For years, email was the unrivaled king of sales enablement. No other medium came close for lead generation and customer engagement.
But that was before social media came along, glued us to our screens, and changed the way we connect. These days, LinkedIn is becoming the go-to place for prospecting leads and getting your message to the right people.
So, when it comes to a smart outbound strategy, which is better – email or LinkedIn? In this article, we’ll be exploring the pros and cons of each.
We will also be looking at the bigger picture. Should we be pitting emails against LinkedIn? Spoiler alert: no, we shouldn’t. But more about that later. Let’s start with the benefits of email.
The advantages of email outreach
Gone are the days when sales teams cold-called one person at a time. Nowadays, automation allows you to send an email to thousands of people at once with the click of a button.
One of the most powerful tools in the email arsenal is segmentation. With targeted automation, emails can be tailored to pretty much anything – from specific demographics to where your prospect sits in the sales funnel.
What’s more, you’re not blindly sending emails out into the wilderness of the internet. You can track open and reply rates, send at a time when your recipient is more likely to open and reply, track attached documents, and a whole lot more.
Within minutes, you can generate leads while simultaneously consulting metrics that help you scale your approach to leads you missed the first time around.
In short, email is versatile.
Disadvantages of email
The biggest downside of email outreach can be summed up in one word:
There is no `face’ behind cold emails. They’re impersonal. Even when your email makes it past the spam filter, most cold emails are deleted without being opened.
A Harvard Business Review article reported that 90% of C-suite executives never reply to cold emails or calls. They simply get too many, and adding to your prospect’s daily inbox cacophony won’t do your business any favors.
Added to this, automation works both ways. Without compelling copy, automated messages run the risk of sounding impersonally generic and `spammy’. While small personalized touches can overcome this, automation needs careful handling.
And then there’s the question of time investment. In a recent article, Is your sales team spending too much time on email?, Growthonics found that sales reps spend around 31 hours per month managing their inboxes. Those hours would be better spent meeting customers and doing what sales teams do best – selling.
So does this mean LinkedIn is a better option? Let’s take a closer look.
The advantages of LinkedIn outreach
LinkedIn stats paint a rosy picture. Today, it has 675 million users, with 40% of those visiting the site on a daily basis. A staggering 25% of its users are senior-level influencers, probably because 92% of Fortune 500 companies are on LinkedIn.
In other words, you stand a good chance of getting noticed by the right people.
There’s no sign that its popularity is waning. According to the LinkedIn Pressroom, it picks up 2 new members every second – which means that while you’ve been reading this article, it will have attracted around 70 new users.
It also offers the advantage of speed. Unlike email, where sales teams spend time sourcing email addresses, LinkedIn is instantaneous. You simply find a prospect, connect and immediately send a message.
Will your message be well received? In all likelihood, yes. A 2014 whitepaper Social Buying Meets Social Selling from the market intelligence firm IDC stated that 75% of B2B buyers and 84% of C-suite executives use social media to make purchasing decisions.
Social media enables a warmer, more natural approach. LinkedIn’s users in particular are open to connecting with new people and businesses. You’re welcome to approach them and in fact, they expect it. That’s why they have an account.
This leads us on to the most compelling reason to consider LinkedIn as an outreach platform.
Take a look at these stats:
Bounce Rate: Email vs. LinkedIn
0.6% vs. 0%
Unsubscribe: Email vs. LinkedIn
0.3% vs. 0.1%
Open Rate: Email vs. LinkedIn
21.6% vs. 57.6%
CTR: Email vs. Linkedin
2.6% vs. 3.6%
To save you doing the maths, the open rate for LinkedIn InMail is 166% higher than for email.
But hang on. Before you rush to ditch your email campaigns in favour of LinkedIn, there’s a downside to these stats.
The disadvantages of LinkedIn outreach
The simple fact is, you’re not alone in discovering the benefits of LinkedIn for lead generation. As the number of people using the platform rises, so does the number of companies using it for outbound.
And therein lies the problem. To stand out from the rest, your LinkedIn outbound strategy must be more than just OK. It needs to be targeted with precision and carefully managed.
LinkedIn prospecting isn’t an exact science. Sometimes it can generate quick wins, but with other prospects, it will take time and effort to breakthrough. And as more businesses catch on, you’ll be up against the tough competition.
The bigger picture
In the end, the best way to connect and spread your company’s message is to use a combination of email and LinkedIn. This multi-platform approach will give you the best chance of success.
When an initial email is followed up with a LinkedIn message, the recipient is more likely to take notice. You’ve used foresight, initiative, and research. It demonstrates that your email wasn’t spammy, it was personal.
LinkedIn doesn’t spell the end for email campaigns. When correctly executed, email can deliver great results. By `correctly executed’, we mean that 4 key elements of your outbound campaign need to be in place:
These 4 elements aren’t as easy to execute as they look. Most companies concentrate on one or two of them, but few have the time or resources to commit to all four. Still fewer have the necessary expertise available for a coordinated multi-platform approach
Get in touch to discover what we can do for your company.