Everyone wants higher reply rates and more message acceptances on LinkedIn. The more prospects engage with your brand, the more meetings are booked. And the more meetings booked, the closer you get to a full pipeline and a sales strategy that scales. To help improve your LinkedIn InMail response rate, here’s a guide to InMail best practices, the low-down on average InMail response rates, and how to troubleshoot results.
LinkedIn InMail Best Practices
You can’t improve without knowing the basics. Although what works for every industry, persona, and product will vary, there are some standard, data-backed InMail best practices that always help.
How long should a LinkedIn InMail be?
LinkedIn’s own research into InMail success rates among recruiters saw a direct correlation between InMail length and response rate.
Specifically, InMails 400 characters or shorter had a 22% higher than average response rate. And InMails with over 1200 characters got responses 11% less than average.
While shorter is definitely better (no one likes a long, waffly letter eating up their time and inbox), there’s some nuance. 400 characters is about 6 sentences. If you’re doing cold outreach, an extra sentence or two might get a better response if it allows you to include social proof and key statistics. It’ll help convince prospects why they should bother giving you their time and energy.
So don’t take this as an ultimatum, but do try and keep messages below about 800 characters (the point where response rates begin to drop below average).
Another point to consider: if you’re sending InMails over 1200 characters long, are you clear on your elevator pitch and value proposition? One likely reason responses are lower for this cohort is longer messages generally go hand in hand with an unclear value proposition.
To get clear on your elevator pitch, check out Hubspot’s list of 12 elevator pitch examples and templates.
What is the best time to send LinkedIn messages?
For the highest response rates, send your InMails in the first half of the week. There’s little variation in the number of replies for InMails sent Monday through Thursday – but according to LinkedIn’s 2022 InMail Insights, messages sent Friday or Saturday receive 4-8% fewer responses.
As with each best practice, the right outreach strategy for your company depends on your audience. If you’re targeting busy executives, they’re likely to respond in the evening or on Sundays, when they’re preparing for the next day or the work week ahead. Very few InMails are sent on Sundays (LinkedIn’s data suggests 2%), so if you’re using an automation tool like Salesflow, try scheduling Sunday sending for any exec campaigns and see how it impacts results.
What to include in a LinkedIn InMail subject line?
The best LinkedIn InMail subject lines hook readers with a clear value add, a resonant pain point, or a good dose of intrigue. All in less than 50 characters. (No pressure, right?).
Here are some InMail tips for improving your subject line to get a higher open and response rate:
Don’t be afraid to try a different approach if your usual messages aren’t getting results. A bold statement, unusual suggestion, or humorous tone is often prospect marmite – but if it resonates with your audience, your response rate could skyrocket.
Keep it short.
Long subject lines won’t be read (and are often difficult to see, especially on mobile). Keep your subject line under 50 characters – ideally, under 40. Getting to the point quicker forces you to examine your hook and make sure it really is as impactful as it could be. Which is vital for that all-important click-through rate.
Ask a question.
There’s no better way to spark curiosity than with a question. Depending on your target persona, you could try a ‘salesy’ approach with a question like ‘Want to get more leads?’. Or demonstrate your empathy and desire to assess fit with a question about their pain point. (Think along the lines of, ‘Are you struggling to generate pipeline?’).
Give a stat.
Show what you can do for your prospects before they even open your message. Statements like ‘5 mins to 4x your revenue’ or ‘Reach 3x more leads per week’ are great attention-grabbers. (Just make sure they’re true to avoid landing in hot water. Collect customer testimonials and work on building a way to calculate ROI).
Name-drop your social proof.
If you’ve worked with a competitor or a big name in your prospect’s industry, definitely use this as a hook. ‘We’ve helped Hubspot 4x revenue – let’s do the same for [your company]?’ has an undeniable pull.
Think beyond your subject line as well. For a high response rate, add a personalized hook in the first line of your message. Explaining why you’re reaching out will make your outreach more relevant even if you’re prospecting at scale. Do you share a group? Have you noticed that they recently got funding? Are you already connected on LinkedIn? With Salesflow, you can create separate cadences for different campaign types and run them simultaneously. You get all the efficiency benefits of LinkedIn automation without compromising your message quality.
Want proof of just how big a difference this makes? LinkedIn found InMails to shared group members received a 21% higher response rate than average.
Learn how to prospect from LinkedIn Groups and Events with Salesflow campaigns.
What’s the average LinkedIn InMail response rate?
It’s hard to improve if you’re stabbing in the dark. Industry averages can help suggest whether you’re broadly on the right track with your outreach, or if you need to take a hard look at results and go back to the drawing board.
InMails are accepted 3x more than cold calls (and 6x more than cold emails). So expect your LinkedIn response rates to be higher than your other prospecting channels. If they’re not, you can probably do better.
What’s a good LinkedIn response rate? LinkedIn says the range can vary from 10-25%. Your company’s average will depend on the industry, company size, and seniority level of your ICP (ideal customer persona). Whatever rates you’re starting from, you want your reply and conversion rates to increase as you hone and refine your audience.
