sending the mail

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After you’ve pulled your list and sorted it, the next step is to send the mail.

If you’ve ever put together a bulk mail campaign in-house before, you probably know it isn’t fun.

I’m talking about the monotonous tasks of:

  • Printing hundreds of letters or postcards on your inkjet printer.
  • Signing each letter by hand.
  • Stuffing envelopes until your fingers bleed.
  • Licking stamps until your tongue falls off.

Luckily, there is a MUCH better way to get this job done.

There are several direct mail services that can handle all of these tedious tasks for you, and one well-known option is called Rocket Print & Mail.

How to Outsource and Automate Your Direct Mail

Mailing services like Rocket Print are a total game-changer.

This website allows you to upload a pre-sorted list, upload your message (whether you’re using a postcard or letter), and send out your bulk mail campaigns with ZERO production work required.

Not only will this literally save you DAYS worth of your time, but the postage rates and production costs will be significantly less expensive than if you print, stamp, and mail all of your mail in-house!

At the time of this writing, the cost of postage for one postcard on Rocket Print is $0.285 (meaning, you’ll save 7.5 cents compared to the $0.36 cost of a regular postcard stamp).

This may not sound like a big deal for one postcard – but when you’re mailing hundreds or thousands of letters or postcards at a time, this kind of savings is HUGE.

Here’s a quick overview of how it all works…

Again, you can get access to special pricing if you sign up through the REtipster affiliate link or you can give them a call at 1-888-218-6123 and be sure to mention that you’re coming from the REtipster Community to get signed up at the right rates.

Note: Rocket Print offers some of the best prices I’ve ever seen on direct mail, but it also requires that you pre-pay for 5,000 units and send at least 500 units at a time, so if you don’t have this many people on your list, or if you don’t want to commit to such a large volume of mail upfront, another alternative is Click2Mail, which allows you to send much smaller campaigns. Here’s a video tutorial on Click2Mail if you’d rather go that route.

Give Yourself Time to Learn the Process

The first time I placed an order with Rocket Print, I had no idea what I was doing. Luckily, this company has some of the best customer service I’ve ever seen from a mail house, and I’ve always found my reps to be very good at over-communicating and making sure every order is placed correctly.

Once you have your list sorted and your mail piece ready to go, it’s just a matter of getting familiar with the site and how to work with your rep to get through the process. It takes some time to get everything set up and established, but once you’ve got your mail piece figured out, it’s very quick and easy to get your future campaigns set up and sent out.

With most of my mailings, my recipients receive their mail about two weeks after I place the order when I’m using standard pre-sort postage. When I’m using first-class postage, they’ll receive it about one week after I place the order. The time can be faster or slower depending on how large your order is and where your recipients are geographically located.

As I mentioned in the video above, I typically use either a 4.2 x 5.5-inch postcard with black ink printed on yellow paper. Judging by what I’ve heard from other direct mail marketers in this business, this particular size and color have a proven track record. Obviously, you can do whatever you want – but I like to use what has been proven to work.

Alternatively, when I send out blind offers, I’ll use one or two sheets inside a non-windowed envelope (more on that in a later lesson).

I’ve tried to weigh my cost-to-response ratio very carefully. As hard as we try to make these mail pieces stand out and get noticed, the fact remains that many of them will be viewed as “junk mail” and thrown away immediately upon arrival. Given this, I try not to dump too much money into any single piece of mail, and with Rocket Print’s low prices, this is pretty achievable.

The goal is to reach as many recipients as possible. The cheaper each piece of mail is, the more people I can reach. At the end of the day, if a property owner needs what I’m trying to help them with, they’ll call me. If not, they won’t. End of story.

What Response Rate to Expect

What kind of response rate should you expect from a mail campaign? What’s considered “good enough” to measure success?

First and foremost, your response rate will depend almost entirely on:

  • What kind of list you’re using,
  • Where you got your list from, and
  • How well you’ve filtered your recipients

The whole idea behind sorting your list is to get the wrong people OFF your list, so you’re only sending mail to those who are most likely to need what you’re offering, while also fitting into the mold of the properties that you’re looking to buy.

