What We Learned from Mailing Over 14 Million Real Estate Postcards in 2022

What We Learned from Mailing Over 14 Million Real Estate Postcards in 2022

The year of 2022 proved to be a bit of a roller coaster ride for those in the real estate industry. The first quarter showed a home-buying and selling frenzy, but by December, the market slowed considerably alongside rising inflation and mortgage rates.

A 30-year fixed mortgage rate in January of 2022 averaged 3.58%. Then, after the federal rate hikes and record-breaking inflation numbers, rates skyrocketed to an average of 6.68% by December 2022.

What resulted were some obvious deviations from 2021’s real estate mailing stats. Overall, the real estate industry is still strong, but there have been some changes in certain trends. One of the biggest shifts we saw was in the increase of tech-driven real estate solutions.

More families are shopping online, using social media to check out home listings and even virtual showings are more popular now. As a result, our real estate clients are getting more tech-savvy too.

That isn’t all that changed — we found some other interesting trends in when and how much real estate professionals marketed in 2022.

We compiled information about every mailing we did for real estate agents and brokers in 2022 — amounting to over 14 million mail pieces across 22,000+ mailings — then organized the data to reveal the biggest trends and strategies.

Our research spanned the nation and we even included a state-by-state breakdown as well to help you make more informed decisions about marketing in your specific area.

Here’s what we found…

A snapshot of every PostcardMania 2022 real estate mailing

real estate direct mail macro view postcardmania 2022
  • Total postcards mailed: 14,771,104
  • Average mailing quantity: 659
  • Largest single mailing quantity: 187,531
  • The busiest month of the year for mailings and mail volume: March 2023

At PostcardMania, we provide marketing solutions to more than 13,000 real estate agents and brokers. This means we have a substantial collection of information about real estate agents, the campaigns they run, and when they market the most and the least.

As you review our findings, you’ll notice some of the trends are the same as last year while others fluctuate more substantially.

This year’s snapshot differs slightly from 2021, as the busiest days for mailings and mail volume both shifted to later on in the year. Last year, the busiest day for mailings was February 15th compared to March 20th in 2022. Similarly, mail volume peaked on August 12, 2021, and in 2022, October 27th was the apex for mail volume.

We looked at the quantity of every single real estate mailing in 2022 and found the average mailing quantity was 659, a slight 7% increase from the previous year’s average of 611 mail pieces.

Let’s take a magnifying glass to the data to see what changed and what didn’t from 2021 to 2022…

Smaller quantity mailings still rule real estate direct mail marketing

common real estate mailing quantities postcardmania

Nearly forty percent of all 2022 mailings were under 49 pieces, and 63% of all the mailings were 250 pieces or less. Only 13% and 14% mailed in quantities of 250–750 and 750–1,499 respectively, while 10% mailed in quantities of 1,500 or more. A little more than half a percent mailed in quantities of 10,000 or more.

While smaller quantities (249 pieces or fewer) make up the bulk of outgoing mailings, they only make up 5% of all of our outgoing real estate mail volume.

Keep in mind that these figures reflect mailing quantities and not order quantities. Real estate professionals who want to cash in on major postage and printing discounts order in bulk and then schedule their mailings ahead of time to make their direct mail campaigns seamless and easy to manage.

In fact, we recommend all first-class mailings meet a threshold of 500 pieces (or 200 pieces for standard postage) to qualify for bulk mailing discounts. This discount can save over a dime per piece on postage — the lion’s share of direct mail costs.

While smaller mailings aren’t cost-optimized, they are popular, so let’s zoom in a little bit by looking at mailings from one of our partner platforms that accounted for over 1.3 million pieces mailed in 2023.

real estate partner mailings postcardmania

This platform allows real estate agents to mail postcards with just a few clicks, from as little as mailing one postcard to thousands at a time — but agents rarely mail more than 250 at a time.

We found that agents mailed in quantities of 50-249 postcards nearly half the time, totaling 47%, and another 39% of all mailings were 49 pieces or fewer. In total, 86% of the mailings sent through this platform were in quantities of 250 or less.

Only 2% chose to mail more than 750 pieces at a time, and only 14% chose to schedule more than one mailing per list.

