Back in 1998, I was hunting for a small CRM system that could help manage my leads and track follow up activities. The internet was in its infancy so I went to a trade show and picked out 10 companies that I wanted to contact.
What happened next was eye opening and has stuck with me for over 20 years.
Timely follow up
I emailed each respective sales team and explained that I was at the early stages of gathering info, could they send me some prelimary information along with a ballpark cost by email only, I was not looking for a call at this stage. I would then review and come back with additional questions.
Guess what? I didn’t hear from 6 of the companies at all.
Maybe I was too small for them but how would they know without qualifying my requirements first? They didn’t even have the courtesy to reply. To me that was plain rude.
I would prefer to be told up front that I’m not a good prospect as I don’t match up to the target profile of their typical buyer or my budget was too small. I’d respect that approach as neither of us wastes each other’s time.
Of the remaining 4, one tried to call me immediately. Duh genius – I was clear that I only wanted info via email. 3 companies sent info at varying speeds by email.
Passive default LinkedIn follow up
The point of the above story is that your follow up needs to be timely and it needs to aligned with what you know about your ideal target prospect. This is absolutely true of lead generation on LinkedIn.
I covered best practice connection strategies in my last blog. But that is only part of the story. I’ve been asked several times, what do you do once someone has connected with me and how can I manage followups for all of my newly expanded network?
Well, the starting point is make sure you follow up. I’ve lost count of the number of people who connect with me and then never send another message.
Secondly, do not use the default suggestion from LinkedIn for the first message:
John, thanks for connecting! Hope you're doing well.
Now, I know LinkedIn is all about the engagement, the platform and the community but this approach is likely to be far too passive and slow for most folks involved in lead generation.
The best analogy I have heard is that imagine you are at a networking event and you exchange business cards with someone in the room. Would you wait a few days (or longer) before getting in touch again?
Of course not. You’d immediately continue the conversation, perhaps touching on what you have in common, explore similar challenges that you might face, talk about mutual connections at other companies or even see what you can do to help each other.
Transferring this analogy to LinkedIn, the best time to engage with a new connection is right after they have accepted your request, as some of the best practice examples below demonstrate.
The difference between content strategy and drip feeding
Before we dive into some use cases, it is worth outlining the difference between a content strategy and drip campaigns.
These are two similar but different aspects of the prospecting and lead generation cycle.
A drip campaign, in this context, is using automation to periodically send messages to your connections.
It forms part of your overall content strategy which is all about publishing and providing content that will appeal, educate, engage and inform your target audience.
The objective of your content strategy is to help build a relationship with your connections, and the drip feeding pulls them through the sales funnel to the point where connections convert to leads.
Passive follow up will almost certainly fail to achieve your lead generation goals. The most successful Dux-Soup users that I speak to, irrespective of whether they are using it for lead generation, real estate or recruitment, all follow an automated and proactive follow up strategy.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Robert Dacosta of Dacosta Coaching for a Dux-Soup case study recently.
He uses a great content strategy in my view. Once I accepted his initial non-salesy connection message, (which you can see here) he followed up with a really strong content strategy.
Robert’s content is always original, relevant, well written, engaging and damn right useful! Some of it is gated behind a contact form so if I want access to the best nuggets and gems of advice, I need to give a little something back.
There is a very subtle sales message that flows throughout the content but what Robert does early on is establish trust and build the relationship.
Sophisticated follow up
Another fantastic example of how to follow up comes from Pound Social who use Dux-Soup to deliver a very sophisticated messaging strategy. They use the Turbo edition to automate the follow up messaging sequence for lead generation campaigns. Once a connection accepts, a Webhook catches this and transfers the details to a Google sheet, whilst also tracking the numbers for campaign reporting purposes. Dux-Soup is set to auto visit the profile and endorse skills.
Two automated follow up messages are sent and the messaging workflow is designed to pull leads through the funnel. If a prospect responds the customer service team use Dux-Soup Remote Control to reply directly on LinkedIn.
