In the history of sales and business development, there has no tactic more popular than the classic cold contact. Knocking on doors, posting captivating letters and in our modern age, sending out offers via cold emails.
Now, Cold Emails have a bit of a bad rap for being annoying, or at the worse case, straight up spam. But you can’t deny how effective it can be.
Statistics show that effective cold emails are opened 15.22% to 28.46%, depending on the industry*. This means for every 1000 emails that you send, you would have an open rate of at least 150 (If you have crafted the email correctly, more on that below). For those 150 readers, you would expect to convert around 5-10% to active customers, or at most 15 customers.
But what if there was a way to contact your potential customers with a much higher open rate and conversion rate?
Linkedin Messages vs Cold Emails
Direct LinkedIn messages offer a unique method of communication that is objectively superior to cold emails. Emails are a cold communication tactic (as the recipient has not communicated with you before), whilst Linkedin messages are warmer in the sense that you’ve already engaged the recipient prior (you can only message connections) and that has some inherent advantages.
Advantages of Linkedin Messages
- You can message the decision maker directly, as opposed to working through a gatekeeper or a generic company email account. Millions of cold emails a day get lost into generic inboxes that are never checked, wasting time and energy. Or worse, they are sent to someone who doesn’t understand the email, rejects the offer and deletes it.
- The open rate of a LinkedIn message is near 100%. Anyone who receives a message on LinkedIn will be notified via email (the message is also forwarded to the recipient's email account so in a way you are hijacking their inbox as well) as well as a push notification to their phone.
- Not only will they open it, but they will also open it as soon as possible. A LinkedIn message that is unopened and pending will make anyone burn with curiosity. You can expect a potential lead to read your message and take action within the day.
- Linkedin encourages a ‘conversational’ style of messaging. You don’t need to ask the potential lead for a discovery meeting… you are already in the process of discovery with them! Because of the casual ‘chat’ nature of the platform, it’s very easy for a potential lead to quickly reply to your messages (as opposed to answering a more formal email). This can lead to a more fluid and dynamic sales process.
- Lastly, spam emails if proven to be unsolicited (Classified as an Unsolicited Commercial Email (UCE)), can actually result in a warning or fine from the FTC. LinkedIn messages are not in any danger of being classified as such because they are on a private platform unrelated to emails. Linkedin loves users sending messages, as it encourages users to engage with their platform more often leading to more revenue.
However, even using LinkedIn messages there is the danger of coming across spammy or salesy, not only alienating your potential customer but making your brand look bad.
Generic. A spammy email or message is very generic. No names, a common greeting (“Hello” or “Dear Sir/Madam”) and then a generic offer (or even worse, an offer that is not related to the recipients' region/industry). A recipient instantly knows that you are not invested in the interaction so why should they be? These messages end with a generic “Let me know if you are interested…” call to action that will convert no one. But there is a move that is even worse than just a generic ending...
Asking for direct purchase. If you have a contact that is already a customer in your ecosystem, then asking for a direct purchase can work. They are familiar with your brand and have already bought from you before, therefore trust you and will be interested in any offers you have. However, if they have never bought from you before and this is a cold message, they will most likely reject your offer right away.
A spam message will look like it comes from a template. That all the writer has done has swapped out the name of the recipient and their company name, but copy and pasted the same generic message. It does not take long to write an effective copy for a client, or a more generic one that is still very applicable.
How to craft an effective Linkedin message?
So how do you create an effective cold message that can convert without being spammy on LinkedIn?
- Personalize the message. It stars by personalizing the message for your recipient. A great way to get into the right mindset is to imagine you already met this contact briefly, for example at a conference. Your message will now change from being a timid connection to a confident catch up. Ensure that you use the recipient's name, mention something regarding their industry/location/weather and build out your message from there making a request that makes sense. Sign off with your casual name and invite them to catch up over a coffee, or next time you are in town.
- Validate yourself. The 2nd step is to validate yourself. Whilst above we personalized the message for the recipient, that might come across as a little incongruent if you don’t actually validate who you are and why they should trust you. Use your real name and if you have a common connection, leverage it.
- Understand the recipient's pain point or give them value. The message must contain an offer that will solve a problem for them, or give them value. Reading your message, the recipient will be wondering what is in it for them. Understand their pain and offer a solution, or if you can’t find that out, offer them value. For example, this might be in the way of a connection/introduction on Linkedin to a potential client.
- Keep the message short and conversational. As we mentioned above, Linkedin is fantastic in providing a platform that allows you to be conversational and short and you should see this first cold message as a conversation starter, not the end all. Keep the message brief and under 10 lines.
- A specific request. Asking for a specific, clear and easy action to take can close far better than a generic request for a phone call. For example, ask a client for a coffee Friday morning if they are available makes it a yes or no decision there and now, rather than having to look up their calendar and get back to you.
- Be appreciative. A very unique step that is missed by most cold communications is just saying thank you to the recipient. They are human and their time is just as valuable as yours (if not more if they are an industry leader) and respecting this will make your message leap and bound over any competition. Writing something as simple as “Thank you so much! I am really grateful” can result in almost double the response rate, and giving them a way out such as “If you are too busy I understand” actually makes them more likely to help you!
The bottom line
LinkedIn messages have several clear advantages over using cold emails, and with the right communications and copy, a proactive effort can result in a closing rate much higher than email. In fact, even using email tools to spam out thousands of messages a day will still not be as effective as building a LinkedIn message system that builds bespoke connections.