One of the most common real estate marketing tools is direct mail, but with the continued growth of social media marketing, many marketers have wondered if social media will overtake direct mail. Although accounts are free on popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, advertisements on these sites are often lost if they are not paid promotions. Additionally, it’s not always guaranteed that your target audience will see your message. However, by incorporating social media with tangible marketing solutions like direct mail, there are ways you can not only improve your customer base, but double the number of potential customers you would receive from one medium alone.
Often, companies turn to social media with the notion that it is “free” advertising. Although the initial setup is free on most social media networks, the time it takes for updating, posting, and maintaining a social media presence is not. Also, because of many social media sites’ designs, your posts may only remain at the top of a user’s feed for a short period of time (or not at all) before another takes its place. However, social media can be quite effective when it comes to promoting events, interacting one on one with clients, or showcasing employees — giving a more natural, accessible feeling to your brand.
Direct mail pieces have gained recent traction because so many messages have been redirected to the internet via email. Our inboxes are filling up while our mail boxes are sitting empty. The longevity of direct mail once it gets to your target customer is far better than social media. With direct mail, the recipient must pull the mail piece out of their mailbox, carry it inside, and sort through it before determining what action to take. In fact, in many households, a postcard might lie on a table for a week before catching someone’s attention. In comparison, it can be rather difficult to locate a Facebook post from even a week ago. Recent surveys indicate that people prefer receiving offers via postal mail rather than electronic mail, which makes direct mail more enticing than ever for real estate marketing.
Integrated Marketing Plans
Integrated marketing uses different marketing methods, including direct mail, social media profiles, and other marketing methods to deliver a cohesive advertising message to potential consumers. The goal of integrated marketing is to reach a wide audience since people tend to view advertising in different ways. Some consumers prefer learning about products through email or social media, while others prefer product inserts or physical mail. By integrating a campaign, you can develop a better marketing mix and reach more potential customers.
One way to ensure that direct mail and social media come together seamlessly is by incorporating your social media information into your direct mail campaign. Use mailings to direct customers to a Facebook page where they can enter to win prizes or find special events only available on Facebook. By sending these direct mail pieces to a few select customers, rather than to all, it allows you to customize your impact on different groups within your target audience. Doing so can also help promote your social media presence to that targeted demographic, giving you a better opportunity to listen to your target audience’s current interests and concerns.
Obtain Demographic Data
Of course, before you segment your audience you need to specify who your overall target market is. Finding this information should be a stepping stone to reaching a fully realized real estate marketing plan. Some companies obtain consumer demographics more quickly by using non-traditional methods as part of their advertising campaign. In a campaign developed between Ford Motor Company and MTVU, a music network designed for college students, online games and communities as well as blogs and television advertising were used to build a marketing mix that collected demographics about the automotive preferences of college-aged people. To play one of the four games offered online, students entered demographic information into a short form which made them eligible for drawings for prizes. Although there were some paid television advertisements about the promotion in select markets, the majority of the campaign was held in online communities.
In the real estate industry, your client relationships are often built over time. A simple survey of who your clients are, and what interests they have can lead to a more targeted audience for your real estate marketing. Like the example above, ask your clients to take a quick survey and offer something of value to them in return. Getting creative with your approach is critically important to capturing your target audience’s attention while gaining as much information about your market as possible.
Promotions Can Be Used for Research
A good real estate marketing mix can also provide valuable research that you can use for future campaigns. By testing a blend of direct mail, product inserts, and online websites, advertisers can analyze how consumers interact with products and can often make better decisions on where to place future advertisements based on their performance. Purina used this method when it placed music redemption cards in select bags of Purina Dog Chow. The consumer could use the unique code on the card at a specific website which then allowed them download up to five free music selections available on the site. Before they could download the music, however, Purina asked them a few non-invasive questions regarding ages, breeds, and number of dogs in their home. The consumer’s chosen music downloads gave Purina useful demographic information that they then used to determine future sponsorships and advertisement placements.
Creating an interactive marketing campaign that encourages people to interact with you online is another way to combine the digital and physical world. One example of combining direct mail with online resources is Lowe’s “Let’s Build Something Together” campaign. Using a QR code on the mailing piece, recipients could download a video which gave them a shopping list and directions for building the item pictured on the mailer. Other companies have used such codes to direct consumers to interactive computer games. This tactic gives a customer a unique way to interact with a brand and could result in additional sales if the target audience is chosen carefully.
By using a mix of channels for your real estate marketing efforts, you cover a wider variety of consumers and extend your reach to a much larger audience than you would with a singular medium. The process of finding the correct marketing mix can be a challenging one, but taking it one campaign at a time, and learning where to improve or make changes along the way is crucial to a successful real estate marketing plan.