Direct Mail vs. Email: The Right Real Estate Marketing Tool for Local Campaigns

Modern tech-savvy agents are always on the lookout for better ways to spend their marketing budgets. One of the areas that foster lots of discussion is which real estate marketing tool is better: email or direct mail? 

Both of them are a classic example of how digital and traditional marketing intertwine to work as part of a central strategy. But given how advanced today’s homebuyers are, most agents couldn’t help but doubt if direct mail is still working.

Surprisingly, there is no straightforward answer and no clear winner. Each tool can deliver excellent results when used within the right context. For example, email works great when sending newsletters and updates but a printed real estate magazine still captures more attention and boosts engagement.

The team with Proactive put together some interesting stats comparing the two tools. Here’s what they found out.

Email vs. Direct Mail: what’s the ultimate real estate marketing tool?

Which one is more memorable?

Just in the UK alone, 13.8 million letters and 74 trillion emails are sent every year. Little wonder that overcoming marketing fatigue is getting harder than ever.

In a multitude of promotional flyers and emails, making yours stand out from the rest is extremely hard. Before a piece of communication makes its way to the bin or spam folder, it has the following lifespan:

  • 17 days for a mail;
  • 2 seconds for an email.

If your aim is to raise brand awareness in a local area, chances are big that direct mail would do a better job than a digital outreach alone. As you’re targeting people at different stages of the buyer’s journey (i.e., not just sales-ready leads), incorporating direct mail could be a good solution. After all, as much as 75% of people say they can remember a brand after seeing printed information about it (only 44% say this about digital ads).

Which channel do customers prefer?

As a real estate marketing tool, either channel works well but a combination of both works even better:

  • 65% like to read both printed brochures and online posts before making a purchase;
  • 56% say “mail makes me feel valued” as opposed to 40% for email;
  • 51% prefer a company to use a combination of mail and email.

So using both can drive foot traffic to your brick and mortar location and digital traffic to your website.

Comparing cost per acquisition…

How much does one lead cost with each channel? According to Proactive, CPA for both real estate marketing tools is roughly the same but still lower for direct mail:

  • $51,40 per lead/order for direct mail;
  • $55,24 per lead/order for email.

…and ROI

However, ROI of email is incredibly higher:

  • $38 for every $1 spent for email;
  • $7 for every $1 spent for direct mail.

The difference is not that surprising considering how much easier it is to scale an email database. As the costs of sending out email campaigns to thousands of people are literally the same when targeting just a few hundred, the expenses are being kept low.

So when should you use each real estate marketing tool?

Because both channels have their pros and cons and can deliver great results if used at the right time, it’s easy to get confused when to actually use them. Here are the results of a customer survey that could give you some hints:

real estate Email vs Direct Mail

Source: Direct Mail vs. Email – The Ultimate Fact Sheet by Proactive

Still, it’s important to remember that not only are agents increasingly tech-savvy – so to are homebuyers, especially millennials. Many prefer signing a contract on their phones to bothering with paperwork.

Integrate both email and direct mail into your campaigns

Direct mail is still essential for farming so agents serving a particular local area could use it in addition to their email campaigns. According to Royal Mail, both are instrumental to the success of your marketing campaigns:

How mail and email work_RoyalMail

Source: It’s All About Mail and Email: Working Together to Create Greater 1 to 1 Relationships with Your Customers by Royal Mail

But it’s not just an assumption: stats confirm that using both channels make local marketing campaigns much more effective:

real estate mail and email roi

Source: It’s All About Mail and Email: Working Together to Create Greater 1 to 1 Relationships with Your Customers by Royal Mail

The key takeaways

  • Mix and match – use both mail and email to reach your target audience as the two of them work great in certain context.
  • Promote your website via mail to secure more digital traffic.
  • Raise brand awareness with mail, then enhance your lead generation efforts with email marketing campaigns.

What’s next?

People value email because it’s quick and interactive; but they also like mail because it’s more credible and gives them time to think things over at their own pace. So the answer is simple enough: use both channels to build valuable relationships with your SOI at the same time, remembering about the importance of the right time and the right context.