Using LinkedIn, it’s possible to identify and directly communicate with ideal prospects that’d otherwise be overlooked or uncontactable. But while the platform is remarkably effective as an outreach tool, it can be incredibly time-consuming. Searching for each lead, copying and pasting templates, and tracking messages sent in a CRM or spreadsheet is inefficient and frustrating – not to mention rife with the potential for errors. LinkedIn outreach automation can speed up that process and increase consistency, combining the effectiveness of LinkedIn with the scale and efficiency of prospecting software. Here’s how to use it, step-by-step.
What is LinkedIn outreach automation?
Outreach automation software handles the repetitive tasks necessary to proactively engage leads. On LinkedIn, that’s activities like:
- Sending connection requests to prospects
- Following up on successful connections with direct LinkedIn messages
- Sending LinkedIn InMails
- Messaging members of shared groups and events.
While outreach automation software takes care of these tasks for you, it also comes with other perks, such as inbox filters and campaign analytics not supported within LinkedIn’s interface. These can help you reply to interested leads faster and hone your LinkedIn outreach strategy.
Why use LinkedIn outreach automation?
Although it’s possible to get results using LinkedIn alone, manual prospecting is hard to scale. Pair that with a tricky sales market where 61% of salespeople find selling harder than 5 years ago, and it’s clear those not using LinkedIn outreach automation are fighting an uphill battle.
By adopting automation in the outreach process, sales reps can:
- Save up to 4-6 minutes per prospect on searching, copying and pasting, sending, and tracking messages. For 100 leads, that’s about 7-10 hours.
- Increase consistency by reducing cadence errors.
- Use the extra time to reach enough leads to hit quota.
- Be confident in what works with accurate campaign data.
How to automate LinkedIn outreach
- Decide on your prospects
Before you begin LinkedIn outreach, automated or otherwise, you need to decide on the prospects you’ll target. To do so, you must consider:
- The characteristics of the audience you want to approach
- Why these are the best bet for your company or brand
- How to find a list of these ideal targets.
If you’re looking to adopt LinkedIn automation to reduce the time spent on LinkedIn outreach, you might wonder if this step is really necessary. After all, if you can reach more prospects faster, why put in the effort to research and segment leads?
While automated outreach does save time, it’s most effective when paired with a proper outreach strategy. Putting thought into clever ways to find and hone relevant target audiences helps to avoid the spammy spray-and-pray techniques that give salespeople a bad rap.
Although it requires more effort upfront, you’ll save time by avoiding prospects that have no chance of converting. It’ll help keep your account safe and increase the chances you’ll receive a positive reply. Both are vital for efficient and scalable LinkedIn outreach strategies.
- Add prospects to a lead list
Once you’ve decided on your audience, make sure you have a way to access or organize these lists of prospects. It’ll be important for the next step, when you need to upload your leads into an automation campaign. Salesflow’s LinkedIn automation supports leads in a variety of formats. So whether you have a Sales Navigator lead list, want to run a basic LinkedIn search, or have a CSV file of LinkedIn accounts taken from your CRM, it’s easy to upload them.
- Agree on campaign success metrics
Deciding how to evaluate your automated outreach is vital for achieving results. Ultimately, of course, you want your outreach to bring in more leads and revenue. But you first need to get specific by determining which key performance indicators (KPIs) would signal your business is on the right track.
For example, if your main target is to increase brand awareness and funnel leads through to resources like your website, tracking open and click-through rates can help you determine initial interest. This gives you a good idea of whether you’re on track to generate the right number of leads. Over time, as you collect data on your average conversion rates, you can start to predict how many messages you have to send to meet your goals.
However, if you know you need each deal to increase in size by 5%, metrics like open and reply rates might not be as useful in suggesting success. What if the positive replies are all from smaller companies, or those at larger companies open your message and don’t respond? Instead, you might want to split campaigns up by opportunity size or company revenue, and track what percentage of leads come from these higher-value sources.
Getting clear on the tangible outcomes you need will make all the difference when it comes to A/B testing campaigns. If you leave that to chance and vagueness, you’re not making use of the full strategic uplift outreach automation offers.
- Decide on templates and a campaign type
There are many different ways of running automated outreach campaigns. However, they all require a working understanding of your target personas to achieve results.
The two strategic decisions you’ll need to address are:
1. What messaging will resonate with your audience
2. What type of LinkedIn outreach you want to try
With LinkedIn automation tools saving companies up to 50 hours a week, you’re not limited to one course of action. Rather, this will help you decide where to start, and how to benchmark other campaigns or experiments.
Effective messaging relies on your understanding of prospect pain points and your company’s unique selling points. To discover what will be most persuasive, look at:
- What past customers say about you. Ask customers (or your sales team) what trigger events brought them to you, and what pain points sealed the deal on their need for a solution. Also, track any tangible results customers have achieved using your product. Being able to include statistics on time saved, revenue earned, or overall return on investment will elevate your outreach with powerful social proof.