You might think agents would want to cover larger geographical areas. However, the platform allows them to select very specific streets, based on many different criteria, like school zones, active listings, home values, and more. For example, a real estate agent could do a small mailing of 50 postcards to all the homes on a street where they just sold a home.

If you want to focus in on specific properties like this with micro mailings, we suggest using MyREpostcards, which is our easy-to-use platform where you can order, customize, and mail out real estate postcards within 48 hours.

Next, we looked at when the real estate industry mails the most.

Overall, real estate agents were most active in March, the month with the most mailings and the highest mail volume

monthly real estate mailings 2022 postcardmania

This graph is based on the number of mailings sent each month by agents, irrespective of mail volume. It more closely gauges agent activity.

monthly real estate mail volume 2022 postcardmania

This graph is based on mail volume or the total amount of pieces mailed every month. It more closely gauges how crowded a prospect’s mailbox might be.

Month with the most mailings: March

Month with the highest mail volume: March

You’ll definitely want to know the best months to mail real estate postcards, and based on the data, RE agents are still mailing the most in March. This year’s data also reveals that December is still the slowest month for mailers.

Mailings were highest in March, April, and May.

Looking at changes in real estate mailings between 2021 and 2022, signs of a hot market and then an abrupt decline come into even starker contrast.

From January to July in 2022, mail volume averaged between 4-14% higher than the previous year. However, once July hit, volume took a nosedive. By September of 2022, mail volume was 13% less than September 2021. This decrease continued until December 2022, when volume hit 19% less than 2021.

In 2021, mail volume dropped 15% from August to December, but that discrepancy doubled in 2022 as mail volume decreased 31% over the same timeframe. The sharpest year-over-year difference came in the beginning of the year when January 2022 mail volume was 14% higher than January 2021. In 2021, January was among one of the slowest months for mailing, but it was one of the busiest in 2022.

While it’s typical to see higher mail volume numbers early on in the year and then drop-offs toward the holidays, 2022’s late-year drop-off is especially significant. The sharp decline could be attributed to a declining market due to inflation and mortgage rate hikes.

Usually, a pullback in the market is a good time to gain market share. We did exactly that in 2020 when the economy hit a standstill. We didn’t cut our marketing budget even as revenue declined more than 40% from March to April. But then from May on, our leads increased 9.24% for 6 months — and during that time we didn’t even increase our marketing spend. We averaged 186 more leads every week without increasing our spend!

So even if the market gets unstable, see it as a prime time to get ahead of your competition.

Next, we’ll look at fluctuations throughout the year based on the number of pieces in each mailing…

Small-size mailings fluctuate in frequency throughout the year while large-size mailings stay consistent

monthly mailings grouped by common mailing quantities postcardmania

You can see in the chart above there are obvious spikes in March for the smaller-sized mailings, whereas the larger mailing quantities stayed relatively level from January to December.

These trends were similar to findings in 2021. However, there was one obvious difference between 2021 and 2022 — mailings shot up in December of 2021, but there was no spike in 2022. Mailings continued to trend downward.

This year, we note a couple of other major shifts:

  • Between May and June, the drop in mailings of 50-250 pieces doubled from 2021 to 2022, jumping from 11% to 22%. So we noticed a sharper decline in 2022 during the unofficial transition from spring to summer marked by Memorial Day.
  • Between February and March of 2021, there was a 31% increase in volume for 750-1,500 pieces, but in 2022, there was only a 5% increase. This is likely due to mailings having already reached and sustained a high range from the start of 2022, when the market was still hot, whereas 2021 may have been following more traditional spring and summertime peaks.

Overall, the lower the quantity, the higher the month-to-month variance, and vice versa. Monthly fluctuations for quantities of 750-1,500 were all under 10%, whereas lower quantity mailings all tallied monthly changes above 10%.

The larger mailing quantities likely represent pre-planned farming campaigns while the smaller quantity mailings may be triggered in response to inquiries, like visiting a website or filling out an online form.

Thanks to our service Website to Mailbox, direct mail can be automated based on online behaviors, like a website visit or a click on a specific web page.

