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Comparing Direct Mail & Email for Real Estate Marketing Campaigns Blog Feature
Angela Medlar

By: Angela Medlar on January 10th, 2018

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Comparing Direct Mail & Email for Real Estate Marketing Campaigns

Direct Mail | Real Estate

With all of the competition for your audience’s attention – not only within the real estate space, but in marketing overall – it’s become increasingly difficult to reach potential buyers and sellers. And it can become even more challenging to connect with your audience if you’re on a budget.

One of the biggest decisions you face as a real estate marketer is choosing the channels and tools that will get you the most exposure and biggest bang for your buck. The two most common mediums used are direct mail and email. But which will better help you achieve your marketing goals?

Both direct mail and email are effective in their own right. They each bring their own strengths and weakness to the real estate industry. But of the two, which is best for you?

The following is a comparison of the most important pros and cons of the two marketing channels within the real estate marketing.

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The Pros Of Real Estate Email Marketing

From data and analytics to the speed of delivery and results, there are several key advantages to email:

Clear Reporting Data: If you most crave transparency into the effectiveness of your campaigns, email marketing provides a long list of data and statistics to assess your performance. These stats include delivery rate, engagement rate, click-through rate, social sharing data and more. With this comprehensive information, you can gain valuable insight into what’s working and not working within your campaigns. And this knowledge empowers you to tweak your efforts to better engage your prospects.

Instant A/B Testing: Not sure which subject line to go with? Not sure what kind of content or offer to provide your recipients? Don’t know the best day or time to send your emails? Email marketing allows you to test many different variables of your campaign, giving you real-time feedback on what’s resonating with your audience. As a best practice, test your email campaigns with a small segment first. That way, you can assess which of two different subject lines performs best, for example. Then, you could choose to use the best-performing subject line in your overall campaign, optimizing the effectiveness and engagement of your efforts.

Speed: Considering the real-time nature of email, there’s no better medium to use than email if you’re looking to create, send and get responses to your content quickly. If you’re trying to beat your competition to a targeted property or raise awareness for a fast-approaching event, email marketing will provide you with the quickest way to run your campaign. After all, a single hour - can be make or break a deal.

The Cons of Real Estate Email Marketing

As great as email marketing advantages are, they also comes with some downsides:

Oversaturation: Considering the pros of email marketing, nearly every single marketer is using email in an attempt to reach their prospects. With so many brands across the globe sending massive amounts of promotional emails, email competition is incredibly intense. And this oversaturated medium has made email marketing as a whole less impactful.

Lack of Personalization: Although many marketers are getting more creative, email inherently feels more impersonal, standardized and automated. Without a human and personal touch, your prospects can easily get the impression that you’re not interested in connecting with them on a personal level – even if that’s your intention.

Delete, Spam and Unsubscribe: Considering both of the above factors, it’s no surprise that 70% of consumers feel they’re receiving too many marketing emails. And because their inboxes are flooded with email on a daily basis, they’re that much more likely to delete your messages without giving them real thought, or worse, marking them as spam or unsubscribing from your emails altogether.

The Pros of Real Estate Direct Mail Marketing

Now to the medium that’s gotten a bad rap ever since email burst onto the marketing scene:

Increased Response Rate: According to a recent Harvard Business Review article found that direct mail marketing has a higher response rate than email. Really, this shouldn’t come as a big surprise given how intense the email competition is. But the ability to hyper-personalize direct mail pieces and their enhanced visuals also make it much easier to capture your audience’s attention.

Greater Brand Awareness: If the goal of your real estate campaign is to raise brand awareness, especially in a specific geographic area, direct mail is one of your best options. Upward of 75% of people report that they remember a brand after seeing printed information about. When they see the same information digitally, their retention rate is just 44%.

Increased Lifespan: We know how short our readers’ fuses are when it comes to promotional emails. Just a few clicks delete your message forever. WIth direct mail, however, your marketing piece has a much longer “shelf life,” meaning it won’t be thrown away as quickly as emails are deleted. In fact, recipients hold on to direct mail pieces for 17 days on average. Conversely, emails have an average shelf life of two seconds.

Ability to Integrate Offline and Online: It’s nearly impossible to turn digital content into physical, offline content. But direct mail brings the unique advantage of successfully encouraging users to interact with a brand online from an offline medium. Your prospects can easily use their smartphone to snap a code or enter a url and instantaneously connect to a website or other personalized marketing material. In fact, our research has shown that:

  • 65% of prospects prefer to read both printed brochures and online posts before making a purchase
  • 56% of prospects find that “mail makes me feel valued,” while on 40% said the same for email
  • 51% of prospects prefer a company to use a combination of mail and email

The Cons Of Real Estate Direct Mail Marketing

Now to the drawbacks of direct mail, the first of which you may have been thinking about the entire previous section:

Greater Expense: Direct mail can certainly become quite expensive. With the costs you can run up designing direct mail pieces to the cost of printing, there’s typically greater expenses associated this medium. In fact, Harvard Business Review showed that direct marketing can be 100 times more expensive than email marketing. With such a variance between the costs of direct mail and email, many businesses don’t even consider direct mail as a real option. But it all comes down to ROI and how effective direct mail campaigns are. 

Time Investment: Considering the design and printing elements mentioned above, creating direct mail pieces can also take a great deal of time. If you leverage direct mail, you not only need to take into account the design and printing of the piece, but also the time it takes to mail it to your prospects. With that being said there are also direct mail services, like Enthusem, that save you on time and the logistical nightmare by allowing you to send out personalized mail in one step. 

Limited Data: With direct mail, it’s quite difficult to know how your mailer impacted your prospects. Did they receive your piece? Did they open it? Did it interest them? You simply don’t have the answer to these questions in many cases, and that makes it difficult to track the ROI and determine if a piece is truly successful. That's why it's important that if you're going to do direct mail you are strategic about it and track mailers with purls or access codes.  

With all that being said, as a company in the direct mail industry we hear these cons about traditional direct mail more often than not, which is why we took the old ways and integrated them with new technology to make it easier, less of a logistical nightmare, trackable, less expensive and more effective. 

Who’s Your Winner?

Generally speaking, there’s no clear winner between email and direct mail. But your real estate company’s unique needs could certainly dictate which is best for you – from your business goals to your budget.

What we have determined, though, is that if you want to send a more personalized message, ensure that your message will be seen and engaged with and increase your response rate, you should incorporate email and direct mail together.

Like an investment portfolio, having a healthy mix of marketing campaign mediums will help produce the best results. And integrating marketing campaign is especially effective within the real estate industry.

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