After the development of an MVP, every startup wants to scale. This means getting traction, attracting employees, and most often raising investment in order to fuel the first two. This post offers some advice on how to do that with the help of LinkedIn and email automation.
Why LinkedIn and email?
Before we go any further, why not LinkedIn or email? Since we are speaking about cold outreach, communication via LinkedIn messaging has certain advantages over email. First, you can check quickly who is writing by taking a look at the sender’s profile (hence the importance of polishing your LinkedIn page). If the message is coming from a founder/CEO, people will be more likely to respond, even if negatively. Second, people’s LinkedIn inboxes tend to be cleaner, because they lack newsletter subscriptions, intra-company chatter, and whatever else clogs your corporate inbox. Third, LinkedIn InMails arrive not only on LinkedIn’s own messaging platform but in the recipient’s email inbox too. This is why we notice higher response rates to outreach via LinkedIn messaging in terms of job offers, investor pitches, and sales proposals.
However, there are disadvantages too. LinkedIn is used less regularly than email (40% of users visit the site daily, but average usage is only 17 minutes a month). Therefore, to maximize the response rates to your outreach campaigns, we recommend starting your communication sequences on LinkedIn and then jumping to email for a final push.
To find an employee you like who is keen to jump ship using a direct approach via LinkedIn and email, you will need to reach out to a few hundred people (provided everyone on your contact list is someone you are interested in talking to). To find investors and new clients, you may have to source and write to thousands of recipients. Assuming your campaign includes four touches to solicit a response (LinkedIn connect request, a follow-up message, InMail, and email), you are looking at a huge number of messages to be sent out to. When you add to that response management and keeping track of different threads and follow-ups, it’s easy to see that this task requires some form of automation.
There are a plethora of email marketing platforms and LinkedIn automation tools. However, those that integrate these two channels into seamless campaigning across both are rare. Most such tools have a learning curve and have to be set up, maintained, and troubleshot. Therefore, don’t expect automation to be a holy grail that works with the push of a button. It is thus prudent to consider using such tools yourself or outsourcing to someone who can deliver results.
Finding employees using LinkedIn and email automation
Finding employees and reaching out to them using LinkedIn and email automation begins with sourcing. There are many specialized platforms on the internet dedicated to engineers, doctors, and other professionals, but let’s consider LinkedIn, which is the most ubiquitous. Even with a paid LinkedIn Recruiter account or something similar, sourcing a few hundred profiles that fit who you are looking for is a surprisingly difficult task. You would think that filtering by geography, title, seniority, and some keywords will produce a contact list for you. It will, but don’t expect more than 1 in 10 profiles to be a hit (sometimes you will browse a hundred profiles to find one that is worthy of inclusion in the campaign). It’s not that LinkedIn’s filters don’t work (although sometimes you wonder why a certain profile was included in the search results); it’s just that experience and skills — the two main criteria — are not sufficiently defined by the number of years and keywords alone. You want to evaluate the caliber of previous employers, the scope of responsibilities behind the titles, the depth of skills acquired based on projects and achievements undertaken, and the general progression of the career. A seasoned human eye can make these subtle calculations, but a filtering algorithm cannot (at least not yet). For a more in-depth discussion on finding employees using LinkedIn and email automation, read our blog at https://jobrely.com/resources/blog.
Finding investors using LinkedIn and email automation
Sourcing investors is easier than sourcing employees. If your startup is in digital health, for example, it is not very hard to obtain a list of angels who previously invested in this space — you can start on Crunchbase and/or AngelList, apply a few filters, and voila. But going after them with a direct approach will yield a lower response rate than it would for going after employees. To get on a call with an investor, it may take reaching out to 100 different potential investors. And you might need 10 calls to land one who is willing to open the purse. Even if you use automation tools to reach out to so many, you will need much more time to manage all the responses. The first question from an investor replying to a campaign message is usually “send me a pitch deck” (therefore, have one ready). You may also be asked about traction, burn rates, product stage, and other questions before the call is arranged. However, when you finally get to speak to an investor, he/she will already know about you, and his/her willingness to talk more means that you have a genuine opportunity to close. For a more in-depth discussion on finding investors using LinkedIn and email automation and various strategies worth trying, read our blog at https://jobrely.com/resources/blog.
Finding new clients using LinkedIn and email automation
Not all products and services are worth pitching using LinkedIn and email automation. There are three constraints to consider before engaging this method: reach, price, and bandwidth. You can reach about 2,000 contacts per month using one LinkedIn and email account, because LinkedIn limits users to about 100 messages per day, and excessive email use may cause your messages to be flagged as spam. Therefore, if your product is B2C, you might want a wider reach and opt-in, which advertising can provide.
Lead generation via a direct LinkedIn and email approach is not cheap. It’s not easy to put a concrete number on it because it varies case by case, but it’s definitely in the tens of dollars, and perhaps up to a few hundred dollars, per lead. If your product is low-value (e.g. low monthly fee) and your customer lifetime value is below $1,000, this method might be too expensive.
Last but not least is bandwidth constraints. Some products can be pitched in two to three sentences; others are not as easily explained without interaction. The rule of thumb is that LinkedIn and email automation is a viable channel when you are able to zoom in on a very specific pain that your target currently experiences and present a solution that is somehow unique. To make sure that your message is being heard despite bandwidth constraints, A/B testing of messages is strongly advised. We’ve seen many campaigns that start with almost no leads for a month and then gradually produce results as messages get refined and target segments become more granular. For more best practices on how to win new clients using LinkedIn and email automation, read our blog at https://jobrely.com/resources/blog.
Using LinkedIn and email automation to find employees, clients, and investors is probably the quickest and cheapest way to hire, sell, and raise. LinkedIn yields better response rates than email, but using both seamlessly is even better. Automation is clearly required for outreach campaigns with hundreds or thousands of recipients. However, you’ll still need to put in effort, as significant manual work is required for pre-campaign tasks (sourcing) and post-campaign tasks (response management). There are different key success factors for hiring, selling, and raising using LinkedIn and email automation, but here is one key factor for each: for finding employees — sourcing; for finding investors — response management; for finding new clients — A/B testing of messages.