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How LinkedIn’s InMail policy change will impact brands?

LinkedIn has announced changes to its InMail policy. Starting January 1, 2015, LinkedIn would return InMail credits for every response that a mail gets, rather than for no response. This means that if an InMail does not get a response, then the credits will not be returned.

The company said about its policy changes, “InMail messages that get any response (Reply or Not Interested) from a recipient within 90 days will be credited back to you. If you don’t get a response within 90 days, however, the InMail credit will not be replaced.”

LinkedIn’s InMail are used by brands to send out personalised emails, messages to the customers. With LinkedIn’s targeted reach, brands approach customers based on the data provided on their profile, about their offers, deals, information and updates.

Talking about the importance of InMail, Chia-Peck Wong, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications at LinkedIn Corporation said, “At LinkedIn, we’re focussed on helping companies transform the way they hire, sell and market. As the world’s biggest online professional network, LinkedIn offers companies opportunities to engage their desired audiences, thereby helping to raise brand awareness and enhance brand loyalty. The InMail platform, along with other solutions such as our content marketing platform, is one of the most powerful ways to do so.”

Why did LinkedIn change its policy for InMails then? The audience is tired of getting their Inbox spammed, so LinkedIn is looking for a way to curb the spamming and rewarding the marketers for every read email. Ms Wong explains, “The change in policy is aimed at helping to increase the response rates by encouraging companies to send more personalised InMails. We know that our members prefer to receive relevant and personalised messages and therefore a well-timed and well-crafted InMail can boost results for marketing.”

Talking about the impact this change in policy will have on brands, Julian Chow, Digital Consultant, Text 100 says, “I think brands will complain, for sure, because from what I know, InMail open rates are around 20 per cent and we can assume that the rate of people clicking ‘not interested’ can be around the same. Hence, brands will initially end up paying more.”

“But that said, this also means that if you take the time to invest in developing quality content for your InMail campaigns, you’ll get an even bigger reward – not only will you see better open rates and engagement rates but you’ll also start seeing the cost of your campaigns go down,” Mr Chow added.

Dirk Singer, Co-founder of creative social agency Honey, explains, “LinkedIn’s rule change which rewards targeted emails that are opened shouldn’t change a fundamental fact, you shouldn’t spam. No one likes receiving unsolicited messages, which are irrelevant. Google recognised this when it started filtering Gmail emails into ‘promotions’ and ‘social’ folders.”

Getting it right
Brands need to address the change in LinkedIn’s policy, so as to bring about the best for their marketing campaigns on the professional marketing network. Sanjana Chappalli, Head of Digital Planning, Southeast Asia, Grey Digital expressed, “Mass emails will no longer work. We now have to pay closer attention to our InMail recipients or audience. Every InMail will now need to be a personalised form of communication that takes into account audience profiles and interests.”

The content of the email needs to be compelling. “Long InMails that focus exclusively on the brand, or offer irrelevant deals, or product demos or job offers to people who have just changed jobs are bound to fail,” Ms Chappalli added.

Brands should pay attention to the elements of an InMail – subject line, content and use keywords that will attract people to open the email. Andy Radovic, Regional Director, Digital APAC, Maxus said, “Given LinkedIn’s new policy change, getting back to the fundamentals of email marketing will be critical for brands who want to be seen and replied to. First, this means that brands really need to develop the most compelling subject lines that are clear and filled with purpose. Second, the content of your InMail needs to be highly personalised, brief and focussed on adding direct value to your recipients. Third, brands should look at testing time of day when they send out InMails, as some people tend to respond differently based on when they receive messages (i.e. evening and lunch tend to have higher response rates). Finally, brands should focus more on selecting recipients more carefully. LinkedIn has a variety of tools within its platforms allowing us to research, profile and build audiences to relevant people we can go out and target.”

Mr Chow suggests, “Have a headline that’s relevant to your audience – since you can target with LinkedIn, you should know what your audience segment pain points are. Use powerful, action-oriented keywords in your header to stir up a response and interest.”

Personalised messages get more responses than generic ones. Ms Wong adds, “Personalised InMails garner significantly higher response rates than generic ones, which in turn increases the likelihood of getting a desired marketing outcome. You can make your InMails more personalised by getting insights into what interests your audience. Reviewing the recipients’ profiles and the content they share on LinkedIn can offer helpful clues.”

Patrick Sim, General Manager, Experian Marketing Services, South East Asia also reiterates the point. He said, “As with all good digital marketing campaigns, right message to the right audience at the right time, via the right channel is critical to achieve maximum impact. Brands can certainly leverage on profile data to deliver effective targeted campaigns – taking care to
make the recipient feel like he’s receiving a personalised message.”

Talking about the benefits this change will have for brands, Saurabh Dangwal, Head of Digital for APAC, Team P&G at MediaCom, said, “With the increased opportunity to target consumers using sharper, more granular data, the new inMail policy allows brands to optimising segments that are working well and stretch their dollars even further thanks to the return policy based on credible responses. This is a win-win for both the brand and their target audiences. Audiences get to receive relevant messages from brands and brands are able to continuously optimise for the best return on investment, boosting the power of their paid activity.”

“An InMail is a great way for a brand to stand out, but the clearer the message, the better the results,” Ms Wong concludes.

Shubhi Tandon

Shubhi Tandon is the Assistant Editor at Digital Market Asia. Fascinated by the evolving digital media industry, she has focussed on tracking developments in the Asia Pacific market since 2014.