4 Ways Real Estate Agents Build Trust With Direct Mail

Spring traditionally means a big pickup in the real estate market, which also means more real estate mail.

This year is no different.

Spring traditionally means a big pickup in the real estate market, which also means more real estate mail.

This year is no different.

In fact, with milder weather coming early across much of the country, and interest rates starting to creep higher, I’ve had a few people ask me about what’s working for real estate firms in the mail.

I’m not talking about actual promotions for houses and properties, though I do have a lot of samples to look at.

Rather, they’re interested in how agents and Realtors build their businesses with mail.

I don’t have any numbers to share, but I have seen some interesting campaigns come across my desk.

Here are a few standout ideas.

1. Data
Real Estate MailSome agents leverage data to generate leads in interesting ways. This Realtor’s 2-panel self-mailer directs her prospect to a PURL, which can be reached by either manually typing it in, or scanning the QR code.

Once there, the buyer can provide her contact information, including email. As a result, information supplied by the agent includes personalized market updates, open house reviews, and weekly reports.

2. Maps
Real Estate mailLots of agents keep targeted locations apprised of what’s happening in their neighborhood. They’ll send listings of recent sales with comparison information, like pricing, address, days on the market, etc.

Whether they’re called a “review,” “market report,” or “activity update,” their goal is to generate interest by showing the sheer volume of action.

But including a map on the mail piece, with pins showing the recent sales, has a different kind of impact. The homeowner can visualize where they are in relation to the properties. And when they enter the code provided, they get an estimate of what their home is worth.

3. Events
Real Estate mailAnother way to generate leads is by demonstrating expertise of both the agent and the agency via an event. This simple postcard uses bullet points to list some of the topics covered by the seminar for people thinking of selling their house.

The agent gets valuable leads who can be converted down the line. And homeowners get actionable information that will come in handy when it’s time for them to sell.

4. Testimonials
Real Estate mailI’m a big believer in their usefulness in pretty much any sector. And I’m kind of surprised I don’t see it pop up more.

This is one of the rare examples, a postcard mailed by an agent in Brooklyn to list recent sales. The front here balances a single sentence across the top with two longer paragraphs praising the salesperson’s work.

For agents and Realtors, direct mail can be a great way to build potential clients into leads. With compelling and useful information, people develop trust in their person and their brand. They’ll feel that someone gets their needs, and that they’ll be ready to help them when they’re ready to sell.

Email to Support Your Shopping Cart

Your website provides you with real estate for validating claims and educating customers, and should be a critical part of every marketing campaign. Yet so many marketers toss up a landing page and call it a day. With e-commerce supplanting more and more brick and mortar stores, it may be time for you to re-evaluate your drip and nurture approach

Your website provides you with real estate for validating claims and educating customers, and should be a critical part of every marketing campaign. Yet so many marketers toss up a landing page and call it a day. With e-commerce supplanting more and more brick and mortar stores, it may be time for you to re-evaluate your drip and nurture approach.

E-commerce has become easier, more affordable and created opportunities for more businesses and more kinds of businesses. Applications such as Cart66, Magento, OpenCart and WooCommerce enable businesses of all sizes to provide an online shopping experience for their customers like never before. Unfortunately, it is not, “Build it and they will come”. Like much of the rest of our business, it’s Build it, market it like crazy, hope they will come, and beg them to come back.” That’s where drip and nurture marketing take the stage.

Drip campaigns are predesigned campaigns sent on predetermined schedulea to a general audience—your newsletter is a great example. Nurture campaigns are often called auto-responder campaigns, and they are sent in response to an action or interaction with your campaign or site. Think of your “Thank you for subscribing” confirmation email: The subscriber filled out a form, and, due to that action, you automatically acknowledge her action and thank her. Perhaps in two weeks, you will send her another email, but you might also automatically enroll her in your newsletter campaign.

Many of today’s shopping carts have auto-responder capabilities built in. When an order is placed, a confirmation is sent. When a shopping cart is abandoned, a reminder is sent. When an order is shipped, a notification is sent. All of these are nurturing messages and all good ideas, but let’s take your campaign a step further.

In November, I will be presenting at the WooConf event in San Francisco. This event is primarily for developers of the WooCommerce shopping cart for WordPress, but also draws a fair number of marketers. In my talk, I will focus on what I see as the top three concerns for an online store: “Buy Now, Buy More, and Buy Again.” That is: sell a product, upsell and cross-sell other products, and build a relationship resulting in return customers. I achieve these goals with drip and nurture campaigns.

Your first email is designed to introduce your store—invite visitors and entice them to make the initial purchase. This is neither a drip or nurture campaign, but more probably a single blast email. For the purpose of my example, depending upon how the blast is received, you will net those who are engaged and those who are not—more specifically identified as the passive (clicked but did not buy) and the active (clicked and purchased). These two groups now represent the members of the drip and nurture campaigns.

