What is “scrubbing”, other than cleaning tubs and toilets?
When you “scrub” a mailing list, you’re cleaning it up. You’re getting rid of dead leads that are no longer viable, and updating leads with new information – making sure you have current contact information.
What are you looking for when scrubbing a list?
- Properties that sold to someone else – either an investor or a homeowner – should be removed.
- Properties that don’t match your criteria. For example, even though I only market to residential single- and multi-family properties, sometimes a condominium or apartment ends up on my list. If I discover it when I’m scrubbing, I can choose to remove it.
- Leads who have changed their mailing address. A real estate investor’s leads move often, and having the correct mailing address is essential with direct mail.
How do you scrub a list?
If you’re doing this on your own, like I just did, then you do it painstakingly. I went lead by lead, researching the property on the assessor’s page to confirm it hadn’t sold in the last 6 months (many had), and then cross-referenced the owner name and mailing address, updating as needed. It was not my kind of work. But it did the job – about 40% of my old leads were no longer good. What a waste it would have been to include them in my new mailings!
An Alternative: The Revolving Door
But, depending on your marketing strategy, you may never need to scrub your lists.
If you stick to purchasing general leads and researching targeted leads, then your leads can work like a revolving door: they go into a campaign (where you hopefully contact them at least 6 times), and then you forget about them.
For targeted leads based on an event (probate, eviction, vacants, divorce, etc.), you can research or buy leads every month and send to whomever is on the list. Be sure you schedule at least 6 follow-ups of some kind, but then you can forget that list and move on to the next list the following month.
For absentee owners, whose status remains the same for a longer amount of time, you can set up a campaign, then when your campaign ends (say, in 6 months), you buy a new list and start all over. The new list will leave off any leads who sold, and update the address of the ones who have moved.
Everyone does it differently, and the revolving door is just one idea. There are a lot of factors to take into account, including how you deal with leads once they come in, what kind of database options you have available to you (less if you have a Mac), whether you want several people or just yourself to be able to access and edit it, and how much information you really think you need to track.
But my mantra for this year is something I read from Tracy Caywood: that the most effective marketing is implementation and consistency. You can’t perfect something you haven’t started yet – so let’s get to work.