Now that we’ve covered stats month by month, here’s a broader view of real estate trends by season…

Autumn is the slowest real estate mailing season both in terms of total mailings and mail volume

seasonal real estate mailings postcardmaniaseasonal real estate mail volume postcardmania

In the last section, we honed in on the busiest and slowest months for real estate mailings. So now let’s get a bird’s eye view of the seasons.

Here’s how we divvied up the seasons:

  • Winter: January, February, March
  • Spring: April, May, June
  • Summer: July, August September
  • Autumn: October, November, December

When you look at the pie charts above, you’ll notice the data is spread out very evenly. The window of difference is 1-12% — very small. This shows that our real estate clients were relatively consistent in mailing throughout the year; many didn’t skip a season!

Overall, winter saw the highest number of mailings, and spring the highest mail volume, in 2022. This differs from findings in 2021 when spring reigned supreme in both mailings and mail volume for the year.

These findings reinforce the strength of the real estate market earlier in the year — and agents as they try to capitalize on a hot market.

Next, we looked at the postage type real estate agents chose for their mailers…

More real estate agents selected first-class postage in 2022

popular real estate mail classes 2022 postcardmania

Last year, first-class and standard postage were about equally popular among real estate agents as the mailing classes of choice 46% and 47% of the time, respectively.

But in 2022, there was a shift as 17% more RE agents chose the first-class postage rate, and those choosing to mail standard shrunk by 15%.

EDDM and carrier route remained the least popular, with EDDM maintaining only 1% both years and carrier route shrinking from 6% in 2021 to 4% in 2022.

For those unfamiliar with mailing classes, let’s take a look at all the pros and cons of each postage option below.

First-class postage: First-class postage is the pricier letter-rate tier. It can cost between $0.455 and $0.515 per piece.

  • Pros: Faster than standard postage with guaranteed delivery 1–5 days from your mailing date (1–3 days locally and 3–5 days nationally); allows for individual targeting based on household demographics regardless of mailing route
  • Cons: Costlier than standard postage

Standard postage: Standard postage is the more affordable tier of typical two-tiered letter-rate postage (as opposed to package rates). It can cost between $0.296 and $0.349 per piece.

  • Pros: 30–74% cheaper than first class postage depending on mailing quantity and area saturation; allows for individual targeting based on household demographics regardless of mailing route
  • Cons: No guaranteed delivery time; usually takes between 7–14 days but can take even longer during peak mailing seasons like the holidays

Carrier route postage: Sometimes referred to as a saturation mailing or resident/occupant mailing (res/occ), carrier route is a standard postage class that is discounted even further because its distribution is based on mail carrier routes — specific postal routes taken by USPS delivery staff. It can cost between $0.209 and $0.400 per piece.

  • Pros: Up to 146% cheaper than first class postage and up to 70% cheaper than standard postage; good for saturating an entire area that you know is well qualified
  • Cons: Limited demographic targeting options, no guaranteed delivery time; specific type of list required; usually takes between 7–14 days but can take even longer during peak mailing seasons like the holidays

Everywhere Direct Door Mailing or EDDM Postage: EDDM is a discounted carrier route mailing and the cheapest postage rate offered by the USPS apart from specialty postage rates, like those available to nonprofits. It can cost between $0.201 and $0.216 per piece.

  • Pros: Up to 4% cheaper than carrier route postage; good for saturating an entire area that you know is well qualified; affordable larger mailing sizes available; DIY option available for those rich in time rather than money
  • Cons: Limited demographic targeting options, no guaranteed delivery time; specific type of list required; usually takes between 7–14 days but can take even longer during peak mailing seasons like the holidays

You can see why some mail classes are more popular with real estate agents over others.

First-class mail is the most expensive — yet fastest — option. Given that most of our clients chose first-class postage, timing must have been important to them, and it was worth the extra expense.

But if you do want to save a bit of money on postage, standard mail is still a good option that still gives you access to targeted mailing lists.

With that said, a small fraction of our clients chose saturation mailing lists and to cover entire areas with their message, though this tactic does appear to be declining in popularity year over year while speedier mail classes are on the rise.

After delving into postage type, we looked at design and campaign content.

