5 Tips to Help Increase Your InMail Response Rates

Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 9.16.21 AMPaul DeBettignies recently published an ERE.net post titled, “Informal Survey: 1 In 10 IT Recruiting Inquiries Do Not Suck,” which generated several comments about increasing InMail response rates. Todd recommended everyone read this post, but a few recruiters said the tips it provides are “basic.” So I asked Todd if I could share five tips — some new, some oldies but goodies — my team and some of our customers use to increase InMail response rates. Here you go:

  1. Send personalized InMails. You’ve more than likely heard this tip before. But it bears repeating because it flat out works. Personalized InMails garner 37 percent higher response rates than generic bulk (1:2 or more) InMails. Higher response rates increase the likelihood of a hire. So, if you lazily spam members with generic InMails, you aren’t doing your job. And worse yet, you’re making everyone else’s jobs harder because you’re conditioning some members to be less responsive to recruiters. You can make your InMails more personalized by not only reviewing prospects’ member profiles, but also reviewing the content they InShared, commented on and ‘liked,’ the Groups they belong to, and the Influencers they follow. All this info can help you garner greater insights into their smarts and professional interests, and find more meaningful ways to InMail them than, “Hey, interested in a job?”
  2. Send InMails Thursdays between 9 and 10 a.m. Two weeks ago at Talent Connect Sydney my colleague James Raybould asked all 541 attendees to raise their hands if they track which days of the week and times of the day garner the highest InMail response rates. Only two recruiters raised their hands, which is a shame given those factors influence InMail response rates. The optimal day and time to send InMails is Thursday between 9 and 10 am (the prospect’s time zone). And whatever you do, don’t send InMails over the weekend. InMails sent on Saturdays are 16 percent less likely to be accepted than InMails sent during the week.
  3. InMail Members who’ve viewed your profile. Ashley Cheretes, manager of talent brand and media at Avis Budget Group, frequently reviews who has viewed her profile. Then she sends every single relevant member thank you InMails like, “Hi Brendan. I noticed you checked out my profile. Thanks! Is there anything I can help you with?” It’s simple, yet very effective. “Prospects regularly check out my profile because I manage Avis Budget Group’s talent brand. Even though I’m not a recruiter, the InMails I send them garner a 60 to 70 percent response rate. And the best part is they often lead to interviews and/or referrals.”
  4. Ask a shared connection for a warm intro. There are few things I loathe more than cold InMails. That’s because you can easily see on LinkedIn (and other social networks for that matter) how you’re connected to a prospect, and in my experience, warm intros made via a shared connection almost always garner a response. So, before sending a prospect a cold InMail, check out the “Connection Path” module in Recruiter or “How You’re Connected” module on LinkedIn.com to see how you’re connected to a prospect. Then ask a shared connection to make a warm intro. If that person isn’t able to make a warm intro, simply mention the shared connection in your introductory InMail.
  5. Reference a shared hobby or personal interest. My colleague Rebecca Vertucci’s customer was having a hard time recruiting optometrists in Florida. So, Rebecca used the “All Groups” filters in Recruiter to find relevant members who joined LinkedIn Groups related to popular hobbies among doctors in Florida — like golfing and beach going. Her customer then sent those members InMails saying something like, “I noticed in your profile that you’re an avid golfer. Our company is based in Jacksonville, right next to Pablo Creek Club, which Golf Digest just named one of the top 10 golf courses in Florida.” “The message was more of a networking type message. And it worked. The company’s InMail response rates skyrocketed, and within six weeks they filled the optometrist role that had been open for a year,” said Rebecca. “Instead of only contacting prospects based on skills, expertise, and experience, I recommend recruiters also consider contacting them based on their hobbies and personal interests. It works like a charm.”

If you have some tips of your own, share them with everyone. I’m always interested to hear about creative ways fellow recruiters are increasing their InMail response rates.

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Brendan Browne is LinkedIn's director of global talent acquisition. He has been recruiting for 15 years working in markets across the globe. Previously, he was the head of HR at Deem, and held senior recruiting roles at Microsoft, Northwestern Mutual, and Sapient. He graduated from Villanova University with a BA in Spanish Communications.


10 Comments on “5 Tips to Help Increase Your InMail Response Rates

  1. I appreciate the InMail insight here @Brendan – stay awesome!

    I keep asking myself though – what if we all knew the % of people on LinkedIn, in the US, that have Software Engineer (all varieties) job titles — that respond to InMail from people with Recruiter job titles? We all have our theories, but I’m kind of over arguing about it, can we see the data?! Overall volume on a monthly basis could be interesting and helpful as a real-time market indicator as well. It’s aggregate, you should be able to share, no? This is a supply/demand problem most of us in Internet/Media/eCom/hardware (and more) industries share, including you I would imagine.

