Sales Strategy: LinkedIn InMail vs. Email

LinkedInMailBlogSince Ideal Candidate launched I have been back to spending a chunk of my day prospecting for beta customers (let me know if you are interested!). In an effort to stay current, I have been using LinkedIn InMails more extensively than ever before. Here’s what I’ve learned so far –

Don’t panic if you’re not familiar InMails, they’re relatively new and users are still learning how to get the most out of them. A premium feature of LinkedIn, InMails have been dubbed the cold calling of the social selling revolution. Unlike a LinkedIn message, InMails allow you to contact someone you’re not already connected to – for a price. If you use the free version of LinkedIn they’re going to cost you $10.95(CAD) each, while a membership includes a fixed amount of “free” InMails before they cost $10.95 again.


As of March, 2014 (Canada)

I have only been using them for a few weeks now but I already have a few early thoughts on their effectiveness:

  • If you have them, use them. If you have a premium LinkedIn membership, you are automatically given a certain amount of InMails per month. Use them before you lose them because LinkedIn takes them away in 90 days. For example, if you receive 10 InMails in January and don’t use them, you will get 10 more in February for a total of 20. I incorrectly assumed you could let them pile up forever, but the 10 you received in January will expire in early April.
  • Choose your InMails wisely. A mid level LinkedIn subscription gets you 10 “free” InMails a month. Depending on your industry, you are probably trying to touch 5 – 20 new prospects a day (even more in dial-for-dollar call centre roles). If you rely strictly on InMails for everyone you’re going to blow through your budget. Instead, try to get an introduction to the person through a shared connection. LinkedIn will automatically identify mutual connections who could introduce you and you would be surprised to see how connected you are. You’re also more likely to get a response when introduced and you’ve saved yourself $10.
  • Remember InMails are only one part of an overall strategy. There are many ways to do outbound prospecting and many tools you can use: cold calls, Twitter, regular emails, participation in LinkedIn groups etc. Even if you find InMails extremely effective, you put yourself at risk if you don’t diversify your strategy. Everything in moderation.

What I’m most curious about is whether or not a cold InMail works better than a cold email. It’s not hard to find a person’s email, so should I spend my $10 on another prospecting tool (or lunch)? On one hand, InMail can show that you really want to speak with that person since you paid to reach them. The question is, does your prospect know that you’re paying? And more importantly, do they care? Is a cold email a cold email regardless of where it comes from? Time will tell as we collect more data on our prospects and continue to build our customer base.

I’m interested to know if you’ve had success with LinkedIn InMail – any tricks of the trade to share?

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Shaun Ricci

COO at Ideal
Shaun Ricci is a Canadian entrepreneur and the Co-Founder of Ideal. Shaun served as Co-Founder and COO of Field ID until it was acquired in December 2012. Shaun’s accomplishments include spots on the Profit Hot 50 and Deloitte Fast 50 Companies-to-Watch lists as well as the 2012 Ontario Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Shaun is also an active writer, documenting his wins and losses while building his startup sales team.


  • omouse

    Doing a quick google search comes up with nothing to show the results of using InMails vs cold emails which doesn’t help when you’re trying to figure out if you should invest $60/month.

    • Hi omouse. I did some testing and found that InMails did indeed get better response than cold emails. This testing was casual, I don’t have the hard numbers to share but I will revisit later this year and track my results a bit better. I will say that if you are doing a lot of prospecting the monthly membership does provide you with some other tools to help build lead lists etc. beyond just the emails, so it might be worth trying it for 1 month. If you are not spending a lot of time prospecting it may not be worth the investment.

      • omouse

        I’m trying to do get some more web development contracting gigs and I’m working on a client contract at the same time, building my lead list is something I do 1-2 times a week at most. So I guess it isn’t worth it for me?

        • It sounds like you are not doing a ton of prospecting so you may be able to get by without the membership. That being said, you can purchase it for a month only and see results. It’s not a huge commitment financially if you cancel after the first month. If you decide to try it out the “Sales Plus” membership. Good luck!