Re-posted from Deliver Magazine.
By Allan Nahajewski
For the distressed U.S. real estate industry, “home sweet home” hasn’t been quite as sweet lately. According to the latest U.S. Census figures, new home sales plunged from a 2005 peak of 1,283,000 to 485,000 in 2008. In this challenging housing market, it takes new, integrated direct mail strategies to close those crucial deals.
Claire Bisignano Chesnoff, N.Y.S. Licensed Real Estate Broker/Owner of Claire Properties, is aware of the challenge, and for years has used direct mail to prospect for customers and sell homes. Lately, Chesnoff has become an even bigger believer in the power of direct mail, thanks to the advent of mobile barcodes that shoppers can scan to access full home listings via the web. Which is why Chesnoff uses TriggerMarketing,® a turnkey, automated local marketing program that combines digital technologies like unique QR codes, texting and PURLs with targeted direct mail to motivate response and deliver trackable results.
“I’m tech savvy myself,” Chesnoff says, “and so are a lot of the people who are shopping for homes in my area, which includes Staten Island and Brooklyn. So many people these days are using their smartphones to scan QR codes to open the door to even more information. It’s a tool that works.”
Here’s how TriggerMarketing works: Launched by a predefined marketing trigger, postcards are created on the fly based on information pulled from a business’s database. Because the digital technologies included on each card are tied to a specific recipient, marketers can follow up with warm leads immediately. Within seconds, TriggerMarketing launches an integrated marketing campaign featuring a new listing.
Recipients can scan a QR code, text a unique phrase to a code number or visit a keyword-protected website to get more information. TriggerMarketing notifies the real estate agent via e-mail when prospects seek property information, including details about each lead. And the system also includes links to the property listings on Facebook and Twitter to create social buzz.
“Prospects like the fact that the postcard is customized and targeted directly to them,” says Chesnoff. “And I like the fact that I get useful information about my prospects when they scan the QR codes.
“It’s the mix of mail and web that makes the difference,” adds Chesnoff. “People still like to see and hold a postcard with a nice photo of the home. When you combine that with all the details available on the web, it’s the best of both worlds.”
Tips to Successfully Partner the Web and Direct Mail
Use a checklist to ensure direct mail is steering online traffic to you
Is your offer compelling? Is your call to action clear? Is there a deadline for action? Did you test various formats? Are you capturing contact information? Is your URL easy to type? “Direct mail is different in 2011, thanks to technological advances that increase effectiveness,” says Robert M. Brecht, Ph.D., director of research and education of the DMN 3 Institute in Houston. “A barcode reader app on a smartphone, for example, is a game-changer.”
Add digital video to integrated effort for an extra boost
“QR codes are very good for that,” says Brecht. “For instance, in a big-box store’s coupon circular, a charcoal company used a two-dimensional barcode to direct people to a website that included videos on grilling techniques.”
Keep your website in response to a PURL to three pages or less
Personalized URLs are delivering results never seen before. “People are willing to share so much more through a PURL than through a reply envelope,” adds Bob Salta, a partner at DirectMail.com. “Most will provide you an e-mail address to make following up easier. Many will provide referrals and will also enter an identification code, so you can track responses back to a specific prospect.”
Use the rich data you receive in an integrated campaign to keep refining your mailing list
“Not only start with a targeted mailing list, but be prepared to clean and refine that list throughout the duration of the campaign,” says Cynthia Fedor, the marketing team lead and senior copywriter for QuantumDigital.