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Email: Part of a Complete Marketing Breakfast

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With the announcement that the United States Postal Service (USPS) may be reducing their delivery days, it appears as though direct mail is getting knocked down another rung in the marketing world.

Many of you blog and social network, but have you included email marketing into your arsenal?

Cost Advantages

Email has significant cost savings over direct mail. When looking at a database of 500 people, the most popular postcard size from the leading provider in my area would cost $315 per campaign.  Email marketing to a list of that size could cost you $8-$14 dollars and you’re able to email those 500 people multiple times per month for that price.

Effectiveness

Logic dictates that if the USPS is having to consider losing a delivery day, direct mail has fallen out of favor.  Ease of use and cost push more and more people into using email.  In the last two years, I have seen a majority of people I know move to checking their mailbox once a week or less frequently.  I personally only check my mailbox when I’m expecting a movie.  Furthermore, there is no effective method for tracking your return on investment for direct mail.  All of the popular email marketing companies provide in-depth statistical analysis packages so you can see what your consumers are most interested in to fine-tune future campaigns.

Environmental Impact

Every year, Americans receive 5.6 million tons of junk mail, enough to fill 450,000 garbage trucks.  Not to mention the emissions used to create the paper, deliver the product then recycle it at the end. The environment is also your key to growing your list. Many clients I have worked with have extensive direct mail databases. The least expensive way to convert those into email addresses is to call. The fastest way is to send one last direct mail campaign with a message similar to “Help me go green”.  Ask people to provide you with their email address over the phone, by email or by signing up on your web site. People I have helped do this have seen a better than 85% conversion rate in their first campaign.

Choice

The truth is, however, that some people prefer direct mail. It feels more personal. They like touching something. They don’t want more “stuff” in the inbox.  That’s the beauty of the marketing campaign I just suggested, it allows people to choose if they would rather get your communications via email.  If we take that same database of 500 people and get an 85% conversion rate, our direct mail budget is reduced by almost $270 dollars.  If you want to communicate monthly, that’s over $3,000 per year you could be saving.

Options

There are a lot of different providers out there, but the benefits of going with a real email distribution company include:

  • Templates that are tested to work in most, if not all, email programs
  • Tracking capabilities
  • Scheduling capabilities (write your email now, send it next month)
  • List management (if people unsubscribe or there are bounces, you don’t have to personally clean your database
  • Email personalization

Although these companies cost money, it is a far better alternative than trying to use Outlook.  Here is a short list of a few of the options I have tried. Each one has their advantages and disadvantages, but they all offer free trials, so find the one that suits you best.

Nick runs a new media marketing consulting company helping real estate professionals learn how to implement new media tools into their marketing arsenal. He frequently gives presentations on generational marketing, green marketing and advanced online promotion. Nick is active on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Paula Henry

    January 29, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    Nick – Just had this converstaion online and in person. On Twitter another agent said, Realtors “please quit sending out recipe cards”, to which I wholeheartedly agreed. The other converstaion was with an agent determined to go back in time and start “farming”. Oh, the nonsense of it all.

    I check my mail about twice a week. As my contact list gets larger, I am looking at one of these email programs, just undecided which one.

    The only real reason to send snail mail is if it is personal and hand written. Just my opinion:)

  2. Missy Caulk

    January 30, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    I stopped the post card mailings many years ago, it was just not cost effective. As you said 3-500.00 each time.

    I did do snail mail birthday cards, then went to email ones the last two years and now I am back to hard copy ones.

    Somehow it just seemed to mean more to everyone.

  3. Ruthmarie Hicks

    January 31, 2009 at 1:03 am

    Do we really NEED the post office?? I just discovered by accident how LITTLE I actually need them. The Northeast has had a lot of snow and severe cold this winter. A snow plow knocked over my mailbox after the first snow. With the ground frozen…I haven’t been able to put the mail box back in the ground. So for the last 6-7 weeks – no snail mail except when I pick it up. Since you have to wait about 1 hour at our P.O. I’ve only collected the mail ONCE. Obviously, I don’t see a burning need to get the mail because most of my business is conducted ON-LINE including bills etc. There were some Christmas cards at the end of Dec that I wouldn’t want to miss out on. The rest was nearly all redundant or pure junk. In fact, I have far less garbage to recycle. Talk about waste.

