Leave the “Farming” to Farmers and Use Data to Personalize Your Real Estate Postcard Marketing
If you’re reading this article, then there’s a solid chance that you’re either a realtor or you’re employed by one. Regardless, I’m sure you’ve come across quite a few real estate postcards. And I can pretty much guarantee that most of those were terrible.
For some reason, realtor postcards are prone to weird, cheesy content that is intended to be clever, eye-catching, and enticing. But instead, it comes across as cheap and off-putting.
Why is this? Why do so many real estate postcards miss the mark? It’s because they’re trying to appeal to the masses instead of carefully selecting their ideal customers.
What’s Wrong with Farming?
In the Real Estate industry, sending postcard mailers is often called “farming.” It’s the direct mail equivalent of an email blast. Only, instead of spamming inboxes, realtors spam mailboxes. Essentially, a realtor will send out as many printed postcards as possible to whatever addresses they can find. They pay little or no regard for the personal qualities and characteristics of the recipient. Most people choose this option when they’re looking for the cheapest and easiest advertising they can find. And frankly, they get what they pay for: Lackluster results.
That’s not to say that this technique has no value. Sending postcard mailers to every household can be an effective marketing strategy in certain situations. But at Scout, we believe that personalization is the key to unlocking powerful growth potential.
According to a 2016 survey conducted by InfoTrends, consumers are over 80% more likely to open and read a piece of direct mail if it is customized with personalization. Does that sound crazy? Is it too hard to believe? Well, it’s true. Check out this quote from a Target Marketing article which referenced the survey:
Survey Question: Does the customization or personalization of a direct mail piece make you more likely to open/read it? 29.2 percent said, “Yes, much more likely,” and 55 percent said, “Yes, a little more likely.” With numbers like that, you need to be personalizing.
So what does it mean to personalize real estate postcards? What does that actually look like?
Before we get into the details about what you should be doing, let me clear up any confusion by explaining what you should not be doing.
People’s homes are their most significant investment and their biggest expense. They take their investment seriously, and it’s not something you should joke about. Don’t try to stand out by being cute or funny. Because although you might grab their attention for a moment, you won’t convince anyone that you are a competent professional who is worthy of trust.
Here’s what I’m talking about:
Don’t do this. It’s toad-ally dumb.
Moooooove this idea to the garbage can.
Do you get the point? These postcards are nothing more than hard-copy memes. They convey no sense of competency or professionalism. And in the end, you’re the one paying the price. Every card you send is money coming out of your pocket. So spend your resources wisely and pay attention to the information provided in this article.
Data, Data, Data
Okay, so how can realtor postcards be personalized? In a word: Data.
Across all industries, data is the driving force behind successful marketing strategies. And because the internet is a self-feeding machine, it’s easy to think that digital channels are the only way to capitalize on our current information revolution.
But that’s simply not the case.
Scout has harnessed the power of data and combined it with the versatility of Variable Data Printing to unleash endless possibilities for marketers. And over the years, we’ve discovered that our personalization services are especially useful for the real estate industry.
I’ve structured this article into three main categories that are most relevant for realtors. We’ll explore each one, and I’ll share some examples to show how you can drastically increase your incoming leads and overall revenue growth with personalized postcards.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Consumer Data
- Home & Location Data
- Sales Data
But before we begin…
I want to make myself available to answer any questions you may have. If this article doesn’t provide you with the information you’re looking for, please let me know. Or if you learned something new, and you’d like more details, I’m happy to help. I geek out over this type of stuff, and I can talk about it for days. Don’t hesitate to drop me a line, and I’ll get back with you right away.
With that said, let’s begin.
We’ll start with the largest and most versatile category. Customer Data includes practically anything about the characteristics, behavior, and interests of individuals.
Demographic information is compiled from various sources, including online and offline channels. It includes not only biological characteristics, but also behavior and interests. And in today’s Internet world, everything is collected and measured. Every time someone swipes their card, “likes” a post, or texts their spouse, the information is always gathered and stored.
There are four types of Customer Data:
- Personal Data (Personally Identifiable and Non- Personally Identifiable)
Examples: Name, Address, IP Address, Email Address, Date of Birth, Phone Number, Gender, Race, Job Details, Cookies, Device Identifiers
- Engagement Data
Examples: Website and App Interactions, Social Media Behavior, Email Engagement, Paid Ad Engagement, Customer Service Info
- Behavioral Data
Examples: Transactional Data (Purchase History), Product Usage, Qualitative Usage Data (clicks, scrolls, mouse movements, etc.)
