Real Estate Prospecting - How many "touches" does it take?

Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

By now almost everyone knows that one letter, postcard, call, or visit to a potential client is pretty much a waste of time, energy, and money.

Marketing studies show that:

  • 2% of responses come from the first contact with a prospect.
  • 3% of responses come from the second contact with a prospect.
  • 5% of responses come from the third contact with a prospect.
  • 10% of responses come from the fourth contact with a prospect.
  • 80% of responses come from the fifth to twelfth contact with a prospect.

mailboxKeep in mind that these statistics don't take into account the fact that some of those prospects will NEVER respond. They simply aren't interested in selling.

So what it boils down to is that one mailing will likely get you less than a 1% response.

If you've mailed to less than 100 people, you're stastically likely to get no response at all.

That's why all of my prospecting letter sets include a minimum of 4 letters; some have as many as ten; and the "keeping in touch" set has 26.

They're intended to be combined with your personal contacts and/or phone calls, plus your market reports. I also suggest that you add prospects in specific niche markets and in or near specific geograpic areas to your just listed, under contract, and just sold mailings.

You'll not only increase the number of "touches," you'll be showing that you get the results they'll be looking for.

If you want more listings, keep "touching" those prospects!

Image courtesy of digitalart /


Comments (59)

Jeff Jensen
The Federal Savings Bank/Lending in 50 states - Greenwich, CT

I think their is a fine line between too few touches and man handling.

Apr 10, 2014 08:27 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Liz - Yes it will, and stopping for even a few months can severely impact your income.

Jeff - Yes, that is a balancing act. However, it depends somewhat on the quality of your mailings. I get mail from a master copywriter - Bob Bly - every day, and I'm always glad to take a few minutes to read what he has to say.

Apr 10, 2014 09:28 AM
Christi Hacker
Realty ONE Group Sterling - Omaha, NE
Your Omaha Area Real Estate Specialist

I would ask, where do you draw the line between the minimally effective amount of touches, and too many? Is 33 too many if the touches are mostly email?

Apr 10, 2014 12:30 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Christi - It depends upon the time span and the content of your messages.

The man I wrote about in this week's newsletter was over the line - sending ten messages in one day. I got 100 touches within a week! WAY too much.

At the same time, the messages I get daily from someone whose advice I respect is not too much.

So - weekly touches? Every couple of days when you're after expired listings or FSBO's? Sure - as long as you're offering something of interest and not just saying "I'm great. Hire me."

Apr 10, 2014 01:03 PM
Winslow, ME


Thanks for the great read.  These things are simple, but all too often I find myself thinking my 2% effort is sufficient.  It's startling that 80% of business comes from the 5-12th touch! Good information to have.

Apr 10, 2014 09:30 PM
Jeffrey Hogue
Jeffrey Hogue Realtor Group - Reading, PA
Real Estate Pro in Pennsylvania Since 1993

Most of the top media and marketing groups say it takes 27 touches to be considered a brand. Thi is up from 6 just 20 years ago. Think the internet had anything to do with that:) Agents should learn branding skills.

Apr 10, 2014 11:51 PM
Shaffer Realty
Virginia Beach, VA
Professional. Ethical. Caring.

This is great information for us to share with our agents.  Thank you!

Apr 11, 2014 12:06 AM
Graziella Bruner
NCS Premier Real Estate - Detroit, MI
Associate Broker - Serving Wayne & Oakland County

Thanks for sharing Marte - I do believe that letters, notes, & cards are a great way to stay in touch and keep in front of your past clients, present clients and future clients.

Apr 11, 2014 12:57 AM
Donna Foerster
HomeSmart Realty Group - Parker, CO
Metro Denver Real Estate Assistant

Marte~ I've learned that lesson the hard way. We have to be consistent to get results. Thanks for sharing those stats.

We started our expired mailings about a month ago. I think that set has 10-12 letters!

Apr 11, 2014 01:55 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Drew - Nope, 2% effort won't get you too far!