    My conclusion: Postal workers need to start polishing their resumes. Although there will always be snail mail – Obama is on the right track. Get rid of the junk mail and you could cut the postal system to 1/4th its present size. Nationally, we might easily get away with 3-4 days of delivery.

    However, for introducing yourself to a neighborhood – particularly a condo complex with locked entries and a doorman standing between you and potential clients – bulk mail has been somewhat effective for establishing a presence. I have a listing appointment from a postcard mailing early next week – and our market is almost at a standstill. Do people want the mail? Probably not – but people do seem to remember my post cards (which are very unique.)

    The way I “touch” people I’ve met or those who have contacted me through my website etc. – EMAIL, PHONE, TEXT MESSAGE, FACEBOOK…not MAIL.

  4. Judy Peterson

    January 31, 2009 at 7:14 am

    And emails or blog posts last longer than the walk from the mail box to the circular file.

  5. Christina Ethridge - North Idaho Real Estate

    February 2, 2009 at 10:22 am

    “Logic dictates that if the USPS is having to consider losing a delivery day, direct mail has fallen out of favor.”

    Really? What logic? Perhaps it’s not so much that direct mail has fallen out of favor but that people pretty much no longer send personal notes, letters, cards. Perhaps UPS/Fedex have taken a dominate control of package shipping. Perhaps USPS has been so completely irresponsible with their budgeting and business methods that they simply can’t adapt and keep up with financial changes.

    Frankly, direct mail hasn’t fallen out of favor… to use it effectively, you have to know what to send, when to send and who to send it to. Recipe cards just don’t cut it.

  6. Nick Bostic

    February 3, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    @Paula – I completely agree with you, I will check personal handwritten mail, the problem is if it’s time sensitive odds are I won’t get it in time. Plus, even if it’s something nice, emails can be nice and are better on the environment.

    @Missy – Our title company used to send handwritten Christmas cards. This year, we did a cheesy video of all of our employees in Santa hats waving like dorks and emailed it out. Every one of our customers, except ONE, LOVED IT. One out of 4,000+ people makes sense and cents 🙂

    @Ruthmarie – I’ve been online and trying to stop the rest of my mail for years. Aside from my movies, I could really live without the post office. We’ve had a lot of problems in my area getting mass mail postcards to condo developments, but if that works in your area, I can see the value.

    @Judy – Very true, and are easier to share with more people.

    @Christina – I did those cheesy logic problem books as a kid, so logic comes pretty easy to me (it frustrates my lawyer sister). When a business cuts hours or goes out of business, logic very clearly dictates they weren’t successful. USPS is still far easier to send from home than UPS/Fedex. USPS accounts for 46% of the world’s card and letter deliveries, which is the direct mail most people in this industry send. But the overall volume of that type of mail has decreased, logically because people aren’t using it as much. For cards, letters and the like, UPS/Fedex are considerably more expensive and I’ve come to learn that REALTORs are very price sensitive. We’ll have to agree to disagree, the facts I’ve seen clearly show that direct mail is rapidly losing ground to other marketing methods.

  7. Ruthmarie Hicks

    February 4, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    Here’s an update – I did just get a listing agreement from a post card. Nothing else – although I did a really nice listing presentation – I was surprised that the client was not interviewing extensively. I’m good at what I do – and very happy to do it, but these days I think this is pretty unusual.

    I do have the “less is more” approach to mailing. I only send things out about 5-6 times a year. What I send is expensive, but unique. NO ONE else does what I do – and most people will look twice at the type of post card I send. I don’t send things in envelopes that people have to open. Just unique cards – each with a unique message.

    Btw, I think its time for national email addresses! Wouldn’t that be a cool thing for Obama to add to his stimulus package? It would take the place of snail mail for everything save packages and things that require paper.