Generally, an InMail response rate of around 20% is average, and anything above 25% is good. For recruiters, LinkedIn considers a response rate lower than 13% unusual enough that it warrants temporary InMail suspension. However, bear in mind that ‘responses’ in this case include just accepting a message or even hitting that ‘not interested’ button – so not every one of those replies will lead to an actual conversation.
How to improve your LinkedIn InMail response rate
To improve the number of replies you receive, you need some key stats. How many prospects are opening your messages? How many are replying? And how does this vary across campaigns?
LinkedIn Recruiter users can use InMail Reporting as a starting point for these answers. Unfortunately, there isn’t a similar tool for Sales. Only admins with an Advanced or Advanced Plus subscription can export an overview of Sales Navigator usage (including InMail utilization and acceptance rates). Sales reps have little visibility into how their InMails are performing. And without tracking message performance, there’s no way to improve.
To get more granular and compare per campaign – essential for effective A/B testing – Salesflow has an advanced analytics dashboard with open, click-through, and response rates for each campaign. Plus, an AI-driven inbox management tool that automatically determines whether a prospect’s message is positive or negative.
Troubleshooting your InMail results
If you’re following the best practices for LinkedIn InMails and still not hitting industry averages, one of two issues is at play.
1. You need to rethink your strategy
Your copy is short, sharp, and snappy and persuasively addresses the obstacles your product solves. You’ve got a dazzling subject line. And you’ve sent enough messages to get accurate feedback, at just the right time to maximize the chance of getting a response. Why, then, is your LinkedIn reply rate so low?
If your copy is genuinely as good as you think it is, look a step higher. Okay, you mention obstacles – but are these concerns actually what these prospects care about? Have you validated you’re targeting the right persona or job title? Do your existing customers have similar characteristics and complain of similar issues?
If not, and you’re bringing a new product or feature to market and still assessing market fit, you’ll need to factor this into your plans to eventually see improvements. Rather than working on your copy, you need to validate you’re approaching the right audience.
It’s a tricky problem to solve. Start by speaking to your Sales teams, Customer Success department, and current customers to get a more accurate idea of pain points. Then, hone your ICP using LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
2. You need to rethink your copy
Okay, your customers say Point A is their biggest issue – but is it the issue that first hooked them on having a discovery call with your company? When on a sales call, they like to know every detail – but are they much less responsive over email, and do they need short requests that get right to the point?
Creating messaging that lands and has enough impact to lead to a discovery call is a delicate art. Best practices become a wide playing field.
If you know which profiles to target and have established product-market fit, you’re already doing well. To improve response rates and generate more leads in less time, you just need to iterate your messaging.
For both problems, to improve your InMail response rate you need to start A/B testing your campaign messages.
Let’s get into a little more detail. What exactly is A/B testing, and why is it necessary to improve InMail response rates?
A quick guide to A/B testing
A/B testing is when you run two different versions of a campaign, product, or design in parallel. For example, let’s say you’re sending a new email campaign to 200 CEOs in the healthcare industry. You could send 100 leads subject line A, ‘HIPAA compliant software that saves 4 hours per week’, and 100 leads subject line B, ‘5 mins to 4x revenue?’. Once you’ve run the campaign, you can compare the InMail open rate for both groups. If there’s a significant difference in open rate, you then have firm data on the tone of voice and pain points most compelling to your prospects.
That’s great for any future campaigns with similar leads, but the real benefits of A/B testing add up over time. By running similar A/B tests on all your campaigns, you can validate your LinkedIn outreach strategy. You can give data-backed reasoning for adopting a certain tone of voice and leading with particular pain points.
In sales, nothing stays static. It’s vital to optimize each stage of the content journey to increase conversion rates and revenue. Once you have a high open rate, it’s time to A/B test click-throughs. And once people are passively engaging with your messages, it’s time to try out different call-to-action copy to increase positive reply rates.
Sounds complicated? It doesn’t have to be. Salesflow’s advanced analytics dashboard gives you automatic insights into the open, click-through, and response rates for all your campaigns – including LinkedIn InMails. Simply run your two campaigns in parallel using our LinkedIn automation software, then select both campaigns in the analytics dashboard to compare results
Now you know the best practices for LinkedIn InMail and how to use A/B test campaigns to build on successes.
To see you on your way, here are some advanced LinkedIn InMail tips to optimize results.
Our top InMail hacks:
- Get more LinkedIn InMails by targeting open profiles. Reach out to prospects with open profiles without using any InMail credits using a Salesflow Open InMails campaign.
- View a user’s profile before sending an InMail. LinkedIn found users were 78% more likely to accept an InMail from someone who’d viewed their profile in the last 30 days. The more a profile was viewed, the higher the InMail acceptance rate.
- Follow each prospect’s organization. Data from LinkedIn shows acceptance rates were 15% higher for users following their target company. Following an organization keeps you up to date with developments, so this is probably due to the opportunity it affords for warmer outreach.
- Build out your LinkedIn profile and personal brand. LinkedIn members are 87% more likely to accept InMail requests from users with a complete profile. See our guides to creating an effective LinkedIn profile and building a personal brand on LinkedIn to set yourself up for success.
Improve InMail response rates with LinkedIn automation
Here’s a quick overview of our InMail Campaign function:
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