LinkedIn's Sponsored InMail isn't always seen as the most effective type of outreach method, but there are ways that it can be used to great effect.
My organization hosts several events each year, focused on best practice-sharing and helping small businesses, and I recently took the lead on marketing a new event which focused on digital marketing and how companies can use it to drive their bottom line. I was ambitious and set a goal of 200 event registrations. With two months to market the event, I had some time to drive registrations using my organization's traditional marketing channels.
My traditional marketing playbook was simply not working. I managed to bring in approximately 15% of my event registration goal through email and organic social media, but I needed to reach more marketers - in particular, digital marketers or those who worked in the online space.
My database of contacts simply didn't provide the target market necessary to reach my goal, and after two weeks running social media ads on Facebook and LinkedIn, my budget was nearly depleted, and my registration numbers hadn't moved significantly.
It was clear, at this point, that I needed to take a different approach.
The Big Idea
I not only needed to reach marketers, but I needed to establish a relationship with them, and drive enough brand trust where they would feel comfortable spending money to register for my event. I wasn't going to be able to do this alone.
My first thought was to use influencers to help spread the word. Recent studies have shown that 94% of marketers have found influencer marketing to be effective. They would help drive brand awareness, and subsequently bring in new event registrations. The ticket price was not cheap ($55) so I needed to really focus on the brand awareness aspect.
But then I thought about the specific influencers in more depth. Simply reaching out to my core digital marketing influencers wasn't going to do the trick - I needed over 150 people, and there was nobody within a hundred-mile radius that had that kind of pull with the budget I had remaining.
This led to a new plan - aim for dozens of micro-influencers who would each be able to bring in a small handful of paid registrations.
I like to think of myself as a relatively well-known digital marketer, but I don't have nearly the network required to achieve my micro-influencer goal. I needed a platform to broadcast my call for these people.
This is where LinkedIn Sponsored InMail was useful. Rather than using it for annoying sales pitches or free e-books, I was going to use it to appeal to marketers’ egos. Most marketers like to consider themselves subject matter experts in at least one area. If people were going to respond to my call for help, there needed to be something in it for them.
Thus, I would ask them to provide their expertise by writing a blog post, publishing it with a plug for my event, and then promoting it on their top social channels. In return, they would receive a free registration to the event, and then I would also promote their blog post, giving them the byline and bowing to their expertise.
I made sure my Sponsored InMail headline would catch their eyes: “Call For Digital Marketing Experts.”
I was careful to target only the most experienced and connected digital marketers. Thanks to LinkedIn’s superior ad targeting capabilities, I was able to narrow down my search to a few hundred individuals that would help me achieve my goal.
My Sponsored InMail campaign only ran for 48 hours, and resulted in 150 delivered messages. Of the 150, 70 responded and 33 eventually became official micro-influencers.
I provided each micro-influencer with a unique link to my event page so I could track the traffic they would bring in to the event site. In total, my 33 unique links led to 2,000 unique pageviews, and 160 event registrations, giving me the numbers I needed to exceed my initial goal.
The numbers may not seem overwhelming, but they're exactly what I wanted out of my micro-influencers. I gained thousands of new users at minimal cost, while also gaining valuable content from new connections.
If you're considering an influencer campaign, but lack the budget for big names, consider micro-influencers instead. You may need to do a call out to attract their attention, but by bringing together the right combination of people, content and promotion, you can achieve your goals.
Most businesspeople are influencers at some level – it just requires the right type of action to activate their networks.