How to Optimize InMail Subject Lines for Higher Response Rates

May 21, 2018

To catch the attention of busy sales prospects, write concise and punchy LinkedIn InMails.

Considering the comparatively great response rates sellers enjoy with LinkedIn InMail, it can be tempting to quickly settle on a subject line and dive into the message of your InMail. That would be a mistake.

The moment a sales prospect reads your subject line, the evaluation begins. A vague, confusing subject line tells your prospect there’s more confusion to come, whereas a clear, succinct subject line can indicate that you’re easy to work with. These are snap judgments, sure, but the point is, the quality of your subject line doesn’t just determine whether your message gets read; it often determines how open-minded a prospect is to your idea.

In this post, we explain how to write compelling, personalized subject lines that can significantly boost your InMail response rates.

How Salespeople Can Optimize Their InMail Subject Lines

When it comes to subject lines, shoot for clear, personalized, and a conveyance of value. Your prospect should be eager to open your message, but not oversold to the point that they’ll be underwhelmed. Below you will find a few tips for writing subject lines that get prospects excited to open your InMail.

Think Like an Email Marketer

Email has long been a top B2B communication channel because everybody uses it – the average professional gets about 120 emails a day. That’s an onslaught of information, most of which is perceived to be more relevant than your sales message, and most of which is from people your prospect knows. This is what email marketers (and sellers) are up against, which is why the best email marketers work relentlessly on their subject lines.

Today, before any selling can commence, most prospects must first be sold on a subject line. Until this micro-sale happens, the seller’s thoughts and ideas remain hidden. Given the implications, it’s easy to see why sellers would want to apply similar scrutiny to their own subject lines.

Here are a few email marketing best practices you might want to incorporate:

  • Keep a swipe file. Which subject lines delivered results for you in the past? Which subject lines caught your attention and might be applicable? Which subject lines work best for certain situations, like requesting an introduction, or specific sales triggers, like an acquisition? You will be glad to have this info handy when you’re staring at a blinking cursor.
  • Use specifics. The obvious exception here are curiosity subject lines – as in, “Why on Earth Am I Sending You This InMail?” – but curiosity subject lines are tough to pull off, even for experienced email marketers. The safer bet is to be as specific as possible. Why say “Your Onboarding Process” when you can say, “I’m Confident We Can Solve Your Onboarding Woes in 75 Days, Susan”?
  • Experiment. Some prospects are going to be harder to reach, and you know that going in. These longshots are the perfect opportunity to experiment with creative ways to capture attention. So long as your creativity is backed by substance, your creative tact might help you start conversations with several promising prospects.   

Capitalize on Personalization to Increase Open Rates

A recent marketing report revealed that personalizing emails resulted in a 50% lift in response rate. To personalize your InMail subject line, try naturally incorporating your contact’s name or another identifiable element (like city, industry, or an interest) to add relevancy. Or try referencing something going on in your buyer’s world like a promotion, achievement, or business milestone.

For example, you might try:

  • Bob, we’ve figured out what successful MarTech startups do differently
  • Congrats on becoming CXO, Bob! Here’s a handy checklist for your first year

Personalization helps your InMail stand out as a message specifically intended for the recipient, rather than something batch-produced without much thought.

Evaluating Your Headline: 3 Questions to Ask

You have 80 characters to work with in your InMail subject line. To ensure you make the most of this prime real estate, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who is my reader, and why would they want to read my message?
  • Does my subject line promise a benefit or reward for reading the message?
  • Is my subject line as clear and specific as it could be?
  • Does my subject line relate logically to the message that follows?

Writing better subject lines leads to higher open rates, but the even bigger benefit is having sales prospects click your message with anticipation, open to new possibilities.  

For more ways to boost your results with InMail, read our latest guide, Read Me If You Want to Improve Your InMail Response Rates on LinkedIn.

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