Who’s Mailing What! is the most comprehensive resource to identify direct mail advertisers and to track direct mail marketing campaigns. WMW! tracks more than 20,000 direct mail marketers daily, adding hundreds of newly identified leads every week. The platform provides access to more than 40,000 professionals responsible for generating over 120,000 direct mail pieces scanned by WMW! to PDFs, all searchable in the collection and available for download.
These 40,000+ decision-makers are curated by WMW! from its database of marketers and agencies, which offers numerous selection options. You can use our exclusive DMPRO flag to zero in on those professionals who are direct mail marketing practitioners. You can select mailers by the format of mail they send (postcards, sales letters, etc.) and other criteria. Many of these contacts are enriched with email addresses, phone numbers, and social media identifiers, with a designation for those who have demonstrated responsiveness to social media outreach.
The Ways to Get Attention
The question we often get asked is, “What have you found is the most effective method of reaching out to these prospects?”
There are quite a few options:
13 Ways to Get Attention
- LinkedIn Connections
- LinkedIn Advertising and Retargeting
- LinkedIn Paid Messaging
- Account Based Digital Display Targeting
- LinkedIn Voice Messaging
- Voice Mail “Drops”
- Direct Mail
- Phone Calls
- Content Driven Nurturing
We have tried many of these channels to market WMW! memberships. We have found that LinkedIn is #1 for the volume of leads and lowest cost per lead. This article was written to educate users of WMW! about what works best to get conversations going with direct mail marketers and agencies using the various tools available from LinkedIn. In the future, we will write additional articles about our experience with the other outreach channels listed here.
LinkedIn for Outreach
LinkedIn is rapidly becoming the focal point of B2B outreach. There are good reasons for this.
- You can connect with others for free.
- You can distribute your thought leadership for free.
- You can even send voice messages to any of your connections for free.
In short, if you have enough time and skill, you could build your business and personal brand for free on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn also offers various paid options. You can subscribe to LinkedIn Sales Navigator to get more outreach options, as well as the ability to do more complex searches for sales leads. You can place paid advertisements utilizing several different ad types, some that are surprisingly effective and inexpensive. And you can message your audience at scale with paid messaging options.
Let’s look at some tools and best practices we’ve developed to make the most of LinkedIn.
If you use only LinkedIn for outreach here is what has worked for Who’s Mailing What! to attract users to our platform:
- Strengthen your personal and business profiles on LinkedIn
- Carefully select your audience from contacts available on WMW!
- Create a custom audience for LinkedIn ads based on your selected prospects
- Look at each profile of your prospects and wait a day or two
- Send a connection request
- When someone accepts, nurture the relationship via regularly scheduled informative messaging (forwarding direct mail specific articles are good for this purpose)
- If someone doesn’t accept within 2 months, withdraw the request and try again in 6 months
- Move the conversation to email, phone or video call
- Use LinkedIn voice messaging when appropriate
- Retarget your site visitors (which might include your connection requests) with LinkedIn ads
Your LinkedIn Profile
There are numerous articles and books written on the topic of strengthening your profile. Think of your personal and business pages on LinkedIn as your landing pages for your LinkedIn outreach effort. Care must be taken to make these as high impact and as professional as possible. Check out How to Write a KILLER LinkedIn Profile on Amazon. If you want professional help, take a look at the top two LinkedIn profile experts, Vengreso or Top Dog Social Media.
And, it might be obvious, but we’ll say it…if your profile screams “I AM A SALESPERSON”, you will engage far fewer people. We have tried it. My profile (Jill Corcoran, President of Who’s Mailing What!) gets lots of views and lots of connection requests are accepted. When we tried to request connections for one of our account managers, the acceptance rate dropped by more than 60%.
Even if you will ultimately engage a salesperson, consider using a senior executive profile as the public face of your business on LinkedIn. A mistake we made: If you make a big investment in time and money to get hundreds of connections and conversations going for one of your salespeople, and you lose that person, you will need to start again. Make sure you use a profile of someone who is going to stick around. You can always move the conversation to another person once someone engages with you.
