Our Direct Mail Secrets (and results) blogpost for estate agents by Sam Ashdown

Confused by direct mail? Not sure if you should be sending out leaflets, letters, 20-20s, or something else? Frustrated by how unbelievably expensive it is, for how little return? 

You’re not alone. But don’t worry, Phil (my co-director) and I are experts in agency Direct Mail, and we’ve got your back.

Phil and I just ran our first ever Direct Mail Workshop and the feedback was fantastic! Here’s what some of the delegates had to stay:

“Immediately actionable tactics that guarantee more vals” – Gavin Brazg, The Advisory.

“Practical information that you can use the very next day, in the office to generate business!” – Mitch Da Silva, Century 21, Cambridge

“Inspiring and empowering” – Anne Smith, Oakwood

Like to know when we’re running the next one? Just email Naomi, our Head of Client Experience, and she’ll put you on the priority notification list. 

 Done? Great. Let’s dive in!


Direct Mail – What actually is it?

Firstly, let’s clarify what we mean by ‘direct mail’. The easiest differentiator is that it’s mail addressed to a person, address, or both. Unlike leaflets, which are usually sent indiscriminately, door-to-door.

So think of Direct Mail as being a letter, in an addressed envelope, and perhaps with the addressees’ name.

Of course, leaflets are so much easier –  but are they effective?

Industry response rates for leafletting are dismal: you’re lucky if you get one good enquiry per 10,000 leaflets. That’s a response rate of 0.01%. I know a quality, independent agent who sends out 30,000 leaflets per month in the hope of getting just one market appraisal. With an average fee in her area of around £7k, she can justify it, but I still have a problem with this approach:


What about the other 99.999% of people who didn’t call you?

If you keep sending out thousands of leaflets on a regular basis, you’re simply teaching your audience to ignore your marketing. And that’s a dangerous precedent to set. Mass canvassing damages trust. Not to mention the environment, and your bottom line too. Better by far to be selective in your mailings, targeting small groups of homeowners, with a carefully crafted series of letters. A stamped, handwritten envelope is certain to be opened, and anyone who does take the time to read two or even three pages of a well-written letter, is far more likely to take an action at the end of it. After all, they will have invested several minutes absorbing and engaging with your content, as opposed to a few seconds it would take them to digest the text on a leaflet.


What are you going to say in your direct mail?

The medium of a leaflet tends to lend itself to something urgent, like an offer. I’ve seen dayglo leaflets offering free conveyancing, ‘sell for £999’, half price fees, and worse. With its attention-grabbing font and ‘what should we put on the back?’ approach to design, a leaflet is never going to attract anyone other than a bargain hunter. If that’s the type of client you want, a leaflet campaign should work well for you.

If however you’re looking for quality vendors, like the independent agents I work with are, then it’s time to change your approach: from leaflet to letter; short text to long copy; mass mailing to targeted campaigns.  You need to invest some time and effort into creating the right letter. Thinking carefully about your core message, and spending time writing with your ideal client in mind, means you’ll create a letter that could still be winning you quality instructions years from now.


I should know: the proof is in the pudding

In our first year of opening AshdownJones, Direct Mail was directly responsible for £351,964 in fees for us. In fact, we worked out that every single letter we sent, generated £977 in fees. Not a bad rate of return.

We sent out only 55 letters to targeted homeowners, and got back 5 responses; 4 phone calls, and 1 email. So far, 4 valuations booked. And as we’re pretty much converting at 90%, even at 1.5% (highest in our area by far), we know we’ve probably generated at least £30k – £40k – from just 55 letters.


Want to know how we can help you make your Direct Mail a huge success?

If you’d like us to take a look at the letters you’re sending out, in confidence of course, just tell us about your agency here, and let’s talk. 

Happy mailing!


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