Use These 6 Email Marketing Tactics to Achieve Better Sales Results Using LinkedIn InMail

Over time, email marketing has turned into a well optimized science. Here’s how you can apply the best practices in your LinkedIn InMail sales approach.

December 14, 2017

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Relationships are key to your success as a sales pro, and email presents a tried-and-true channel for building them. However, these days your prospects’ personal inboxes are probably overflowing with messages, many from other sales reps, diminishing the efficacy of this former cornerstone of online sales communication.  

That’s where a well-timed LinkedIn InMail comes into play.

Enabling you to reach people who aren’t yet connected to you on the platform, InMail combines the direct engagement of email with the contextual relevance of social media. But much like with email, you’ll need to follow the right steps to get responses and avoid being ignored as spam.

Marketers have been honing this practice for years, so we thought we’d borrow some of their best ideas. Here are six proven email marketing tactics you can embrace when using LinkedIn InMail for sales outreach.

1. Focus on the Best Targets

Marketers are abandoning the batch-and-blast approach in favor of a more refined, selective one. The best marketers carefully develop their target list before putting together an email. This is what enables them to send the most relevant messages to the most fitting recipients for maximized open rates.

The same approach is especially important on InMail, where you’ll quickly lose credibility if you’re just “spraying and praying.” Make sure you have a reason for every instance of outreach. Research the LinkedIn member and ask whether you can offer value by sending a message. If the answer is no, cross that recipient off your list for now.

2. Send at the Right Time

Various email studies show the best day of the week and best times of day to send, and smart marketers time their campaigns accordingly. When it comes to getting your InMail read, these day-of-week and time-of-day factors may not be as important as connecting with active LinkedIn members. By taking advantage of InMail’s real-time delivery feature, you can be sure your message will appear at the top of their inbox where they are most likely to see it.

Here’s one more timing tip: get in lockstep with the prospect’s mindset. Just as marketers run drip campaigns that send a sequence of emails aligned with the recipient’s stage of the purchase process, you’ll want to align your communications with the prospect’s place in the buying cycle. For instance, if your research reveals that the individual is in the awareness stage, your subject line and messaging are better focused on industry issues than on solutions.

3. Grab Them with the Subject Line

The email subject line is like a promise, quickly explaining what the recipient will uncover by clicking open. Write a subject line that is clear yet compelling by focusing on what’s in it for the reader, and making it about them. According to one study, emails with a personalized subject line get 50 percent higher open rates than those without.

The trick is finding a way to spark curiosity in 80 characters or less (think about six or seven words). Most email clients only show this many characters in the preview. Plus, if the prospect is reading the message on their mobile device, your message needs to fit on a small screen (which displays between 33 and 38 characters of a subject line). With that in mind, try to feature the most hard-hitting words on the front end.

As you craft the InMail subject line, use your reason for outreach, or mutual connections or interests, for inspiration. Here are some examples:

  • Mention a shared connection: “Joe Jones suggested I get in touch.” LinkedIn members are more likely to read and respond to an InMail when you reference a common connection.
  • Reference a mutual interest: “Hello from a fellow marathoner.” Mentioning such a commonality in the subject line taps into the recipient’s passion and demonstrates you’ve done your homework. In fact, our data shows that LinkedIn members who share a Group in common are 21 percent more likely to write back.
  • Praise the recipient: “Loved your post on innovative manufacturing processes!” or “Congratulations on your new role at [COMPANY].” This type of subject line shows you’ve done your research - just make sure it doesn’t come off as insincere. More on that later.

Ideally your subject line will provide a smooth segue into your message. For instance, if Joe Jones suggested you reach out, the first line could explain why. Or if you loved the prospect’s post on manufacturing processes, expand on that topic.

Here’s a bonus: Get alerted when a new prospect matches your LinkedIn saved search criteria and then send a relevant InMail (such as “Congratulations on your new role!”). Email-productivity service Boomerang analyzed data from more than 5.3 million messages to pinpoint the email qualities most likely to prompt a response. One key finding? Flattery works, but excessive flattery doesn’t. In other words, play to the ego without pandering.

4. Make It Personal

People will ignore messages that aren’t tailored to them, so generic cookie-cutter emails are out. No wonder a survey about marketing personalization found that 72 percent of those surveyed personalize the emails they send.

Though templates can be more efficient, by taking the time to more deeply personalize them you boost the chance of triggering a response. In addition to calling the person by name more than once, find other ways to make the message contextual and personal. When using InMail for Sales Navigator, you can easily identify your prospect’s priorities based on insights such as shared connections and company/individual mentions in the news. Take a few minutes to reference commonalities as well as what prompted you to reach out.

Ideas for personalizing:

  • Mention a common contact
  • Refer to a common LinkedIn Group
  • Ask a follow-up question about a LinkedIn Group posting (theirs or someone else’s)
  • Discuss a common company, experience, or personal interest
  • Ask for an opinion

Remember that a conversational tone also comes across as more personal, so aim for a free-flowing message that sounds like it came from an everyday person.

If you think of your subject line as the promise, think of the first line of your InMail as the payoff. Most email clients display the first few words in the message, so if you get the subject line-introductory sentence combination right, you greatly improve your chances of getting read.

5. Keep It Concise, Simple, and On Topic

According to that analysis by Boomerang, the optimum length for an email is 50 to 125 words. This translates perfectly to InMail, since more than 50 percent of these messages are opened on smartphones, and are often read by busy professionals.

Show you respect the prospect’s time by writing a short message that is easy to understand and digest. Write in plain, easy-to-understand language, with a goal of starting a conversation. The Boomerang research found that sales emails written at a third-grade reading level get the highest response, followed by emails written at a kindergarten reading level.

Keep the Rule of Three in mind. Humans look for patterns and three is the smallest number of elements required to create a pattern. This rule helps explain phases like “I came, I saw, I conquered,” and “Blood, sweat, and tears.” It also is behind the titles of children’s tales like Three Little Pigs and Three Blind Mice, among many other cultural examples. You can tap into this partiality by writing three short paragraphs or including three bullets.

6. Give a Clear, Compelling Reason to Respond

Though your goal is to spark a conversation that leads to a relationship, there’s no need to be coy. You’re a sales rep and you’re trying to engage a potential buyer, so don’t be vague when it comes to suggesting a next step. Perhaps you want the recipient to respond by answering your request for an opinion or referral. Maybe you want the prospect to accept your invitation to an upcoming webinar or to schedule a time to talk. Whatever it is, make the call to action perfectly clear, and only present one. A study by Sheena Iyengar at Columbia University found that response is more favorable when people are presented fewer choices.

A strategic InMail is a proven way to drive meaningful engagement with prospects. Apply established email marketing best practices to get even better results from your InMail messages.

For more tips on crafting winning InMail messages, download the LinkedIn InMail Kit.