If you’re not sending mail to the right people, your response rate isn’t going to be good, regardless of what message you send out.

In my experience, when I’m sending out mail to a delinquent tax list, my response rate can be anywhere from 2% – 5%. Sometimes I’ll get lucky and get a much higher response (18% is my current record), but those kinds of results are the exception, not the rule.

sending the mailbox

When I’m sending mail to a list I pulled from a data service (like DataTree or AgentPro247), my response rate will be much lower. In terms of actual accepted offers, 0.1% – 0.2% is usually the minimum I’m looking for (that’s 1 – 2 accepted offers for every 1,000 units I send out). Sometimes it will be higher, but if it dips below that, I’ll know something has to be tweaked.

The response rates on blind offers send to a list from a data service tend to be lower because when I pull lists this way, I’m prioritizing the property type rather than the level of motivation.

The upside of pulling lists from a data service is that the process is MUCH easier and streamlined. The downside is that it’s a bit harder to narrow down the list based on the pain points of delinquent taxes and other issues that create motivation to sell.

Response Rate vs. Acceptance Rate

While the response rate is one way to measure the effectiveness of a direct mail campaign, for our purposes, what REALLY matters is the acceptance rate (not just the people who felt compelled to call, email, or visit our website, but the people who actually said “Yes!” to our low offers).

The response rate and acceptance rate are two completely different things, and at the end of the day, the acceptance rate is what really matters.

When I’m sending mail to a delinquent tax list, I’m usually expecting to close at least one deal for every 500 mailers I send out. Maybe more, if I’m lucky.

When I’m sending mail to a general list of landowners from a data service, my goal is to close one deal for every 1,000 mailers.

Again, in many cases, I’ve been able to close several deals per 1,000 mailers… but if I don’t get any serious responses, leads, or deals after sending out a batch of 1,000 – 1,500 units of mail, this is a pretty clear indication that something went wrong.

Getting Over The First Big Hurdle

With direct mail marketing, one of the hardest first hurdles a real estate investor has to overcome is finding the markets that will work for them, figuring out how to tweak their lists, and sending out an effective mail piece that will get the results they need to see.

It doesn’t always happen on the first try and results are never guaranteed.

mailbox mail

I’ve had my share of campaigns that have “bombed” and I know it’s discouraging, but this shouldn’t cause you to give up. A poor response or acceptance rate doesn’t mean the direct mail strategy doesn’t work. It means the variables haven’t been dialed in just right, and something (perhaps a few things) need to be revised before trying again.

It not always easy to pinpoint exactly why some campaigns do better than others. But here are some of the most common problem areas I’ve encountered:

  • The quality of the list (what kinds of recipients are you mailing to?)
  • The age of the list (are you’re working with old information?)
  • Failing to target the most appropriate recipients (are you narrowing your list down enough?)
  • A weak message on the mailer (what exactly are you saying to your recipients?)
  • No immediate call to action (are you telling your recipients what to do? who to call? which website to visit? and WHY?)
  • Failing to give recipients multiple ways of contacting you (phone, website, email, etc.)
  • One of the contact methods is broken (the website form doesn’t work, the phone number is set up wrong, the email address isn’t deliverable, etc).

Keep track of all the variables that go into your campaigns, because if an acceptable result isn’t coming back on your first try, you can refer back to what you did and start zeroing in on what you shouldn’t be doing again.

The most effective direct mail marketers understand how to target their recipients well and deliver a message that elicits a response.

It’s not always a slam dunk process, but there are definitely some easy steps you can take to ensure you’ve covered every angle of this process sufficiently.

RELATED: How I Find Motivated Sellers (and Get Them Calling Me). Step 1: Getting the List

RELATED: How I Find Motivated Sellers (and Get Them Calling Me). Step 2: Sorting the List

About the author

Seth Williams is the Founder of REtipster.com - an online community that offers real-world guidance for real estate investors.

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