Poor response rate from direct mail campaign. Looking for advice.

Hi everyone,

I recently sent out my first mailer to Tennessee of 500 post cards using the notice template. I only got around 6 call backs and two of them were people asking for me to take them off my mailing list. The other 4 I didn't get any deals from. I know at the very minimum your supposed to get a 2% response rate. Do you guys have any advice for me? I am a college student and working on a limited budget. Should I send out another mailer or should I try to find deeply discounted property another way?

What kind of list did you use? Where did you get it from and how did you filter it?

There are obviously a lot of variables that can make or break a direct mail campaign, but the quality of your list is (in my experience) the #1 most important issue by far.

If response rate is what you're most concerned with, you should try a delinquent tax list (if you haven't already). They're almost always a pain to get and worth with, but if you have the patience for it and you filter it well, it usually delivers some pretty good results.

1 Like

Thank you for the response!

I pulled my list from agentpro247 with the filters of out of state owners, and residential vacant land. I also made sure to get rid of any incomplete addresses and duplicates from the list before I mailed it. All of the postcards reached the recipients other than a couple of them which got sent back to me. I have gotten a couple of delinquent tax lists in the past but never mailed to them because they usually were missing information. I think I will try to get some delinquent tax lists in different counties that are hopefully more complete.

The only thing that I can think of that might have hindered my results is my voicemail. I had someone on Fiverr make my voicemail after I gave him a script. On freedom voice it doesn't show if someone calls unless they leave a voicemail and I think my voicemail might have been too long and sounded too fake so a lot of callers just hung up. Maybe this is a possibility? What do y'all think?


@Tyler_Harris - the voicemail could be part of it... but it's hard to say without hearing it (and even then, it would be still be largely speculation).

It could still be a lot of other things too... if AP247 was more than a couple of months old, that can mess things up. If you used ANY other filtering criteria, that could help or hinder things. What your postcard said can make a difference. The different contact options you give them can play a part (some people will call but they won't visit your website or email you, and vice versa).

And of course, 500 isn't an insignificant number (I would usually hope to get at least one deal out of that... and I usually will with a delinquent tax list), but it's still not that big of a campaign. When you're doing blind offers, 1,000 - 1,500 is generally the minimum you'll want to do to get any real results (and again, that's assuming you priced your offers right and filtered your list adequately to begin with).

There's a lot that goes into it, as you can see... but when you get disappointing results like this, they key is to pick it apart and think about every element that went into the disappointing campaign. Make sure you do something (if not several things) different on your next try, and that's how you'll get closer to the right mix that produces results.


@Tyler_Harris Check your settings on Freedom Voice. They do have the option of forwarding calls to your phone so that you can answer as the calls come in. The system is a bit clunky and hasn't been perfect for me, but for my campaigns I have found that the number one most effective way to get the ball rolling is to speak to the callers directly. When I tried directing callers to a website or email to fill out a form the response rate plummeted. I believe others have had success directing people to answer a series of questions,but so far the most effective progress I have made has just been answering the dang phone every time it rings.

I don't 100% love Freedom Voice because, as I stated, it's a bit clunky and the connection seems to be less than ideal. Also, if you do forward the calls to your personal number on the same device, there's no way of knowing whether the incoming call is someone calling my personal number or my Freedom Voice number. So, I just answer in business mode every time.

If anyone has a recommendation for other phone services, I'd love to hear it.

But to reiterate, you might just need to start answering the phone when it rings. Forward your calls, talk to these people, and see if your response rate improves. Best of luck!

1 Like

@Tyler_Harris I would consider increasing your amount of direct mail or just going the route of using a delinquent tax list.

I'm finding I get about 1 deal per every thousand letters in Florida when using a list from a data service provider like AgentPro247.

If you use a bought list, I normally encourage people to send out at least 1,500 letters.

If you're strapped for cash though, doing something like the delinquent tax list from the county has a much higher likelihood of a strong response rate.

Just my two cents!


@retipsterseth My list was about 15 days old that I pulled from AP247. But I agree it could be a number of different things. I just sent out another mailer with a different voicemail and a different style of postcard. I know I don't have a enough mail sent out to really make any assumptions yet but I just wanted to get some input from the forum to make sure it wasn't anything obvious.

But I agree @DanielC Freedom Voice is a little clunky. When you forward the calls to your actual phone if you don't pickup do they hear my personal voicemail or business voicemail that I setup on freedom voice?

Thank you for your input @Jarenb I will make sure to use a delinquent list from now on until I have a little extra money to spend on a data service. If I am tight for money do you recommend me sending out blind offers or postcards?

Thank you guys for your responses they are much appreciated!