- The unique challenges your product was designed to solve. Consider the benefits and features of your offering, and how exactly they make your prospect’s lives easier. Map these features and benefits to the prospect pain points you’ve discovered to hammer home the difference your product can make.
- Where you differ from competitors. If you’re reaching out to customers of competitors, you’ll need to do a competitor analysis to discover what you offer that they don’t. Compare your offering feature by feature, remembering to factor in areas like customer service and the buying process, too. To speed up this research, go back through old call notes and discover what reasons customers cited for switching to you or researching other solutions. Even when you’re reaching out to leads that don’t have an existing solution, it’s good to know which features you offer are unique when it comes to deciding what to emphasize.
Unless you’re sending InMails, where you only need one message, you’ll generally need to create 3-4 follow-ups. You can use our collection of LinkedIn outreach templates as a guide or for inspiration.
If you’re just starting out with automation, we’d recommend trying LinkedIn connection request campaigns first. They don’t require any additional steps, such as joining groups or having an established network of prospects, and they can help you grow your network to get results quicker.
Plus, the structure of a connection request campaign is similar to those for groups and events and existing connections – so once you’re confident with them, the other types only require minor adjustments.
5. Run your LinkedIn outreach automation
Once you’ve decided on a campaign type and have message templates ready to upload, the process of automating is easy:
- Go to the Salesflow website.
- Sign in to your Salesflow account.
- Select Campaigns, then ‘Add New Campaign’.
- Select the Campaign Type (in this case, ‘New Connections’).
- Upload your connection request template, plus 2-3 follow-up messages. You can save these as templates for future use in different outreach campaigns. Remember to use personalization tokens to automatically pull in information like name, company, and job title.
- Set your Campaign Schedule, then click Create.
- Once your campaign is saved, select Add Contacts to upload your lead list.
- You can add leads from a Basic or Sales Navigator LinkedIn search; paste a Basic or Sales Navigator URL; or import a list via CSV file.
- When you’re ready, click the Start Icon to launch your campaign.
What types of LinkedIn outreach messages can I automate?
All types of LinkedIn outreach messages can be automated, from connection requests and InMails to Group messages and inbox replies. For tips and tricks for each, see our guides to outreach strategies and LinkedIn outreach templates.
How many automated outreach messages can I send per day, week, or month?
LinkedIn doesn’t publish exact limits, but it’s best to stick to a maximum of 100 connection request messages a week to avoid a temporary account suspension. You should also try to spread this activity out across each day, to keep activity levels looking as human as possible. Salesflow will automatically do this for you.
Connection request messages are not the only way to engage leads: to maximize results from your automated outreach, consider using LinkedIn InMail and Groups and Events campaigns as well. See more in our guide to bypassing the LinkedIn connection limit.
Once you’re connected with a lead, you’re able to send an unlimited number of follow-up messages. Salesflow’s software supports users sending up to 2,000 follow-up messages a month.
When to use automated outreach and when to prospect manually?
With the right strategy and proper attention to target audiences and templates, there’s no reason not to use automation for all of your outreach. You might want to consider adding manual outreach for a small handful of prospects if you believe they are worth a high degree of personalization. For example, if you’re running ABM campaigns to your most important target accounts, you might identify key stakeholders to spend more time on. Sending these individuals their own hyper-personalized templates can produce better results – at the cost of more time and effort.
Even in these scenarios, LinkedIn outreach automation can be used to run each campaign. Automation software like Salesflow gives you an easy way to keep track of results and ensure messages are sent at exactly the right time, in the right order, without errors.
How does automated outreach work for ABM campaigns?
For account-based marketing (ABM), automated outreach can be used for less senior prospects at target companies. Messaging several of these users at once increases your likelihood of successfully engaging an employee who can bridge a warm introduction to key stakeholders. Although important targets should receive hyper-personalized messages, users can run these using automation software if they want an easy way to track results.
Alternatively, automated outreach can be used on lower-value accounts alongside manual outreach to 1-2 key companies. Larger automated campaigns can be carried out at the same time as ABM initiatives to avoid putting all your eggs into one basket. Making use of automated services ensures sales and marketing have the resources to focus their efforts and energy on their key accounts, without spending all their time messaging less valuable leads. We get into it all in our guide to account-based marketing on LinkedIn.
How to do automated outreach and still keep things personalized?
Relevant, specific outreach is possible with a properly defined target audience and appropriately segmented lead lists. Using these, you can create slightly different templates for each list to speak to their circumstances or pain points. In particular, focusing on the first line (sometimes called the ‘hook’) can make a real difference to how personal your message seems without requiring much effort.
Using automation tokens in each template also allows you to refer to each prospect’s name, job, and company to personalize outreach further.
Take your LinkedIn outreach further with automation
To see the difference LinkedIn outreach automation can make for yourself, try Salesflow today with a free 7-day trial. No credit card required.