Getting Better Outreach Response on LinkedIn: Dial Back The Call To Action

I have sent thousands of InMails and outreach messages of all kinds on LinkedIn. I have advised any number of LinkedIn users on their outreach program and specific messages they use.

And today I am here to tell you that one of the biggest factors for lousy response rates is asking for too much in your call to action.

Note I didn’t say what you are asking for but how much. As in how much of a commitment are you asking the other person to make?

In general, the more you ask for, the harder it is going to be to get a positive  response.

If you are asking for a sales call, you are asking for a lot in that outreach message. You typically need to establish your credibility or to establish that you have such a powerful offer that a sales call is a logical next step. It can be done, but you are asking for an awful lot in the outreach message.

On the other hand, if you ask for too little, like an opinion, the other person may not think it is worthwhile responding at all.

I have an approach that works reliably for me. Just start a conversation. My call to action is a question that isn’t easily responded to with a closed answer. I am looking for a response that I can respond right back to. And there is more information on most people’s profiles to work with between their summary, current job, work history and their activity on LinkedIn than you would think. Conversations can build credibility and lead to connecting.

The less risk there is in your CTA versus the possible reward in your CTA – as perceived by the other person – the more successful you will be.

Capitalizing On LinkedIn Publishing

Last week I talked about my LinkedIn publishing. This week: what I do once I have published.

Okay, so I have written an article or post, published it on LinkedIn, and received some views and engagement. So what do I do now? Four things…

  • I ignore the views. They are nice, good for the ego (or bruising for the ego), but as I cannot identify the individual viewers, I can’t do anything with my views.
  • I review everyone who engages with me and my content.
  • I reach out to anyone who looks interesting
  • And I do it right away

Let’s look at the latter three a little further.

I review everyone who engages with me and my content

When I login to LinkedIn, I check my notifications. This will tell me if I have new likes, comments, and followers. I check my most recent article and post statistics for people who shared, and check for new people who have viewed my profile.

I try and respond, acknowledge or thank people who have commented or shared my content, in particular my connections. I usually can’t get to everyone, but I want these people to know I appreciate them.

I reach out to anyone who looks interesting

There are lots of interesting people on LinkedIn. Here are a the two types I look for.
Someone who is a long term prospect. Because there are no short term prospects. While they may fit my target demographic, I don’t really know anything about them, their situation, their problems, or their needs. I may have some credibility with them from my writing, but no personal relationship, and they probably don’t have spare budget lying around.
Someone who is not a prospect but is active on LinkedIn with a half decent network. This is a person who can introduce me to someone in their network.
I play a long game. It makes me look good compared to all the yahoos who go out and pitch people they have just met. Don’t get me wrong, I do get people who find me and want to retain me right away, but they had already made up their minds, and I didn’t need to sell them on the idea.

And I do it right away

I follow up and reach out to these interesting people right away, because if I don’t, people will forget the context of my article or post. I want to reach out when their engagement with me or my content is still fresh in their mind, and they can still remember why they did so. Reaching out to someone who followed you or commented on your post last week doesn’t work very well.

But this is all the necessary boring process stuff. You have heard enough about the labor pains, you just want to see the baby. Here you go.

The results

For those who didn’t read last week’s article (and shame on you) I talked about my publishing the week of April 23 and April 30. Over that two week period I:

  • Published 2 articles
  • Posted 4 updates (which most of us still call posts)
  • Which got 45,000 views
  • And over that two week period just over 1,000 people liked, commented, and shared my content, or followed me, or viewed my profile

Here’s the good stuff: out of those 1,000 people,

  • I found 56 that looked interesting. I reached out to them and
  • 44 of them replied and
  • 9 of them wound up scheduling phone or Zoom calls with me

I like an outreach method that gets a 78.5% response rate (to be fair and in full disclosure, I usually get a response rate between 70 and 75%, so this two week sample was a bit better than usual).

I am pretty good with InMail and can get a response rate in the low twenties reaching out to cold prospects, but why would I waste InMail like that when I can send InMail that gets a response rate more than three times as high? Why wouldn’t I send outreach messages to people who are predisposed to reply?

