If you play the game in your head that direct mailing is better than digital marketing, such as pay per click advertising on social media or search engines, for finding motivated real estate sellers and vice versa, you might lose out on a great opportunity to use both to create synergy.
You might also lose out on the opportunity to avoid doing what everyone else is doing, giving you an edge.
Because every time you do what everyone else is doing in marketing, you will have much more competition and thus higher costs per customer acquisition.
In this article, I will explain how the “traditional” direct mailing method works and how it can help power your next online marketing campaign to find motivated real estate sellers.
So, let’s start from the beginning and dive right into it.
What Are the Usual Methods to Find Motivated Real Estate Sellers with Direct Mailing?
The traditional method of finding motivated sellers with direct mailing consists basically of the preparation phase, the execution phase and the analyzing and qualification phase.
Preparation Phase – Data Gathering
In the preparation phase for a direct mailing campaign, you first need to know what kind of property owners or sellers you want to target and then generate a list of these.
In my last article, I mentioned already the types of motivated sellers there exist, such as:
- out-of-state landlords
- absentee owners
- owners of vacant land
- divorce attorneys
- estate/probate attorneys
- credit repair agencies and credit counselors
- HUD/VA foreclosures
- owners who have owned for 15 years or more
- properties purchased between 3k-20k within the last five years
- specific zip codes
- people arrested for violent crimes
- laid off employees
- owners of section 8 approved properties
- owners of properties with liens: mechanics liens, tax liens, HOA liens
- bankruptcy court listings
- CPA firms
- people getting their car repossessed
- carpet cleaners
- charitable groups/churches
- city and county inspectors
- people having garage sales
- hair salons/barbers (because they are social hubs)
- insurance brokers
- owners of multiple properties
- water, gas, and electric company shut off lists
Where do you get the addresses and contact information for these types of real estate sellers?
There are two methods you can use, one is easier and the other one means more work and a larger time investment, but also less competition.
With regards to the easier route, you can buy the contact information from different providers, such as:
This provider has a nicely designed and user-friendly interface and is probably the least expensive option on the market.
ReboGateway operates on the county level. It’ll give you access to unlimited data there.
So, if you are focused on one or two counties, this might be the ideal option for you.
With the “Investor’s Title Toolbox,” they provide you with nationwide access and the ability to search for all kind of properties, including commercial ones and filter by loan to value.
By using pre-defined criteria, you can filter and find specific types of properties, such as:
- Tax Default Properties
- Divorce Filings
- FSBO Properties (For Sale By Owner)
- FLBO Properties (For Lease By Owner)
- Properties with Recent Evictions
- Empty Nesters
- Non-Owner Occupied
- Probate and Death Certificate Properties
You can combine the search filters too, so you get, for example, a list of properties where the owners are empty nesters, the property is non-owner occupied and there is a divorce filing.
This one has a much higher price point than other providers.
It’s a platform from CoreLogic and helps you see the latest recording dates, which increases the accuracy of the data you are pulling.
Besides the price, the other downside is that you will have to commit to a 12-month subscription.
You might have already heard of ListSource because it is the most well-known one.
What makes it convenient is that you can easily generate a one-off list without having to commit to a subscription.
The downside is that it doesn’t have that much functionality compared to Realquest or ReboGateway.
But if you are just getting started and you just want to do a test campaign, it might be the ideal option.
A general negative aspect of these data providers is that sometimes they have outdated and/or incomplete information.
On one hand, they are convenient to use and can increase your time efficiency, but on the other hand, the same convenience and lower barrier to entry means other people or your competitors can use them too.
Which brings me to the second less convenient data gathering route with a higher level of entry, which is working directly with your target county.
What are you looking for?
It’s the county’s delinquent tax list, which every county should have.
In contrast to the above mentioned data providers, the county’s data is usually fresh and more accurate.
And the more accurate and fresh your data is, the more efficient your direct mailing campaign is and thus the lower cost per acquisition.
But it must have some downsides, doesn’t it?
It can be a pain in the ass to work with counties because these lists can be kind of a mess and you need to put in quite some time and effort to organize and order them, and sometimes they charge a ridiculous and campaign killing amount of money to provide you this list.
How much does it cost to get such a list from the county?
You will be lucky to get these lists for free (maybe if you play golf with someone from the county).
But usually they will charge you something for that.
You can expect prices ranging between one cent and $1.50 per parcel.
So, you might look at a marketing investment of between $300 and $500.
The topic of using counties for that is an article in itself and if you would like to read a great in-depth article about how the counties work with these delinquent tax lists and the bureaucratic process behind all that, I highly recommend you this article from Seth Williams, who is a coach in the land investing business.