  8. Bruce Lemieux

    February 8, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    Implementing an effective direct mail campaign is difficult and expensive. But, no doubt, it is a very powerful tool. It is the foundation of my marketing strategy. Here’s why I love direct mail:

    1. I have a geographical farm. I *know* that my audience gets my piece. No spam filter.

    2. I send big, very high-quality pieces that build and re-enforce my brand. So, even if it takes 5 seconds to pickup, glance and throw in the trash, the impression is “These guys sell a lot of real estate. These guys are professional”

    3. I can target my pieces directly to the audience making it more relevant.

    4. Direct mail + for sale signs + yard signs in a concentrated area tells my target audience that I’m the area expert. On listings, we often get “we see you everywhere”. Not so without direct mail.

    Implementing a cost-effective campaign is tough. If I were in a lower-priced market, it may not make since. For me, however, the high-cost is a good thing. It presents a barrier to entry for most other agents, so I’m competing with fewer other agents.

    I love direct mail!

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Tech News

Amazon backtracks on hybrid return-to-work plan, allows work from home

(TECHNOLOGY) Amazon retracts its original statement proposing a hybrid work schedule and is now open to allowing employees to work from home indefinitely.

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Samsung photo with amazon app loading page.

Let’s face it, companies can’t make up their mind regarding remote work. One week it’s this, the next week it’s that. Somehow, even though they have been running smoothly while working from home in the midst of the pandemic, employees are now suddenly considered to be “twiddling their thumbs.”

 

Following in the footsteps of other FAANG companies, in March 2021, Amazon said that their “plan is to return to an office-centric culture as our baseline. We believe it enables us to invest, collaborate, and learn together most effectively.”

What a stark contrast from the newest proposition: “At a company of our size, there is no one-size-fits-all approach for how every team works best” said Jassy, the now CEO of Amazon.  

Multi-member Zoom call on a Apple Mac laptop with a blue mug of black coffee next to it.

Contradictory, but admirable! Before this most recent announcement, Amazon was going to require all corporate works to adhere to a hybrid schedule of 3 days in office, unless otherwise specified. The hybrid work plan was set to begin in September 2021.

Now, the decision falls into the individual team’s hands and employees will be evaluated based on performance, despite where they choose to work. However, the underlying preference is to be located at least within reasonable distance to their core team’s office in order to come in on short notice.

“The company expects most teams will need a few weeks to develop and communicate their respective plans.”

Once plans are more finalized, Amazon will share specific details prior to January 3rd, 2022 – the date they initially planned for everyone to return to the office. Even though they may be a little indecisive, compared to Facebook, Apple, and Google, they’re actually being more flexible.

Finger snaps for the king of two-day shipping.

Now you have an excuse to pop open Amazon.com on a new private tab, while working from home, and buy a little something to celebrate. Seems counterintuitive to what we’re trying to prove here, but it’s necessary. Treat yo’self!

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Nate app: $38M Series A fintech startup you should keep an eye on

(TECHNOLOGY) The nate app combines the best of social media and shopping into one platform, streamlining the check-out process for hassle-free purchases.

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African American woman holding iPhone scrolling through the Nate App homepage.

No one likes to hop around from store to store searching aimlessly in aisles for all of their necessary items. That’s why the big guys win, like Walmart, Amazon, and Target – they have all you need in one swoop! Users choosing to shop online feel the same way. Having to reenter payment, billing, and shipping information over and over again becomes a pain – or worse, a deterrent to purchase, resulting in cart abandonment- that’s where the nate app comes in.

Nate combines the best of social media and shopping into one platform.

The well-funded, series A startup utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) to complete purchases seamlessly without all of the fluff a user discovers when checking out at various online retailers. Once a user inputs shipping and payment information into the app during sign-up, nate keeps the data on file for subsequent purchases, virtually eliminating the time-consuming check out process. If a user sees a product they like from an online merchant, they simply have to “share” the item to the nate app, and it will take care of the rest.

Unicorner’s startup analysis states, “In essence, nate is bringing the benefits of shopping on a centralized platform like Amazon to a decentralized shopping ecosystem.”

Brown leather wallet with tip of credit card sticking out next to a iPhone showing a shoe purchase on the Nate App.

With a nod to Pinterest and LikeToKnowIt, the platform allows for users to create visual product lists on a personal account that can be shared with followers. If a follower likes an item they see, they can purchase the item in-app in just a click or two.

