What is Geofarming?
Geofarming, also called farming a neighborhood, is an effective way to build relationships to generate leads and build your brand. Realtors have been doing it for years, and the key to making it work is being consistent and systematic in your approach.
The process is pretty simple: find a neighborhood to “farm” and bombard it with direct mail campaigns until you generate leads or move on to a more profitable neighborhood. Continually mailing to the right people is a time-tested way to get more business. Farming is a long-term marketing strategy that should be practiced for at least a year, while internet-only marketing is more immediate and many times has a shorter lifecycle. However, the two can work in conjunction with each other and many companies use direct mail to drive traffic to their websites.
What is Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM)?
EDDM is a newer initiative by the US Postal Service to involve small businesses in bulk mailing who may not have the resources to use a commercial printer or mail house. While many of the rules of normal bulk business mailing still apply, you can purchase postage online and drop off at a local post office instead of using a commercial mail house.
What are the pros and cons of using EDDM for geofarming?
Realtors benefit from lower postage costs for larger-sized mailpieces. Instead of a tiny postcard, print on two sides of an 8.5×11” sheet for about half the cost of a postcard stamp. Every Door Direct Mail accommodates mailings to 5,000 pieces, and because the paperwork and design requirements are not as complicated, it’s an easy enough task to be handled by your marketing assistant. This eliminates the need to hire a costly commercial printer or mailing company to take care of your mailing needs.
Having the freedom to print on a larger size allows you to advertise multiple listings, combine listings with promotions and other ideas that drive traffic to your website and assist in collecting leads. Share awards won, recent sales data on the neighborhood, happy customer stories, and anything else that sets you apart from the competition. Mail to your target neighborhood monthly to build brand awareness.
In addition, the Postal Service website includes free demographics about your chosen mailing route such as average household income and age. These numbers are based on the latest U.S. Census information, and it makes it easy to target your mailing to a specific age and/or income bracket. For example, you can choose to mail only to an area with an average income over 500K, and focus primarily on your upscale listings.
Every Door Direct Mail is no magic bullet, and Realtors who prefer to send personalized mailings will not want to use it, since every piece has to be exactly the same, and cannot contain any name or address information. With a maximum mailing radius of five miles from a chosen address, EDDM is not a viable option for those who are looking to farm in rural neighborhoods or a large geographical area.
Because EDDM works by carrier routes, you cannot target your mailing to a very small neighborhood or subdivision, as is the case with GIS Data. You must send to an entire mailing route or group of PO Boxes. While you have the option to send to PO Box or residential customers only, commercial realtors will not find EDDM useful because you cannot target businesses exclusively.
Driving Web Traffic With EDDM
There are several ways to use your mailpiece to direct traffic back to your website. Create an effective landing page that requires users to enter their email address for a free piece of information such as a detailed neighborhood guide, guide to the homebuying (or selling) process, or other giveaway. Add the link to the landing page on your mailer. Simplify the signup process by also including a QR Code on your piece that prospects can scan with their smartphone that takes them directly to the signup form. The simpler you make it for people to participate, the more likely they are to give you their information.
Contests work well for creating a buzz about your brand, and are an easy way to collect email addresses. Advertise your contests with direct mail using the same landing page link + QR Code formula mentioned above. Require participants to sign-up via your website. Ongoing monthly contests keep the leads coming; list previous winners to show credibility.
There’s no reason why you couldn’t do a mailing that showcases your recently sold listings in the neighborhood and promotes your latest contest. Add snapshots of your happy customers and include testimonials with short stories to build trust. Keep your content focus laser-sharp by only mentioning things going on within the neighborhood you are farming.
Create multiple landing pages and test each one to see which performs the best. Once you have that customer’s email address, you can include them in your email and direct mail marketing pipeline, effectively doubling the prospect’s exposure to your brand. According to a study Experian, every $1 spent on email marketing generates an average of $44.25 in revenue, making it the most profitable marketing method.
Wrapping It Up
Talk to your marketing assistant or the marketing department in your brokerage to help you get started with your first EDDM campaign. Depending on the size of the mailing, it may be more cost efficient to outsource the printing. Because the paperwork is not difficult to complete, you can choose to complete it yourself and handle the post office delivery to keep costs low. The paperwork is provided to you after you buy the postage online through USPS; all you have to do is print it out and take it with you.
Direct mail may seem intimidating because of the costs involved, but it still delivers results. Combining direct mail campaigns with web-based contests, giveaways and promotions provides a solid lead generation system that increases brand awareness and builds credibility. The more your prospects are exposed to your brand, the more likely they are to trust and buy from you.