- Attitudinal Data
Examples: Preferences, Motivations, Sentiments, Customer Satisfaction, Product Desirability
All I see is a smiley face in the middle. I can’t look away. Source
Now, large numbers of people are bothered by this collection practice. Some feel that it is an unjust invasion of privacy, while others simply want a share of the profits made from their personal information. As a realtor, you should be thinking only one thing: Targeting.
This is where you can put all of this customer data to use. Instead of farming out your postcards to entire zip codes, leverage the available information to find your most ideal customers, and watch your ROI skyrocket.
So how does it work, and what steps do you need to take? I’m so glad you asked.
Successfully targeting your audience is a three-step process:
- Market Segmentation
- Market Targeting
- Product Positioning
I’m not much for chess. I’m more of a checkers guy. Source
Divide your real estate market into groups based on the available data. Start with the obvious ones like age, income level, homeowner/renter, etc. From there, you can further divide these categories into sub-groups based on ranges of information. For example: Ages 35-45, Income Level $100,000-$200,000, etc.
Whatever your needs are, state them explicitly and be as specific as you can. Go ahead and write it all down. While you’re at it, review your sales data and compile a list of characteristics shared among the parties of previous closings. What do they have in common? Notice any patterns? The point is to get as detailed as you can. The more information you have, the better your targeting will be.
Now that you’ve segmented your market into the specified categories, it’s time to decide which segments you’d like to target. In other words, you need to choose which groups are most likely to be interested in your offer.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Are you trying to acquire new listings from retirees who want to downsize their lifestyle?
That data is readily available.
Or are you looking for buyers with incomes that are above a particular threshold?
You’ve got that information, too.
Would you like to avoid wasting money on mailers sent to college students or other groups which are unlikely to purchase a home?
Easy as pie!
By using the vast amount of consumer data available, you can identify your target market, segment it into useful categories, and focus your efforts on the segments that consist of people who are most likely to be interested in your offer.
This idea sounds crazy, right? Well, it’s not so strange to the marketers over at Jiffy and Mrs. Baird’s Bread Co. Source
Shopify defines product positioning as “…a form of marketing that presents the benefits of your product to a particular audience.” In other words, now that you know who you’re targeting, entice them with an offer they can’t resist.
Sounds easy, right? Well, it’s a little trickier than it might first appear. Don’t worry, though. The customer data will help you. Use the information you have available and determine what your prospects’ needs and desires are. What do they want, and how do they want to get it?
Answer these questions and adjust your offer accordingly. After all, if you are offering what they want, it will be tough for them to ignore you.
To recap, customer data is essential for the successful targeting of real estate market segments. By leveraging the power of information, realtors can hyper-focus their postcard marketing efforts on prospects who are most likely to convert.
In other words…
More money, more data. Wait. What? Source
Home and Location Data
Data is not limited to people. On the contrary, the information available on each home and the various ways it can be used in postcard design is a virtual treasure trove. This is the sweet spot for realtors and provides some truly incredible opportunities.
Let’s dig in!
Before ever talking with a resident, you can figure out pretty much everything you might want to know about their home. You can determine when the house was built, what year it was last purchased (and the sale price), the square footage and lot size, the market valuation, what significant repairs or renovations have been made, and the list goes on.
Why not put this information to good use by incorporating it into the design of your postcard?
But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, I’d like to offer a quick note about Variable Data Printing (VDP). VDP is an on-demand printing technique that allows for each postcard to be uniquely crafted with individualized design aspects that are explicitly included based on data provided about the recipient.
Is it spelled dessert or desert? Hmmm, I always get those two confused. Source
I don’t want to spend too much time on this because this article is meant to focus on your real estate marketing needs. So if you’re looking for more info on VDP, check out this article that I wrote a while back.
So, how can you use data and VDP to personalize your postcard mailers?
The possibilities are nearly endless, but I’ll walk you through some of my personal favorites. Some of these are examples that Scout has completed for previous clients, and others are hypothetical mock ups that I threw together to show you what is possible.
First up is a design we created for a company called Knock. Notice that the address is incorporated into the design in three different places. Not only does the address correspond with the estimated sale price of the home, but it also shows a Google Earth image of the house along with a red pin drop to make sure they see it.
This is a real-life example from Scout.
Let me say that a different way. The recipient opens their mailbox and pulls out a postcard with a picture of their house on it, along with an estimated sale price, and the address printed in three locations. Not too shabby, huh? Yeah, we think so too.
Google images like this are a great way to grab people’s attention with personalization. Check out this example that uses the Street View option.
This is a not-so-real-life example from Scout.
In this example, the recipient again sees a picture of their home along with an estimated sales price. Home valuations like this can be pulled from third parties (such as Zillow, Trulia, a spreadsheet, etc.) and incorporated into the design. Please note that this example was not made for a previous client. It’s only included here to showcase the technological possibilities. And as an experienced real estate professional, you probably already know why.