For the passively interested, start them out with a drip campaign designed specifically to find the trigger that turns their passive interest into active participation (buying). A newsletter is probably a bit too slow for this group, so think more about a weekly specials email. Offering various products and discounts through A/B and multi-variant testing, you should be able to identify key influencers. Drip campaigns should be designed with a single theme enabling you to keep development costs down and in a manner enabling you to make on-the-fly updates and announce specials. Our drip members are the Buy Now group. We want to figure out what it takes to get them to buy now.

For the more actively interested, let’s nurture their behavior. They have clicked and are in the process of making a purchase, so how can we encourage them to either increase the value of the purchase or add other products to increase the value of their cart? This is the Buy More group.

If they have started a cart, but not checked out, reminder emails keep the conversation active and presents the ideal time to introduce other products complementary to those items in their cart. You can use the tried and true, “other people who bought this item also bought,” or offer links to reviews and case studies. This is where your website real estate becomes so valuable—and why we will not launch an automated campaign that does not have adequate website support. Point these recipients to stories, videos or other documents helpful to the education and conversion processes.

For those who have checked out—great! you won a new customer—but don’t let too much time pass before you reengage them and remind them of other must-have items in your store. Learn from what they purchased and offer other items in the same category or similar category. This is our Buy Again group and personalization is key here (as it is with the Buy More group). Emails should be very specific and speak directly the items they’ve purchased. You might also ask them to provide a review of the product, if your site supports this.

If you’re ready to start selling online, it’s a great time to do so. Software for e-commerce is inexpensive and flexible—you can customize to meet nearly any need. While your store is important, the ease of use paramount, and stability critical, don’t forget to turn an evaluating eye to your marketing and messaging. Both are likely in need of a few tweaks here and there to help achieve “Buy Now, Buy More, and Buy Again.”

Should USPS Retrofit Facilities for E-commerce Fulfillment?

Three trends make me wonder if there’s money to be found in U.S. Postal Service real estate. First, the Postal Service continues to bleed, despite higher revenue—no thanks to Congress for its inability to pass meaningful, fixable reforms. Second, network consolidation continues apace—with 141 facilities consolidated to date in the Postal Service’s plan for Network Rationalization—and another 82 slated for 2015

Three trends make me wonder if there’s money to be found in U.S. Postal Service real estate.

First, the Postal Service continues to bleed, despite higher revenue—no thanks to Congress for its inability to pass meaningful, fixable reforms.

Second, network consolidation continues apace—with 141 facilities consolidated to date in the Postal Service’s plan for Network Rationalization—and another 82 slated for 2015

Third, commercial real estate is booming—in the market for e-commerce warehouses—as online shopping now accounts for 6.2 percent of U.S. total sales. Industrial space is growing at an annual rate of 14.5 million square meters per year, while retail is rising at just 6 million square meters.

Is there an opportunity for some matchmaking here? The Postal Service does have a lot of commercial property for sale—43 buildings as of today’s writing—but what if some property could be reconfigured for e-commerce fulfillment? As the USPS expands its parcels business, it may make sense to reassess USPS assets—particularly as facilities are made vacant—and to determine some opportunities for expanding its parcel business, assessing suitability for e-commerce—including leasing to private firms—and taking advantage of USPS’s huge inventory and infrastructure advantages—particularly in and near population centers.

Same-day fulfillment is really a sparkler being tested and implemented in several cities. Tomorrow, it’s bound to be a fulfillment staple.

A Successful Social Selling Example in B-to-B Marketing

Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) is one of my favorite social selling examples in B-to-B sales. Telling this story at conferences is always a crowd-pleaser because of how practical and repeatable the approach is. JLL is a global player in real estate management and investments. The firm helps commercial real estate owners make money managing big properties and buildings smarter. In this short video, I’ll reveal how JLL’s sales team is using YouTube videos to get more discussion going with hard-to-reach decision-makers.

Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) is one of my favorite social selling examples in B-to-B sales. Telling this story at conferences is always a crowd-pleaser because of how practical and repeatable the approach is.

JLL is a global player in real estate management and investments. The firm helps commercial real estate owners make money managing big properties and buildings smarter. In this short video, I’ll reveal how JLL’s sales team is using YouTube videos to get more discussion going with hard-to-reach decision-makers.

Behind the Scenes
What’s at work here? Let’s look at what’s going on behind the scenes so you can replicate social selling success in your setting.

JLL’s sales team has an unusually smart, very effective, starting point when approaching social selling.

They start with customers’ problems, challenges and goals in mind. Then, they design everything they put out onto social media to create one thing: response. For them that’s all that matters—getting clients to email or pick up the phone and ask for a meeting to talk about their problems.

JLL’s sales and account reps know how to structure what to say. They know how to talk to clients, not just what to say. They also know when to talk and when to clam up. This helps them create so much curiosity in JLL that customers cannot resist responding.

JLL’s reps provoke customers to take action. Here’s the surprising part: In the world of social media, what actually generates response has very little to do with technology.

Generating leads and appointments is based on one, essential practice: Copywriting. Direct response copywriting that grabs attention, challenges status quo thinking and provokes a response. So here’s one of my best social selling examples: A multi-billion dollar organization using the copywriting technique I love to train sales teams to execute.