    It should tell us if it is ruining the overall experience for members that are software engineers, right? Because in my mind – this is the one thing that will always trump your hand-crafted, contextually-relevant, Thursday morning, emoji-filled, you-can-change-the-world-at-this-company InMail.

    Curious to hear your thoughts or other observations.

    1. Looks like you hit the nail on the head Drew! Great point! Didn’t see your post before writing mine…but I think we are heading in the same direction. What’s up btw?

  2. Brendan, thank you for the tips. I find the one about sending InMails on Thursdays between 9 and 10 a.m. to be particularly interesting. You guys must have a fantastic amount of information on response rates and patterns of social engagement across your network. Does LinkedIn have a plan in place (or are there any plans to develop one) that would sell access to non-personalized information in an analytically friendly format? The ability to mine your data for correlations in response rates and all kinds of stuff like message length, subject length, basic demographic data (for instance, are men more likely to reply to a message from a woman or is the opposite the case), key words and phrases, etc. is something that I assume you are frequently asked about. Have you made data of this sort available to the academic community for social network analysis and network theory oriented research? Do you provide it to any corporate partners or the like? I’ve done some analysis work like this before using internal corporate email data (and my current company puts a lot of energy into answering questions like this) but the size of your B2B data pool must be basically unmatched and thus the ability to spot statistically significant trends that much more robust.

    Doug Friedman

  3. Hey Drew. Appreciate your comment. My experience has been that a strong talent brand and tailored InMails garner responses. I’ll look into your question and get back to you.

    Hey Doug. Thanks for your comment as well. Glad you found the tips useful. We’re equally obsessed with data, but we don’t plan to share any anonymized data externally.

    1. This advice is fantastically useful. I’ll be sharing it with my colleagues in sales too. I’m assuming the same metrics and recommendations apply to them?

  4. Brendan, solid post, and a month later, we see LI is cracking down on low-response bulk inmailers (http://talent.linkedin.com/blog/index.php/2014/07/inmail-policy-change) which is also a good idea. How about publishing a quarterly list of the top companies by inmail response rate (avg. across all their Recruiter tier members, which I know you can easily generate), similar to TheLadders’ list of top companies who use their site, as another way to recognize good inmail behavior?

  5. Brendan, I too think this is a solid post but believe the policy change,
    allegedly because of low response bulk inMailing mistakenly blames the
    recruiter. As things stand as of January 1, once an inMail has been
    sent, a person will now only be credited back if the recipient responds.
    If the recipient never logs on to see that inMail in 90 days, LinkedIn
    is still subtracting the inMail from an account, even if it was the most
    perfect and highly customized message possible. After all, this member
    may not be looking for work and may not have been adequately persuaded
    by LinkedIn to check their accounts regularly.

    We now have the responsibility of asking them for the courtesy of asking them to reply to us or click they are not interested, rather than the simpler (the message has been opened.”

    This is the first time I have complained about a LinkedIn policy change. A few small tweaks would make it fairer.

  6. Regarding the response rate, LinkedIn fundamentally mistakes a booming economy in high tech for poorly written inmails. Most of the people I approach (software engineers building product at tech companies) do not spend any time on Linkedin unless they are looking for work. Other areas (Sales/Marketing/Product) spend time on it regularly as they are “business” focused. I get a low response rate (5-10%) when I approach the MIT/CMU/Stanford CS grads that my clients (often obscure startups) pay me to recruit. I get a huge response rate (40%) when I am working in Product Marketing, Sales, or other areas. I should not be penalized by LinkedIn for working on elite Software Engineers roles, yet this is what the policy is now dictating. We like LinkedIn’s results, but the recent policy changes really makes me reconsider how I will spend my recruiting budget moving forward.

  7. Really great post and I’m glad it’s here, particularly the tip on when to send InMails since I’ve always been told other times work best. However I’m finding it to be quite unfair for those of us who target top software engineers from top companies who have their degrees from top schools. For example, if we reach out to 100 people who are Software Engineers at Google with their degrees from top schools (A rated profiles), they are not likely to respond to InMails…personalized or not. Where someone from a non-known company coming out of low ranked schools (B or C rated profiles) will likely get excited when they see an InMail come in and will respond. Statistically, if I personalize 100 InMails to these A rated folks, and send a bulk InMail to 100 B or C rated folks, I am definitely going to receive a much much higher response rate from the B or C rated folks. Probably 5% response rate vs a 25% response rate.

    I’ve proposed to LinkedIn that they give each person on LinkedIn a quality score of some sort based on their own InMail response rate and throw that score in the mix. That score will be based on what percentage of the time they actually respond to messages. This way if there is someone who responds to 75% of their messages but doesn’t respond to your message it will weigh more than if it’s someone who only responds to 10% of their messages. Not sure if I’m explaining correctly here…but they need to implement a better algorithm/criteria here in order to make this fair.

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