LinkedIn: Planning an InMail Content Strategy
A brief outline on how to approach content strategy on one of the few platforms that many professionals, working or not, affected by the COVID-19 pandemic are spending more and more time on.
I’ve been noticing an uptick in "targeted" InMail coming into my LinkedIn inbox. Some are from companies looking for someone in my industry/role/area of interested to pitch their product or service, sometimes it's a conference they want me to attend. Others are recruiters blasting out a form letter about a job that I may or may not be qualified for, based on my profile. They have varying degrees of success.
The increase in using InMail for targeted outreach is no surprise, given that LinkedIn has arguably the best B2B audience targeting capabilities among all the social platforms out there, and they provide a wealth of access to the people that you want your content to be in front of. However, as with any kind of content marketing campaign, you can't generalize. You need to apply the same strategy that you would for any demand-gen campaign:
Set Your Goals, Reach Your Objectives
Know Your Audience
Tailor Your Message
Before you sit down to write that InMail, it’s vital to think about your goals. This includes what your goals aren’t.
Are you pitching your product
A trying to entice a candidate towards a new gig
Or are you just looking to increase your LinkedIn network with people who you actually want to know better
Each of these is a goal that will allow you to identify the who you want to reach with your why. By setting your goals, you're already that much closer to landing your message and getting better ROI for your effort. The takeaway here is that you want to know exactly what you want to get out of your outreach before you take the time to write out your thoughts and hit that send button.
I recently had someone on a Slack networking group share that "the problem also is that LinkedIn encourages recruiters to send bulk emails and some recruiters do this thoughtlessly just grabbing as many profiles as possible and then decide who to talk with AFTER a person responds. I'm sorry this happens; I actually blame LinkedIn for modeling this as a "best practice." I'm sorry - that's baloney. Just because there's a tool to help you do your job, it doesn't mean that you forgo putting in any kind of effort into your outreach. Now more than ever, thoughtful communication is key to getting through to the person you want to reach. Relying on a form-fill or an auto-populate is not going to move the needle positively in your direction.
Which leads me to knowing your audience. These are the people you want to reach out to first and foremost — the ones who have the networking capabilities on LinkedIn to not just read/register/respond to your outreach, but to also share with their relevant networks. The days of just spamming inboxes that match a short keyword should be gone, but it still amazes me on some of the missed opportunities that a sender will risk by not knowing who they should be targeting. Do your due diligence, find out whether or not the people on your send list actually make sense to send to before you hit send.
One of my favorite outreach messages came from someone who actually did their research on me and signed their InMail with a quote from Tolkien. Now, anyone can Google me and will be able to see that my Twitter handle is Tolkien-inspired and can make the correct assumption that I am indeed a fan of the writer. Taking the time to make that connection meant that regardless of whatever was being pitched to me by a stranger, I was at a minimum going to respond. Why? Because they have tailored their message so that it's personal to me and it cut through the clutter.
Yes, I'm going to repeat this again - check your spelling. If you're misspelling a potential leads name, you're not getting a response. If you don't use proper grammar, chances are you're not getting a response. This is even after you've built out your goals and objectives, narrowed your audience and crafted a targeted message - this is the one time where a tool can make the difference between a win and a loss.
None of the above are new ideas, but they bear repeating. If only to help those who are relying on InMail as part of their outreach strategy make the most of a pretty powerful channel. I personally respond to every strategically crafted InMail, because if someone took the time to do it right - I feel I owe it to them to respond to their efforts.