LinkedIn is a tempting platform to use for outreach purposes, and there are a decent number of tools to automate the potentially tedious process of sourcing juicy new prospects.
Of course just because a strategy is right for some businesses does not mean it is right for everyone. And in certain contexts, automating LinkedIn outreach is outright inadvisable.
To help you determine whether or not this is worth pursuing in your business, here’s a look at how the tools work, where they can be beneficial and what pitfalls you need to be aware of.
An overview of LinkedIn automation tools
The main purpose of the solutions which are made to automate aspects of LinkedIn presence management is to help you build relationships with contacts without needing to get the ball rolling manually.
That’s how you can generate LinkedIn leads with Salesflow, Expandi, or any other automation software; by having the tools seek out prospects and initiate interactions with them, as well as sending hyper personalised follow-up messages as necessary.
This is primarily useful in the case that you have a large number of leads to manage simultaneously. Automation could save you hours of your time, and still deliver excellent results, along with offering personalization opportunities to ensure that your messages don’t feel too generic.
The innate advantage of LinkedIn for outreach
Before we go any further, it’s worth touching on why LinkedIn is particularly well positioned for the purposes of lead generation and outreach, whether you run a small sales team at a startup or manage a large team in an established business.
What sets it apart is that it is a site that functions specifically to connect people and encourage communication. This gives it the edge over cold calling or sending someone an unsolicited marketing email, because if you are on LinkedIn then you expect to be contacted out of the blue.
In this context, automation tools seem to be ideal. There is no harm in reaching out to as many people as possible in the hopes that a few will bite, right? Well, that depends.
The most common automation missteps
Using automated tools to catalyze your LinkedIn outreach sounds impressive if you just read the marketing blurb of the companies providing the software. But there are caveats to keep in mind, and best practices to follow to avoid mistakes.
Automation can lead to outreach campaigns that are somewhat spammy in nature. There is a fine line to tread between legitimate lead generation and prospecting, and frustrating spam-like communication tactics that put would-be clients and partners off immediately.
Overstepping boundaries to take communications off-platform is another faux pas that will harm rather than help your chances with prospects. Just because someone’s personal email address is available within their profile, that doesn’t make it right to add this to your marketing database.
Furthermore, being overt with your self-promotion is a big no-no. Relationship-building on LinkedIn has to be a two way street, so unless you are bringing something of value to the table, then your prospects will feel like they are being unambiguously targeted and exploited to benefit your business.
Lastly, persisting with automation after first contact is made will reveal the shortcomings of current implementations and won’t get relationships moving in the right direction.
If a new contact responds to an automated message, replying by hand rather than following up with another cookie-cutter response is crucial.
Most of these snafus can be sidestepped if you take care to make your outreach unique. This sounds like it flies in the face of the role of automation, but the aforementioned tools go a long way to empowering users to craft messages and content which make contacts feel included and catered for as individuals, not just numbers on a spreadsheet.
The consideration of scale
Even when used in the right way, LinkedIn outreach automation has to be cost-effective for companies. And while it can make sense for some smaller businesses and ambitious start-ups, for others it may be difficult to justify the costs and complexities that it brings to the table.
For example, if you only have the capacity to handle a certain small group of clients, then your outreach needs might be limited. In this case, manually scouring LinkedIn for appealing contacts and connections may be better suited to your requirements than opting for a fully automated approach.
This will not only keep costs down, but also prevent you from having to worry about how the lead generation tools will integrate with your existing suite of marketing software.
One day further down the line, when you do need to send hundreds of invites and thousands of follow-up messages each month, automation tools will be there to assist.
The role of content
Hopefully you now appreciate that if you do automate your LinkedIn outreach, this needs to be done sensitively, with a view to getting your foot in the door with prospects. Content is the thing that will take this to the next level.
All of your minutely crafted outreach efforts will be for nothing unless you have solid, engaging and relevant content to offer your contacts on LinkedIn. The same rule applies across all modern digital marketing, of course, but it is worth restating here.
Quality content will let you avoid the overly salesy aspect discussed earlier, while also increasing the likelihood that you will earn organic shares. This helps to perpetuate the growth of your brand, creating recognition even outside of the circles you are specifically targeting.
The decision is yours!
Honestly speaking, you are the only one who can decide if automating your LinkedIn outreach is right for your business. You know what budget you are working with, what the scale of your outreach efforts is today and what it might be tomorrow.
Bear in mind that some automation tool providers even have packages where you can outsource lead generation entirely, which can help with one-off campaigns as well as ongoing marketing efforts.
Do your research, weigh the various factors at play against one another and don’t rush into a decision until you are comfortable with the expected outcome.
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