On LinkedIn, you can advertise your product or services to more than 560 million active professionals. LinkedIn is a unique social media advertising platform, because the audience intent is very different from other social media websites and apps like Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat. People on LinkedIn are professionals browsing content relevant to their careers, and interacting with other users in a professional manner.
Because LinkedIn is so different, users are receptive to fairly different advertising language and format when on the site compared to other social media platforms as well. You wouldn’t want to share content that is too “fun” or nonprofessional on LinkedIn, for example, because people are likely using the website while at work or for work-related purposes.
Enter: Sponsored InMail
To reach an engaged audience in a professional setting, LinkedIn uses the format of a custom, personalized message directly in the user’s inbox with Sponsored InMail. It will look as though it is coming directly from someone in your organization, but it will be clearly marked as a promoted message. This hits users when they are already active and engaged on the platform.
In this guide we’ll walk through Sponsored InMail setup and best practices, to get you on your way to becoming a LinkedIn Ads Hero.
Setting Up a Sponsored InMail Campaign
To get started with setting up your campaign, navigate to the Campaign Manager either by visiting linkedin.com/ads directly, or by navigating from your LinkedIn profile.
Next, create a new campaign, and select Sponsored InMail as the campaign type.
Walk through the account/campaign naming screens, using good naming convention best practices, and arrive at the Setup Sender Permissions screen.
You can select from a list of previously set up senders, or you can add a new sender. Choose depending on your campaign goal and offer type (more on this in the next section).
If you choose to add a new sender, remember that the sender must be a 1st degree connection and have a profile picture. To add a new sender you will also have to send a request to the proposed sender for permissions. The requested sender will then receive an email explaining the terms and asking them for consent or denial.
Once the sender has accepted a request, they will be able to manage permissions from their profile at an account level.
After setting up the sender, you will be walked through a series of message component setup screens.
Components of a Sponsored InMail Ad
You have control over the following components in a Sponsored InMail ad:
- Subject Line
- Message Text
- Terms & Conditions
- Banner Image Creative
- Call to Action (CTA)
The most difficult part about Sponsored InMail, in my experience, is writing the copy. It needs to adequately introduce your offer while still sounding personal and not too sales-y.
1. Choose a relevant Sender
For example, if you are a SaaS company sending InMail invites to register for a webinar on a Security topic, you may want to choose your CTO as the sender (as opposed to, say, your HR Coordinator or Marketing Director).
2. Keep the Subject Line Short and Direct
Use the subject line to quickly catch the user’s attention and interest. According to LinkedIn, the best subject lines contain the following:
- Exclusive Invitation
- Job Opportunities
- Join Us
3. Directly Address the Target
Instead of avoiding addressing the user by using vague and broad language, dynamically insert the user’s name and job title. Use “you” language, and make the message truly personalized.
4. Use Eye-Catching Creative for Brand Impact
Make sure that you use the banner image creative to its full potential, focusing on brand connection (i.e. ensuring the user will link your Sponsored InMail content with your brand.
Note: if you do not use a banner, then ads from other advertisers will appear in that ad real estate.
5. Focus on One Clear Call to Action
Don’t overload the message with too many CTAs. Focus on one result you would like to get from the ad, and make your CTA very clear accordingly.
The LinkedIn Best Practices Guide also states that the top InMail CTA keywords are:
If you’re already familiar with LinkedIn, the targeting available for Sponsored InMail is the same targeting available for any other campaign. However, using an approach tailored to the Sponsored InMail format is a good idea.
Using your best Customer Resource Manager (CRM) platform lists, you can target highly specific segments of users. Retarget old prospects who had attended one of your conferences, or target a list of undergraduate alumni to invite them to an informational session on your Master’s Programs.
You can also target highly specific segments of cold/new audiences. For example, if you are hosting a workshop for C-Level leadership at an upcoming conference, then you can target based on seniority and job title within your industry.
Final Note – Suggested Use Cases
Sponsored InMail is a phenomenal way to generate leads or build awareness in LinkedIn, and most organizations should be testing this in their accounts.
Some possible ways to use Sponsored InMail include:
- Event Registration (in-person or online)
- Enroll in a Program or Course
- Distribute Content (such as whitepapers and guides)
- Encourage Demo Signups
- Increase Brand Awareness