The Power of InMail: How to Effectively Engage Prospects

Learn why InMail is the best way to get your prospect's attention, and how to use it like a pro.

May 30, 2016

  • power-of-InMail

"Wow! What’s this?"

That's probably not your reaction when you open your email account to a new message, since that happens pretty often.

But it would be your response when receive an InMail on LinkedIn. It's much more rare to receive one of those, so you pay attention when it happens.

Salespeople pitching to prospects know that executives' regular inboxes are often stuffed, packed with a lot of junk that might get skipped over or trashed.

That’s why Lindsey Boggs, social selling proponent and InMail advocate, poses the question like this:

Think about being the 1 in 13 InMails, or the 1 in 500 Emails. Which one do you want to be in?

Harnessing the Power of InMail

There are many reasons for that large disparity. InMail allows you to send a message to someone you’re not connected to on LinkedIn (and whose email you likely do not have)—and only lets you send a certain amount of messages each month. If you’re a user of LinkedIn's Sales Navigator, you can send between 15 or 30 InMails. That means an executive receiving the InMail knows you’re making a meaningful investment to contact him or her.

Conversely, when prospects receive a cold email, they have less information about you; they’re not sure they can trust you. On LinkedIn, you have profile and network to establish your standing.

They see that you’re a real person, they know where you’ve worked, and they see you’ve put some thought into your profile. This all makes them more likely to respond.

Why Prospects Respond to InMail

Now put yourself in the shoes of executives. For some of them, InMail has become more than just a good idea – it is the platform they want to be pitched on.

Conducting an informal survey, Boggs interviewed dozens of leads who she had pitched via InMail to ask why they responded to her.

Her takeaway from the survey: "100% of the people I surveyed would prefer an InMail outreach versus a cold connection request." Many executives ignore a connection request from someone they don’t know—as they should. There are simply better ways to connect with a prospect on LinkedIn, like getting introduced by a mutual connection, or, of course, sending an InMail. 

Bill Aicher, Chief Marketing Officer at Musicnotes.com, told Boggs that he has to sort through thousands of emails and anything not important gets skipped. With InMail, however, there’s not a lot of "noise" coming through, especially since the messages are a finite resource.

Bernie Fussenegger, Digital Marketing Director of Papa John's, told Boggs that he's simply more inclined to answer an InMail than a regular email because LinkedIn requires that salespeople know more about the person they are prospecting. "Those sending InMails seem to have taken the time to research what [his] responsibilities actually are, are a little more personal and have done research on [their] brand," he told Boggs.

Moving From Engagement to Action

So, what's the next step? Once you get a prospect's attention, will the person do anything with that information?

Boggs has seen good results. 50 percent of her InMails receive responses. She and others have offered tips on how achieve that kind of success, with advice like keeping the message brief and personalized, and to write a short follow up if you don't get a response within a few days.

Darren Marble, the CEO of CrowdFundX (who has written that InMail is "by far" LinkedIn's most powerful tool) generally agrees with Boggs' tips. If he gets no response to his first InMail asking C-level executives for a meeting, he resends the same message a week or two later. The second message yields a response rate five times higher than the first. Marble also offers a unique take on how to send an InMail: he likes to tell his leads exactly what he wants in the opening line.

Finally, you can read InMail advice from LinkedIn's head of social media, Koka Sexton, who has his own recommendations on how to write an attention-grabbing missive.

So, now you have a bunch of experts helping you improve your pitches, and the ideal platform to do it on.

For more strategies from the world's social selling experts, download our latest eBook: Proven Strategies from the World’s Top Sales Performers .

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