Performance marketers seeking new leads know there are many ways to connect with potential customers. Prospect lists from specialists and inbound leads from content marketing are just a couple of ways to acquire customers.
But just about everyone with a LinkedIn account knows there are other methods some b-to-b marketers are using: cold-outreach messages. You’ve gotten them. “Dear Sir,” when you’re a ma’am. “Marketers like you can benefit from our software,” when you’re a journalist. “Let’s set up a time to talk,” when you have no intention of calling that enclosed number.
Performance marketing experts and LinkedIn’s internal pros shared a few thoughts on why this is happening and what marketers should be doing instead.
Email marketing strategy consultant Jeanne Jennings said in the past, she’d make cold calls and thinks cold-messaging prospects on LinkedIn is similar. The ability to target the exact audience a company is seeking, and for free, can be appealing. But she says it’s akin to spray and pray email marketing.
“Many companies have quotas for how many new contacts salespeople need to make on a daily, weekly or monthly basis,” she said. “LinkedIn makes it easy to identify people you don’t know who potentially fit your target audience—and can help a sales person fill their quota.”
Stephen H. Yu, president and chief consultant at Willow Data Strategy, said the people trying to acquire customers via cold-messaging them are either desperate or don’t know what they’re doing.
“Another reason is that the price of being blocked by LinkedIn is seemingly lower than the price of legitimate b-to-b data from reputable compilers for prospecting,” he said. “They’d figure ‘Why don’t I just use basic filtering, using data readily available on LinkedIn?’ Well, the risk is that unsolicited LinkedIn messages will be ignored and blocked.”
The fact remains that many professionals do connect with spammers. Because despite LinkedIn’s advice to only connect with people you know, it allows accounts to have up to 30,000 first-degree connections. No one personally knows 30,000 people.
Performance marketers used to employ conferences, events and networking meals to meet audience members face-to-face; thus, following LinkedIn’s advice of connecting with people they know. Research from The 614 Group shows marketers greatly miss these gatherings. Marketers said other than learning the latest developments in their professions, they mostly longed for events as a means of “meeting new business and prospects to generate leads (64.4%).”
Gartner finds that because that target audience is mostly at home and online, “digital channels account for almost 80% of budgets in 2020.” And even as other aspects of marketing budgets decline, technology and digital channels will withstand cuts in 2021.
“CMOs spend nearly one-quarter (22%) of the marketing budget on digital advertising (13.5%)—including display, video or ads on social media or on platforms like Amazon—and paid search,” Gartner reported. “Another 59% goes to owned and earned digital channels, such as social marketing, the website, SEO and mobile marketing.”
As marketers who connect with members of their target audience on LinkedIn know, the platform gives them access to the No. 1 lead generation channel: email. Connections can generally see each other’s email addresses under contact information. PFL and Demand Metric research illustrates that 90% of marketers employ email marketing in their lead generation strategies and 84% use social media marketing.