I think I know the problem. That is an extremely wide range of people you have for your filter. Bare with me as I am not a good writer lol.

You could try Out Of State Owners, EXCLUDE CORPORATE OWNED, Purchase Price Under $200(people who inherited are much more likely to sell), over 2 acres, assessed value under $200,000 (unless you have a lot of capital), recorded date (2010-2005 and older)(people are more likely to not care for their property as much after owning it for so long).

(The acres and purchase price are based off of land prices in Mass and also lot size minimums in Mass.)

Take this with a grain of salt for i am trying to get my first wholesale deal myself but I've found after 2 campaigns that it is all about the direct mail.

Also you post card is a huge part as well. It needs to catch the readers eye before they throw it away.

The header of my post card says in big bold lettering


This grabs their attention and makes them read the post card to make sure nothing is wrong with their property. Now your card has been read versus thrown away and the seed is planted.

Also if the person thinks your cash offer is too low hit them with an offer twice or three times the amount but for a wholesale. This has worked tremendously for me as my capital is nearly nothing. (Seth I think i have figured out the finiancing problem of wholesaling with a double close and a transactional loan for the day).

There is no risk involved in a wholesale deal unless you pay for a perc test. which in some cases isn't much of a risk or even needed.

Don't give up man! I'm 2 campaigns in and no pay day but this next campaign is gunna be a freakin rodeo!


I've also wondered if others who have been doing this longer and more consistently have noticed any drop in response rate in recent months? Don't know if @retipsterseth, @DanielC , @Jarenb or others have any observations or data on that. I think I heard Justin Sliva and his partner mention on a recent podcast that they've noticed response rates being lower than normal lately.

When I first started out in the Spring, I had good results with my first two mail campaigns, which I understand certainly had some degree of luck involved. My first mailer, for instance, only went to something like 75 owners and produced one pretty solid deal, so I totally understand that numbers like that can't be reliably repeated. Second mailer, also in the spring, went to something like 250 owners, I believe, and also produced a nice deal. However, my third mailer that I sent to about 400 recipients in July totally whiffed, with results kinda similar to what @Tyler_Harris described: a few tire kickers that didn't really want to sell and one belligerent realtor threatening to sue me and report me to my state's AG's office for interfering with his contractual relationship with the property owner (who I didn't know had his property listed on the MLS). Side note: I'm not an attorney, but from what I've read online, one can't be liable for interfering with a contractual relationship that one didn't even know existed. I also thought it was funny because my very first land buyer is an attorney with my state's AG's office, and he and I discussed in generalities what I was doing with marketing and he thought it was awesome. :-)

Anyway, in terms of what I changed or kept the same, for all three of those mailings I used mostly tax delinquent data, with mostly new counties or different owners within a previously mailed county added each time, especially on the (unsuccessful) third mailer which was probably 95+% new recipients, so I don't think it's a matter of having gone back to the same well too many times. I guess you'd call all three mailers neutral yellow letters (yellow paper, handwritten font, no blind offers). On my fourth mailer that just went out (so no results to speak of, yet) I switched to a neutral white letter (type written font). On my first two mailers I only had a phone number in the letter, but beginning with the third mailer I kept the phone number and added a website, as well.

So I've been wondering if that's all just in the typical statistical range of what one should normally expect, or if the seller market has slowed down a bit recently, or if I should keep looking for a problem that's causing my early results not to scale up as well.

Lastly, just in case it's helpful for @Tyler_Harris, I've been using a free Google Voice account, so far, with a voicemail greeting that's just under 2 minutes long, and is pretty consistent with the script in one of Seth's blog posts (which I'm sure I could find, if it would be helpful). As described above, I'm still pretty new to this and have only had some limited results, but I feel this phone approach has worked all right for me so far. I can see when someone has called and not left a message, and I've only given this number out on my land mailers, so pretty much all of the calls at this point should be either legitimate responses or an occasional wrong number. When I do have a missed call / no voicemail left, if the person only calls once and won't sit through my greeting I've just assumed they're either a wrong number or not really motivated to sell at a price I'd be willing to pay, anyway. There have been a couple of cases, though, where someone called repeatedly over a period of days or weeks and never left a message. In those cases, I've tried calling them back to see what was going on. One was a non-English-speaking owner that didn't end up turning into a deal, but generally was still worth following up on, I think, as it did lead to an offer and could have hypothetically gone the other way.


@jaydensdad7317 I never thought about filtering my list to that specific but that makes complete sense. I followed the template that Seth shows in one of his blog posts with the big Notice vertical along the edge. But I think your right that my bad results could be due to my lack of filtering. Thank you!