So in my case, publishing works, but only if I have content people find valuable, I follow up and engage with those who engage with me, and I do so quickly.

That leaves just one last piece of the puzzle: what’s in those messages I sent that prompted so many of them to respond? That’s next week.

The Case For Publishing Content On LinkedIn

It works. That’s it, that’s the case. Between this article and the two that will follow over the next two weeks, I will outline how I use published content on LinkedIn and just how successful it can be. I hope that these articles will contribute some ideas that will help you with your own content publishing on LinkedIn.

I had a look at my last two weeks on LinkedIn, (I wrote these three articles over the weekend of May 5 & 6) and here are some numbers for you.

April 24 article 640 views, 154 engagements

April 25 post 8,800 views, 73 engagements

April 26 post 11,700 views, 88 engagements

May 1 article 540 views, 80 engagements

May 2 post 5,600 views, 76 engagements

May 3 post 18,400 views, 153 engagements

These are only the articles and posts I wrote myself, this does not include any sharing or commenting on other people’s posts.

I define a post or article’s engagement number  as likes + shares + comments.

Aside from that direct engagement, over the two week period I gained around 70 new followers (I have just under 2,000 followers now) and 300 people viewed my profile. Most of the followers likely came from seeing my writing, though a lot of the profile views could have come from people seeing me sharing or commenting on other people’s articles.

And a short sidebar on profile viewers: 75% of my profile views come from people seeing me being active on LinkedIn, either through my own writing or commenting on someone else’s. In the case of this two week period, that’s 225 people. Meanwhile, over the same two week period, 9 people found me via search on LinkedIn. Being active – publishing, posting, and commenting – is the best SEO there is on LinkedIn.

So in total, over the two weeks I received something on the order of 45,000 views and just over 1,000 people engaged with me and my content.

Now a lot of you may be going, “I publish and get six Likes, how does he get those numbers?”. Well, I can list a lot of the contributing factors that help:

  • I have been doing this for a long time. I have published an article on LinkedIn pretty well every week since I was given publishing rights by LinkedIn several years ago. I try and publish a post every Thursday and sometimes I will also publish a post on Wednesday. When I started, the engagement I received sucked. But I kept at it, and gradually “found” my audience and figured out what they needed help with and wanted to read.
  • I publish my articles on the same day at the same time every week. I publish an article almost every Tuesday around 8am eastern time. LinkedIn won’t notify all my connections and followers when I publish, so I make it easy for them by publishing on the same day and time every week. I have discovered about the only way to beat the LinkedIn algo’s is to work around them.
  • I have a big network, almost 5,000 connections and 2,000 more followers. This is a virtuous cycle – I publish and people find and want to connect with me. This leads to wider distribution of my publishing which leads to more people finding me and so on.
  • I have my own niche –  I don’t talk about how to use specific features of Linkedin as much as I try to get people to think about how they use LinkedIn. When I finish an article, what I hope my readers are going to think is, “Hmm, I hadn’t thought of it that way.”
  • I don’t get hung up on the length of my articles and posts. I write for however long – or short – it takes me to express the idea I want to get across. That could by 1200 words or it could be 200.
  • When people comment or share my content I try and thank as many of them as I can. If people are going to take five minutes to read and comment on something I have written, which is also going to help further the distribution of that content, the least I can do is say thanks.

Note that all of these things aren’t specific to me, that is, anyone can do them. There is no secret sauce, these are just kind of my own best practices, what I have developed over time.

What I have described here is time consuming. An article will typically take me two hours to write. Posts are easy – ten or fifteen minutes each. Interacting with people that interact with my content can take a couple of hours spread over Tuesday to Friday every week. That’s maybe five hours a week. Big commitment. Why could be worth that amount of time?

Easy: those 1,000 people that engaged. Buried in there are future connections, future customers, and people that can introduce me to future customers. My articles next week and the week after that (Tuesdays around 8am, remember?) will be about how I parse those thousand people, how I reach out to them and the results I get.

Publishing articles and posts on LinkedIn increases my reach, helps establish my credibility as an expert on my subject matter, and brings me sales leads. That makes it about the best possible investment of my time on LinkedIn.