LinkedIn’s direct messaging tool, InMail, delivers impressive results.
In fact, when it comes to generating responses from prospects, InMail has a success rate of 10-25%. According to LinkedIn, that’s 300% higher than emails containing the exact same messaging.
However, anyone who has spent much time on LinkedIn will have received a lot of low-quality InMails. Far from prompting you to respond, those messages only make you want to click the “mute” button.
To use InMail effectively, you need to reach the right prospects and craft the right messages. Here’s how to do it.
1. Understand When to Use InMail (& When to Use Email)
As I’ve already noted, InMail can be extremely effective. However, it’s a highly situational sales tactic.
What do I mean by that? Well, it has clear strengths, but also obvious weaknesses.
Unless you’re a paying Premium member, you can only direct-message your connections. InMail is only available to Premium users, but even they are limited to five InMails per month, or 20 per month for Sales Navigator Professional account-holders. Additional credits can be purchased, but they cost $10 per InMail.
In short, that means InMail is no good for cold outreach at scale. With a Sales Navigator Professional license, it would cost you $830 to reach just 100 leads:
- $30 for the Sales Navigator license and 20 inclusive InMail credits
- $800 for the additional 80 credits, at $10 per credit
In most cases, this simply isn’t cost effective.
Instead, InMail works best when you’re trying to reach, engage, and nurture a small number of highly valuable, high-touch leads. If you’re looking to send a high number of messages to a lot of prospects, email will be a much more practical option.
2. Write a Compelling Subject Line
A strong subject line can make the difference between a prospect opening your message or ignoring it.
Unusually, InMail messages can have up to 200 characters in the required subject line, equivalent to approximately 35 words.
However, this is an upper limit, rather than a goal to aim for. Bear in mind that 35 words is more like a short paragraph than a subject line, and that email marketers advise limiting subject lines to 60 characters. InMail is a different platform, but the same principles apply.
When it comes to crafting your subject, remember the point I made in section one. InMail is best for small-scale, high-touch outreach, which means you should keep it personal rather than generic. Speak directly to your prospect in a way that resonates with them.
To make your task easier, start by asking yourself the following questions:
- Who am I writing for?
- Why would they want to read my message?
- Which specific words or phrases would make them more likely to click?
Once you’ve gotten some words down, review them with the following points in mind:
- Does this subject line indicate the prospect will get something of value from my message?
- Is it as specific, clear, and concise as it could be?
- Does it directly and logically relate to the message I want to send?
3. Craft a Short, Personalized Greeting
If you met a prospect at a networking event, you probably wouldn’t dive straight into a sales pitch, so don’t do it on LinkedIn either.
Instead, start with a brief, personalized greeting. Try referencing:
- Some recent news about the prospect’s company, like a new office opening, product launch, or funding announcement
- Recent news about the prospect’s career, like a new job or promotion
- A recent blog or social post they’ve written
At the same time, you should explain who you are. People are busy, so don’t assume they’ll click through to your profile to learn more.
4. Have One Clear Goal in Mind
This isn’t cold email outreach at scale. You have a finite number of InMails to send each month, and you need to make every one count.
That means you need a specific goal for each InMail you send. Concisely state why you’re sending this message in the first place, and why it specifically applies to the prospect in question. For instance, you could:
- Detail how your product has helped people in similar roles at similar organizations
- Reference any common ground you have, such as shared LinkedIn connections
- Explain how you were advised to speak to them by someone else at their organization, or by a mutual contact
5. Drive a Specific Action
Just as you have a clear goal in mind, you should be working toward a specific action.
That action could be as simple as asking them to connect with you on LinkedIn. Or it might be to:
- Download a piece of content
- Sign up for your newsletter
- Visit a specific page on your site
- Agree to a (brief) call
Whatever the case, your call to action should be clear and obvious. Try something like:
- Can you take a call at 5:00 pm to discuss this further?
- If you’re interested, download our latest ebook to find out more
- Check out our cases studies to see how we’ve helped other companies like yours
6. Send Your InMail at the Right Time
LinkedIn is a social network, but people use it very differently from the way they use sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Whereas a Twitter user might spend two minutes scrolling through their feed multiple times a day, LinkedIn users tend to stick to more regimented time slots. That’s because LinkedIn is primarily a business tool. It doesn’t offer the escapism of other social platforms, so people are less likely to visit when they want a quick break during the working day, or while they’re lounging on the couch in the evening.
To maximize the chances of your InMail getting a response, it pays to send it during peak “checking” times.
Trial and error will help you deduce the most impactful times for sending InMails. However, the following time zone-independent statistics can give you some general guidance:
- Most clicks and shares happen between 11am and 12pm on Tuesdays
- The quietest times on LinkedIn are immediately before Monday and after Friday night, from 10pm-6am
- The best times to post, from an engagement perspective, are 7-8am and 5-6pm
- During an average day, peak usage times are around midday, and from 5-6pm
Implement these 6 tips, and you’ll have a leg-up when it comes to sending effective LinkedIn messages in 2021.