The Problem and Solution
JLL had a new energy & sustainability division to launch, but current customers told sales reps their whitepapers were horrible. Potential customers were distracted—impossible to reach. The “greening of corporate America” was in full swing, but customers didn’t want to engage.

The problem: JLL’s whitepapers were filled with knowledge that clients already. So JLL’s sellers decided to focus more on capturing video sound bytes from a variety of property management experts.

Each two- to three-minute video captured surprising and, sometimes, shocking information. Knowledge that was structured to intentionally irritate customers—cause them to think, “Uh-oh, I didn’t realize that. I’d better call my rep to get to the bottom of this,” or “WHAT?! I had no idea. I better find out more about this right away … my butt is on the line here!”

For the rest of the story, watch the video clip above and learn how got the attention of busy, distracted property owners—many of whom were interested in talking about JLL’s services after all! I’ll show you exactly how they got prospects and clients to ask for discussions!

Are You Buying ‘Smart Media?’

Media buying, or online advertising, is more than just a Web strategy to help grow your business. It’s both a science and an art. It involves a bit of finesse, competitive research, creativity and good negotiation skills.

Media buying, or online advertising, is more than just a Web strategy to help grow your business. It’s both a science and an art. It involves a bit of finesse, competitive research, creativity and good negotiation skills.

Sadly, with most online advertising experiences, the lagging partner is typically the business owner by no real fault of his or her own … it’s simply from sheer lack of industry knowledge and media savoir-faire.

I’ve been buying online ad space for more than a decade. Here are my personal powerful and money saving tips to buying smart media. These are “must ask” questions that will help you get the most bang for your buck:

1. Competitive analysis—Find out what the typical industry rate is for that particular ad spot and placement in your niche. For instance, if you’re interested in running a 300×250 banner ad, do some research. Call some ad networks and find out what that ad unit costs on the home page and ‘”run of site” within your target niche. What ad units typically get the best clickthrough rates (also known as CTR)? Read some online e-zines or blogs and get an idea on average metrics so you have a benchmark to measure your campaign against.

2. Ad targeting—Find out if the publisher allows day parting (running ad during specific time periods). This can save you money on ad rates, especially using the CPM (cost per thousand) pricing model.

3. Dedicated email—Find out the size of the list you’re thinking of renting, the frequency the list goes out, and the average unit sale (AUS) per subscriber. Ask the publisher who’s mailing for you if there will there be a lift note (an introduction or implied endorsement). Lift notes help “warm up” the list (subscribers) and boost conversions.

4. Out clause—Ask your account executive if the media agreement has an out clause or termination right. This is important as if your campaign is not working, you don’t want to have to ride it out and waste money. You want the ability to end it and cut your losses. Also find out if you can pause your ad during a slow traffic times (i.e. summer, holidays) as not to waste impressions (CPM).

5. Reporting—Ask your account executive if you will be given daily/weekly reporting OR access to the online ad serving system. This will allow you real-time access to clickthrough rates and more to evaluate if creative (banner and landing page) is striking a chord with the target audience.

6. Seasonality—Each industry and niche has its highs and lows. But, generally speaking, it’s typical to see drops in website traffic during summer (June to Aug.) and around certain U.S. holidays. Research your industry and use consumer purchase behavior to your advantage. For instance, in some industries, the days around Thanksgiving are slower than usual. If you’re running a campaign that falls on this timeframe, ask about getting lower rates or pausing your ad during the slowdown. DoubleClick and ClickZ are great sources of information and often release quarterly consumer Web reports on buying patterns and traffic.

7. Exclusivity—Similar to economies of scale (where the more that’s produced, the cheaper the unit price), if your banner ad is sharing space with other advertisers for less “solo” time, you should be paying less. It’s important to ask whether your ad will get 100 percent of the rotations or sharing ad exposure. And if sharing, find out what percentage of exposure you are ultimately getting during your ad run. This is known as being “fixed ad placement” or “shared ad placement.” If you’re told you have shared placement, this is a great bartering tool to get a more competitive rate.

8. Site targeting—You’ve heard in real estate it’s always about location, location, location, right? Well, online real estate is no different. Find out if your ad will be run of site (ROS), run of channel (ROC) or on specific high-traffic pages. Typically, the further you drill down, the more you pay. It’s known as “site targeting.” Similarly, the higher you go up, the less you pay. ROS is the highest (most broad) level, so it’s usually the cheapest ad location. Next is usually ROC, whose ads appear on certain channels or sections of a website. Then there are also specific pages or demographic targeting. Your goals and budget will determine which placement is best for your needs.

9. Remnant space—Often the forgotten about query, remember to ask if remnant space is available. Remnant ads are those ad units that the publisher or ad network is having a difficult time selling for whatever reason. They can also be last-minute specials or units that are now available due to another deal falling through. With more popular, high-traffic websites, you can save a fortune buying remnant media. Just pay close attention to the terms and conditions in the insertion order, as with most special deals, there are usually restrictions and little leeway.

All of these factors will help determine the value of your ad space and, ultimately, the cost you’re willing to pay to access that audience. Good luck!