If, like me, you suffer from email overload and want an alternative way to send personalised messages to a number of prospects at once, then you might want to check out LinkedIn’s self-service sponsored Inmail feature.
Launched in November 2016, it allows those with smaller budgets to reach the people they want to via LinkedIn messenger. And because messages are delivered when members are on the platform then (hopefully) it means they have a couple of minutes to read yours!
Why might you want to consider it?
If you have something that a particular demographic will find valuable then this could be a great, effective way to reach them – even if they’re outside your network. You won’t need to find out their email addresses and can include your usual disclaimers (plus all recipients have the ability to opt-out).
For example, you could be running a webinar about how a new piece of legislation will impact Directors’ obligations…
…Or have a piece of content on the state of the commercial leasing market in Auckland in 2016…
…Or want to invite people to trial your new piece of compliance software.
If you can communicate clear benefits to the recipient in your Inmail, and want to reach a relatively large audience, then this feature could be worth trialing.
When testing the set-up I noticed that you have to target a demographic of at least 1,000 people. However, you have the option to set a total budget for your campaign so if you’re paying $3 per Inmail and only set a total budget of $500 then presumably your message would be sent to 166 people who fit your criteria. If you’ve used this feature and know if this is or isn’t the case, please leave a comment below and I will update this!
LinkedIn says sponsored Inmail campaigns:
- Are only sent to users when they login to the platform so there are no bounced or unopened messages (you’ll only reach people active on the platform)
- Can be personalised easily and effectively i.e. by including [Firstname] [Lastname] fields the person’s name will automatically be inserted
- Are responsive, meaning they can be easily read across devices. The call to action button is clearly visible
- You can control the audience you want to reach, can split test emails to work out what works best, and can monitor performance with a real-time analytics dashboard.
How to set up a sponsored Inmail campaign: a step-by-step guide
1. Go to your user profile icon when logged into your LinkedIn account (i.e. your photo in the top right hand corner) and select “Advertising” from the drop down list.
Click “Manage Ads”.
2. Click on the account you want to advertise from or click “Add account” to create one (don’t click on the grey heading as that will take you to your company page – click on the account name in white below it).
Once you’ve clicked ‘New campaign’, select the 3rd option: “I want to send targeted messages directly to the people who matter most to my business”.
Name your campaign and choose the language you want it to appear in.
3. Next choose a sender. Think about who the email is best to come from – possibly your managing partner, head of practice/industry sector – think about who the recipient will most closely relate to. You’ll need to make sure the sender is a first degree connection of yours and they will need to accept your request to make them a sender – which may involve a bit of chasing on your part! To avoid delays in setting up your campaign, set yourself up as the default sender, create your sponsored Inmail campaign and save it to drafts.
4. Now create your message. Ensure the content is highly targeted, personal and offers the recipient value; this is a delicate balance. Just be aware that your message will appear amongst the recipients personal messages via LinkedIn so spend time crafting it and get to the point quickly. To add a custom salutation click on the custom fields box and select from the options.
Decide whether you want to add any terms and conditions – such as legal terms, contact information etc. LinkedIn will automatically include an unsubscribe option so you don’t need to worry about that.
5. Enter the URL of the landing page you want recipients to click through to. This could be a sign-up page, a page to download your report etc. Enter the details on the ‘Banner’ and ‘Destination URL’ screen.
You have the option of uploading a banner creative. This will appear alongside your Inmail on a recipients screen. It’s optional but if you don’t use it ads from other advertisers may appear in that slot.
Enter your button text – essentially your call to action. What do you want the recipient to do next? Learn more, register, download my guide? Keep it simple. This is one component you’ll likely want to split test.
6. Review. The review screen shows your ad details and is your chance to edit and create variations. Variations allow you to split-test your ads to hone them over time for maximum effectiveness.
7. Select your target audience. From here on in the process is identical to setting up sponsored/direct sponsored content. There are a variety of targeting options. As you select different criteria you’ll notice that the estimated target audience number on the right hand side changes. You’ll be told your audience is too narrow if it’s below 1,000 people. Remember you can exclude as well as include specific job titles, locations, companies etc. Click on the drop down box that says ‘include’ and select the ‘exclude’ option.
If you’re likely to target the same demographic going forward, then save it as a template so that you don’t have to re-select the same criteria in future.
8. Set your campaign budget. LinkedIn will suggest a bid range per sponsored Inmail sent. To budget you may want to click the ‘Show more’ button and set up a total budget for your campaign to avoid huge costs. The minimum budget you can set is US$25. Alternatively you could set a daily budget and just have the campaign run for a few days by selecting an end date.
Once you’re ready launch your campaign and monitor results using the Campaign Dashboard. By keeping a close eye on this you can tweak your campaign as you go, turning off variations that aren’t working and improving those that are.
To find out more check out LinkedIn’s literature on its Sponsored InMail feature.
If you want to reach a relatively wide audience easily and cost-effectively, this could be a good feature to trial. Just remember that it’s not something you set up and leave but a feature you’ll want to monitor and tweak as you go.