As of November 2016, LinkedIn now offers Sponsored InMail to all marketers through its self-serve Campaign Manager, providing the capacity to reach the network's audience of 500 million members with targeted campaigns sent direct to their inbox.
This unique ad format is designed to help B2B companies reach target audiences directly and efficiently. There are no other engagement solutions similar to LinkedIn Sponsored InMail, which, by delivering your message directly to your target audience's Messaging tab, eliminates the uncertainty that comes with manually sending outbound messages.
The option provides a whole new opportunity on the platform. If you already know your target audience on LinkedIn, and are looking to drive the most engagement and responses from LinkedIn Sponsored InMails, here are some key tips to help maximize your efforts.
1. Mobile Matters
LinkedIn campaigns are served on both desktop and mobile, and there is no option for 'desktop-only' or 'mobile-only' Linkedin Sponsored InMails. Because of this, it's important to make sure your mobile experience is sound.
Ensure your landing page is mobile optimized with a responsive design, and limit your message to 1,000 characters so it reads well on mobile devices.
2. Choose a Relevant Sender
Pick a sender your audience would find relevant, given your message.
For example, if you're sending a technical message, the sender might be a 'Director of IT' or 'Chief Technology Officer', rather than a 'Sales Director' or 'VP of Marketing'.
Unlike regular InMail messages, users won't be able to reply to the sender, so it's not necessary to use a sender who's a sales rep for your organization.
Once you've chosen your sender, be sure to do the following:
- Ensure the sender has a profile photo (this is a LinkedIn requirement for all senders)
- Add the sender as a first-degree connection on LinkedIn
- Manage the senders from your Campaign Manager and they'll receive a notification to approve or deny the request as shown below.
3. The Optional Must-Have
If the recipient is using LinkedIn on desktop, you'll also have the opportunity to present a right rail banner ad related to your business or campaign above the fold, like the image below. This feature provides an option to take advantage of more visual real estate with your InMail campaign, a unique opportunity to increase brand exposure. It's important to know that in the event you choose not to use the banner option, the ad slot will be filled by another 300x250 banner ad - which could, of course, be from a competitor.
Because of this, we recommend that you treat this optional feature as a required one.
Don't have the time or resources to get that new banner ad content prepped? While it's best practice to have the CTA in the banner match the CTA in your Sponsored InMail, it's definitely better to have some content of yours in this space, rather than putting your message alongside a competitor's ad.
If you don't have a 300x250 banner ad on hand with a matching CTA, consider using a stock photo or a screenshot of your product to fill the ad unit. This will ensure that any engagement with the banner will still direct your audience to your desired landing page.
4. Personalization For the Win
It's no secret that the more relevant the message, the higher the likelihood of conversion. LinkedIn makes it easy for you to personalize your Sponsored InMail message in a variety of ways.
Here are a few pro-tips:
- Customize the greeting with the person's name (here are the shortcuts to use in your message in the LinkedIn Campaign Manager: %FIRSTNAME% %LASTNAME%)
- Refer to the skills or job titles that you're targeting (note: I used "content marketing" in the example below)
- Try using the word "you" in the message so it sounds like you're talking to the prospect.
Here's an example of a message using these best practices:
I am hosting a webinar on copywriting to capture awareness with your target audience this Wednesday. As you're ramping up your content marketing efforts, I thought you might find this topic interesting. Let me know if you're able to join with an RSVP here.
Michael McEuen Head of Marketing at AdStage"
With these tips, hopefully you can begin to construct LinkedIn Sponsored InMails that are on target to drive maximum engagement. Done right, the option provides significant opportunity.