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Direct Mail: Reassuringly Expensive

IF YOU ARE BECOMING DISHEARTENED with low open rates in your email campaigns, it could be time for you to consider another option with an almost guaranteed open rate of more than 90 per cent. Due to the perceived prestige of print, direct mail appears to be making a high return comeback on the marketing scene.

THEY ALWAYS start the same – “I am the next heir to the throne of Nigeria, Prince Apara Kachinpopgorn. I write to you in confidence, for the mutual benefit of both our families…” You know the rest; the Prince needs to hide some funds to avoid a military coup. If you could just sent him $2,000 to link the bank accounts, you will be paid handsomely for your efforts.

And whilst some unfortunate souls get caught by this, the majority see it, recognise it as a scam and hit delete.

New scenario – You get a call from a trusted friend, who says that the Prince of Nigeria is coming into the country and wants to meet with you to discuss doing business in Australia. He arrives at your door in a stretch Rolls Royce, in a well-tailored suit with armed guards. On opening the door, you are handed a pair of Rolex watches as a thank-you for your time.

Do you think in the new scenario you are more likely to listen to the Prince’s story?

And there is nothing to say the email didn’t come from the very same Prince. (I know it is a widely-used scam, but humour me here.) The difference is that you know a Rolls Royce is expensive, that tailored suits and Rolex watches are elaborate and do not come easily to most people. Therefore the Prince has a level of credibility over the other online Princes sending emails.

The point I am making here is that when you present a value proposition, credibility holds an enormous amount of weight.

Most agents in the market are making use of online tools to communicate and market; e-newsletters, new listings and so on. But with most agents doing it, how do you create a difference?

With fewer agents using it, direct mail might just be the answer. It is certainly a lot more expensive than email, but your potential customers know this. They know that you could have emailed them an update about the market, or about a property you just sold. But they already have 10 other agents doing exactly that. Even really good emails, with great pictures and layout, still are often seen in most email programs purely by their subject line. When someone receives a letter, they know someone had to print that paper, put it into an envelope, take it to the post box and get it delivered. They open it, and get to see the full content right there.

Today, Australia Post delivers an average of 1.7 letters per street address per day.* Compare that to the average number of emails people receive at 121 per day, which is set to increase to 140 by 2018.**

Where do you think you might get more visibility?

“But mail is expensive!” I hear you cry. Yes, you can email 1,000 people for next to nothing, where the same 1,000 letters might cost you around $1,000.

Consider this: an open rate of 20 per cent for an email newsletter is deemed excellent, whereas direct mail has a 98 per cent^ open rate for personalised letters. And around 60 per cent^ actually store this for later review. How many will keep the email, let alone go back and read it?

Yes, direct mail is more expensive. But if you want someone to invest 2.5 per cent of their biggest asset in you as an agent, don’t you think it is important to show value in how you communicate with them?

And if you are creating great content, and providing real value in your communications, it makes sense to ensure it is actually getting read. If it costs you $1,000, but generates an additional three or four appraisals, isn’t this money well spent?

So next time you think about your newsletter, consider whether you want the 22 per cent open rate, or the 98 per cent. Whether you prefer the see and delete, or the ‘keep for later reference’ option. And finally, don’t think that doing direct mail has to take up any more time than your email campaign. There are service providers that can take care of the whole process, for a lot less than you might think – often cheaper than you could do it yourself.

Rolex never apologises for being expensive, nor does direct mail.

* http://www.smh.com.au/comment/entering-the-postaustralia-post-era-20140114-30t12.html
** http://www.news.com.au/ finance/work/emails-expected-to- rise-to-140-a-day-in-2018/story-e6frfm9r-1226904239876
^ http://auspost.com.au/media/documents/australia-post-consumer-survey-mail-findings-jan-2013.pdf

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