Boosting email marketing effectiveness with Sponsored InMail

A 7-point plan for transforming engagement and response.

July 20, 2015

According to Econsultancy, the most successful email marketing campaigns are those that segment their audience effectively and deliver copy and design that work. Effective email marketing campaigns do not just stop there as continued optimisation of every aspect of the campaign is essential.

When it comes to targeting professionals, adding a LinkedIn Sponsored InMail element to an email campaign can make a decisive difference in each and every one of these key areas. Knowing when to use InMail and how to use it, can make a dramatic difference to ROI – and we know this because we’ve frequently used InMail to transform take-up of our own events, webinars and content when we’ve found standard email isn’t doing the job.

Drawn from our own experience, and those of some of the top-performing InMail campaigns on LinkedIn, here’s a 7-point guide to using InMail to boost email marketing effectiveness:

1. Identify when Sponsored InMail can make a difference

If you are targeting busy professionals and know that relevance is crucial to cut through, then Sponsored InMail will almost certainly make a difference to your open and engagement rates. If you are struggling with deliverability or battling to adapt a design template across different email clients, then InMail can cut out the pain and give you guaranteed results. You get 100% deliverability, reach busy professionals (including senior decision-makers) when they are at their most engaged and appear at the top of their LinkedIn inbox, when they are actually on the platform.

2. Use audience-centred targeting to deliver the right message to the right person, at the right time

Much of InMail’s power comes from the precision targeting available through LinkedIn member profile data, enabling you to use parameters like company, industry, job title, function or seniority, as well as skills, education, interest areas, gender and age. Make the most of the LinkedIn targeting capabilities by rooting your segmentation in a clear understanding of your aims. Don’t overtarget the C-Suite if the people most likely to respond to your message are at a different seniority level; and don’t hypertarget to reduce the size of your audience if your message is really a general one. But do tailor your message to ensure relevance to different elements of your target audience.

3. Create a compelling Preview to drive opens

Your InMail campaign’s impact starts with the preview that appears in members’ LinkedIn inboxes. This consists of sender details, a subject line and a short description– and each of these three elements can have a significant impact on your success. Limit the subject and description lines to between 3 to 8 words each and make sure that those words include a clear call to action or audience benefit. The sender details include both a description and image – and they can be used to set the context of whether your InMail comes from a company (brand and company name) or individual (profile picture, name and title). It’s worth considering carefully which will have the greatest impact for your particular audience and aims. InMail provides a great platform for A/B Testing and this can be a particularly valuable area to test. With LinkedIn’s own InMail campaigns, we’ve often found that messages from our company covert at a higher rate than those from individuals.

4. Personalise the message for maximum impact

A personalised introduction to the main message, featuring the audience member’s name, is a consistent feature of successful InMail campaigns. It fits with the context of a trusted professional network focused on connections and it fits the uncluttered environment of the LinkedIn inbox.

5. Keep the message concise, clear and focused on member benefits

Don’t confuse the role of your Sponsored InMail with the role of your landing page. This isn’t the place for detailed product descriptions, hard sell or industry jargon. Keep your message focused on a clear member benefit with a single call to action – and don’t try to do to much at once, since multiple messages tend to turn readers off. Aim to keep your entire message to 1200 characters or less.

6. Optimise your message for mobile effectiveness

On average, 30-40% of InMail opens take place on a mobile. The new Sponsored InMail will automatically display your message in format that’s optimised for mobile devices, including a “sticky” call to action button that remains visible as a user scrolls through your message. However, you can take additional steps to enhance your InMail’s performance on mobile devices: keep your copy concise, include a hyperlink in your body copy, and keep formatting to a minimum with plain text and up to three bullets in any list.

7. Align all of the elements for a consistent onward journey

Make sure that your lead messages (and the person or company they are positioned as coming from) are aligned across your InMail Preview, InMail Message and landing page. Optimise your landing page for mobile – and design it with a clear focus on where the user can take action.