15 reasons direct mail is effective in land marketing

A strong marketing strategy is critical for success when it comes to selling land. Check out these 15 reasons proving that direct mail can be an effective form of land marketing.

Jay Mark Hendrix
Direct Mail in Land Marketing

The days of sending a primitive, old-fashioned letter in the mail are over… right?

In the modern age, where technology and automation reign supreme, just a couple clicks of the mouse can gain access to data all over the world or send a satellite to Mars. Physical mail seems ancient and outdated, like something more fitting for your great-grandparents like a telegraph, cassette tape, or pager.

Well, contrary to what you might think, statistics tell a different story. Not only does the data say direct mail is alive and well, it points to the fact that it’s a highly effective marketing strategy that gets tangible results.

When it’s all said and done, selling real estate comes down to one important skill—marketing.

A strong marketing strategy is critical for real estate success. It may seem obvious, but to sell your land, you have to reach buyers with the desire and means to buy it. The question is… how do I get my property in front of the right audience?

Believe it or not, direct mail is an extremely valuable and effective form of land marketing. It’s a great way to reach the right audience and connect with them on a personal level.

Not convinced? Check out these statistics that are proof the direct mail approach may very well be the missing ingredient in your land marketing strategy.

1. Direct mail has a high response rate

According to the Association of National Advertising (ANA), in 2018, the direct mail customer response rate was 9% and the prospect response rate was 4.9%. The customer response rate for email and paid search marketing was 1%. The response rate for social media was 1% and believe it or not, digital marketing came in last at a rate of 0.3%.

While the total number of mail pieces have been declining, the response rates from direct mail have been on the rise. From 2015 to 2016 the direct mail prospect response rate increased by 190% and the customer response rate increased by 43%.

2. Direct mail is tangible

Coming in all shapes and sizes, direct mail is the only marketing channel that allows you to place your message in your customers' hands. Where an email can get deleted instantaneously and a digital ad can disappear with one click, a letter takes up physical space and is somewhat unavoidable.

Opening a Letter

According to data from the U.S. Postal Service, 98% of consumers bring in their mail the day it’s delivered, 72% bring it in as soon as possible, and 77% sort through it immediately.

Giving, receiving, and handling tangible objects remain deep and intuitive parts of the human experience.Royal Mail MarketReach in “The Private Life of Mail”

3. Direct mail is not as diluted

The fact that direct mail is becoming less common may seem like a bad thing. After all, marketers always do what works… isn’t that right? Actually, that’s not always the case. People naturally gravitate towards the easiest method in their effort to accomplish a task. It’s human nature. According to USPS postal facts, from 2016 to 2017, there was a 3.1% decrease in total mail volume and a 3.2% decrease in marketing mail volume.

In ways, digital and email marketing are easier than direct mail. It’s easier to get started with an email campaign and much less time-consuming. You can also get away with being less creative. Since physical mail is not nearly as congested as the Internet is, an opportunity to stand out is created. Think about the difference in the average number of emails in your inbox and the volume of Google search results compared to the average number of letters in your mailbox. Less competition can sometimes be an advantage.

4. Direct mail has a high ROI (Return on Investment)

As of June 2017, the average ROI for direct mail was 29%, which is good enough to beat out paid search at 23% and online display ads at 16% according to DMA data compiled by Marketing Charts. Email marketing topped the list at 124% and social media was next at 30%.

Are you interested in finding out what your ROI might be for an upcoming campaign? USPS offers a free ROI calculator that can help you quantify how well your campaign will pay off.

5. Direct mail is personal and makes people feel valued

Although you can get creative with any marketing channel, direct mail creates unique opportunities for creativity. Hopefully, the approach you take will result in each piece of mail being personal to each individual it’s being sent to. From using their first name or hand-writing the address to adding your signature to a written letter, you can make it about as intimate as you want.

Handwritten Letter

According to a Royal Mail MarketReach research project, 57% of respondents said that receiving a postcard made them feel more valued and created a more authentic relationship with the brand. In a survey conducted by Small Business Trends, 70% of Americans said mail is more personal than the Internet. A USPS Study found that 67% of people feel mail is more personal than the Internet.

6. Direct mail works great with other campaigns

A great marketing campaign will utilize every channel that makes sense. Integrating direct mail with email, social media, tv, digital and even phone calls into a campaign can make for a powerful combination. Direct mail is drastically different than the other marketing channels, so it could be the missing piece of the advertising puzzle that takes your business to another level.

7. Direct mail targets your audience

One of the greatest aspects of direct mail is that you can get extremely specific with your target audience. You have complete control over who will be on the receiving end. So it basically comes down to building a great buyer’s list. If you’re interested in learning how to do this, Seth Williams at REtipster lays out a great guide to building a buyer's list. Once you’re confident you’ve got the right audience, you can rest assured you’re mail will be sent to them. After all, the letters will only go where you tell them to.

8. Direct mail is trustworthy

Buyers have recently started to have serious trust issues when it comes to online display advertising. This can be attributed to several factors. One is because of the sheer volume of ads people see every day. The average American consumer is exposed to thousands of advertisements per day. There’s a ton of competition and as you know all too well, the more the same people say the same thing, the less meaning it has to you. To stay sane, you become skilled at tuning things out.