The role of messaging in prospecting campaigns
Littoral offer a LinkedIn prospecting service and automated follow up is key to the successful delivery of customer campaigns.
They use Dux-Soup to automate both the initial outreach and also the follow up strategy. Each campaign uses two automated messages which are designed to build engagement and generate leads whilst also looking to drive activity outside of LinkedIn.
From passive to active follow up
I bet if you asked most people involved in lead generation about their top goals, high up on the list would be lead generation at scale. This is where using Dux-Soup comes in – following up with tens or hundreds of connections with minimal effort.
I picked up the following example from the Dux-Soup Facebook User Group.
You can see the markers that are being used to personalise the initial outreach. The connection message goes to a filtered audience using size and sector (under 49 employees and HR).
The follow up message takes the passive default LinkedIn suggestion and turbo charges it. It asks a number of questions throughout the message to help gather information and ask them to take certain actions.
The proof of the success is right here – Jason more than tripled his LinkedIn connections in 3 months.
Asking for the meeting
This is an example of a message that I got immediately after connecting:
Hello Adam, Thank you for accepting my invitation to connect. I achieved success in growing my business from under £1 million to £4 million sales by working with expert advisers. Today, I want to help entrepreneurs solve their problems and grow their profitability. Working with me, one client has grown her sales by 171%. Another put up his prices by 66% and did not lose a single customer. Would you like to meet up over a coffee and see how I could help you? Best wishes
What I really like about this is it uses a strong outcome-based message. Who wouldn’t want to grow their business four times over or grow sales by 171%? The call to action is clear and simple.
Avoid making it all about you
One tip I would suggest people follow is to avoid making it all about you. This is the connection message that I got after accepting a request:
Hello Adam, My success has grown through the ethos of offering quality, face-to-face pension and wealth management advice and my commitment to building trusted and enduring relationships with clients. I offer comprehensive financial planning and wealth management services, helping individuals like yourself to achieve your financial goals. I am also a Pension Transfer Specialist Adviser and I can offer you a free review so you make an informed choice about whether to transfer your pension and if so when might be the optimal time. If you are interested in this particular service or would like my expert advice on your finances generally, I suggest an initial call to discuss, so please do reply with your phone number or a direct e-mail address and a little about your situation.
Count how many times it says “I” or “my” – the message is all about them and what they can do for me. There isn’t much incentive for me to engage.
Having said that, the message does contain a clear call to action and anyone that responds is likely to be highly pre-qualified.
What does best practice look like?
Messaging strategies are like a good pair of shoes. The size and fit varies from person to person. What works for one company may not work exactly the same in another environment. Therefore, you will need to test different approaches in order to understand what will work best for you:
• Number of follow up messages
• How quickly they are sent after the initial connection is accepted
• Frequency between messages (this could be fixed or variable interval)
• Tone and style
• Call to action
In addition to generating more leads, one of the most important benefits to be gained from automating the follow up messaging sequence is the amount of time saved.
Some users of Dux-Soup LinkedIn Automation are reporting 1-2 hours per day which frees you up to work on the creative side of your comms and outreach strategy.
It is often said that it takes 7-10 touchpoints with you before a prospect is receptive to your desired call to action.
That’s is why it is so important that you don’t give up after the first message but also why your outreach is ideally integrated with other marketing activity. This could be content, blogging, posting on LinkedIn, liking posts, basically being highly engaged on the platform.
I’d be interested in hearing from people willing to share examples of good messaging workflows, just leave a comment below.
P.S. In case you are wondering what happened when I was looking for that CRM tool. I ended up buying from one of the three companies that listened to what I was saying and engaged with me in the way that I wanted.
About the author
Adam Osman is Head of Marketing at Dux-Soup Adam is passionate about using the latest marketing techniques to help companies and brands grow. With two decades of experience in marketing technology products for international companies and startups alike, Adam leads the effort to spread the word about how Dux-Soup can benefit companies looking to turbo charge their LinkedIn lead generation.