt Inc

Think your text through

Your message should be valuable to the recipient. Their benefit should be the focus — your achievements are only relevant because they establish your credibility.

Value your recipients’ time as well. Your readers should grasp your value proposition within seconds. So make your message as short as possible.

Use high-quality materials

A nice layout doesn’t mean a thing if it’s printed on cheap thin paper. Whether you craft a postcard or a flyer, make sure the quality of materials you use for your direct mail matches the design in kind. You can even use materials that are nice to the touch — on top of looking good.

Test and analyze the results

There is no universal formula or perfect frequency for a successful direct mail campaign for any target audience. Experiment to see what works and what doesn’t. Try split testing: like A/B testing in email marketing, that is the process of altering a single element in your copy to see how it impacts the conversion. Try different letter types, paper colors, fonts, envelopes, texts — and even different weekdays for sending the letters.

4 tips to run a perfect direct mail campaign

Though a direct mail campaign needs a lot of testing and analyzing, there are some rules a marketer should follow to make it successful. Here’s what you can do to increase your chances of success.


And that is not limited to calling your recipient by name. Personalization means crafting an offer that fits the recipient’s interests and needs best. 

You can segment your audience by location, demographics, interests, or your past interactions and distribute targeted direct mail. 

You can write a separate letter for absentee owners, in which you show that you understand the hardships of landlording and offer an easy way out. 

Your letter to those who inherited property should be discreet and contain your condolences for someone who’s just lost a family member. 

Your copy for those who are going through a divorce should be very delicate and should show how you can help them sell quickly. 

You can provide examples and customer reviews relevant to every segment of your audience.

A personalized letter from real estate agents who just sold the neighbors’ property
Source: The Addressers

Use a clear call-to-action

A proper CTA gives your recipients an understanding of what to do next. You may want them to visit your website, make a phone call, join an event or visit your office. Make it clear what their next steps should be — otherwise, they’ll use the uncertainty as an excuse not to do anything.

You can use a CTA in any direct mail piece, whether it’s postcards, a typed letter or an event promo.

A real estate flier with CTA offering a free home valuation
Source: Jiggle

Integrate direct mail with email marketing

The example below shows how you can leverage email marketing when selling property. Email offers different options compared to direct mail — combining the two makes for a powerful combination though. You can raise your sales rate by almost 50%, while more than doubling the number of inquiries.

An email from a real estate agency with a call-to-action
Source: Really Good Emails

Take a look at our guide on email marketing vs direct mail to find out how to use the pair in conjunction and how the tools differ. You definitely shouldn’t dismiss real estate email marketing outright. If you get stuck on where to start, take a peek at our real estate newsletter ideas and real estate email templates.

A marketer’s goal is to find the best communication channel for the target audience. A part of it might respond better to an email rather than a physical letter — provide an option that feels more natural to them.

Establish a consistent schedule

Predictability breeds trust and makes your target audience feel safe. They know what to expect from you and when. So establish a direct mail routine and stick to it.

Select an optimal frequency that will allow you to achieve your goals and split-test different days of the week. Choose the ones with the highest response rate.

Key takeaways

Direct mail gives great open and response rates if implemented properly. Let’s quickly look over the main steps for running a perfect real estate direct mail campaign — to wrap things up:

  1. Determine your target audience first to create an effective direct mail campaign.
  2. Create direct mailing lists by examining public records, driving around or simply buying ready-made lists from a broker.
  3. Carefully think your copy through: it should be short and the offer’s benefits clear.
  4. Test different direct mail pieces: try yellow or handwritten letters for a more personal touch; typed letters for a professional look; postcards and flyers as a more unorthodox means.
  5. Use high-quality materials and give some thought to the ad’s layout.
  6. Analyze the results and adjust based on what worked and what flopped.
26 March, 2024
Article by
Varvara Potekhina
A marketer keen on writing. Experienced in PR, marketing and editing. Writing for Selzy I practice both my editing and marketing skills. I managed email marketing in almost all the projects I worked with for the last 10 years. My interests lie in IT, education and traveling.
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