What I’ve learned about writing the perfect email or InMail

The 5 elements that helped me put together a killer Sponsored InMail

August 25, 2016

About a month ago something pretty amazing happened. I created a Sponsored InMail as part of a LinkedIn Marketing Solutions campaign, and it turned out to be one of the most effective InMail campaigns we’ve ever run. Ever. It didn’t just deliver a high CTR – it absolutely smashed its conversion target as well. We had a big objective and we were there within a month. I had a big smile on my face for about a week afterwards.

I’m honestly not one to blow my own trumpet about this sort of thing and I know that as marketers we’re only as good as our next campaign – but I also think it’s important to learn the positive lessons when things go well. So I took the time to pick my killer InMail apart, compare it to others I’ve worked on in the past that didn’t do quite so well – and work out what the critical differences were. What was it that made this such an effective Sponsored InMail?

I came up with five elements that all came together in this InMail but weren’t all there to the same degree in others I’d written. These elements leverage all of the inherent advantages of Sponsored InMail as a channel – but I think they apply just as well to writing more effective marketing emails too. I’ll certainly be using them to write better emails and InMails for our campaigns going forward.

Here’s my analysis of that top-performing Sponsored InMail – a great checklist for making sure you’re giving your message the best chance of hitting home:

My Sponsored InMail came from a real person

It wasn’t from some alias or a faceless brand – it didn’t come from the ‘LinkedIn Marketing Solutions team’. It was from me: Christina O’Connor. It had my smiling face at the top so people could see what I looked like and decide (let’s be honest) if I looked like the type of person they wanted to hear from. It pays to put a little bit of yourself out there when you’re reaching out to audiences on LinkedIn – because at the end of the day, connecting with other human beings is at the core of the LinkedIn experience. I’ve seen it work for other brands in the past – and it definitely worked for me.

My Sponsored InMail had an engaging subject line

It was a little bit clever, it had a subtle pun in there – but most importantly it told my audience exactly what benefit they would get from reading the InMail – and sharing their details with us . Make sure you leave people in no doubt as to why your InMail or email is worth their while. Sponsored InMail will always get your audience’s attention – but your subject line is the real test of what you’ll do with that attention when you have it. It pays to apply A/B testing to the subject line as well – just to confirm that you’re putting budget behind the one that cuts through most effectively.

My Sponsored InMail was clear and concise

It’s no coincidence that this was about the shortest InMail we’d ever produced. It can feel painful to cut your creative ideas down to the shortest form possible – but that’s what we did this time around, and it worked spectacularly well.

To be honest, I wrote the first draft in a bit of a hurry. I didn’t have time to waffle so I just got the key messages down in three sentences. Then, when I had a bit more time, I went back and challenged myself to sum the whole thing up in a single line – which became the opening line of the InMail. I rounded it out with bullet points that illustrated the benefits we could deliver to our audience. I was on a roll with keeping things short so I made sure these took up less than a line each.

My Sponsored InMail had an engaging Call to Action

I don’t think you need to go overboard here – but a button that says something more meaningful than ‘find out more’ definitely helps! I introduced my CTA button with a sentence explaining exactly what people should do and why – and I signed it off by saying I hoped people enjoyed what we had to offer. That’s genuinely the case – so why not say so? Any InMail or email is more engaging when it talks to you the way a human being would.

My Sponsored InMail had visual impact

One of the great advantages of Sponsored InMail is the visual impact that you can generate through adding a relevant LinkedIn Display Ad to the right of your main InMail copy. We added a Display Ad to my Sponsored InMail that backed up the call to action and incorporated a striking visual. The Display Ad also ran on LinkedIn as part of our integrated campaign – and the fact that it was seasonal, with a strong summer theme, helped to grab people’s attention.

Sponsored InMail is pretty much perfectly designed for delivering your message to a target audience that will pay attention – and are in a professional mindset where they’re ready to consider what you have to say.

I think the real strength of my top-performing InMail was the way that it leveraged all of these inherent advantages. My challenge going forward is to find a way to do the same next time around – and the time after that. The results prove that it’s a challenge definitely worth taking on.