The top 3 real estate postcard designs of 2022

At PostcardMania, most of our clients mail custom designs that are created by designers 100% from scratch. But, a portion of them do select a template from our template library.

Take a look at the three most popular real estate design templates below — all of them “Just Sold” campaigns.

just sold postcard template for real estatejust sold postcard template for real estatejust sold postcard template for real estate

These designs are popular among real estate agents on our MyREPostcards.com platform, where agents can design cards and send mailings with just a few clicks. These three designs accounted for nearly a third — 30% — of all mailings sent from that platform. The most popular choice was a custom design option, which was used twice as often at 63%.

We’ve also teamed up with real estate partner platforms that make it fast and easy for real estate agents to buy postcards in varying amounts themselves via a storefront interface. Users can upload their own designs, select ready-made templates, or templates that can be customized by uploading artwork and text into the appropriate sections.

When researching the activity on one of these partner platforms, we found 4% of users fully customized their templates with their own art and text, 17% chose a “Just Sold” template, and 37% selected an “upload your own” postcard where they could upload their own designs on the front and back of the card.

A second partner platform revealed similar data:

  • 10% chose fully customizable templates
  • 13% chose “Just Sold” templates
  • 19% chose “upload your own” design templates

It seems custom artwork — followed closely by “Just Sold” campaigns — makes up the majority of direct mail design choices.

“Just Sold” campaigns are popular and effective because they show firstly that the RE agent can be trusted to sell the listing, and secondly, it entices homeowners in the area to list their properties as well.

Yet the mailbox isn’t the be-all, end-all of real estate marketing. Real estate has become increasingly digital — but how many agents are combining both an online and offline strategy?

Keep scrolling to see how many RE agents went above and beyond with their marketing and added digital ads to their marketing campaigns…

More real estate clients purchased coordinated digital ads in 2022 than in 2021

integrated real estate mailings postcardmania

In 2021, only 8% of our real estate clients opted to include a coordinated digital marketing add-on service to their direct mail campaigns — but in 2022, we see a 3% increase to 11%.

While this isn’t a huge change, it is heading in the right direction.

It’s possible that the majority of real estate agents handle their social media and Google ads themselves, or they don’t do it at all. But research consistently shows that an integrated marketing campaign that combines the coordinated efforts of direct mail and digital ads results in higher response rates and ROI, and elicits 39% more attention than single-media campaigns.

Many of our own clients have experienced a similar boost from online/offline campaign integration.

Take RE/MAX Roundup, based in Floresville, TX for example:

Real estate agent James Peterson signed up for an Everywhere Small Business campaign that combines direct mail with digital ads. He mailed out 2,865 postcards in batches of about 1,000 cards on a monthly mailing schedule.

His mailings were accompanied by Google, Facebook, and Instagram ads that matched his postcard design.

The result?

He heard back from 3 people, listed 1 home, and made $66,000!

Another story: Kent Rodahaver with Nexthome South Pointe based in St. Petersburg, FL mailed 10,600 postcards with Everywhere Small Business and converted all 29 of his responses, generating a total of $580,000 in revenue.

You could certainly handle digital ads yourself, but consider using a professional marketing company like us to streamline your campaign and ensure effectiveness.

Our Everywhere Real Estate plan is tailored for RE agents and brings together several powerful marketing elements to increase leads and revenue.

With Everywhere Real Estate, agents can:

  • Target prime households with a custom postcard design — and even include a property’s Google Street View image
  • Retarget the same households with ads on Google, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Gmail
  • Set geofencing parameters that will automatically target all in-person visitors with digital ads
  • Target prospects based on the content they browse online, which could be key for reaching potential home buyers and sellers early on in their real estate journey
  • Capture and record all calls and caller demographics via next-level call tracking
  • Optimize their campaign’s conversion rates with QR codes, USPS Informed Delivery integration, and customized landing pages
  • Closely track and measure campaign reach and performance with PostcardMania’s robust tracking platform, accessible online 24/7 with real-time results
  • Access expert analysis on campaign optimization by one of our highly trained real estate marketing professionals, with key insights to improve returns

Everywhere Real Estate, a real estate-specialized version of our flagship multichannel campaign bundle Everywhere Small Business, launched midway through 2022, in July.

