Are you tired of purchasing B2B email lists, only to get abysmal response rates from them? That’s because the recipients don’t know or trust your company. Your messages are also competing for attention with a tidal wave of emails. That forces your prospects into triage mode. They must focus their attention on a handful of messages that are most important or relevant to their needs and ignore the rest – including yours!
Because of this, a growing number of prospects are limiting their information intake to closed platforms like LinkedIn. It enables them to focus on trusted network of connections. They can also participate in groups of like-minded people. LinkedIn enables them to design a more focused flow of information that provides them with a steady flow of ideas and insights. As a result, LinkedIn members tend to be more open to receiving direct messages.
What does that mean? With the correct strategy, LinkedIn enables you to break through to your key prospects like no other communication channel.
But generating leads, even with LinkedIn Navigator, is primarily a manual process. If you’re trying to grow your business faster, sending connection requests one at a time can slow you down. That’s why a new class of tools has emerged (including Cleverly, Expand.io and Octopus) that enable you to automate and accelerate your prospecting process via LinkedIn.
The Brave New World of prospecting
These uber-prospecting tools empower you to search LinkedIn for people who meet your criteria, such as job title, skills and geographic location. They then import the resulting pool of contacts into their databases.
Next, you create a series of messages that will be used to invite these people to join your LinkedIn network. They can be personalized with fields such as first name, job title and other profile information. You can also specify how frequently they should be sent out.
Some of these tools also enable you to auto-endorse your prospects for their skills, in the hopes that they will reciprocate and endorse some of yours. That can help your profile to be more visible in LinkedIn search results.
When you launch a campaign, the tool distributes LinkedIn invitation messages to your list based on the cadence you specified. If someone accepts your connection request, their name is removed from the list.
LinkedIn doesn’t like automation tools and retains the right to shut down the accounts of anyone who is using them to “game the system.” That’s why the algorithms of these tools tread lightly. They automatically vary the number and cadence of connection requests and messages, so your LinkedIn activity looks more human. If you plan to employ this strategy, do your due diligence to ensure that you select one that plays well with LinkedIn’s rules.
A recent experiment with one of these automated prospecting tools resulted in 25% of invitees accepting a connection request. Of those who agreed to connect, 15% agreed to have preliminary sales conversations – outstanding results for a minimal time commitment!
Benefits of these prospecting tools
By automating this networking process, these tools enable you to connect with more people who meet your ideal criteria, faster. Meanwhile, you can focus on other business priorities.
Most of these tools provide a dashboard, which enables you to see how effective your campaigns have been. This enables you to experiment with different messages and sequences, so you can steadily improve your connection rate over time.
You’ve connected with more people. Now what?
A tool like this isn’t a panacea. It helps you connect with more key prospects, faster. But it doesn’t help you to nurture them. Here are three strategies you can use to build trusted relationships with them:
Export the contact data from your LinkedIn automation tool. Utilize a data appending service to verify it and fill in any missing information. Then incorporate it into your email nurturing campaigns outside of LinkedIn.
Be more active on LinkedIn: You can’t send a continuing series of LinkedIn InMail messages to prospects without annoying them. You need to utilize other tactics to keep you and your company top-of-mind. One way to do that is to publish more frequent updates to your Linkedin profile. These can be observations, opinions or links to interesting articles. We recommend posting to LinkedIn two to three times per week. Be sure to stay focused on topics that are relevant to the needs of your prospects.
Launch a newsletter on LinkedIn: This is a recent addition to the LinkedIn toolset, and it’s a winner! If you used LinkedIn’s Pulse article publishing platform before, the newsletter tool will look very familiar. It’s an excellent place to repurpose existing blog posts. Simply copy and place the headline and copy into the newsletter form.
When you hit publish, LinkedIn automatically displays a window where you can promote it to your first-level connections. But these announcements are treated just like any other update on LinkedIn: they will only be shown to a small percentage of your first-level connections. If they get enough engagement, they’ll gradually be shown to more people over time.
Your first-level LinkedIn connections can also subscribe to your newsletter. That’s where the real magic happens. Subscribers receive an email alerting them each time you publish a new issue. In other words, subscribers bypass the restrictions of the LinkedIn algorithm.
Because only a small fraction of LinkedIn users have created newsletters, they still have a high degree of novelty. As long as the subject of your newsletter is aligned with your network of connections, you’re likely to gain subscribers quickly. In our experiment, Cultivate president Bob Wendt gained over 200 subscribers to the first issue of his Ideas to Scale newsletter in less than a week!
LinkedIn enables you to see who your newsletter subscribers are. Why is that important? These people have decided to engage more deeply with your content. That data gives you a perfect opportunity to contact them to learn more about their needs.
If cold emails from purchased lists aren’t delivering the number of qualified sales leads you need to grow your business, why not try something new? These new LinkedIn automation tools are an easy to implement and effective alternative.