Jeffrey - I'd guess the Internet had everything to do with that.

Shaffers - You're welcome.

Graziella - Yes, and it's good to mix up the ways you're staying in touch.

Donna - Yes, ten letters plus a couple of other things. Hope they get you a slew of new listings!

Apr 11, 2014 02:00 AM
Cy Phillips
Space Simply - President & CEO - Clive, IA

Thanks for the information Marte. I agree with the information you provided. That is why I make sure that we update our clients (past, current) about the things happening in and out of the business.

Apr 11, 2014 04:36 AM
Terry Miller
Miller Homes Group - Tyler, TX
Miller Homes Group and Tyler Apartment Locator

Great blog post....I agree with all of it. Thanks so much....

Apr 11, 2014 06:28 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Cy - it's always good to talk about more than just business. Good idea!

Terry - Thanks. But then, we always do think the best posts are the ones that agree with us!

Apr 11, 2014 09:04 AM
John Kirch
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Fort Collins, CO
Northern Colorado Real Estate Agent

It seems like it would be difficult to balance cost with doing a mass mail out, if you mail to 100 homes 5 times that is most likely nearly 500 mailings wasted, not to mention the time and energy wasted. Would it be better to door knock areas, make notes on those that may have seemed even slightly interested, and focus your mailings that way? Cutting that 500 down to  maybe 20-30 mailings to people that have displayed some sort of interest. Just trying to think of ways to save :) I am a new agent with little funds, haha.

Apr 11, 2014 01:32 PM
Chad Felter
Virginia Beach, VA
Providing service through out Hampton Roads

If you want to keep in touch with or create a new potential client, pick up the phone and call them or better yet stop by and become their friend, some one they trust. Then sent them letters and mailings. Only your friends will care about your business and will read your mailings. That's how you stay in touch, covert prospects into friends and you'll be touched for life.

Apr 11, 2014 02:02 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

John - Good marketing isn't a waste of time or money. It's your path to a good income. If you don't believe me, start following Barbara Todaro and see what she has to say about it.

I'm not saying you shouldn't knock on doors and do every other possible thing that you can do for free - but you WILL have to spend a little money if you expect to make a lot of money.

Apr 11, 2014 02:12 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Chad - Personal contact is good, but you can't do it every month once your list gets long. That's where mailing comes in.

Apr 11, 2014 02:21 PM
Michele Webler -Farm and Ranch Specialist
Idaho Real Homes LLC - Rathdrum, ID
Serving North Idaho and E. Wa

Marte so true!  It takes money to make money is a total truth.  We do have to keep reinvesting in ourselves  and our business to make it happen.  

Apr 15, 2014 07:59 AM
Message in a Mailbox
Kary Gregor - Charlotte, NC
Direct mail simplified

Great advice! And fits in with Marketing's Rule of 7, which states that on average it takes seven impressions before people notice.

Real estate is trickier than other industries who use direct mail. The % of people who are looking to list or buy a home at any given time is very low. This is going to make skew your response rate rather dramatically in the short term. The trick for realtor direct mail is to keep farming your same territories for several years. If you start farming a new area and have no responses after a year, it doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad target or bad piece of marketing. It simply means that those people aren't ready or in a position to respond.

I always tell the story of when I lived in my last neighborhood -- would get the same realtor postcards year after year in my box. Never responded, simply because the timing wasn't right for me -- I wasn't looking to buy or sell a house. But, after 5 years of living there, when it was time to sell -- who did I call? I called in who I perceived were the top 2 agents in that neighborhood, based on all that direct mail I had been getting for years.

Realtors have a longer response/sales cycle -- but the upside of this is that when you do get a listing or sale based on your marketing, it pays of big since the value of a customer sale is higher in your industry than most others!


Apr 17, 2014 07:40 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Absolutely - the agents who believe prospecting doesn't work are the ones who give up too soon and the ones who act like grasshoppers, jumping from one neighborhood or niche to another without giving the first one time to develop.

Apr 17, 2014 08:25 AM