Preparation Phase: Your Marketing Material and Lead Capture System
Now that you might have a target list, you can start to create your marketing material, meaning your direct mail piece, such as a postcard, lumpy mail, a brochure or a letter.
Since you need to give your target customers some contact information to reach you, you might also want to have a specific landing page or squeeze page ready for this direct mail campaign and ideally also already a marketing funnel.
This will be for the people who don’t like to use the phone and check you out online.
If you have a specific landing page or squeeze page for this campaign, it will also be easier to track your leads (in case this is not your only marketing campaign).
You don’t want to have to ask yourself which marketing campaign came which lead came from.
The other thing you want to have ready before sending out the mailer is some sort of phone lead acquisition system.
This can be Google voicemail or any other voice mail system or a virtual office provider with a dedicated phone number for this specific campaign.
Execution Phase: Now You Send the Mailer Out
This phase is pretty straightforward. You now just send out your mailers to the targeted addresses you gathered in the previous phase.
To send out your mailers, you can use one of the following service providers:
Analyzing and Qualification Phase: Organize, Call and Qualify the Leads
So, hopefully you will have a nice response rate with your direct mail campaign.
If you do, you will get contacted via the landing page you put in place or by phone.
Each lead that comes in should be put in a database such as a CRM or a simple list. Hopefully, if they leave you a phone number, they can and should be called back.
By calling them up, you can qualify them by finding out:
- The reason for wanting to sell
- Where the property is located
- How long they’ve lived there
- How long they have been trying to sell
- How much they’re looking to receive from the sale
- What improvements have been made
- Who’s on the title
Can You Use the Direct Mailing Methods Mentioned Above To Power Online Marketing Campaigns?
The short answer is yes, and it is especially true with Facebook ads, since it has the most targeting options.
To avoid making this article longer than it already is, let’s stay with Facebook, but you might be able extrapolate the idea to other online marketing channels.
Use the Zip Codes You Gathered For A Facebook Campaign
One thing you can do is use the seller contact information you gathered above to create a specific target audience for your Facebook campaign.
You do this by using the zip codes for your Facebook ad geo location.
You can do this instead of the direct mailing campaign. It all depends on your budget.
Become a Real Estate Profiler to Get More Creative With Your Facebook Targeting
The other approach is a bit more creative and needs a bit more logical deduction.
You basically need to become a real estate profiler to find different targeting options for your campaign creatively.
By looking at the list with the different types of motivated sellers above (e.g. absentee owners, etc.), you can just ask yourself the question of what it means to be, for example, an absentee owner.
If you apply some logical thinking, you can arrive at interesting and different targeting options.
You put yourself in the shoes of an absentee owner. What do absentee owners do?
They probably have to travel back and forth to the property.
Translated to Facebook targeting, you would look for behavioral targeting, such as travel intention or frequent travelers.
They might also need someone looking after the property from time to time, such as a caretaker.
So, you could try to find the names of different companies in the area and check if they have a Facebook page and then see if you can find this company’s Facebook page as a targeting option in the Facebook ads manager.
They might also have looked for realtors and real estate brokerage firms in the past in the area, but weren’t lucky with them.
Here you can try to find the names of the different realtors or brokerage firms and check if they have a Facebook page, which you can add as an interest in the Facebook ads manager.
You might also want to think about the typical or average age of absentee owners in the state or county you are targeting.
If you can’t find statistics, you can try to guess. Then you can use the age range you find in your Facebook campaign.
Absentee owners might have had to move to another state because of a major career change.
This can be also exploited in the Facebook ads manager with the targeting option “recently moved,” or you could also check moving companies in the area and see if you could target these sellers by using the company names as an interest.
You could combine all these interests together with the zip codes and really narrow down the potential audience, and it might even be too small of an audience in the end.
Therefore, for testing reasons, I wouldn’t put them all together in one ad set.
I would create different ad sets for each of the different targeting ideas so you can better test the campaign.
Now, these were just some ideas for absentee owners.
For motivated sellers who recently got divorced, you could do another profiler session to find targeting options for Facebook ads.
One thing you could do is create an audience of people in the zip codes you gathered who recently showed interest in divorce attorneys.
Since you are smart, I don’t think I need to get into more examples of this real estate “profiler” approach.
Using this approach and a bit more creativity, you avoid doing what everyone else is doing and can combine the power of the direct mailing method with Facebook ads.
If you would also like to know how you can power up your direct mailing campaign with Facebook ads, I recommend this article I wrote a few weeks ago.
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