@dl7573 Wow those were two really good first campaigns! I wonder if people are starting to get my direct mail about buying their land. The couple people who called me back said they have recieved postcards from other people already so maybe that has something to do with it. I might just need to find a new county.

But I will look into using google voice because I am not a big fan of freedom voice. I think it was probably a better service a few years back but it just doesn't seem like they have upgraded their website or made it less clunky.

@dl7573 Hi David, May I ask where did you get the mail list in first and second campaign?
thanks alot

@SamLands, both of my first two mailings were exclusively from data I pulled directly from a couple of counties' websites for free. I'm not gonna lie, it was a very time-consuming approach, but I wanted to start on a shoestring budget until I proved for myself that it would work, so I started only with counties that had fairly "investor-friendly" treasurer's websites, meaning they allowed searching by payment/delinquency status, and owner name with some very loose search terms. So for example, I'd run a search for properties with unpaid 2019 property taxes with owner name that starts with "[xyz]". This approach is not super-scalable, I think, because a lot of other counties I've checked make you search property tax records by account or invoice number, or exact match on full property owner name, which obviously wouldn't work for this approach. Also, and probably more importantly in terms of scalability, even the counties I've encountered where this approach does work, I've yet to find one that would let me export the search results to a CSV or something. This makes sense because the search function on the treasurer's website is basically there for property owners to pull up their own tax bill, not to support data mining by investors looking to do a mail campaign. So I had to manually check out each search result and copy/paste the property and owner data for the ones that met my criteria onto a spreadsheet. Again, very time consuming (hence the first mail list of only ~70 owners), but I honestly think I learned a lot and probably wouldn't have landed my specific first property if I hadn't done it this way, for reasons that are pretty unique to that property. That said, I would not, by any means, say that everyone should start this way. I could have pulled a tax delinquent list from the one county, in a handy Excel friendly format, for something like $150 I think, and that would have been way more time-effective.

@dl7573 really great insight here!

I have inventory on the market and I'm doing research on some other strategies for getting deals for land right now. So I haven't done a direct mail campaign in two or three months, so I personally can't speak to the response rate question.

Thanks @Jarenb. It's interesting, it's almost like most of the prospective sellers just took the month of August off, in my case, which in retrospect maybe isn't too surprising from a marketing perspective.

The mailer that I sent in July, which I thought was going to be a total goose egg in terms of deals, has all of a sudden come back to life this week. I have an out-of-country seller that I made an offer to, which I thought they rejected based on a phone call I had with them (definitely some language barrier). I was pleasantly surprised this week to find a signed agreement from them in my mailbox. On top of that, there's a chance I'll pick up a wholesale deal with another property owner from that mailing that had a bit of a delayed response to my letter.

Meanwhile, I'd already written that campaign off and sent a new mailer a couple of weeks ago which is also generating responses, so this week things went from being very quiet to pretty hectic basically overnight.

I think the comment you made above, @Jarenb, about higher response rates with tax delinquent lists must be the key for people starting out with limited budget for mailings. I don't think I'm doing anything else different than most newbies. My letter and voicemail greeting are pretty close to the scripts posted in RETipster blog posts so there's no secret sauce there.

1 Like

Don't forget that the USPS has been a bit delayed as of late. August normally is a slower month as people are finishing up summer vacations, kids going back to school, and the such. Don't be afraid to try and change your language on your scripting and mailers to reflect these things. Keep plugging, they will come @Tyler_Harris

1 Like

@dl7573 Yea sometimes direct mail is like that!

In (the beginning of) December last year I dropped a campaign and got absolutely no calls the entire month. Then all of sudden in January, I was bombarded with calls... FOR MONTHS! I got more deals out of that one campaign then I did any other last year - and I thought it was a bust!

I think the key to Direct mail is consistency - it tends to build a compound effect!


@jaydensdad7317 , just reading an old forum post. Good stuff! Anything to report on your 3rd campaign and beyond?

@dl7573 I just did the exact some thing. I copied and pasted about 267 leads on Word, used yellow postcards that I bought off of Amazon, typed, printed and mailed myself. Got 6 responses. Two people want to sell, but not at my offer. I will do a bigger mailer this time.

@dl7573 I had a realtor call me, but it went the other way. She left a message and told me her client, that I had mailed, had many properties and wanted to sell. I put the parcel number to the property on the postcards and ask callers to leave it in their message so I can look it up before calling them back. Well, when I looked into the person she said she was representing, he is a realtor himself and is the owner of the realty firm she works for. He is in his 80’s now so I guess she’s running things for him. I didn’t call back because I figured there was no deal to be had with them both being realtors. May be a foolish assumption. I still may call them.