Sites like Zillow and Trulia have terrible data. Their home valuations are wrong far too often. But the problem many realtors deal with is that people looking to sell their home may not be aware of this fact. And when faced with an obstacle like this, the best thing to do is turn it on its head and capitalize on the opportunity.
Just like we did here:
This one isn’t real-life either, but don’t you wish it was? Source
By leveraging Google Earth and the incorrect info from Zillow, this example shows a genius way of educating the reader and providing them with value they can use. Plus, it builds trust with the sender, because it conveys a sense that you have their best interests in mind.
Images aren’t the only way to make use of home data. Maps also bring a unique approach to personalization. And I’m not suggesting that you add a generic neighborhood map on your postcard design. That’s boring and ineffective. I’m saying that by using the data and technology available, you can generate custom maps that are unique for every single address.
Check out this mock-up postcard. If you’ve got a new listing or an open house coming up, you can give recipients personalized directions on how to get there from their home.
Roughly, like this:
Please don’t tell our designer that I put these together. They are just quick visual mocks to show you what’s possible.
Or you can build on that idea by also highlighting other properties that you have sold in the area.
Again, this is only a mock-up, and I’m definitely not an artist. Your actual postcard design would look much more beautiful.
But it gets even better. You can dive into the specifics about each home too. Here are just a few ideas that might help to get your creative juices flowing. The variable information is written in red.
This isn’t meant to be a postcard. These are just examples of quotes you can use.
You hit them with a headline that reads, “A lot has changed since 1992,” where 1992 is the variable data that is based on the year that the recipient bought their home. Or since you know when the house was built, you could say something like, “Nearby homes built in 1998 have sold for 12% above market value.”
The only limits are the ones you place on yourself. Get creative and see what crazy ideas you can come up with. Or if you’re having trouble thinking of something, let me know. I’d be glad to do a little brainstorming with you.
Last but certainly not least is your own professional sales data. I know, I know. This type of info isn’t quite like the others, and it certainly doesn’t offer much opportunity to include a personalized touch for the recipient. However, this is still a smart use of data, and I’d be remiss if I were to exclude it from this article.
Plus, this data is fun. It’s all about you!
Finally, here’s your chance to brag on yourself. Do you have a billion-dollar sales record? Have you sold 100 properties within a quarter-mile of each other? Even if your accomplishments aren’t quite that high, you should still share your successes with potential clients.
Because at the end of the day, if you’ve done well, it means that you came through for other people. New prospects will feel less apprehensive about working with you because your numbers prove that you’re a dependable professional who can deliver precisely what they’re looking for.
A word of caution here: If your numbers aren’t stellar, maybe you shouldn’t share them. You’ll have to decide for yourself, of course. I’m just saying that lukewarm figures won’t impress anyone. In fact, you might scare off potential clients who might have otherwise enjoyed working with you.
But if your sales record is fantastic, go ahead and brag on yourself. Be proud of what you’ve done and let the world know. But how should you do that? What’s the best way?
Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. The secret to success here is to hide your accomplishments in plain sight.
Let me explain what I mean.
You don’t want to brag about yourself in big, bold letters. Instead, focus on crafting a professional, beautiful, and informative design, that also happens to mention how great you are.
Allow me to illustrate the point with this example that Scout created for our favorite fictional real estate agent, Jordan Grable.
Jordan is the best real estate agent in the world!
Notice all of the quality elements that come together on this one: Great photography, a customer testimonial, and a striking headline that confirms Jordan Grable can not only move a home quickly, but she can sell it for over the list price.
The bragging is direct and plain for all to see. And because it’s incorporated as part of an overall clean and attractive design, it doesn’t come across as bragging at all. Instead, it makes Jordan seem competent and authoritative.
Let’s have a quick review of the information we’ve covered in this article. The word of the day (and every day) is DATA. Remember, it’s not just for digital marketing channels. Harness the effectiveness of information and combine it with Variable Data Printing to create eye-catching, lead-generating, list-getting, deal-making, house-closing, personalized postcards for your real estate marketing campaign.
But before I let you go, I’d like to make one last offer to help with your postcard strategy. If you have questions about data, mailing lists, personalization, content ideas, imagery, VDP, or any other aspect of postcard marketing, please reach out to me. Or better yet, call or email us or chat with us by clicking the bottom right button. We have expertise in all aspects of direct mail marketing, and we are always standing by to answer any questions you may have. This isn’t one of those situations where you send a message to someone and never hear back from them. Nope. I will actually respond to you as soon as possible. Don’t believe it? Well, there’s only one way to find out.