(By the way, we’ve collected close to 80 real estate case studies and counting, many of which boast Every Real Estate and Everywhere Small Business add-ons. We encourage every real estate agent to check them out as part of their due diligence.)

In the graph below, digitally-coordinated real estate mail volume increased in July and towards the end of the year — perhaps an indication that agents responded positively to more in-depth campaign management once Everywhere Real Estate launched.

Everywhere Small Business Real Estate Mail Volume

The rise in opt-ins toward the end of the year might be a sign that real estate agents were trying to stretch every marketing dollar further in a tighter market, or they could have become too busy to handle managing digital ads on their own. This could be the case if agents instead turned their attention to creating free content on video-based social media platforms like TikTok, where an average session time of 10.82 minutes makes it today’s most engaging social media platform.

Another possible explanation: some real estate agents buy in bulk at the end of the year to reinvest profits, reduce tax liability, and take advantage of high-volume printing discounts.

An agent that buys 20,000 postcards in November or December could mail 1,600 cards a month for the following year without having to put in any additional time or effort. These large farming campaigns help real estate agents stay consistent with their marketing and also save money.

We highly recommend that you schedule your mailings in advance and buy in bulk. It doesn’t necessarily have to happen in November or December, but typically that is when most businesses prioritize plans for the upcoming year.

Next, let’s take a closer look at where the most tech-savvy agents call home…

The 3 most populous states are home to the most tech-savvy real estate agents

We looked at which states were home to agents running the most Everywhere Small Business campaigns, and here is what we found:

  1. Florida
  2. California
  3. Texas

The U.S. Census Bureau still ranks California as the most populous state with over 40 million people; it holds 12% of the entire country’s population. Texas follows closely behind with over 30 million people, and then Florida with over 22 million.

It stands to reason that the most populous states in the nation would also be among the most competitive real estate markets, likely driving agents to be more experimental with their marketing.

In fact — Florida and Texas were the top 2 states to which people relocated in 2022. California was at the very bottom of the list!

Recent years have seen an exodus of people leaving California for Florida, Texas, and other areas in the U.S. With these shifts, real estate markets have remained ripe with opportunity.

So how do RE agents distinguish themselves in ultra-competitive markets? Some have turned to the next phase of direct mail — automation.

Here’s the scoop on who did and who didn’t…

The majority of mailings were traditional campaigns, but 15% were completely automated

automated real estate mailings postcardmania 2022

Looking to the future of direct mail marketing, trigger-based direct mail automation is the next high-tech, must-have tool for real estate.

Agents can program automated mail into their workflows in a variety of ways, using your website, your CRM, or a third-party app. If you schedule an open house in your calendar, renters within 5 miles earning more than $75,000 a year will get a postcard invite. If you close on a home in your CRM, homeowners nearby will get a Just Sold postcard with the home’s photo, address, and sale price. And it all happens on autopilot.

We looked at our own direct mail automation service, Website to Mailbox, to see how quickly real estate agents picked up this new technology.

Website to Mailbox specializes in direct mail retargeting — it automatically follows up with website visitors and mails them a postcard automatically within 24 hours of their online session. We launched the service in June 2021, and our real estate clients hit the ground running with it.

While the majority of our real estate agents stuck with regular mailings, 15% all of real estate mailings in 2022 were automated Website to Mailbox mailings.

Of course, these mailings are much smaller in size, usually only 1-5 pieces at a time, because they’re completely responsive. You only pay to target leads that are already interested and visiting your website — rather than blanketing entire areas — and you can set weekly or monthly limits to fit your budget. For example, a real estate agent could limit their Website to Mailbox spend to as little as $50 a month.

Of course, you might not even hit that. If only 10 people visit your site, then only 10 people receive a card, and you are only billed for that amount.

You can further maximize your budget by setting parameters to target only the most qualified visitors — for example, people who spend 30 seconds or more on the website, people who click on certain web pages, or people who started to fill out a form but then bailed, etc.

The bottom line:

Trigger-based direct mail is completely responsive, so you’re only targeting the warmest leads when they’re at their hottest.