In contrast to the big wigs of the social media world, the nate app hopes that users will purchase based on true inspiration and not a targeted algorithm suggesting what they should buy. Instead, the app runs its business model on a $1 fee for each transaction which covers the ability to issue virtual cards, protect online privacy, and apply available discounts.

The nate app simplifies gift giving as well. Users are able to select a gift item and enter the recipients phone number – if the recipient is a nate app user, it can be shipped directly – otherwise, they will receive a text asking them where to send their new gift! This makes it a perfect choice for the upcoming holidays (yes, 2021 is almost over…whew).

To stay up to date on everything nate, download it now on the App Store.

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Facebook deletes developer over ironic browser extension invention

(TECHNOLOGY) Think a muted week for a nipple shadow is bad? Facebook just permabanned this inventor for…helping others to use the platform less.

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African American hand holding iphone on Facebook's login page.

It must be true that corporations are people because Facebook is pulling some seriously petulant moves.

In a stunt that goes beyond 24hr bans for harmless hyperbole, and chopping away at organic reach (still bitter from my stint in social media management), Facebook straight up permanently banned one of their users for the high crime of…aiming to get people to use the platform a little less.

Developer Louis Barclay came up with Unfollow Everything, an extension that basically instantly deleted your feed without having you unfriend anyone or unlike anything. Rather than have users manually go through and opt out of seeing posts, they’d now opt IN to keeping who they wanted front and center.

In his own words on Slate: “I still remember the feeling of unfollowing everything for the first time. It was near-miraculous. I had lost nothing, since I could still see my favorite friends and groups by going to them directly. But I had gained a staggering amount of control. I was no longer tempted to scroll down an infinite feed of content. The time I spent on Facebook decreased dramatically. Overnight, my Facebook addiction became manageable.”

Since more time spent on Facebook means more ads that you’re exposed to, means more you spend, the add-on started slowly making headway. I myself pretend to be a ranch owner to keep ads as irrelevant to me as possible (though my new addiction to hoof trimming videos is all too real), and Unfollow Everything probably would have been a great find for me if it hadn’t been killed by a cease and desist.

Law firm Perkins Coie, representing the internet giant, let Barclay know in their notice that Unfollow Everything violated the site’s rules on automated collection of user content, and was muscling in on Facebook trademarked IP.

They also added, in what I can only assume was a grade-school narc voice, that the add-on was “encouraging others to break Facebook’s rules.”

Barclay, not having the resources to fight a company with the finances of a small country, promptly ceased and desisted. Practical.

Officially speaking, Facebook might have actually have some ground to stand on vis-à-vis its Terms Of Service. The letter and legal team may have been warranted, not that we’ll ever truly know, since who’s taking Facebook to court? But then they followed up with a ‘neener neener’ deletion of Barclay’s 15 year old account – which was still very much in use.

Look, Facebook is the only way I connect with some of my friends. I don’t take enough pictures to make full use of Instagram, I fully hate Twitter, my Tumblr is inundated with R-rated fanfiction, and any other social media platform I’m happy to admit I’m too haggish and calcified to learn to use. So a complete WIPE of everything there with no notice would be pretty devastating to me. I can only imagine how Barclay felt.

And in light of the fact that the browser extension wasn’t hurting anyone, taking money, or spewing hateful rhetoric, there’s really only one thing to say about Facebook’s actions…they’re petty.

Sure, they may have the legal right to do what they did. It’s just that when you notice every fifth post is an unvetted advertisement, their high ground starts to sink a little. I mean nothing says ‘We’re being totally responsible with user information’ like the number of add ons and user tactics popping up to avoid seeing the unnecessary. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Facebook put up a fight against losing ad traffic.

We all know all those stores with amazing deals aren’t actually going out of business, or even using their own photos right? Right?

Barclay added in his article, “Facebook’s behavior isn’t just anti-competitive; it’s anti-consumer. We are being locked into platforms by virtue of their undeniable usefulness, and then prevented from making legitimate choices over how we use them—not just through the squashing of tools like Unfollow Everything, but through the highly manipulative designs and features platforms adopt in the first place. The loser here is the user, and the cost is counted in billions of wasted hours spent on Facebook.”

Agreed, Mr. Barclay.

Now I’m off to refresh my feed. Again.

 

Graffiti wall with image of Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, with the saying "You've been Zucked."

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