Marketing

Perfect ad in hand — how many times should you promote it?

Finding your sweet spot in real estate advertising
  • To grow your real estate business through direct mail, your primary goals and audience should be established up front to determine the length and frequency of the marketing campaign.
  • A single mailing is not enough to effectively communicate a message to your farming area.
  • The response rate will often chart as a bell curve as the campaign ramps up and slows down, ultimately revealing the ROI sweet spot.

How many times should I advertise? This is a common question, as some real estate agents and brokers are new to direct marketing might have a hard time understanding the time-tested methods that result in positive return on investment and increased inbound leads.

When analyzing results from direct mail campaigns agents and brokers must be patient; timing can greatly affect the perceived ROI. It might be a generational or technological culture of instant gratification that makes us want to see our first marketing campaign rake in the dough within the first few months.

Inexperienced marketers or those introducing a new brand or agent to the area might experience a bit more difficulty reaching the industry standards of response rates initially. Establishing brand awareness needs to be step one, while the end goal should focus on getting your audience to act.

To see a return, you must invest

First of all, most marketing campaigns require more than one touch. (If you haven’t heard the term “touch,” touch equals impression equals ad; but it can also be a phone call or other interaction.)

In fact, marketing campaigns require multiple touches over time to a given customer before they’re ready to act. Just think of any relationship you’ve cultivated in the past — you’re more likely to work with someone with whom you’ve had multiple interactions versus someone you’ve just met for the first time.

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The only exceptions to this behavior are in those cases where a product or service is incredibly cheap or incredibly scarce. Regarding offers, think $10 round-trip airfare specials or a seller with an experimental iPhone not available to the public; you get the picture.

However, real estate services and listings don’t fall into that category. Most likely, there are other agents or brokers your audience can turn to help them find or a home.

Most of us like balanced offers

Most marketing campaigns balance an offer with a description of the features and benefits. In real estate, you should highlight your brand through unique differentiators (your features and benefits) well as include your offer; for example, a promotional offer to receive a free property value assessment.

When starting out, focus your messaging on educating on your brand for a few touches, and then ask your audience to take action.

Consumers need time to recognize and become familiar with your brand and your specific offer. Once that’s accomplished, hone in on your exact message to move them along the sales funnel.

Many clients ask – how many times do I send out my mailing or advertisement? This question is relevant across marketing disciplines, whether you use TV, radio, direct mail or any other outbound method.

Most people are looking for a definitive number — an absolute truth in marketing that they can rely on to ensure an effective marketing campaign.

For time sensitive or simple awareness campaigns, it takes at least three impressions to get someone’s attention, but five or more is better; 12 mailings a year could be your sweet spot depending on the overall goal of your campaign.

Considering there are so many factors involved in the process of getting your audience to respond to a marketing piece, it’s difficult to provide a definitive number.

It really depends on all the demographic and psychological factors that go into a specific brand and offer being marketed to a farming area. For most campaigns, one impression won’t cut it. This is especially true in our busy, media-heavy world where advertisers need to break through to capture the attention of their audience.

Is this going to be a drain on my marketing budget?

Most real estate agents and brokers see ROI fairly quickly if they know how to approach their campaign. Instead of asking “How many times do I send out this ad?” it might be better to ask “How many minimum touches do I need to send to start seeing returns?”

This takes into account all the factors that I mentioned above. Your ROI trendline will probably look more like a bell curve anyway, so expect that there will be a ramp-up period and a period of ongoing positive returns that will make up for the startup cost of branding your impressions on your farming area. Just make sure you send out your ads for repeated impressions.

Your fifth ad should not be a clone of your first ad

Brokerages often see a little success and assume they have designed the best possible piece – and never consider improving it as they go along.

Do research on how to do A/B testing (sometimes called split testing). The same audience demographic should be getting two different versions of your ad. Pay close attention which version performs better.

Typically you need a large mailing to prove statistically which one wins, but even if you do two small mailings side by side — if you get zero responses from one and seven from the other, you can feel secure to judge a winner.

The point is that you are increasing the effectiveness of your ad in measurable ways, and by the sixth, seventh or eighth impression your piece will have matured enough to make the appropriate impact with your prospect.

As a closing thought to the number of times an agent or broker should advertise – in most cases if your campaign has a trackable response action (like viewing a custom free property value assessment), and you can establish your success rate on closing those leads, then watch that ROI percentage closely.

That metric will tell you better than any marketing veteran when to stop advertising. If you’ve sent out your 20th mailing and there is still positive ROI from the direct mail marketing campaign, then ask yourself – is there any reason to stop?

Eric Cosway is the EVP and CMO of QuantumDigital. Follow him on Twitter.

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