That means better returns and higher ROIs.

Mark Buys Houses decided he wanted to save as much time as possible, so he set up a Website to Mailbox that automatically retargeted his website visitors with postcards.

He let it run on its own for months, triggering just 111 postcards to his web visitors. The entire campaign only cost him $647, and as a result, he landed one sale and made $70,000 in revenue. That’s a return of investment of 10,710%!

Not bad for a day’s work.

Automated mailings were highest at the end of the year

monthly automated direct mail volume real estate 2022

September, October and December were the months with the highest Website to Mailbox mail volumes. The months of April, June, and August followed after that. This also means those months likely had the highest web traffic for the real estate agents who tried our automated mail service.

When compared to the graph for total mail volume, it’s interesting to note that March was the busiest month for mail volume, and April is the busiest month for automated mail. One possibility is that mailers sent out in March resulted in higher web traffic in April, leading to a spike in Website to Mailbox mailings.

The high volume of automated mail near the end of 2022 is a stark departure from the big decline of mail standard volume. December had the lowest mail volume of the year in traditional mailings, whereas Website to Mailbox reached some of the highest volumes that same month.

Since Website to Mailbox is based on website clicks, RE agents who already had this marketing tool in place would have benefited from these automated mailings despite the economic changes.

We’ve covered the timing for automated mailings; now let’s consider location — where they happened the most.

Florida was #1 state for real estate mailing automation

The top 3 states home to agents making use of direct mail automation were:

  1. Florida
  2. Texas
  3. California

Florida is one of the few states that has maintained high home prices in 2022, creating a more competitive real estate market. Florida home values rose more in 2022 than in any other state. This persistently hot market could be the reason more Florida realtors and agents use Website to Mailbox than anywhere else in the country.

Texas and California aren’t far behind though, as the nation’s three most populous states come out on top once again for tech-savvy agents willing to adopt and try new marketing technologies.

And, last but not least, let’s take an even closer look at overall mailing stats for every state…

Florida, California, and Georgia were the busiest states for real estate mail volume in 2022

The states that ranked the highest for mail volume shifted a tad in 2022 as Georgia booted Texas off the #3 spot:

  1. Florida
  2. California
  3. Georgia

Florida and California remained in the top 2 for mail volume in 2022 for a consecutive year, likely due to population size.

Florida and California typically rank high for hot real estate markets, but why Georgia? It could be due to the growing market in Atlanta, which has experienced steady growth in the past few years.

Atlanta-area housing inventory increased 48.8% from January 2022 to January 2023 — that’s a lot of homes looking for buyers. Michael Fischer, the 2023 Realtors Association President, also noted that Atlanta has been consistently ranked among the top cities in the U.S. for jobs and population growth.

Atlanta is also expected to be the top real estate market in 2023. Among 179 metro areas studied by the National Association of Realtors, Atlanta was the only city to meet all 10 indicators including affordability, employment conditions, and population growth. Atlanta continues to be more affordable than many other U.S. cities, and more than 20% of renters are able to afford an average home purchase.

Meanwhile, the housing market in Texas slowed significantly toward the second half of 2022. Texas homes were on the market an average of 50 days in December 2022, compared to an average of 27 days in December 2021, nearly doubling the length of time to close a deal.

We also broke down the most popular months for mailings according to state so that you can see the best times to market in your particular area.

Scroll through to see which months had the highest real estate mail volumes in 2022 in every state, in alphabetical order:

New HampshireJanuaryN/AN/A
New JerseyMayDecemberSeptember
New YorkOctoberSeptemberDecember
North CarolinaMayJulyFebruary
North DakotaMarchMayN/A
Rhode IslandAprilMarchFebruary/May
South CarolinaJanuaryMayAugust

Hopefully, this information is some help to you as you work on your marketing goals!

While we know that ensuring results from a marketing campaign is top of mind for you, there are other benefits of working with a marketing professional or agency. Hiring a professional saves time and resources, allowing you to give more attention to clients and home listings.

If you need more information on how to get started, call a PostcardMania marketing consultant FREE at 800-628-1804. They will be able to tailor a marketing strategy that fits your needs and your budget.

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