The 2nd reason is pure deception, at least from the user's point of view. Ads are created for the specific purpose of driving the consumer to click, which is great, as long as a misleading tactic is not used. Advertisements that mimic computer actions or that take them to a landing page that seems unrelated to the ad are a quick way to create distrust not only in your company but in display advertising in general.

If people feel like they’re in control, they feel safe, secure, and ultimately are more likely to trust the situation. There’s a 100% chance of not having your identity stolen or downloading a virus as a result of opening a piece of direct mail. Approximately 56% of customers find print marketing to be the most trustworthy type of marketing.

9. Direct mail is trackable

Any seasoned marketer knows when it comes to advertising, you need to have the ability to measure your results. The boss wants to know how well his dollars are being spent. In addition to that, you need to know what’s working and what’s not working to find out where to put future money. At the very least you want to be able to track whether your mail reached its destination.

Although tracking direct mail is different than digital, it can be done. Companies like Lob offer customer checks with comprehensive per-piece mail tracking and analytics. You can also create phone numbers and landing pages that are unique to your direct mail to track leads.

Package Tracking

10. Direct mail can hit on all 5 senses

When it comes to our 5 senses—touch, sight, hearing, taste, and smell—is it even possible to appeal to more than 2 digitally (sight and hearing)? Some might argue it is, but either way, it’s extremely difficult.

Senses are how people understand and experience the world around them. Have you ever heard a song, ate a certain food, or smelled an aroma that immediately took you back in time to an experience you had years ago? The more senses you can stimulate and appeal to the better because it creates a deeper and more memorable experience.

When you send a piece of mail, it’s much easier to hit on more of the senses, the most obvious being touch. But depending on your strategy and budget, you have the opportunity to appeal to all 5 senses, even smell and taste. A survey conducted by Millward Brown revealed that physical media left a ‘deeper footprint’ in the brain. In other words, if you can touch and feel it, you're more likely to engage with it and remember it.

11. Direct mail is for every age group

One of the common myths out there is that younger generations wouldn’t engage with direct mail. The numbers say different. A Gallup News poll reported 95% of Americans ages 18-29 say they have positive feelings towards personal mail. 75% of millennials said they believe the direct mail they receive is valuable and 92% are influenced to make a purchasing decision as a result of mail they received in an article from National Mortgage Professional Magazine.

When you combine these statistics with the fact that only 59% of people between ages 65 and 69 own a smartphone, 67% of people between ages 65 and 80 have the Internet, and 34% of people between those same ages use social media, direct mail is sounding better and better.

12. Direct mail gets your full attention

Why is it so dangerous to text and drive (or to do anything and drive for that matter)? Have you ever been trying to spend time with your kids but can’t enjoy it because a work problem is eating at you? Your consciousness is split between multiple things. If 25% of your focus is on texting, that's 25% that’s taken away from driving.

In a Rakuten report, 83% of people polled found online ads to be disruptive. On average, a piece of mail from your mailbox will come a lot closer to getting your undivided attention than a digital ad popping up while you’re busy trying to accomplish some other task.

Reading the Mail

13. Direct mail is easy to process

A study published by the Canada Post on the neuroscience behind the power of direct mail found direct mail requires 21% less cognitive effort to process than messages coming through digital platforms and participants' recall was 70% higher when they were exposed to a direct mail piece versus a digital ad. The study also suggests direct mail is visually processed quicker than digital media. A buyer using less brainpower to comprehend your message quicker is a winning combination.

14. Direct mail has a high average reading time

The same U.S. Postal Service study referenced above reported that consumers spend a whopping average of 30 minutes reading their mail on any given occasion. People reserve time each day to sit down with their mail and many find it to be a relaxing and enjoyable experience.

15. Direct mail is preferred

Why not save the best for last? One of the most compelling reasons direct mail is effective in land marketing is because according to the data, people prefer it over other marketing channels. Although you discover as you get older that life isn’t about getting your way, let's face it, what you want is still extremely important.

An article by Scientific American shows there is still a strong preference for reading on paper, driven by the physical properties of printed information as opposed to screens. Royal Mail RocketReach agrees this does translate into a preference for direct mail over email and digital advertising.

The USPS revealed 56% of people say receiving mail is a “real pleasure" and 55% look forward to discovering the mail they receive.

Direct Mail Marketing
Flickr/Josh McGinn

The bottom line

The story the numbers tell is not only is direct mail thriving from a results perspective, but it’s one of the most powerful forms of advertising out there. If you’re marketing land for sale, adding direct mail to your strategy to reach buyers could be a game-changer. The results speak for themselves. You can use it to convey the right message to the right person at the right time.

Mailing a letter, if done right, can leave the reader walking away with a feeling of "I like these guys and the way they do business." It's a way to create a personal connection where they feel like you're real and you really care about helping them. In other words, direct mail allows you to be transparent, create a personal connection, and start building a trustworthy relationship.