Leading LinkedIn Tools
Let’s start with Who’s Mailing What! If you want to reach buyers of direct mail-related services, there are few options to find those buyers. Have you tried? You can find ad agencies, but it is a lot of work to find agencies that create and manage direct mail campaigns. You can collect all of the mail you receive and use that as sales leads. That is also a lot of work, especially to track down the right contacts at those mailers, and you will miss large numbers of prospects. You can find directories of non-profit organizations, but which of them use direct mail for fundraising? You get the idea.
It used to be that you could purchase audiences from magazines like DMNews or Target Marketing. They don’t exist anymore. This is the reason we purchased the WMW! business. We saw that the number of information sources for this industry was rapidly dwindling. Our goal is to reverse that trend and to become the undisputed source of information on direct mail marketers, agencies, and direct mail professionals.
How does WMW! support LinkedIn outreach?
We have invested heavily in curating contacts of decision-makers who are direct mail professionals, flagging them with our proprietary DMPRO identifier. We have looked up their LinkedIn profiles. We have identified and flagged those that are most likely to respond to social outreach. In short, at WMW! we have the greatest success with our own outreach efforts leveraging LinkedIn, and we provide the same capabilities to the users of our platform as we use ourselves.
Scaling LinkedIn Outreach
Once you have created a strong personal and company profile on LinkedIn, and once you have identified who your best prospects are, the next challenge is how to improve the efficiency of the outreach process.
For “do it yourselfers” there are a few tools on the market for automated outreach sequences. Note that LinkedIn doesn’t officially support automated outreach. In fact, LinkedIn frowns on it. This means the key is to mimic human behavior on the LinkedIn platform. Otherwise, you risk getting your account placed on hold. The more mature tools to achieve this are Zopto, Salesflow, and Expandi.
Salesflow supports LinkedIn paid messaging, most frequently referred to as InMail messaging. Since LinkedIn recently implemented a cap of 100 free outreach messages per week, if you want to scale beyond that, you will need to use LinkedIn paid messaging.
On the other hand, Expandi supports sending images with your message.
For some of our outreach efforts, we like to send an image from our collection. For example, sending a message like “Did you see the newest offer from FedEx (attached)? Do you use Who’s Mailing What to track new offers sent by your competition?” gets more attention than a message without an attachment. You will need to choose one of these tools based on your priorities. If you intend to stay under 100 messages per week, we recommend Expandi so you can attach example offers and campaigns.
Done For You LinkedIn Outreach
If you prefer to use a service to manage your LinkedIn outreach, there are a number of vendors to choose from. Cleverly is the largest provider, but because they are so large, we’ve seen it is difficult to get adequate attention from their most experienced personnel. We prefer the second-largest outreach experts, the team at LinkNLearn. We have learned you truly get what you pay for and more. In addition to managing all of the legwork of LinkedIn messaging to get you replies, LinkNLearn can also manage your inbox, track and record all your leads, get demo calls booked for you, manage email outreach, and even facilitate your LinkedIn ad campaigns.
Another advantage we’ve found with LinkNLearn is that they partner with both platforms mentioned previously, SalesFlow and Expandi. Unless you have staff who can manage your outreach efforts, your own time is usually best spent at the bottom of the funnel. Our philosophy is to let the experts do what they are good at and we can do what we are good at…explaining our service and bringing new clients on board.
LinkedIn Voice Messaging
A little-known outreach channel is LinkedIn voice messaging. This option is only available on the LinkedIn mobile app. Look for the microphone icon in the lower right corner of the app when you are on a contact record and after you click on “Message”.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a way yet to automate the process of sending messages. Of course, you can just speak to the LinkedIn app each time. But we would suggest you do so from a script. The main point here is to create a controlled messaging approach so you can test and learn what is working. Just as you would do an A/B test with a direct mail campaign, all of your LinkedIn messaging should be tested to see which message produces the best result.
When do you use a LinkedIn voice message? Try using it alternatively as a replacement for voice mail messages. Some people don’t check their LinkedIn account very often, but those labeled as “Responsive” on the Who’s Mailing What! platform are very likely to receive your LinkedIn voice message. Our experience is that a good number of people pay more attention to a LinkedIn voice message than to regular voice mail messages.
LinkedIn Ad Targeting
LinkedIn allows you to create custom audiences and serve ads to the members of those audiences. You can create audiences of targeted businesses and you can create audiences targeting specific individuals. At Who’s Mailing What! we use both of these types of audiences successfully.
For example, when targeting ad agencies, we upload a list of agencies we want to target, and then select the size of an agency by employee size and roles within the agency we want to expose our ads to. To target direct mail marketers, this is more difficult since there are thousands of employees of these companies on LinkedIn who would not be able to subscribe to our service (think about a large mailer such as Geico). When targeting direct mail advertisers, we prefer to upload a list of specific contacts within those organizations. The DMPRO selection on WMW! is a great starting point to help create a prospect list.
Keep in mind that LinkedIn requires at least 300 matched prospects to launch a campaign. If you select prospects from WMW! based on available LinkedIn profiles, your match rate will be the highest. Even then, add a few more to make sure you hit the 300 record minimum.
Which LinkedIn ad format works best?
As with any advertising medium, it is worth testing. But, we will describe our experience. Since you are likely pursuing the same audiences, your experience is probably going to be similar.
LinkedIn text ads appear as a single line at the top of a profile page or as small 3 line ads on the right side of a profile page. We like to use text ads as a low-cost method to test audiences and copy. If you are seeking a fast result at scale, these ads are not for you. The clickthrough rates are low. And many don’t work at all. But those that do work scale well when switching the same audience and copy to other LinkedIn ad types. Text ads are also a good way to keep your name in front of your audience at a low cost. We discontinue text ad campaigns once a campaign “graduates” to another ad type, but we see consistently good results continuing our retargeting ads via text ads.
Spotlight ads allow you to display a photo of the recipient of the ad, together with a message and a call to action. These have traditionally been used for recruiting. We have found them to be the most profitable ad format, maybe because there isn’t as much demand for this ad format. In fact, we hired two different LinkedIn ad consultants, and neither one told us about this ad format. We discovered it on our own. When we asked the consultants about this format, we discovered they had no experience with it. When we moved our successful text ad campaigns to the spotlight ad format, we increased the number of click-throughs by about 3x at a similar cost per click and similar cost per conversion.
Single Image Ads
These are the ads that appear in the LinkedIn content feed. And these are by far the most popular ads used on LinkedIn. Because of this, they are much more expensive. But they also produce the highest number of responses. Our experience is that Single Image ads produce 10-15x the response of our successful text ads, and 5-6x the response of spotlight ads, but at a cost per lead that is about ten times higher. We suggest testing to see if this format is cost-effective for your business, but only once you have achieved success with the lower-cost ad formats. Our experience is that it can get rather pricey to start your tests with Single Image ads.
Retargeting via LinkedIn
We have learned that we must run “cold” ads for some time, that we must create connections via LinkedIn with our audience, and nurture our audience, and most importantly, we need to run LinkedIn retargeting ads. Interestingly, the majority of our leads come from retargeting, not from the original ad. We can see the traffic come to our website. But initially, most don’t stick around. At some point later, site visitors come back as a result of our retargeting ads, and then they become more interested to the point where many start to engage with us.
Here is the proof: In a typical month, we get about 400 site visitors from our “cold” LinkedIn ads. Out of those 400, we get an average of 18 to sign up for a free trial of WMW. But when we retarget our site visitors, an average of 44 more eventually sign up for a free trial. Of our LinkedIn ad-generated leads, 30% come from the original ad and 70% come from retargeting. We strongly recommend LinkedIn retargeting campaigns. We use all three of the above ad formats for retargeting.
There are other variations of LinkedIn ads, such as Carousel ads and Video ads. These ads require increased investment for creative work and for smaller audiences it is usually not worth the extra cost. If you have access to low-cost creative resources, you are likely to see some incremental benefit if you use these options effectively. Test them if you can.
LinkedIn Paid Messaging
Formerly referred to as InMail, LinkedIn now calls this service “Message Ads”. Message Ads are a great way to scale your most effective outreach campaigns. Start by developing and testing messaging and nurturing sequences via free connection requests and follow-up messages. Once you discover what works, if you need a greater volume of leads, try the Message Ads option.
LinkedIn has proven to be our best source of new business at Who’s Mailing What!, leveraging the same data to create target audiences we offer to our member subscribers. We have noticed something else…when we come across prospects who are not active on LinkedIn the probability of converting them to a paid member is minuscule. We have concluded that not everyone is active on LinkedIn, but in the direct mail industry being active on LinkedIn is a strong indicator we’re speaking with someone who is serious about investing in building their business.